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Introduction

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Fabricator-X

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Posts: 24

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:14 am

Location: Colorado

Post Thu Sep 24, 2015 1:55 am

Introduction

Hello folks. I had found my way to this forum with a Google search for information about manipulating an old (about 1890) Hall's safe with a 130 unit dial. That lead me to an older thread which appears to have ended in July 2013, but without containing any conclusion. There is however quite a bit if information in it that is going to be helpful if I end up having an opportunity to try to open it for the owner. My "handle" in this forum is based on my primary avocation and that is that I fabricate many different things, mostly right now for cars and aircraft. I work in several mediums, materials and systems. I am an intuitive engineer and I am a problem solver in other settings by primary profession.

I find myself in this realm now by chance, and have so far figured out how to manipulate two older safes, one an HHM from about 1917 to 1920, I think, and the other of unknown make but with a Yale & Towne lock, and it might be older than 100 years. The HHM took me two tries about a year apart, each of several hours, but the Yale surrendered itself in less than three hours of dialing.

The next one, if I am able to get involved is a very large Hall's Safe and Lock Co safe and is referred to as a "Two-Ton Safe." It is apparently nearly 5 feet tall, over 3 feet wide and about 30 inches deep. I would like to end up with it if I get to try, and succeed, to open it, but it is on the third floor of an old building and I have very little idea of how I might get it down and out and into my trailer; and it is about 7 hours away.

Now I wonder what became of Cooper's thread about the RR museum safe he was working on. There are a few things mentioned in posts in that thread that I would like to ask about, besides the outcome.
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Neilau

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Joined: Wed May 15, 2013 4:29 am

Location: Australia

Post Thu Sep 24, 2015 2:38 am

Re: Introduction

Big Welcome.

Lots of info and expertise here.

Looking forward to hearing of your "adventures" with the combos.
Clark's Law (Arthur C)

For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.
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10ringo10

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Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 5:45 pm

Location: EUROPE

Post Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:20 am

Re: Introduction

welcome - I remember this a few of us got involved - think cooper was writing a article at the time and was researching
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Fabricator-X

Familiar Face

Posts: 24

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:14 am

Location: Colorado

Post Thu Sep 24, 2015 2:30 pm

Re: Introduction

I have come into this safecracking field wholey by happenstance. An elderly lady who had been a friend and client for many years changed her estate plan when her only son predeceased her, and so she left much of her modest estate to me. When she passed away a year or so ago and I started going through her stuff I discovered a large old safe in her garage covered with a sheet of some kind and very much other stuff that should have been thrown away long before. It is the Herring, Hall,& Marvin Safe that is about 44 inches tall, 28 or so wide and about 25 inches deep. The only markings on it are the maker's name and that is imprinted in tiny letters around the knob of the dial on the lock. The safe has been repainted crudely, probably more than once. I am sure from some other history I discovered, that it came out of an old Hotel here in town when she shut down the bar in the hotel that she ran for several years just before I became acquainted with her. I could not find the combination to the safe anywhere in her house.

The dial on the safe indicates that it has had very much usage, probably given that it was used in the Hotel regularly for guests' items. The dial and its shaft will move up and down about 1mm and sideways about half that much. Last year I went online to learn what I could about safecracking without having it drilled. I also checked with the local locksmith and he said that manipulating only works about 15 percent of the time so it will likely have to be drilled. I found and read what looked like pretty good stuff on manipulating and spent several hours trying that. In my first graphing attempt I found what looked like three indicated numbers, but they would not open the safe. I couldn't understand some things I was trying to learn, like "parking the wheels" and some others I have forgotten, so I finally gave up. I let it go for about a year and have just been working on the property getting it ready to sell.

About a month or so ago I got interested in trying again to open the Safe, so I just started over. In fact I had pretty much forgotten much of what I had previously learned anyway. I went back online and found some of what I had found before, but not the best of it, but I found quite a bit more, and even bought three booklets about manipulating; and then I downloaded and printed The National Locksmiths Guide to: MANIPULATION. That was the best help so far.

I again started graphing (but I just write the numbers down and don't actually draw the graph) and I have what I call a micrometer eye, so I used tenth increments between the dial marks. First I had previously found that turning this dial revealed absolutely nothing, and I had discovered that last year. There is no feel of anything and the dial turns very smoothly. Then I found that by turning the handle CCW I could feel the lever running on the wheel which must be the drive wheel or cam, and I can then very clearly find the gap on the drive wheel. I later learned that this makes it a direct drive type of lock. I also learned later that the lever is on the bottom and works upward into the gaps.

In my first graph I again found three numbers, one indicating pretty clearly around about 29 to 32, and another around 12 and one around 83. Then I had to learn how to dial the combination if I had one. Out of that research I decided that this lock is likely a Yale, but it isn't marked that I can so far find, so I decided it would be a RLRL method of dialing. Back to the smooth running dial, I couldn't even feel the wheels as they are picked up in dialing AWL or AWR, so I had to guess that it is a three wheel lock. Later I discovered that by spinning the dial I could actually hear the three clicks or clinks as the wheels were picked up, so that was confirmed. My efforts to dial the three numbers I thought I might have found did not open the safe. So I studied my results some and tried some other things.

