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Locksmithing/Old safe Saga 909 model.


We have an old Saga Intl safe model 909.
I have, what I believe, are the four numbers.
Can you tell me, when you say 4 turns to the right
Would I go past the # 3 times and stop on it the
Fourth time? Same question for the next two numbers?
Obviously the last number is a direct so I assume
I don't go past it.
Please help

ANSWER: Hi Bill,

Proper dialing sequence is a great question, AND the number one reason most safe locks don't unlock.   "IF" YOU don't understand the dialing procedure, even with the correct numbers the lock will not unlock consistently.

While you ARE dialing past a number during the sequence, I don't like to use the term "PAST", I prefer the term "TO" the number, and I'll illustrate why.    Regardless of what lock you are opening, whether its a high school gym locker, or a bank vault, and regardless of if its a RLRLR or a LRLRL lock, if you go "TO" the number, it will open every time.

NOTE 1 - The reason that we use the term "TO" instead of past, depending on how the combination is set on your lock, if you are concentrating on dialing "past" something, it is very easy to make a dialing error.
For example if your combination is 40-30-50, after dialing TO the first number counter clockwise (left), when you reverse the dial for the second number, you only have 10 numbers before passing it the first time.   If you are not paying attention to the number ARRIVING at the index, you WILL pass it up!   In the same example, but reversing the numbers, or 30-40-50, after dialing LEFT to 30 the fourth time, when you reverse the dial for the second number, you have 90 numbers to go, before arriving at or "TO" the second number the first time.

For instance, using your example of "4 times Right to the first number", if you understand the basics, it is actually very simple.

NOTE 2 - Left is counter clockwise and Right is clockwise.

Using your example, and a random number of 50 as the combination for THAT wheel, you will turn the dial CLOCKSWISE (right), stopping the FOURTH time the number 50 Arrives at or "TO" the 12 o'clock index mark.

NOTE 3 - there is NO starting point, simply start dialing.

SO, In this example, we would turn the dial CLOCKWISE (right), counting 50 the first time it comes "TO" the index ONCE, continuing until 50 comes "TO the index TWICE, continuing until 50 comes "TO" the index the THIRD time, and stopping on 50 the FOURTH time that it arrives.

NOTE 4 - Many times when combinations are passed from one owner to another - NOT understanding the lefts and rights leads to combinations that don't work.  Generally they are passed along the way the previous owner understands them and NOT necessarily the way the lock actually works.

Similarly, for the second number (say 25), you would turn the dial counter clockwise (LEFT), counting 25 once, 25 twice and stopping the THIRD time 25 arrives AT the index mark.

So, using the information you provided, your dialing sequence would be:

4 times RIGHT to the first number,
3 times LEFT to the second number,
2 times RIGHT to the third number,
1 time left, stopping on the fourth number.

NOTE 5 -  The locks installed on most SAGA type safes CAN be dialed either LRLR or RLRL, however each sequence WILL have a different combination.    If you test the lock at RLRL and it doesn't work, try reversing the directions, or LRLR.

Hope this helps,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Ok. I have tried this every way possible.
I have the serial number.
Should I contact the folks at Saga to get the
Correct combination and sequence?
980030240 is the number on the back of the
Safe. Any advice from here would be greatly

Hi Bill,

There are ONLY three reasons that a safe lock will not unlock, in order they are:
1.   Incorrect dialing sequence, operator errors,
2.   Incorrect combination, Wrong numbers,
3.   Mechanical problems.

I've provided you with the correct dialing sequence for the lock I would expect to be on your safe, so at this point, you are either continuing to make a dialing error, or you don't have the correct numbers.   While you can try to contact SAGA, they haven't made these safes in around 15-20 years so chances of them having the numbers still on record are slim - IF you can get them to respond.
As your safe was made in 1998, yours would be around 17 years old, so I doubt you are going to get any help form them.

I've included their contact info for you.

ADDRESS: Ningbo Hi-Tech Park, Zhejiang Province, China 315040
FAX:+86-574-87909600 Tel:+86-574-87909608
Alternative Email:

This leaves you with two options, test dial all possible combinations for your safe, or take it to a local safe company to have it opened - hopefully you are just making a simple dialing error.

Problems:   Cost to open, repair, recover the combination for your safe, is going to cost you more than its worth.    If the safe is empty, I would save the money and buy a new safe.

Check your yellow pages under "safes & vaults" for a local safe company.   If you don't have one, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know in you area.  


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland safes from the 1860's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2014 - Listed in AllExperts Top 50 Experts. All Expert Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

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US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service Area is Northern California (Fresno to Oregon and Western Nevada)

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