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Beginning manipulation

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Cheesehead

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Post Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:37 am

Beginning manipulation

This summer I got my first chance to crack a safe. A local museum where I volunteer put me in touch with a lady who had a safe she couldn't open. This being my first experience with manipulation I had low expectations of succeeding but told her I would give it a try. To my surprise it opened in an hour and a half! Here are the pics I took, sorry for the low detail.

IMG_2508.JPG


IMG_2509.JPG


Interesting thing about the lock: the outer dial is some sort of standard S & G dial, but the innards look like the J & J Taylor locks from the early 1900's. Given the hack job on the bolt lever (it's held in place by a bent nail) I'm guessing someone either broke or decided they didn't like the old dial, so the replaced the whole dial assembly. The spline key/spindle look new to me.

Anyway, now I'm hooked on manipulation! Just bought 2 locks off ebay, hoping to get better at this.

-Tyler
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mastersmith

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Post Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:41 am

Re: Beginning manipulation

So.....was there anything in it of interest?
"All ye who come this art to see / to handle anything must cautious be...." Benjamin Franklin
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Cheesehead

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Post Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:23 pm

Re: Beginning manipulation

Well, it was her husband's safe before he died, so personal interest. Other than that, not really.
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femurat

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Post Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:58 pm

Re: Beginning manipulation

Well done. How about telling us a little more about this manipulation? Which technique did you use? You had any problem identifying the wheel the gates were on? Are you a pro or a newbie at manipulating safe locks?

EDIT: I see this was your first experience at manipulating a safe, but I was wondering if you practiced with locks mounted on a stand before.

Cheers :)
An old post of mine that you'd like to read is missing pictures? PM me and I'll fix them.
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Cheesehead

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Post Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:39 pm

Re: Beginning manipulation

femurat wrote:Well done. How about telling us a little more about this manipulation? Which technique did you use? You had any problem identifying the wheel the gates were on? Are you a pro or a newbie at manipulating safe locks?


I ran all wheels left in order to (hopefully) find a gate going left first. I was graphing at first, but after I found wheel 3's gate I stopped graphing in the interest of time. Probably in the future I'll run the whole cycle AWL for the sake of completeness.

This lock indicated 3-2-1, which was my expectation coming in, so I was able to take advantage by running the wheels in their correct directions so I could dial normally for my last number

This lock has an inherent weakness (see picture): the pin which attaches the latch to the lock housing is a substantial diameter (good), but the pin which connects the latch to the fence/bolt piece has only a small diameter pin. Whenever this has any slop as it did on this lock, the fence tilts upward causing wheel 3 to indicate in a pronounced fashion. I don't yet have enough experience to say whether this is an outlandish issue or not.

The wheels seemed to be almost perfectly round, the major difficulty I had with this was the dial ring. It wasn't securely fastened, and caused friction against the dial.

A personal problem I had was making consistent readings; this seemed to start sorting itself out as I went along. I'm starting to see progress on that front though, which is encouraging

femurat wrote:...I was wondering if you practiced with locks mounted on a stand before.


No I hadn't. The only bit I had done was read up on the process here, and practice on an antique lock (also a Taylor, a 4 wheel with indirect drive) for which I knew the combination. I spent a ridiculous amount of time graphing every index point until I saw how clearly it indicated the first gate (wheel 4). After that I assured myself that I should be able to at least blunder my way along :mrgreen:

I just got my first ebay purchase, a LaGard 3330. I've had some successes and some failures; might write about some of them when I'm more confident I know what I'm doing. Trying to get better at strategically parking.
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femurat

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Post Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:19 am

Re: Beginning manipulation

Well, congratulations for your success and for the little time you needed to open it. You were lucky the wheels showed their gates in that order, but you were smart to use it at your advantage. The only possible indicating order better than this? 1 - 2 - 3 :mrgreen:

Cheers :)
An old post of mine that you'd like to read is missing pictures? PM me and I'll fix them.
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MartinHewitt

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Post Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:58 am

Re: Beginning manipulation

Femurat, have you had a lock which indicated in that order?
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femurat

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Post Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:49 pm

Re: Beginning manipulation

I don't recall if I ever had a lock indicating 1 - 2 - 3. I do remember having locks with wheel #1 indicating first.

I know that if the fence is slightly bent upwards the lock indicates 1 - 2 - 3, if the fence is slightly bent downwards it indicates 3 - 2 - 1.

Cheers :)
An old post of mine that you'd like to read is missing pictures? PM me and I'll fix them.
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Cheesehead

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Post Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:49 pm

Re: Beginning manipulation

femurat wrote:I don't recall if I ever had a lock indicating 1 - 2 - 3. I do remember having locks with wheel #1 indicating first.

I know that if the fence is slightly bent upwards the lock indicates 1 - 2 - 3, if the fence is slightly bent downwards it indicates 3 - 2 - 1.

