Locksmithing/Lost Combination


QUESTION: We have had a Cole office cabinet with a built in safe for over 20 years and no one knows the combination. How do I find out the combination?

ANSWER: Hi Julie,

You basically have two choices (I'm assuming that the cabinet is locked closed).

1.   You can test dial all of the possible combinations for the lock.   While the lock can't make use of the 1,000,000 possibilities that the dial would suggest, it can still be around 125,000 possibilities.    Each wheel only uses every other number - problem is from the outside its hard to tell "which - every other number to use"!

The dialing sequence for the lock is:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops - door is open.

Note:   left is counter clockwise, right is clockwise.   DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.

Set up a spreadsheet to account for every possible combination and start dialing.   If you make it an office project it will only take about 5.5 years to test all of the combinations!

2.   Your second option would be to contact a local safe company to have their trained safe tech open it for you.    As lock parts are no longer available it needs to be done as damage free as possible.    Check your yellow pages under safes and vaults for a nearby company.   If you don't have one, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.

Anyone that indicates that they can open the container but will ruin the safe or the lock should be avoided!!!!

Hope this helps,

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

QUESTION: Thank you very much! I think I will go for option #2. Our zip code is 60101 any recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

Hi Julie,

The nearest company that I would recommend would be:

Fink Safe & Lock Co.
2307-11 N. Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647

They should be able to take care of you.  Discuss the project with them to make sure all your questions are answered before you have them do the work.   They should be able to tell you what they are planning and what to expect to pay for the work.   At no time should anyone indicate they can open the container but will ruin it or the lock in the process.


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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

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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