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Locksmithing/info on old cary safe


A friend of mine inherited an old Cary safe from his great-grandfather.  Unfortunately no combination has benn found for it.I myself am a certified locksmith so he thought I might be able to help. I however do not know much about them. The number on the handle is 59831. I would like to be able to help him open this safe.  Any information would be helpful.  Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.

Hi Sammy,

While I understand your willingness to help, hopefully you understand that for security and liability reasons, other than ID-ing the safe we don't give out ANY opening information, including drill points etc.

Based on the serial number that you have provide, I would expect the lock installed to be a Cary C-5 lock.   The safe was made around 1899 so it is an antique.

Note:   As this is an antique safe, and as parts are NOT going to be available, anything that you do to open the safe should not ruin or do any damage that is not totally repairable.

Ruining an antique safe should be punishable by death, but I haven't been able to get congress to pass the law yet!

The Cary C-5 lock is a straight tailpiece type lock, this is a three wheel lock with a front mounted drive wheel, which has nine false gates.     A similar safe was at last years SAVTA convention in Reno, NV.    No one was able to manipulate it open during the week long convention.   It was finally opened by one safe man at the ALOA convention a month or so later.

With a 100 number dial, this would give you 1,000,000 possible combinations - if you can figure out which one of the 10 gate positions is the correct one.

Note:   I NEVER recommend learning on someone's safe, regardless of how good a friend they are.   Ruining an antique safe could cost your friend thousands of dollars in potential value, plus how do you replace a safe owned by his great-grandfather???   Can't be done.

If you don't have the tools and knowledge, then I would recommend that YOU recommend that he contact a trained safe technician, to have the safe opened and repaired correctly.

Hopefully this will be the incentive safe, that will get you to finally jump up your game to get the extra training you need to do safe work.

Good luck with it - remember what Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) said - "A man's GOT to know his limitations"!


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 42 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900'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.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and 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 Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes".

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

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 - 2015 - 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

Past/Present Clients
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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