Mosler safe combination



I used to get safe style combination locks at the Los Alamos surplus yard when I was a kid. Some had been drilled when the combination was lost, but some were entact. These were ~ 1950's vintage. You could take the back cover off & figure out what the combination was. Most of them had a hole in the back where you could insert a special key. This would allow you to change the combination. I never had the magic key, or the time to figure out how to make one, but I examined quite a few such locks, and that was clearly the intent. I don't recall if any had a keylock in the dial, but I suspect the combination part is largely the same.
I also know many safe combinations can be changed without heroics from my long association with the MIT pistol range. They have a bunch of surplus safes, and whenever there has been a major change of personnel in the coach/range master position, the MIT locksmith came through & changed most of the combinations. Some of the safes are really ancient, and either are difficult to change, or require an oddball key/tool to do it, so they have remained unchanged for decades. They are typically used for ammo or airguns, with the better safes reserved for the firearms.
As long as it's in your truck, I would take it to a locksmith, because they usually charge more for housecalls. It would be worth checking around to find a really good one. There are a lot of folks claiming to be locksmiths who can't do much more than install locksets & cut keys.
Doug White
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    [ ... ]

    The basics of the key are a shaft which is square (to match the square at the keyhole), with a turned down tip to act as a bearing, another turned down section to act as a bearing in the square hole, and a flange off one of the corners which is milled off the part which goes inside the lock - other than a short piece which just passes through the keyhole and prevents withdrawing the key while it is turned. The end view looks sort of like this:
/\ / \----- \ /----- \/
Allowing for the inability to draw a true square with ASCII graphics. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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They're pretty easy to change out on mine--just remove rear cover and lift the rings off of the splined shaft, reposition them to the new combination and then re--assemble...

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Ignoramus3982 wrote:

If the safe is open just take it on in to the locksmith shop. He should be able to work on the safe right on the back of your trailer and not only set up a combination for you but also check it over to see if there are any problems that could cause a lockout.
It is cheap to have the thing checked while open, but it can get expensive when you are locked out.
If you need me to I can find a good safe guy in your area, but any reputible company should be able to help you with this.
Also, the key in the dial is just to lock the dial for day lock purposes, the main lock is the combination lock. This feature is most often used in an office situation to avoid having to dial open the safe each time.
Roger Shoaf
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I:
alt.locksmiting has a number of informed people on it. Explain your circumstances and legitimacy as you did here and you'll do well. If you want more, search the archives as your question wouild not be unprecedented.
Regards,
Edward Hennessey
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    Yes. (If you have a combination which can open it at least, or got it unlocked.)

    Just to try to figure the period from which it comes, Is the combination dial about 3" diameter, numbers on the side rather than the face, with a knob which is about half that diameter sticking out something like 3/4" or 1" from the body of the dial? It it fairly metal colored, with a black dot in the middle of the knob about 2/3 the diameter of the knob? If so, it is from the same period as the ones on the security file cabinets which I used to deal with at work. Oh yes, does the dial read from 0 to 99?
    The first thing is to get the combination open -- or if it is already open, *don't* close it. (You can experiment with the door open, the the worst problem likely to be that you will lock it open.
    Anyway -- new from the factory, these come with a combination which I may have backwards so I'll give it both ways. It starts CCW, with each subsequent number reversing the previous direction. There are three significant digits, plus a final stop on zero. (This stopping point can be changed on some, but I've always seen them left standard.)
    The combination is either 25-50-25-0 or 50-25-50-0. Crank it CCW until the first number has passed the index at least three times and stop on the forth or more (it does not hurt anything but your patience to turn more times for this first number.) Then turn it CW until the number you have just set hits the index two times and then go to the next number (*don't* overshoot, or you will have to start over). Then turn CCW again until you have reached the number just dialed once and go to the next number. Finally, turn CW again and stop at zero. After this, the handle should allow it to be unlocked.
    If whoever got rid of this did not lock it open, or reset it to the factory combination, then you will *really* need the locksmith to open it, and then repair it. Typically, the critical places for drilling a lock of this sort open are covered with concrete filled with old carbide inserts -- designed to destroy your drill. :-) The locks are also designed so if you cut off the dial and drive the shaft through, you will lock the lock *forever* -- nothing you can do will allow it to be opened -- other than cutting your way into the safe and removing the lock. :-)
    There will be access behind it -- usually with a door of some sort and several thick (1/4" or so) pieces of steel blocking access to it. You lift these out, and then remove the four screws which hold the lock together. The backplate will come out with a stack of three black plastic discs on it with a rectangular notch on the edge of each disc. Each of these discs have a hub which pops out, and a pointer so the hub and the disc can be set to any number from 0 to 99.
    You set the combination by changing each hub pointer to set the desired number. IIRC, the disc closest to the knob is the first number, and the other two are in sequence following that. If you want to change the final zero, take the knob out (requires a bit more work on the body of the lock) and check for a 100-point spline connecting the shaft to the back of the dial. I've seen this on some Sargent & Greenleaf security file cabinet locks, but I don't know whether it is present on the Mosler locks. (The S&G knobs have a thumb tab in the center of the knob which has to be rotated to engage the part which draws back the bolt -- and it is possible that one may have been fitted to the Mosler safe at some point. These locks don't have to be disassembled to reset them. There is a special keyhole in the back. You dial the old combination, install the key and rotate it 90 degrees, then dial the desired new combination using a second index mark a bit CCW from the normal one. Once the new combination is dialed, return the key to the proper position, and withdraw it.
    After changing the combination, try to work the lock at least twice to make sure that you can open it *** before *** you close the safe.