I finally decided that perhaps the only number I had found in my graph was the number around 30. I graphed it some more using every number on the dial from about 25 to 35 and finally decided it was either 29 or 30. With the wear in this lock I suspect either one will work. So, I went through some dialing of various hypothetical combinations to try to find which wheel 30 might be on. I did that is several different ways that I don't recall exactly but the results were pretty confusing. I finally decided, after looking at all of my data, that the number 30 must be on the second wheel.

Then I started graphing the last wheel putting 20 on the first (randomly selected) and 30 on the second then testing number three at every second number from 90 downward. The gap, by the way, is 91 to 06. I had earlier learned, or mislearned, that none of the combination numbers would be in the gap. With the graph of the third wheel I got a clear indication the the last number in the Combination is 42. In fact I think I stopped graphing there when I got that indication it was so clear.

Then I started testing the first wheel by dialing combinations with 90 then 88 then 86 and so forth in the combination each time and that was a lot of dialing. I got all the way down to just above the 6, at 8 and found absolutely no indication and the lock didn''t open. While I was sitting there thinking about starting the whole process over again it occurred to me that what I had more recently learned and had not paid much attention to was that it is only the last number in the combination that should not be in the gap and I :kik: was searching the first wheel, so I dialed 6, 30 and 42, with no result, but at 4, 30, and 42 the damn handle finally turned all the way and the safe was open. What a thrill. My young daughter happened to be there with me and was nearby so we were able to share the moment together.

Then we had the enjoyment of going through all that was in the safe. It didn't make us rich, but it made the effort mildly worth our while; and now the safe is probably worth a bit more since I have the combination. Now I am mildly addicted and will tell you more about the other one later.

OH, one other thing I learned about this from that last graph of the first wheel is that the wheels are not concentric. The graphs would show smooth curves from 92.3 and 4.8 at 90 gradually changing to 93.2 and 4.1 at about 40 then back to 92.3 and 4.8 at 10 and even 92.0 and 5.0 at 6. I didn't graph any more across the gap after it opened at 4. That first wheel is either not concentric or it is not round. That fact is probably the thing that both helps and hinders manipulation by hiding some of the gaps, but by making opportunities to graph seperate wheels by parking the others in different locations, if I am using the word "parking" correctly.
Last edited by Fabricator-X on Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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xeo

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Location: East Coast, USA

Post Thu Sep 24, 2015 6:41 pm

Re: Introduction

Longest 2nd post ever. :D

Welcome.

You should avalanche into the chat/
Image
The code is hidden in the tumblers. One position opens the lock, another position opens one of these doors...
http://www.youtube.com/xeotech1

(ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

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Oldfast

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OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer

Posts: 3898

Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:16 pm

Location: Michigan

Post Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:37 pm

Re: Introduction

FANTASTIC battle that I very much enjoyed reading!! It was almost like I was right there with you.
After all that research and all that time that had elapsed since your first try... I felt the adrenaline
as you were getting close to the opening. Ha! Great stuff & congrats on opening that BEAST.

Also... this made me laugh a bit...
Fabricator-X wrote:.....I also checked with the local locksmith and he said that manipulating
only works about 15 percent of the time so it will likely have to be drilled.
And don't get me wrong - I'm no locksmith or safe technician, so forgive me if I put my foot in my mouth.
But I would wager that just the opposite is true. The vast majority of lockouts can usually be overcome
through dialing diagnostics or manipulation, while the smaller percentage of them would require drilling.

And you mentioned you have a "micrometer eye" that allows you to read in tenths, lol. That's great!
I too read in tenths... but it took me a long time to really acquire an eye for it. In fact I still struggle
sometimes depending on the dial. Sometimes I have to take a few minutes to get acclimated.

I wish I could be of some use to you with that "two-ton" you might work on...
but I honestly don't know much when it comes to some of the older locks.
You're in the right place though. There's a couple people around here that
seem to have the "lost library" of golden info. Stick around and I'm sure you'll
eventually feast your eyes upon some stuff that'll NEVER turn up on google.

Anyway, welcome to the forum. I definitely look forward to seeing you around.
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."
http://www.youtube.com/Oldfast911
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Fabricator-X

Familiar Face

Posts: 24

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:14 am

Location: Colorado

Post Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:10 pm

Re: Introduction

I thought I would post in this thread again since I just discovered something about my first safe manipulation that I had not realized before, and I also thought my second post here might be of some help to Fritz in his Monkey Ward manipulation.

In my first manipulation I had inherited an old safe and did not have the combination. I went online and found a lot of information about the process and one of the things I learned, or mis-learned, was that a safe manufacturer will advise the owner that none of the combination numbers should be put in the area of the gap--between the left and right contact points. That was not correct, but I don't know now if I misunderstood it or it was published wrong.

