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New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

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FuzzySpiders

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Post Fri May 28, 2021 2:09 am

New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

I am here looking for help manipulating open an old victor safe who's combination has been lost (the people who sold it to me swore it worked fine, they just couldn't find the combo). Hopefully people here can help me, but if I should look elsewhere please point me in that direction. I have always wanted to learn safe cracking and lock picking, and when a gorgeous old Victor fell into my lap I couldn't say no. However.... I have never manipulated a lock before and despite reading several books and trolling forums for tips, I can't even seem to get started.

The lock seems (to me) to be very loud and rattles a lot, but after picking up all the wheels (left) I distinctly note 3 places where there appears to be contact. I hear a click and feel a tap. At first I thought I had identified an obvious contact point, but they seem too far spaced to be the contact area: 34, 56, 79 (56 is the most obvious, followed by 34 and 79 is the faintest). But when I try to start testing different numbers (assuming one of these is a legitimate contact point), I can't feel any of these points when I rotate right. Does anyone have thoughts as to what might be going on? The rest of the safe is in very good shape and I know the previous owners never had trouble with it (aside from losing the combination), so I assume that the rattling is from age not damage to the innards? I have resorted to using a stethoscope to help detect subtle changes, and I have tried dialing those 3 numbers in all the different combinations but no luck. Even though this does not appear to have a drive cam the way most modern examples do (see link below), am I correct to assume that the same method of working off the contact points would still work here?

Below is a picture of my lock and this is what I believe the inside to be (the victor lock most of the way down the page: viewtopic.php?p=109406#p109406)

Any help would be greatly appreciated- thanks for reading.
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femurat

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Post Fri May 28, 2021 3:52 am

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

That's quite a challenge, but with time and patience you can do it!

You may already have found three numbers of the combination. Have you tried dialing all the 9 possible combinations of those 3 numbers?

You could try dialing a sequence and listen carefully the missing wheel to find its number...

Cheers :)
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MartinHewitt

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Post Fri May 28, 2021 8:19 am

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

The Victors are nice safes. Care well for that safe!

Regarding your problem. I want to point out two things:
1) One of these three edges can be the drive cam gate. So you do have "only" two numbers.
2) I think the wheels do not have moveable flies. So when you change direction to attempt an opening the numbers will shift considerably. If you determine the the wheel pickups you can compensate for direction change.

You might not be able to get a gate with all wheels around right, but you might pick up things in between. You could e.g. stop at 33 (before hitting the gate's edge, or 55, 78) and then reverse direction. You could stop at one of these three numbers and turn only the drive cam back and forth (less than a full turn before W3 is picked up). Is there any gate on the drive cam?
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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FuzzySpiders

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Post Fri May 28, 2021 2:21 pm

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

femurat wrote:That's quite a challenge, but with time and patience you can do it!

You may already have found three numbers of the combination. Have you tried dialing all the 9 possible combinations of those 3 numbers?

You could try dialing a sequence and listen carefully the missing wheel to find its number...

Cheers :)



I have tried all the different combinations of those three numbers, but that hasn't worked. Could you give me a little more detail about how I might follow your suggestion of dialing a sequence and then listening for the missing wheel? (Would I dial one number and then listen for contact at a different number?)

Thank you for the help!
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FuzzySpiders

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Post Fri May 28, 2021 2:45 pm

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

MartinHewitt wrote:The Victors are nice safes. Care well for that safe!

Regarding your problem. I want to point out two things:
1) One of these three edges can be the drive cam gate. So you do have "only" two numbers.
2) I think the wheels do not have moveable flies. So when you change direction to attempt an opening the numbers will shift considerably. If you determine the the wheel pickups you can compensate for direction change.

You might not be able to get a gate with all wheels around right, but you might pick up things in between. You could e.g. stop at 33 (before hitting the gate's edge, or 55, 78) and then reverse direction. You could stop at one of these three numbers and turn only the drive cam back and forth (less than a full turn before W3 is picked up). Is there any gate on the drive cam?


1) If I understand the pictures of the wheel pack (see below), the wheels themselves push back on the fence, there is no drive cam at the end. So, would the gate on the third wheel essentially act as the drive cam gate? And when you say there "only" 2 numbers... you mean that I only need to dial the first two wheels, and then slowly rotate the third until the fence falls in? (This makes sense, but in theory I think this lock is supposed to have 4 numbers- based on what I've found online, the 4th is generally unnecessary because it's just a brute force turn at that point as the wheels push the fence back? But I'm still unclear on the drop from 4 numbers to 2 numbers)

2) I do hear something when I am rotating between numbers and picking up more wheels, and if I stop at any point and wiggle back and forth, there is always a clear tap when I rotate back to continue (example: If I am rotating in either direction and stop at 50, then back up to 45 and then through 50 to continue, there will be a noticeable contact as soon as I pass 50 again. This holds true if I stop on any number) I assumed this was the fly being moved by the next wheel, but maybe not? Do you have any suggestions on how to sort that out?

