Locksmithing/Meilink Safe

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Question
QUESTION: My parents bought a Meilink Safe many years ago to secure their coin collection. I believe it is a commercial type safe as they bought it from a Bank that was closing. Dad has passed and Mom doesn't know the combination, and it has been lost. The safe door is open,and the handle is still in the "open" position. There are access panels on the back side of the front door. I have been told that by removing the panels we will be able to determine what the combination is. Is this correct? It seems to me that were about 7 or 9 numbers in the combination. It wasn't a simple 3 number Master Lock !!   It is Meilink Safe Model A 15385.  It also has a ReLock Device code.  I will share that number if you require it. What is a ReLock Device ? We appreciate any and all info you may be able to share with us.
Thank you,
John

ANSWER: Hi John,

I NEVER recommend lock disassembly as a DIY project for the SAME reason that I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for safe work.    Lack of knowledge, training and/or tools CAN and does result in VERY expensive lockouts

As far as it being a "commercial" type safe - this ISN'T a rating or actual description of what you have.  Safes are rated in their ability to either keep HEAT out of the safe, or to keep PEOPLE out of a safe - burglary resistive.    Some safes offer both burglary and fire resistance.

Based on your description the safe is simply a standard fire resistive safe designed to keep documents ONLY safe in a fire.    I will be happy to verify what you actually have but I'll need photos of your safe and all of the decals or labels a fixed to it.

As the safe and lock WILL have to be partially disassembled, the combo recovered or reset and then everything reassembled correctly, I don't recommend this as a DIY project.

While this may seem like a simple job when the safe tech does it, there are dozens of items that he should be looking at or inspecting.    Once the combination is recovered and/or reset, if the safe has also been serviced then It should be okay to use.

The relocking device is an item which is attached to the lock and/or bolt work which activates when it thinks the lock or bolt work is being tampered with.   Failure to reassemble this device correctly WILL ensure a very expensive lockout.

While the safe is yours and you are free to try to recover the combination by looking the lock and using observation to determine the combination and the correct turns, just remember that we don't teach basic safe lock servicing and/or this web page is not designed  to be that service.

If you determine to take it appart, then go ahead and proceed.    DO NOT close and lock the safe door until you have confirmed that it works correctly.     If you have any problems - stop what you are doing and have it serviced by a local safe company.

Hope this helps,


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

QUESTION: Hi Andy, Thank you very much for you response! I was assuming it was a commercial grade safe because it had come from a bank. It weighs over 500lbs. I will take pictures of the safe tomorrow, along with all ID Plates and anything else that would help to identify the safe. I thought I had seen somewhere that it has a 1hr fire rating. Oh! Trust me, we won't be closing the door!  We would really like to be able to use it again. Thanks again Andy, I look forward to speaking with you again.
John

ANSWER: Hi John,

Commercial grade safes generally start at about 750 lbs and go up.    Chances are your safe is only a "FIRE" resistive safe, designed for general purpose storage of documents.    These containers could easily be found in small businesses or at home.    They have very little burglary resistance and so, are not recommended for storage of anything other than small amounts of "petty cash".

The combination would consist of "THREE" numbers - (note:   the number 27 would be considered ONE number - not two) - as in 27-73-34.    The correct dialing sequence would be:

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 -  should be around 90.

As far as the lock NOT being a simple Master padlock - while you are correct, it is a much better lock, the actual operation is VERY similar.

Looking forward to seeing your photos so I can answer any other questions you might have.


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

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QUESTION: Hi Andy, I have taken a few photos of the safe for you. I hope they will help identify the safe.
For some reason, I seem to remember the combination being more than 3 or 4 numbers.....but I am older now and may not remember as well as I thought!
You are absolutely right on the last number....it has a dial that goes to 99....with the handle in the open position the dial will not turn more than just a few numbers, and it is right around 90.
With it being a Meilink safe, I also contacted Meilink through their website. I received information from them saying that for $103 they will tell me the original factory combination, but will not guarantee the combo will work. It is a non-refundable fee and we are having a hard time justifying spending that much money on a "maybe". They mentioned that the combination may have been changed.....just as you mentioned that was possible. I understand that it probably isn't a job for a novice....I am a retired mechanic from UPS, and have an understanding of how things work, and consider myself to be mechanically inclined..... and probably know just enough to get myself in trouble.....Would you attempt to open it up and try to identify the old combo ??  Or re-set the combo?  Is there a step by step "How-To" guide to accomplish this?
I enjoy talking about this with you and do appreciate your time and help!
John

Answer
Hi John,

I agree that spending the money for something that is a big maybe, isn't prudent.    If it doesn't work, then you will still need to have the combo recovered which means paying more money.

Recommendation - save the money and have it done right the first time.

Options:
1.   You can have a safe tech from a local safe company come out and recover or reset the combination.
2.   You can pull the door off the hinges and take it in to your local safe company to have the combo recovered or reset.
Difference - option one will have a mobile service charge plus the combo change/recovery.    Option two you won't have to pay to have them come to you, but it means taking the time to drive to their shop.

As far as your mechanical ability - I don't doubt it, however I wouldn't take a clock apart to try to figure out what time it is as chances are I wouldn't get it back together correctly.   The difference is - if you don't put the lock back together correctly and you close the door you could easily be spending an additional $500 to have it opened and repaired.

much simpler and cheaper to have it done right the first time.

As for "how to guides" - there are none.   There may be some you tube videos, however they may not pertain to your safe or lock.    I do not recommend lock disassembly as a DIY project for the same reason that I don't recommend using locksmiths for safe work.    Lack of training, knowledge and/or tools CAN and does result in expensive lockouts.

Hope this helps,

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

Organizations
SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association

Education/Credentials
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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