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My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

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ZTatZAU

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Post Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:16 pm

My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

While my first "Grand Opening" may seem like child's play to many here, I wanted to share my first manipulation experience (and exuberance!) and say "Thank You!" to Oldfast, Daggers, Femurat, Mikeh727, and others who all played a part in my success.

My daughter's husband inherited a locked Sentry 1250 safe, when his father passed away, but no one knew the combination. My daughter and son-in-law are both currently teaching overseas at an international school but before leaving the country last year, knowing of my interest in all things mechanical and never one to shy away from a challenge, they left the safe with me hoping that I'd figure out how to get it open. Then, upon hearing this past weekend that my daughter and son-in-law would be coming home for a visit in July, the pressure was on me to get started on this project.

Before finding this great forum, I got a basic understanding of the Sentry 1250's lock mechanism here...
"Cracking a Sentry 1250 Safe If Door Is Already Open" by Lonestar1776... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqTtNNexQb0

... and how to construct a basic manipulation pointer setup as well as the probable identification of Wheel 3's gate (82), here...
"Sentry Safe Manipulation 3rd Wheel" (Parts 1, 2, & 3) by JM Lockpicking... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLS3b0G988U

...but unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in identifying the gates on Wheel 1 & 2 after watching JM Lockpicking's videos Part 2 & 3. this great site and only then began to better understand the manipulation process. With one third of the combination likely solved (Wheel 3), I resisted the temptation to go with brute force dialing; preferring instead to determine the entire combination by manipulation. While I now understand there are much better pointer setups, I nonetheless stuck with my basic (crude) pointer and ruler scale and started graphing in earnest. The safe with my rudimentary pointer setup is shown below...

Image

My original AWR & AWL graph below...

Image
... while very crude, seemed to indicate 7 & 8 possible gates (respectively), including the previously suspected 82 on wheel 3. I next focused on the 3 possible gates that were common to both the AWR & AWL graphs, and tried dialing in all the possible combinations of 15, 65, 82. But sadly, there was no joy to be found.

I then repeated the graphing process, trying to be as consistent as possible with the pressure I applied to the T-handle. which resulted in the following 2 graphs (Chart 1 & 2) which revealed essentially the same information I got in my original graph....

Image
... and then tried dialing all the combinations of all the 17 possible gates indicated on either of the new AWL & AWR graph. And again, there was no joy!

I then did a little more searching and reading here on the KeyPicking forum and started learning about investigating individual wheels while parking any suspected gates on the other wheels. I also learned from Sentry's website that 1250 safes made prior to 2011 were L-R-L combinations whereas 1250s manufactured 2011 and later were R-L-R. Sentry also advised by phone that, based on the serial number, my 1250 safe was made in 1989. Armed with this new info, I graphed Charts 3 (2AR-3P@82) & Chart 4 (1AL-3P@82) as shown below...

Image
... which gave the first real hint of something going on at 52.5 & 55. I started twirling all the possible numbers again and (voila!), I'm sure you all know how I felt when the safe opened with 5-55-82...

Image
... and then immediately sent an email to my daughter and son-in-law, with a picture of the open safe, to advise that I was now "officially" a safe-cracker!

But the real pay-off though, for me, was in their individual emailed replies...

From my daughter... (rather matter of factually I might add!)... "Well there's another feather in your cap, Papa! Congratulations and Thank You!"
...and from my son-in-law... "Incredible! I'd like to hear how you did it. Was there much trial and error involved?"
I'm not quite sure yet what I should tell him!

I apologize for rambling on so about this but I do hope you all know how I'm feeling right now! I do welcome any comments anyone might have... especially as to what I could have (or should have) gleaned from any or all of my graphs that might have made this a bit easier!

ZT
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magician59

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Post Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:16 am

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

That's great news! well done. A veteran locksmith (Master Lockwright with over 45 years' experience), I'll tell you that the exuberance of a successful opening, whether it be safes or other locks. never fades.

