Safes & Security Containers/Unusual safe


Recently saw a safe in a workshop in rural Wisconsin.The owner called me to open/identify it.The safe is 45"h x 26" deep x 33"w.The 50 numbered dial was smack in the middle of the single door.To the far left about 2" from the door's opening side were 2 'T' opening handles situated vertically 4.5" apart.(not pressure handles).The 'T' handles were tapered.From a distance the safe appears to be a typical Halls.Dial turned somewhat but owner had a goofy combo for it.Pull dial out R to 30.L to 51 (dial out).Push dial in to R to 26.Dial in L to 9.Open.Needless to say, this didn't work.Sorry, I have no pics.I checked all of McOmie's safe books with no results.When I tried each handle the dial moved slightly.Doesn't appear to be a straight tail-piece.No bind.Help,please.


Without photos I'm not going to be of much help - you know what they say, a photo is worth a thousand words.

While Dave provides good reference material, even if you have all of his volumes, it still only provides a small library of all of the types of safes available, ESPECIALLY with the older safes.   For instance in his volumes 3 & 4 on antique safes, he only provides various models from 19 different manufacturers.   I've done research on about 275.   While I'm not knocking Dave's work at all, it illustrates the necessity for you to have your own library, beyond what Dave provides.   His work should only be a starting point for you, not your complete reference material.

As far as the safe lock NOT opening, there are ONLY three reasons that a safe lock will not open, in order they are:
1.  Incorrect dialing sequence, Operator errors,
2.  Incorrect combination, Wrong numbers
3.  Mechanical problems.

Unfortunately the number one reason is simply the owner NOT understanding how the lock works.   Combinations are passed along the way that an owner understands it and NOT necessarily how the lock works, which is why identification of the safe AND the lock is so critical, so that you can either decipher the combination that the owner has, and/or how the lock should actually operate.

As far as it being a "typical" halls, that isn't a very good observation.  There are only so many ways that you can make a square safe (or rectangle),   Many companies simply copied other what other manufacturers were doing, up to the point of patent infringement, and then made minor changes to call it their own.    Obviously changing or using a different locking arrangement would be a major change, even though the safes may look the same.   So while the safe MAY appear to be "SIMILAR" to a Hall's, it's just as easily NOT.
Also, which Hall's safe company are you referring to?????    Daddy Hall's???? or the son's???

Hall's Safe & Lock Company (1867-1892)
Hall's Safe Company  (1896 to around 1929)

While there are some similarities between the two companies, the sons were forced to make some big changes due to various law suits filed by Herring-Hall-Marvin against them.

So if you are referring to a "Hall's" safe, that gives us a LOT of variations between 1867 through about 1930, and a lot of different locks.

As for your descriptions, I'm not sure what you are indicating by a "pressure handle"???   If you mean that the lock or dial, binds up when you place pressure on the handle, then this would indicate a "straight tail piece" type lock.   If there is no binding, then this would be another type of lock.

I'm not aware of a lock and/or dial arrangement that would be pulled out for part of the combination, and pushed in for the other half of the combination.   While Diebold did have a vault door, with two vault locks, and a single dial, pulling the dial out would allow one lock to be used, and pushing the dial in, would allow the combination to be dialed on the second lock, but it doesn't sound like this is what you are describing.

So at this point, we are still at square one in trying to identify what you have.   Unfortunately even on safes which are open, sometimes the only way to actually ID them is to see photos of the entire safe, inside and out, including the bolt work and lock.   As this safe is locked up, the best we can do is to narrow down the field, but I will need to see photos of what you have.   In addition to a full photo of the front of the safe, I'll need close up's (detail photos) of the wheels and castor supports, hinges, dial & dial ring, and the handle, as well as any other items that may be of interest.   The photos need to be of good enough resolution that I can zoom in to study small details.   Photos which are not clear, don't do any good.    If you can't get back to the safe to obtain the photos, contact the owner to have them provide the photos.

Once we get a look at the container, hopefully we can come up with some ideas of what you are dealing with.   Send the pics to me at:     and I'll take a look at them.

Sorry I can't be of more help at this time.

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 44 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. NOTE: I also answer safe related questions in the Locksmith and Antique Safe Categories sections.


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 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 Experts 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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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, including western Nevada

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