I can't seem to pick up anything turning right- any idea why? If I follow your suggestion (which I will) to turn right, stop at 33 and then reverse to one of the other numbers, would I be reversing 3x to pick up that wheel, or only once- to the next number- and then start feeling for the drive cam gate?

Based on what I've found for other similar victor safes (and their 1888 lock patent) this is what I think the inside of the lock should look like (these pics were taken from another thread on this site):
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MartinHewitt

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Post Fri May 28, 2021 3:50 pm

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

FuzzySpiders wrote:1) If I understand the pictures of the wheel pack (see below), the wheels themselves push back on the fence, there is no drive cam at the end. So, would the gate on the third wheel essentially act as the drive cam gate? And when you say there "only" 2 numbers... you mean that I only need to dial the first two wheels, and then slowly rotate the third until the fence falls in? (This makes sense, but in theory I think this lock is supposed to have 4 numbers- based on what I've found online, the 4th is generally unnecessary because it's just a brute force turn at that point as the wheels push the fence back? But I'm still unclear on the drop from 4 numbers to 2 numbers)

There are 4 disks. One disk is connected to the dial. That is the drive cam. The "code number" of this wheel doesn't matter for a normal opening. The other three disks are the code wheels. These three wheels are set by the sequence 4L-3R-2L. With the final right turn the fence drops at the "code number" of the drive cam without any special procedure. But there can be still a bump in the case of an AWL.

FuzzySpiders wrote:2) I do hear something when I am rotating between numbers and picking up more wheels, and if I stop at any point and wiggle back and forth, there is always a clear tap when I rotate back to continue (example: If I am rotating in either direction and stop at 50, then back up to 45 and then through 50 to continue, there will be a noticeable contact as soon as I pass 50 again. This holds true if I stop on any number) I assumed this was the fly being moved by the next wheel, but maybe not? Do you have any suggestions on how to sort that out?

That is the wheel pickup.

FuzzySpiders wrote:I can't seem to pick up anything turning right- any idea why? If I follow your suggestion (which I will) to turn right, stop at 33 and then reverse to one of the other numbers, would I be reversing 3x to pick up that wheel, or only once- to the next number- and then start feeling for the drive cam gate?

I think you should have a look at some videos on youtube to understand how the lock operates.

FuzzySpiders wrote:Based on what I've found for other similar victor safes (and their 1888 lock patent) this is what I think the inside of the lock should look like (these pics were taken from another thread on this site):

It is either that one or the same lock without a case.
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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FuzzySpiders

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Post Fri May 28, 2021 4:54 pm

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

MartinHewitt wrote:There are 4 disks. One disk is connected to the dial. That is the drive cam. The "code number" of this wheel doesn't matter for a normal opening. The other three disks are the code wheels. These three wheels are set by the sequence 4L-3R-2L. With the final right turn the fence drops at the "code number" of the drive cam without any special procedure. But there can be still a bump in the case of an AWL.

That is the wheel pickup.

I think you should have a look at some videos on youtube to understand how the lock operates.


This is very helpful, thank you! I will play with it some more, with these things in mind and see where it gets me. I will probably be back with more questions.

Thanks so much!
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MartinHewitt

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Post Fri May 28, 2021 7:01 pm

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

These are the two most helpful videos showing how a lock works. Yours is the same, other than 1) the lever comes from the other side and 2) the drive cam has the same diameter as the code wheels.
https://youtu.be/5jb2DNJPgk4?t=166
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE2YpuwrkXo
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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MartinHewitt

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Post Sun May 30, 2021 9:31 am

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

And here are nice photos of a modern lock:
https://www.lockpicking101.com/viewtopi ... 36&t=62460

Your's is working like that, just more simple. E.g. the ring with the movable fly is in your lock just a plug mounted in the wheel.
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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FuzzySpiders

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Post Sun May 30, 2021 10:23 pm

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

MartinHewitt wrote:And here are nice photos of a modern lock:
https://www.lockpicking101.com/viewtopi ... 36&t=62460

Your's is working like that, just more simple. E.g. the ring with the movable fly is in your lock just a plug mounted in the wheel.



