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Locksmithing/Opening a Star Safe Model E8H


Star Safe Model E8H
Star Safe Model E8H  

We have an old Star Safe model E3H.  The issue we have is that we don't know if its a 3 or 4 digit(s) combination - we found the old numbers which have 3 or 4 numbers listed; just wanted to see if we can narrow down the time it takes to open.  

On the red dial on the front is the writing "Compton 3" does this suggest 3 cylinders?

Any help would be appreciated


ANSWER: Hi Blair,

I'm not sure what the "3" referenced on the dial, but there was never a four wheel lock produced for these safes.
If I remember correctly the model number stands for:
E:     E rated safe / UL-TL15 equivalent.
8:     8" diameter round door
H:     Hinged door

The dialing sequence for the lock on this safe 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 - stopping at "0" - push the dial in and continue right until it stops - about 75ish!

Note:   If the combination is correct, the dial should stay pushed in, if the combination isn't correct the dial will spring back out at any point.

When the dial comes to a stop, at about 75, the bolt work has been retracted and the door can be pulled open.

concerning the numbers that you may have found.   People generally write combinations down the way that THEY understand them to work, and NOT necessarily the way the lock actually works.   If the numbers were coded in any fashion they may also not work, so if they don't work the first time, you may need to do a little detective work to try to determine what the owner was thinking.

The lock on this safe is/was Star's unique, proprietary, manipulation resistive design.   This means that if the combination doesn't work, you basically have two options for opening the safe

1.   You can test dial ALL of the 1,000,000 possible combinations until you find the correct one that opens the safe, or
2.   You can have it opened by a trained safe technician.   

Note:   As part for these locks are not readily available, and the current kits may not work without replacing ALL of the lock components, having a safe technician (not a locksmith) open the safe should NOT result in any damage that is unrepairable.    While it may be necessary to drill a small hole in the safe to open it, if done right the lock and safe door should NOT be ruined.

If you elect to have a safe technician open it, contact a local SAFE company, again, not a locksmith company.   If you don't have one in your area, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.

Hope this helps,

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


Thank you so much for your help.  We'll give it a go!  Just in case, can you recommend a safe technician in the 92625 area?

Thanks again and for getting back to me during the holidays!

Best regards


Hi Blair,

I've got a friend who has a boat/marine maintenance shop in Newport Beach - but I don't think that will help you much.

I do have two really good contacts that both cover the entire LA region, you can contact one or both of them to discuss having the safe opened.

Professional Safecracking
760-805-2958          Todd Kern
Temecula, CA

Stratton Safes
909-963-0801          Neil Stratton
240 Maple Ave., Ste G
Beaumont, CA   92223

Todd is strictly mobile, so he is used to traveling and possibly has more available time.   Neil actually has a brick & Mortar company, so he may have less available time, however both of these guys are top notch.

There are a number of other small companies that may be closer than either of these two, but none that I know personally or can vouch for their expertise.

Hope this helps,


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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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