By the way, I wouldn't tell your son-in-law anything about the "brute force-ness" of the opening. Just take your bows where you can get them.
Nemo Malus Felix
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MartinHewitt

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Post Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:40 am

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

Congratulations, ZT!

From what I know about the locks in the Sentry safes they have fixed flies. When you change rotational direction the first and second number shift, the first number more than the second. E.g. when you turn around all wheels left to 0, hold W2 with your hand and turn around the dial right. You will notice that it does not stop at 0, but perhaps around 5 to 10. When you do the same with W1 you will notice, that the difference is even higher. For this reason you can't directly compare two left and right graphs.

With a lock of this type it does not really matter if you open R-L-R or L-R-L. Both is possible, but with different numbers for W1 and W2 because of what I wrote in my previous paragraph.
In case you wonder ... Martin Hewitt is a fictional detective in stories by Arthur Morrison:
Martin Hewitt, Investigator Chronicles of Martin Hewitt
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ZTatZAU

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Post Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:56 am

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

magician59 wrote:That's great news! well done. A veteran locksmith (Master Lockwright with over 45 years' experience), I'll tell you that the exuberance of a successful opening, whether it be safes or other locks. never fades.

By the way, I wouldn't tell your son-in-law anything about the "brute force-ness" of the opening. Just take your bows where you can get them.

Thanks magician59! I appreciate your nice comments.

Now that I've been "bitten by the bug" so-to-speak, I think my next project will be to see if I can successfully manipulate an old J Baum safe with a 4-number combination Yale lock that's been in my family for many years.

Image

While I already know the combination, it will be interesting to see if I can not let that fact get in the way of another more challenging manipulation. I'll post again in another thread with any progress or questions.

ZT
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ZTatZAU

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Post Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:34 am

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

MartinHewitt wrote:Congratulations, ZT!

From what I know about the locks in the Sentry safes they have fixed flies. When you change rotational direction the first and second number shift, the first number more than the second. E.g. when you turn around all wheels left to 0, hold W2 with your hand and turn around the dial right. You will notice that it does not stop at 0, but perhaps around 5 to 10. When you do the same with W1 you will notice, that the difference is even higher. For this reason you can't directly compare two left and right graphs.

With a lock of this type it does not really matter if you open R-L-R or L-R-L. Both is possible, but with different numbers for W1 and W2 because of what I wrote in my previous paragraph.

Thanks Martin! I appreciate your reply! And Yes! This Sentry 1250 definitely has fixed (stamped) flies.

I was confused when I saw the same indications (the only indications BTW) of a gate at 52.5 - 55 in Charts 3 & 4. Perhaps the wheels weren't turning as I thought they were. In hindsight both of these indications were apparently on wheel 2.

ZT
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L4R3L2

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Post Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:24 am

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

Congratulations!

One thing I quickly learned from my limited experience with manipulating direct entry locks is that consistent handle tension is extremely important for good readings. I highly recommend using a set spring or weight tension on the handle. A rubber bungee can work, too, but the tension tends to change over the duration of a manipulation due to the properties of elastics.
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jharveee

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Post Sat Jun 08, 2019 2:43 pm

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

Congratulations! Solved the puzzle box and got to the prize inside. Lock the safe back up and give it to your son-in-law as a gift.
I have a book that shows there are 12 combos for that model. Could you verify if 02-44-81 would have opened the safe? Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure. And photos. :smile:
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MartinHewitt

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Post Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:17 pm

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

jharveee, does your book state the dialing direction? 11 off for the second number seems to me a bit to much, but I could imagine, that R44 is L55. But W1 would then be wrong for sure. Does your book have alternatives?
In case you wonder ... Martin Hewitt is a fictional detective in stories by Arthur Morrison:
Martin Hewitt, Investigator Chronicles of Martin Hewitt
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ZTatZAU

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Post Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:40 pm

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

L4R3L2 wrote:Congratulations!