These videos are very, helpful, thank you!
I will see if this changes how I am interpreting the feel of thing, if that gets me a bit further and I will report back
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FuzzySpiders

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Post Wed Jun 02, 2021 11:00 pm

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

I had the realization that even if I got lucky and have identified 3 potential gates with these numbers, they might not be the first three numbers (ex/ they could correspond to gates on wheels 1, 3, and 4, which would explain why none of the possible combination of those numbers works). I suspect this is an obvious consideration to someone with more experience. I am now thinking that I need to identify which wheel these numbers correspond to, but I am not sure how to do that.

My first thought is to try setting all the wheels except one to some number that is far off and then seeing if I can still feel the gate on the one that is not set far off. For example to test for 79, set wheels 1, 2, 3 to 20 and then see if I can still feel the gate at 79 on wheel 4. However, I'm not sure how I would feel for the gate if it were on say, wheel 2. If I can find the gate on the last wheel (wheel 4 = drive cam?) then I can work off of that to graph things?

I think I have identified 72-79 as a contact area (I can't seem to find the lower contact point near the other three numbers), but when I try to start graphing and working around the dial to test different numbers, the contact disappears when I get to 8. I still feel the contact points when I start graphing at 0, 2, 4, hard to find at 6, and gone at 8. I feel like this should mean something but I am not sure what.

I am slowly thinking my way through this, but I am sure someone with more experience would be making connections faster. Is there something obvious that I am missing/misinterpreting?
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femurat

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Post Thu Jun 03, 2021 7:54 am

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

FuzzySpiders wrote:
femurat wrote:That's quite a challenge, but with time and patience you can do it!

You may already have found three numbers of the combination. Have you tried dialing all the 9 possible combinations of those 3 numbers?

You could try dialing a sequence and listen carefully the missing wheel to find its number...

Cheers :)



I have tried all the different combinations of those three numbers, but that hasn't worked. Could you give me a little more detail about how I might follow your suggestion of dialing a sequence and then listening for the missing wheel? (Would I dial one number and then listen for contact at a different number?)

Thank you for the help!


Hi, sorry for the late reply. I see you already figured it out, more or less.
You should start by rotating all the wheels, so al least five full turns, left. Then start going slowly right and be very careful on the order the gates appear. If you're lucky enough to feel one of them each turn, you have the gates order (in reverse).
Try the same procedure but this time start with five full turns right. Then slowly go left and carefully listen for gates.
Once you've tried these two steps you may have a few gates and their corresponding wheel without having even started your manipulation experience.

Now it's time to map the remaining gates to the wheels. You have to make some high-low tests.

Once you are missing only one or two numbers, you can brute force (try all the possible numbers, in 2 increments) on the remaining wheel/wheels.

Good luck :)
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MartinHewitt

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Post Thu Jun 03, 2021 8:54 am

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

Your thoughts are very good. Yes, wheel 4 is the drive cam. It is moved always together with the dial. If the contact disappears, then it is a not so interesting high point. After all, we want to go down and there you can feel the contact points. It might be a gate if you get nothing, nothing, nothing, then maybe 5 numbers the CPs, then again nothing, nothing, nothing. So nothing is still a valuable information and nothing is easy to feel. You could turn all wheels left to 33 and then move only wheel 3 around right with steps of 2 or 2 1/2 numbers and check the CPs. You could start there with a look in the range of 50 to 70.

But I think you should really first get the offsets for direction change. Turn all wheels e.g. left to 50, then turn right to 65, i.e. not a full turn. If you then turn the dial with a higher speed right to about 40 you will feel, that it hits something. That is the pickup of wheel 3. The exact point of this is helpful information. Depending on how easily the wheels turn you can also turn slowly starting at 65 and feel for the light touch of the drive cam with wheel 3. I expect to be higher than 50, e.g. the drive cam touches wheel 3 before a full turn. When turning the dial with wheel 3 another nearly full turn there comes the pickup of wheel 2, then wheel 1. My guess is, that the direction offsets are about -5/-10/-15, i.e. it is 5 numbers less than a full turn for wheel 3, 10 for wheel 2 and 15 for wheel 1. With this information you can change the direction of dialing for each wheel. If you found the center of a gate on wheel 3 with the scan in the first paragraph to be at R63 and want to dial it later on left, then you know you have to stop 5 numbers earlier, which is in this case 63-5=58. (But from L63 to R it is 63+5=68!)

You could also move all wheels left to 33 or 55, turn the dial right until you pick up wheel 3 and then feel there for a gate until you pick up wheel 2. Maybe you can feel a bump indicating a gate.
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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FuzzySpiders

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Post Thu Jun 03, 2021 12:36 pm

Re: New Hobbiest with an Old Safe

Thank you both- these pointers are very helpful. I will try to feel things out according to your suggestions and see how it goes!

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