    Is it open? Are you *sure*. If it isn't open, do you have a combination for it? If not, expect a lot of work on somebody's part.
    How big is it? One of the little cubes used for normal valuables, or a gun safe or something of the sort?
    Do you want to let the locksmith set the combination, or do you want to do it yourself? My own preference is to do it myself, so I know that nobody else has the combination. (Well -- at work, the combinations were changed about every six months, and the new combinations were written on a special card, sealed in a special envelope, and locked in the safe of the next level of management up. (They *really* don't want to have to drill a safe open. :-) It all depends on how valuable the contents will be -- and whether you want someone else to be able to open it after you die.
    You might get the locksmith to set a combination for you that you know you can use to open it later, and then set it yourself later. If it has a S&G lock fitted, see if he can sell you the key to allow combination changes. They usually come packaged with each new lock.
    Here is an open view of the S&G locks which I was familiar with:
    <http://www.sargentandgreenleaf.com/MC-8400.php
    Hmm ... looks as though Mosler now has some with the S&G type of resetting key.
    <http://www.lockmasters.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdIDG940
    Good Luck,         DoN.
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Ignoramus3982 wrote:

That looks nice. Some fresh paint, and some interior reworking with carpet and one of the goldenrod heaters should make a very nice gun safe. Perhaps stick a little NAS box in there for secure data storage and skip the goldenrod heater. I presume you got it for next to nothing :)
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    O.K. This is a form of security file cabinet -- and the walls are likely asbestos embedded in concrete. If you want to make it into a gun safe -- assuming long guns, you are going to have to cut out the shelves, exposing yourself to the concrete/asbestos dust.
    The thing is designed to resist fire for some amount of time, without letting the contents burn up.
    It is certainly an older style of lock, but I think that maybe my description will still work.
    Is that really an electrical fitting on the back? If so, what does it connect to? (Or is that a bottom view?)
    The *lock* was from Mosler, but it is not clear whether the file-cabinet/safe was also. Mosler (and others) sell locks to other makers.
    If you don't have a key to fit the key lock on the front, that is something the locksmith can do for you.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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On 1/22/2011 12:40 AM, DoN. Nichols wrote:

Don,
My guess is that this is not a file safe but an equipment safe used when COMSEC equipment has to be left keyed. Notice what appears to be conduit going into the safe. Fire was probably not a major concern.
Kevin Gallimore
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wrote:

Oh, very nice. I betcha that dates back to the 60's and may have even been AEC era.
You gonna buy the Pagoda when that gets surplused?
Tim.
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Found this. It's worth a try.....Paul
How to Change the Combination to a Mosler Safe B. C. Bryant
Instructions Things You'll Need: a.. Safe key Current combination to the safe a.. Step 1: Locate the change mark. Look for the change mark on the dial ring around 11 o'clock. b.. Step 2: Dial the combination that currently opens the Mosler safe on this change mark. Do not return to "0" on the dial ring. Simply stop on the final number to the current combination. c.. Step 3: Locate the flat rod. On the left side of the safe, near the front of the drawer, you will see a small, flat rod. This rod must be up in order for the handle to raise. Having the flat rod up will allow you to lock the Mosler safe with the drawer open. d.. Step 4: Redial the current combination in the same way described in Step 2. e.. Step 5: Insert the key into the back of the lock and turn halfway; that is, turn the key halfway around, 180 degrees. Do not complete the full circle. f.. Step 6: Dial the new combination starting at the 11 'o clock mark discussed in Step 1. Be sure to stop on the last number. Do not use a number less than 20 for the last number. g.. Step 7: Turn key back and remove the key from the lock.
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Awesome, thanks

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wrote:

