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Old safe, new manipulator :-)

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km27

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Post Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:32 pm

Old safe, new manipulator :-)

I'm not sure of the backstory behind this safe. My wife picked it up at a second hand shop cheaply due to no one knowing the combination. It was supposedly used by a store in Manhattan at some point, and no one believed that there's anything of value in it. We've had it a couple of years, just sitting in the basement. I realize I could hire someone to open it, one way or another, but thought it might be fun to give it a shot myself.

Not long after we got it, before the AllExperts website closed, someone there took a look at a few pictures of the safe and provided some information. They said that the safe was distributed by Hall-Marvin Co., and manufactured by Schwab, likely around the 1920s (1915-1935). They also narrowed down the list of possible locks that would be on it.

I've been slowly reading/re-reading The National Locksmith Guide to Manipulation, and the lock feels like it's a two wheel (with driver). The dial binds up when the handle is turned, and I was unable to find a drop-in point, so I'm working under the assumption that it's a straight-in fence. As I turn the dial while applying pressure on the handle, I don't find any false gates. There's just one spot where I can feel the fence drop in, and the drive cam binds. I can wiggle the dial within the 3 number range between where it drops -- it drops in at 85 when turning the dial left and 88 when turning right.

It's my understanding that my next step should be to measure the penetration of the fence into the wheel pack by how much motion there is on the handle. The National Locksmith Guide has designs for a tool to build to help in this measurement. This is where I diverged from the book, partly out of time constraints, and partly just to see if it worked. I attached a laser pointer to the handle (parallel with), and pointed it at a wall about six feet away. On the wall, I attached a yard stick so that I could measure inches. I think proceeded to turn the dial AWL, park the wheel pack at every 2.5 steps, then rotated right to the drop in point, turned the handle, and measured the laser pointer on the wall. I realized there was some slippage in the laser pointer, so before each measurement I'd confirm that it was pointed at the same place on the yardstick to start, before turning the handle. The start to finish movement of the laser was about 18 inches, just to give you some idea of magnitude. I went through the dial once, but my measurements were all within about an inch of each other (+/- 5%). At this point I realized I might be barking up the wrong tree and maybe should get some help.

Am I completely on the wrong track here? If the range where I can feel the fence drop in is between 85-88, where should I be testing the handle? Is my laser idea completely ludicrous or have others used similar? Is +/- 5% actually the range I'm looking for and I should true up laser attachment and re-measure even more carefully?

Any help is much much appreciated. If/when I get this open, I'll post a shot of what's in there!

Image
Image
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MartinHewitt

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Post Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:52 pm

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

There are probably two possible ways to get information. The first is by how far the handle turns. Laser pointer is fine for this, but all devices must not move on the handle. (And the safe must not move too!) Btw. you can also stick a sheet of paper to the wall and draw there lines instead of measuring. (You can also draw directly on the wall, but that's not healthy with a wife.) The second way is also by contact points which you get when you turn the handle and push the fence to the wheel pack. This is probably not the usual way, but Oldfast wrote about it. In both cases the torque on the lever should be as consistent as possible, e.g. with a rubber band, a spring or a weight.
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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bitbuster

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Post Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:23 pm

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

Does the dial nose come off?
"This squid is so undercooked I can still hear it telling Sponge Bob to fuck off."-----Gordon Ramsay
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km27

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Post Wed Jun 26, 2019 11:04 pm

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

bitbuster wrote:Does the dial nose come off?


Not that I can see. Is there some trick? It would unscrew?
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Riyame

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Post Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:42 am

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

km27 wrote:
bitbuster wrote:Does the dial nose come off?


Not that I can see. Is there some trick? It would unscrew?


The Yale emblem in the middle might unscrew like a cap.
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bitbuster

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Post Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:37 am

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

Thanks Riyame. You said what I should've said the 1st time.
"This squid is so undercooked I can still hear it telling Sponge Bob to fuck off."-----Gordon Ramsay
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km27

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Post Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:02 am

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

Riyame wrote:
km27 wrote:
bitbuster wrote:Does the dial nose come off?


Not that I can see. Is there some trick? It would unscrew?


The Yale emblem in the middle might unscrew like a cap.


Used some grippy pads and couldnt get it to unscrew, so if it does, it's on there very tight.
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MartinHewitt

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Post Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:48 am

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

I don't see any advantage in removing the dial.
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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bitbuster

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Post Thu Jun 27, 2019 5:37 pm

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

MartinHewitt wrote:I don't see any advantage in removing the dial.

There isn't, just trying to ID the lock.
"This squid is so undercooked I can still hear it telling Sponge Bob to fuck off."-----Gordon Ramsay
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MartinHewitt

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Post Thu Jun 27, 2019 5:39 pm

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

I guess it is a Yale HE. Can't find any photos online. In the Yale HE the fence is pushed by the bolt work upwards into the wheel pack.
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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bitbuster

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Post Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:43 pm

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

My thoughts, too.
"This squid is so undercooked I can still hear it telling Sponge Bob to fuck off."-----Gordon Ramsay
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km27

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Post Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:06 pm

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

MartinHewitt wrote:I guess it is a Yale HE. Can't find any photos online. In the Yale HE the fence is pushed by the bolt work upwards into the wheel pack.


Does that change anything about how best to go about manipulating it? Thanks
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MartinHewitt

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Post Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:13 pm

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

No. Most important thing is that it binds when you turn the handle. That it is a Yale HE is then only a nice to know.
Last edited by MartinHewitt on Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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km27

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Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:14 pm

Post Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:17 pm

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

MartinHewitt wrote:No. Mist important thing is that it binds when you turn the handle. That it is a Yale HE is then only a nice to know.


Am I right that it can be dialed either way, and the sequence is simply LRL, or RLR ? Thanks
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km27

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Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:14 pm

Post Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:00 am

Re: Old safe, new manipulator :-)

MartinHewitt wrote:I guess it is a Yale HE. Can't find any photos online. In the Yale HE the fence is pushed by the bolt work upwards into the wheel pack.


I still can't quite believe it, but I cracked it!

Following the example of someone else's post, I attached a zip tie to the handle, pointed straight up. I think used a ruler and marked off every eighth of an inch on a piece of tape, which the zip tie would hit as I moved the handle. I tried attaching a weight in order to apply constant force, but I had a lot more trouble with this than I imagined. It made turning the dial very difficult (picking up the weight each time), and it wasn't nearly as consistent as I thought it would be. The action on the handle seemed pretty binary, not a lot of play, so I decided to just do it by hand. I proceeded to repeat what I had done with the laser pointer. Sure enough, one of the numbers (10) that stuck out on my laser pointer method clearly stuck out this time (really it was the only one that did so).

I then proceeded to try to figure out if it was the 1st or 2nd wheel, which proved slightly tricky in that I eventually discovered (after some inner reflection) that it DID matter whether I was dialing RLR or LRL. Once I figured that out, I was able to learn that the 2nd wheel was 10. Maybe if I had a better understanding of the actual mechanics this would have been obvious, and also it probably would have been obvious that the drop in area I was using was in fact the third number. I then wound my way around the wheel trying first numbers until viola! As promised, here's the money shot!

Image

Contents of the safe included:
1 roll of toilet paper (already told the kids that it's mine -- to the victor go the spoils!)
1 bolt (with washer) that fits the hole drilled in the bottom. presumably to attach it to a floor somewhere where there's a nut.
4 keys (1 of which fits the little locked box inside, and one of which looks like a bank key)
1 postcard from 1953, sent from FL to NJ.

Thanks again for the help. That was fun!
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