One thing I quickly learned from my limited experience with manipulating direct entry locks is that consistent handle tension is extremely important for good readings. I highly recommend using a set spring or weight tension on the handle. A rubber bungee can work, too, but the tension tends to change over the duration of a manipulation due to the properties of elastics.

Thanks L4R3L2! I appreciate your advice about the importance of consistent handle tension while manipulating and much of what I'd researched supported the idea of using rubber bands, bungees and springs for more consistent results. I also read quite a few threads suggesting that consistent handle pressure will improve with practice.

I'd like to say that my chosen methodology was the result of "the artist in me" winning some internal philosophical struggle over "the engineer" in me; but in truth the choice had more to do with laziness and simply skipping the trouble of finding and adding a suitable spring to my setup. I will say that I do believe my consistency did indeed improve with practice but in hindsight adding a spring or a bungee may have helped; especially in light of my crude pointer and scale which only provided about 3/16" difference between min and max deflection.

Looking back, I do agree that a spring (or bungee) setup and a much longer pointer (or a laser pointer) would have been the better choice!

ZT
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ZTatZAU

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Post Sat Jun 08, 2019 6:52 pm

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

jharveee wrote:Congratulations! Solved the puzzle box and got to the prize inside. Lock the safe back up and give it to your son-in-law as a gift.
I have a book that shows there are 12 combos for that model. Could you verify if 02-44-81 would have opened the safe? Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure. And photos. :smile:

Thanks for your reply jharvee! Your suggested 2-44-81 did not work (in either direction) on my sentry 1250. I remember reading somewhere around here that when changing direction on "these safes" results in a change of about 3 on wheel 2 and about 9 on wheel 1... based on that... and given the tolerance on the Sentry safes... I really thought your suggested R02-L44-R81 would likely be in the correct ballpark as an alternative to my determined combination of L05-R55-L82.

I'd be interested to try the other 11 combinations suggested in "that book". If you'd prefer not to post them here, would you mind sending them to me in a PM and I'll report back with the results.

ZT
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ZTatZAU

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Post Sat Jun 08, 2019 7:09 pm

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

MartinHewitt wrote:jharveee, does your book state the dialing direction? 11 off for the second number seems to me a bit to much, but I could imagine, that R44 is L55. But W1 would then be wrong for sure. Does your book have alternatives?


Thanks for straightening out my confusion on changing combo directions. Based on (my recollection of) that previous post I mentioned above in my reply to jharvee, if wheel 2 changes by 3 and wheel 1 changes by 9, then L05-R55-L82 should convert to something closer to R96-L58-82. Would you agree? EDIT: Direction of the change is opposite to what I've posted here! SEE BELOW!

And, if these conversion numbers of 3 and 9 are true and due to the fixed, stamped flies on these wheels, (which are presumably the same size), can you explain why the difference on Wheel 1 wouldn't in theory simply be twice the difference of wheel 2, rather than triple?

In the meantime, I'll pull the cover off of my Sentry's lock and have a look see to determine the correct conversion from L-R-L to R-L-R would be on my safe.

EDITED: To provide my empirical test results...
I've confirmed the conversion numbers of 3 on wheel 2, and 9 on wheel 1 when switching from L-R-L to R-L-R, are indeed correct (or very close) on my Sentry 1250.
And, when switching from L to R number moves L (to a bigger number) and when switching from R to L number moves R (to a smaller number).
So my combo of L5-R55-L82 is equivalent to R14-L52-82 and either of these combos will open the safe.

