Locksmithing/cary safe


Inherited my grandfathers office safe. He was an attorney in South Dakota in the1900-1950 era.
Safe has been drilled out once and is open. Dial is frozen as is handle. On handle is SN 769. Patent is Sept. 16, 1890. Had combination once but misplaced it.

Would like to get it up and working. Need closest , qualified expert. Will appreciate any info. I am a retired attorney myself.

Bob Clark

Hi Bob,

The serial number on the handle isn't right for the patent dates on the dial.   The serial number should be above 23000.   The lock could be either a Cary C3 or C5 depending on the serial number.

The lock and bolt work on this safe would use what we term a "straight tailpiece" design.   If the handle and bolt work are NOT fully extended, it WILL jam up the dial.
If the handle seems to be frozen / with no play, it is probably either slightly rusted and/or something may be jammed in the edge of the door or under the bolt work.

Step one:    the handle will have to be turned to the fully extended position to free the dial.
Step two:    Dial the combination - which you don't have.
Step three:  Turn handle to open position

So basically even if you get the dial to free up, you are still going to need a safe tech to open the safe for you.

I'll need a zip code for where you and/or the safe are located to see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.

Probably the first guy I would recommend would be:

Protection Lock and Equipment
770-436-0302          Ron Snively
2347 Beaver Creek Road
Smyrna, GA 30080

Smyrna is slightly north of Atlanta, so its "kinda-sorta" the middle of the state.

Hope this helps,  


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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".

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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.

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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

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