Cheers :)


Perhaps I'm using non-standard terminology, or I'm misunderstanding you: I think of wheel 3 as the last wheel to set in a combination, or in other words, as the wheel closest to the drive wheel.

Question: Is there a way to quickly determine the optimum point for parking a wheel? I've cracked my LaGard 3330 three times and failed once, but of the successes only once under an hour, and that because I randomly placed wheel 2 in a good low spot. Anyway, are non-perfect wheels better treated as off-center or as misshapen? If most wheels can categorized as simply off centre, then would it be reasonable to find the highest spot and run the lock with the offending wheel turned completely opposite? I've tried this, but haven't exactly had success.

My current method is to find low spots and move between wheels to continually progress, but this can be an extended process before finding points low enough to locate gates, multi day jobs (for me at least).

Thanks for all the kind words!

-Tyler
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femurat

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Post Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:20 am

Re: Beginning manipulation

Yes, wheel #3 is the last wheel to set. I obviously dial the combination starting by the first number. It's the only way.
I was talking indication, so when a wheel shows you its gate. If wheel #1 shows its gate first, you can park it there and forget about it. It's easier and quicker. If wheel #2 or #3 shows its gate first, you have to move it to set the others wheels and then park it again at its location. It's not a big deal but it's slower.
That's why I said I prefer locks indicating 1 - 2 - 3.

About your question, I prefer to investigate all wheels together to find a gate, id its wheel and park it there. Then, depending on the situation, run the other two wheels together or just one of the two to find the second gate. Then brute force the last one. If you're curios I wrote a tutorial here on the forum.

Cheers :)
An old post of mine that you'd like to read is missing pictures? PM me and I'll fix them.
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MartinHewitt

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Post Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:23 am

Re: Beginning manipulation

Femurat, do you have experience with the 3330? Does your strategy work there too?
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Cheesehead

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Post Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:22 pm

Re: Beginning manipulation

femurat wrote:
About your question, I prefer to investigate all wheels together to find a gate, id its wheel and park it there. Then, depending on the situation, run the other two wheels together or just one of the two to find the second gate. Then brute force the last one. If you're curios I wrote a tutorial here on the forum.

Cheers :)


Right, this process alone was enough for the safe I cracked. Unfortunately, the LaGard I have is not so simple. The problem is that each wheel has high sections that mask the gates on other wheels. If I could simply use the general low area and run the other two wheels to locate a gate all would be well, but the other wheels tend to overlap such that you never find a good low point without some trial and error. End result is that the graph ends up resembling one of these :bogota:

Part of the problem I'm having with this one is that the board I've mounted the lock on is just the wrong thickness. One thread tighter and it just has extra friction, and one looser (as I have it now) leaves some slop on the dial, making readings inconsistent. Perhaps I'll sand down the board slightly so I can tighten it up.

Once I get some graph paper I'll post a picture of my woes

-Tyler
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femurat

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Post Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:42 pm

Re: Beginning manipulation

Martin, my very first lock was a LaGard. Don't remember if it was a 3330 but I'll look for it and let you know. Yes, I was able to manipulate it. I wrote a thread about it on another forum back in 2011.

Tyler, about the LaGard wheels, IIRC our fellow member Altashot explained very well, with a simple sketch, why they act like that and also how to use this characteristic to find the gates. Look for it.

Cheers :)
An old post of mine that you'd like to read is missing pictures? PM me and I'll fix them.
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MartinHewitt

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Post Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:15 pm

Re: Beginning manipulation

Cheesehead wrote:Part of the problem I'm having with this one is that the board I've mounted the lock on is just the wrong thickness. One thread tighter and it just has extra friction, and one looser (as I have it now) leaves some slop on the dial, making readings inconsistent.

Pushing the dial while reading can help. My 6730 is mounted just like that.
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droshi

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Post Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:50 pm

Re: Beginning manipulation

I've been spending a lot of time lately on manipulation. I have a 6730 that is a bit old, and now bought a new cutaway LaGard 3330. Lately spinning on the 3330.

I used to graph everything, and in some ways to know what's going on with the wheels it's helpful for the 3330. Once you have a graph you can attack the lock. My current plan without graphing is as follows:
  1. Start AWL
  2. Test every 2 numbers
  3. As you test, obviously looking for a gate, but another area I write down the number to is a narrow contact area that I'm sure is too large to be a gate (spans several test points), this gives some good test points later
  4. My 3330 has bumps before and after each true gate, so a good graph of a wheel showing will show a substantial widening, then a very abrupt narrowing, so if the changes are gradual, even substantial I ignore them
  5. Tests at your narrowest areas help to isolate which wheel you are testing, as well as where to park wheels when testing others

I've gotten several 15m timings doing this method to get 2 numbers in the combo. At this time I usually just peek at the last wheel as opposed to fully brute forcing the last number, but usually last number ends up being first wheel, which takes longest to brute force (w3 obviously being the fastest).
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