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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
Hmm ... looks as though Mosler now has some with the S&G type of
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
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
If you don't have a key to fit the key lock on the front, that
is something the locksmith can do for you.
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.
Found this. It's worth a try.....Paul
How to Change the Combination to a Mosler Safe
B. C. Bryant
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
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.
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
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
More later after I read the 20 some replies you have.
?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.
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.
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.
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.)
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
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
A host is a host from coast to email@example.com
& no one will talk to a host that's close........[v].(301) 56-LINUX
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,
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."
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. :-)
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.
A host is a host from coast to firstname.lastname@example.org
& no one will talk to a host that's close........[v].(301) 56-LINUX
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