However, what I did first with what I initially had learned was to run a first graph, and I did so from zero or 100 down to zero again. In that graph I had found what looked like three good indications of gates, one at 3, one at 15 and one at 30. Based on the rule I had mis-learned I struck out the one at 3 since that was within the gap from 91 to 6. I just looked again at that graph, basically reminiscing, and saw those results.

I spent a lot of time messing with those initial results and then gave up. About a year later I got back to it and started over, but this time I did not do any graphing in the gap area. I did end up finding the other number, 42, which did not show up in the original graph, but when I ran the combinations with those two numbers, 30 and 42, I ran the whole dial without the safe opening. Then I remembered that the rule I had originally learned was in fact that the last number only should not be put into the gap, and that is when I went into the gap with 6 and 4 and finally opened the safe, since the 4 was on the first wheel, and not the last.

Now I see that the original indication from a year before at 3 was very valid and with some simple trial combinations with the 3, 15 and/or the 30 I would have had the safe opened. On the upside, however, I don't think I would have learned nearly so much that way as I have learned since then.
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Oldfast

User avatar

OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer

Posts: 3898

Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:16 pm

Location: Michigan

Post Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:53 pm

Re: Introduction

Fabricator-X wrote:.....I spent a lot of time messing with those initial results and then gave up. About a year later I got back to it and started over, but this time I did not do any graphing in the gap area. I did end up finding the other number, 42, which did not show up in the original graph, but when I ran the combinations with those two numbers, 30 and 42, I ran the whole dial without the safe opening. Then I remembered that the rule I had originally learned was in fact that the last number only should not be put into the gap, and that is when I went into the gap with 6 and 4 and finally opened the safe, since the 4 was on the first wheel, and not the last.

Now I see that the original indication from a year before at 3 was very valid and with some simple trial combinations with the 3, 15 and/or the 30 I would have had the safe opened. On the upside, however, I don't think I would have learned nearly so much that way as I have learned since then.


Ha! Great story. And yeah, "self-taught" is a bumpy road sometimes. But oh so gratifying, eh?!
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."
http://www.youtube.com/Oldfast911
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Fabricator-X

Familiar Face

Posts: 24

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:14 am

Location: Colorado

Post Sun Nov 20, 2016 11:40 pm

Re: Introduction

I never got close to the huge safe so far away, and on the third floor of an old building, so even if I had worked a deal to own the safe if I could open it, which is the best I might have expected, I have no idea how I would have gotten it out of there and into my trailer.

I think I mentioned another safe that I found on Craigslist that was not so far away, about 220 miles, and without a combination, It had been abandoned, so the rule that an abandoned safe is always empty held up for me. I used what I had learned about manipulation and had it opened in about 2 hours or so. The most interesting thing about that story however, I think, is the engineering I had to go through just to get the thing out to the seller's house down the front steps onto his deck and into my trailer. I think that story is a bit out of the focus of this forum to go into.

I still have that safe in my trailer and will be unloading it shortly. It needs some restoration and then I'm going to list if for sale. It is rough, but the lock is in real nice shape and used very little. It has hardware store wheels on it and I have just bought a set of old iron ones to restore and put on it. I'm thinking about buying and installing some modified safe deposit boxes to put in it with some slots and shelves to make it nice inside and then strip and repaint it outside.

I still keep looking for another locked safe for sale that needs manipulation, but they don't seem to come up very often. I'm thinking about posting some kind of ad offering to try manipulation for someone, but haven't gone there yet. I'm also thinking about offering the local locksmith my services, the one who thinks manipulation only works about 15 percent of the time. I suspect he will not like to have me cutting into his safe drilling business, however.
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rusirius

Familiar Face

Posts: 26

Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2016 10:41 pm

Location: Delaware

Post Fri Dec 16, 2016 5:54 pm

Re: Introduction

So here's a question I'm baffled about that I'm hoping someone can help explain to me.

How is it he (the OP) was able to check left and right contact points (and graph the wheels) on a direct drive safe? He even specs where his contact points were, yet, how is that even possible with direct drive? As I understand it a direct drive wouldn't have a lever or a drive cam... So how is this possible? Even more so, how is it possible he derived where the gates were on the wheels by using the dial itself as an indicator rather than the movement of the handle?

Unless I have a flaw in my thinking, the only way to map the wheels would be to have an indicator on the handle itself... But then you wouldn't have the contact points he mentions, nor would you have a forbidden zone he mentions.

The age of the safe he speaks of, combined with the data he gave (about not being able to feel much of anything without cranking on the handle) certainly indicates it was direct drive. In fact, he said his own research showed this. Yet clearly he saw a specific left and right contact point on the dial... and somehow was able to have this indicate the gates... Someone please explain this to me before I lose my mind trying to wrap my head around it! LOL

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