First and foremost. If is is open don't close or lock until the combination thing is well in hand. Second - All the details needed are online. The combination lock is probably a Sargent & Greenleaf. If it is Mosler it is probably an elderly combination lock.
Remove the inner panel of the door that the combination lock is on, remove the combination lock and take it to a GOOD safe place and have it serviced.
Unload the safe after removing the combination lock and put it wherever. The mechanical work to service the safe minus the combination lock is not that difficult.
While looking things over keep ypour eyes open for the serial number. I have a 50 year old Mosler that took a while to find the brass tag that was the serial number. The number was not on the handle as several indicated.
More later after I read the 20 some replies you have.
Bob AZ
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?Won? With eBay I think you mean you were the high bidder; but is that winning...or losing?
If it is anything like the containers I worked on, yes.
First rule: Put a bolt or padlock through the drawer side so it can NOT be accidently closed...... until you are good and ready.
Access: The lock may well have a sheet-metal cover behind it [backside of the drawer-front]. Further, on a good container, there may be blocks of lead behind the lock case. (They deter x-raying from outside.) Lift them out out.
Tools: There should be a keyhole on the lock. If so it IS key-settable. Obtaining a change-key for that model lock is left as an exercise for the student. AFAIK there is no restriction on their sale; it's worthless unless you are already inside the container. You can likely make one.
Wheels: The lock has wheels with inner and outer parts. The wheels may be metal or Delron, again a defense against X-raying. The outer part has notches that the gate must fall into to open the lock. With three wheels, all three must line up their notches for the gate to drop. (Some uber-secure locks had 4 wheels.)
How: What the key does is decouple the wheel inner and outer sections. You first line up the hole in the wheels so the key goes in; then give it a quarter turn, THEN dial in the new combination, Then lock the wheels, pull the key and TEST THE NEW COMBINATION.
Then TEST THE NEW COMBINATION.
You can see all this with the back cover of the lock off. Note there's a gotcha to keep the gate from dropping with the cover off, but you can still spin the wheels.
Did I mention... TEST THE NEW COMBINATION before you think of closing the drawer. Where will you keep the new combination written down?
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David Lesher wrote:

I'd keep it in my wallet, with my ID, certified Birth Certificate, combination to my bike lock, and debit card.
Cheers! Rich
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On Fri, 21 Jan 2011 15:01:43 -0800, Rich Grise

Don't forget the spare car and house keys, along with the list of all your Internet usernames and passwords.
-- Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air... -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Larry Jaques wrote:

I only have one house key; I keep it in my left front pants pocket. And I don't have a car. They say "life sucks without a car," but I'm doing embarrassingly well for a man who's ostensibly penniless. The bike serves double duty - I have everything I need within a mile or so, and I get my daily exercise on it. :-)
And, possibly stupidly, I only ever use two passwords, that are really, really easy for me to remember, but unlikely to be guessed, albeit a dedicated password sniffer would get past just about any password, eventually.
And I have another one that I use if I need real security, that's also really really easy for me to remember, but uses several special characters.
Did you know that you can embed ASCII blanks (0x20) in a password?
But then again, I don't really need any security - to paraphrase Mr. Youngman, "Take my identity - please!" ;-)
My PIN isn't written down anywhere, but I have $0.07 in my account, so no big deal.
The bank recently gave me the option for overdraft coverage. I said, "Nah, if I don't have enough money, just decline the card."
Cheers! Rich
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    [ ... ]

    Looking at the photos, I think that it is older -- before the S&G patent expired so Mosler could also make key-settable locks -- but he will have to open the back of the door to be sure of this.
    Come to think of it -- there is no resetting index visible on the dial, so it will have to be disassembled to reset the combination.
    [ ... ]

    There is another gotcha on some which will permanently lock the bolt in position if you do manage to withdraw it with the cover off. (You can reset it -- as long as the cover is off. If the door is closed, you are out of luck.

    One thing which we did at work was to memorize words (or sometimes short sentences for several safes in a row), and look the letters in the words up on a phone dial -- two letters per combination number. (A few digs at certain employees were included in those sentences. :-) This does eliminate combinations with ones or zeros in them -- unless you take the two missing letters from the phone dial (Q and Z) and mentally put them on 1 and 0. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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Mosler locks were not GSA approved, so I never worked on such. (Some agencies had waivers for same inside well-cotrolled areas.) But I agree that no resetting index is indicative.

The S&G's had several "relock" schemes. One was a solder blob; heat the box and it melts. The other was the the back cover relock. Lose either and drilling is pointless.
The new boxes use hardplate that is undrillable. The SOP is now a cutting wheel. It clamps on the top, and pivots down; cutting a ~0.75" wide vertical slot in each side of the front AND the 1" bar behind it. That gives you slack to push the bars inward and open the drawer. Then replace the drawerfront, reusing the untouched lock...AFTER setting and recording the combination.

Record on the SF-600, a 4x6 size form with several layers and partial carbon paper. The result is one copy with the combination, one without.
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