problem with secondhand safe

Last weekend, I finally found a safe that was large enough to store my small collection of handguns in. After haggling with the guy, I finally got him down to $220 for a decent Sargent and Greenleaf Inc. safe. Its about 3' X 3' and an olive green color, though I can't find the model number (most of the identifying marks have either been worn off. Although the outside of the safe isn't in all that good condition, I was only really interested in it for the security.

Anyway, I watched the guy open it there and he gave me the code to the safe. I got it home and started to pack anything I thought needed to be in there into the safe. My wife came home, saw the safe, and wanted to "try it out". Needless to say, the safe locked wonderfully, but the combination doesn't work so good. I hadn't been able to find the same guy I bought it from at the market and now I'm kind of stuck. I was really hoping that I wasn't going to have to spend even more money on this old safe, and find some way to discover the combination on my own. Anyone have a cheaper way to find this information out, or should I be scouring the phone book to find someone who would be skilled enough to get this darn thing open?


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how many numbers in the code? 3?

turn LEFT, at least 4 times to the first number.. turn RIGHT, stopping when the SECOND NUMBER comes up the THIRD TIME.

turn LEFT, stopping when the THIRD number comes up the SECOND time..

turn right, and hopefully is should open about when the dial hits 85..

and S&G didnt make the safe, thats the lock ONLY..


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Not to insult you, but are you certain you're dialing the combo correctly?

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If you are dialing correctly, you can try dialing to one nummber lower and one number higher on each of the combo digits. You will spend a while doing this, but you may discover the combination and get it open.

Your last option is to carry it to a locksmith (to save the cost of the service charge) and ask if it would be economical to have it opened. If you can leave it with a locksmith to have it opened at the locksmith's leisure, with no deadline for her to meet, you'll get the best price.

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Another thing to try is spinning the dials "the wrong" directions. Sometimes someone mis-sets a safe for the reverse combination, which is not mechanically identical to the forward combination.

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Joe Kesselman

BTW, this is part of why we tell folks that the very first thing they should do with a used safe is get it cleaned, inspected, and if necessary repaired, *BEFORE* they consider locking the door. In addition to the suggestions made about possible mis-dialing, it isn't impossible that the lock has simply failed. Better hope not, because lockouts are expensive.

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Joe Kesselman

What does that mean? Does it work at all? or never? Are you sure you're dialing the right combo? Is it a mechanical lock? If so try dialing one or two digits off in either direction for each number. Try tapping near the dial with a nonmaring hammer after you dial the last number. You got it right side up don't you? If not it probably won't open. Assuming a 3 digit combo and mechanical lock it's probably:

4 turns L 3 turns R 2 turns L R to stop.

Is that how you're dialing? Try changing the order of the numbers you might have the combo mixed up.

I hadn't been able to find the same

If the safe has no inside panel to remove covering the lockcase and has a plain old plate steel bottom then this might work for you fairly easily:

Turn the safe upside down. Cut a hole in the bottom big enough to work through. Torch grinder whatever. Take the back off the lock case. Line the wheel gates up under the fence and open the lock. Weld the bottom up and it's good as new. This is not the way I'd do it now but it is the way I opened the first safe I ever did before I had books or much in the way of tools. Not a bad method for an amateur if the box is not bolted down because the repair (if you can weld) is very cheap and simple. If you have good basic mechanical ability and it's a simple lock design e.g. S&G 6730 or similar you shoudln't have any problem if you aren't mechanically inclined then call a pro. If the lock is electronic then most of what I posted won't apply. If you get it open: PUT THE BACK COVER BACK ON and try the combo at least 5 times with the door open. If it works close the door and try it at least 5 more times before you weld the hole up. Even if it works perfectly I would reccomend you take it to a locksmith and have the lock serviced.

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PS when the back cover is off there is going to be a relocker that blocks the mechanism from unlocking you will have to manually disengage it once you have the wheels lined up to retract the bolt. Once again if you are mechanically inclined then you should easily see how it works if you aren't then don't try it.

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Ottawa Canada

Hi Matt:

Unfortunately the best and quickest way to get the stuff you put into the safe out of it and the combination figured out is to look in the Yellow Pages under Locksmiths or Safes, sales and service and have a qualified safeman open the safe one way or another and examine the lock, locking bars and the safe generally, for wear tear and parts that may need replacing as they are ready to fail if you look at them the wrong way.

He can also tell you the security level of the safe, e.g. TRTL 15, TXTL 60 or whatever it was rated by Underwriters Laboratories, the organization that advises insurance companies what the maximum time delay to get into the safe is, using a torch, tools and in some cases high explosives!

Your safe may be adequate for storing firearms or you may want to just get your stuff out of it and buy a brand new or fully rreconditioned safe of adequate size for your arsenal and valuables.

Be sure to write the combination down before you forget it! Having the combination will help the safeman get the safe open as it could be you are dialling the combination wrong, have a number off a bit or in the worst case, the lock has a mechanical failure rendering it unopenable without the tools, torch and know-how of an experienced sfeman.

Good luck and in future, remember to try dialling the combination a few times BEFORE you close the door of the safe!

This advice is given by safemen to people with safes ranging from little ones to the largest of bank vaults.


( snipped-for-privacy@doma> Last weekend, I finally found a safe that was large enough to store my

Reply to
Brian K.Lingard

Reminds me of the time I was at a business. They had an old floor safe, also with a S and G lock. The guy mentioned to me that it hadn't been used in ages, cause too many people knew the combination. I asked if it worked. He said sure, slammed the door and locked it. And then he went into the blank faced look as he tried to remember the numbers.

I didn't want to tell him how badly he'd screwed up by closing the door. Lucky for him, he did remember the numbers after awhile.

Next time you buy a safe (and anyone else out there reading these words) try the combination three times at the second hand shop before you load the safe into your vehicle. With the seller standing right by you, watching you turn the dial.

Reply to
Stormin Mormon

One of the biggest dialing problems I have seen is that people in general have learned to work a combination lock by using a master padlock. Safe combo locks do not work the same way in that you do not "pass" the previous number in counting your rotations. So if it is 3 numbers say, 20-50-30 you turn the dial all the way around stopping on 20 4 times. Then turn the dial in the opposite direction and stop on 50 3 times, then turn in the opposite direction and stop on 30 twice, then turn it to between 0 and 10 or wherever the opening position is.

All else fails, and you can't find the guy you bought it from, carry it to a locksmith/safeman and with the combination in hand ask him to teach you to open it. As long as the lock hasn't failed miserably it will not cost you a prohibitive amount. Of course if it has you may be in for a few bucks.

Once it is opened, ask the locksmith to "service" the lock. This will involve completely disassembling it, replacing worn parts, and properly lubricating it before reassembling and setting your combination. It will normally including showing you how to open it, and actually watching you perform the opening process at least once before leaving.

If you mention your city and state, you may get some recommendations.

-- A

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