ZT
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jharveee

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Post Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:32 am

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

The book I was looking at was Elmer Howard's Sentry Safe Opening Manual. The next closest combo that is listed is 94-40-73. He does say that the list is what combos were know at the time of printing. He may be happy if you update him with your findings or maybe my book is out of date. I got it years ago.
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ZTatZAU

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Post Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:16 am

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

jharveee wrote:... I have a book that shows there are 12 combos for that model. Could you verify if 02-44-81 would have opened the safe?...

jharveee wrote:...The book I was looking at was Elmer Howard's Sentry Safe Opening Manual. The next closest combo that is listed is 94-40-73....
Please keep in mind that all this is quite new to me so forgive my confusion as to what you are really suggesting. It seems to me though, that other than a reversed combination from L-R-L to R-L-R or a slightly different combination falling within the tolerance of the size of the gates on the wheels, the gates on each wheel are where they are and thus only one combination (or its equivalent opposite direction combination) will open the safe. I recall reading, and being similarly confused by one of MartinHewitt's replies in another forum thread...
MartinHewitt wrote:... If you know the construction of the lock it is worst case 13 combinations to try out. (The holes are spaced 1/14th of the circle from each other. If it is not known at what hole position the known combination was then there are 13 possible other holes and combinations.) With your dialing skill I would assume this takes you less than two minutes to open...
Martin Hewitt
... and think you both must be referring to the number of possible combinations that can be reset on a given safe... based on the number of holes in which the pins/flies can be repositioned on the individual wheels... as opposed to any number of other possible combinations that could open a safe without any re-arranging of the wheels. Do I have this correct?

Otherwise, I'm really at a loss to understand how jharvee's suggestion that 02-44-81 or 94-40-73 could ever open my Sentry 1250 (with a current combination of L5-R55-L82 or R14-L52-R82), without any reconfiguration of the wheels.

ZT
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jharveee

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Post Sun Jun 09, 2019 5:48 am

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

I was referring to the info I was reading from the book, which doesn't seem to work for your safe. Maybe his list of combos was incomplete at the time it was printed. Should be able to examine the wheel pack. Try changing the combo. Sounds like a Hole change type. With 12 holes to move the pin to. Which would give you 12 combos. Unless your able to Swap wheel positions, then there would be more. Move the pin one hole and keep track of the change, then you should be able to figure out the other possible combos.
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ZTatZAU

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Post Sun Jun 09, 2019 9:14 am

Re: My First Post - My First Manipulation - My Thanks!

jharveee wrote:I was referring to the info I was reading from the book, which doesn't seem to work for your safe. Maybe his list of combos was incomplete at the time it was printed. Should be able to examine the wheel pack. Try changing the combo. Sounds like a Hole change type. With 12 holes to move the pin to. Which would give you 12 combos. Unless your able to Swap wheel positions, then there would be more. Move the pin one hole and keep track of the change, then you should be able to figure out the other possible combos.


I take this to mean you are confirming my understanding that the 12 possible combinations referred to in your book are additional combinations that can be obtained by reconfiguring the drive pins!

I also think the 12 combinations referred to in your book are applicable to other Sentry Safe models. I know that Oldfast has posted pictures of some old century safes with moveable drive pins and 11 and 12 holes in the drive wheel but the drive pins in the Sentry 1250 safes are fixed (i.e. stamped) into the wheels. The 1250 does have a moveable "drive cog" (not sure what it's called?) with 2 pins that connects the shaft to wheel 3 which presumably can be reconfigured to change the combination but there are only four holes in my 1250's drive wheel; as shown below...

Image

Wheels 1 & 2 may be swappable but they look to be identical on my 1250 except that they are flipped around to face in different directions on the shaft so I don't think any additional combinations would be available by swapping them. I am curious to know how many different combinations can be obtained with only four holes. Would there be only four possible combinations with this setup?

I have BTW seen another Sentry 1250 (on YouTube) with 5 holes in the drive wheel and a slightly different "drive cog" but because there are two drive pins on the "drive cog", I don't think the extra hole (opposite the gate on Wheel 3) is usable; see the photo below...

Image

I'm also curious about the slightly different style "drive cogs". I know that my 1250 was manufactured in 1989 but I don't know if the other (Youtube) 1250 is newer or older than mine or what the purpose of the slotted extension is on my "drive cog". Does anyone know or venture to guess?

Any and all comments, corrections, and/or feedback is appreciated!
ZT
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