This blog started with an old safe I bought with unknown content and combination. It describes the process of opening, finding the origins, contents and mechanics of the safe.

The posts are closely relate to each other and should probably be read in chronological order. Therefore, if you are visiting this blog for the first time you might want to start reading with the oldest entry and work your way back to the present time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Picked the key lock

I managed to pick the key lock of the safe using these lock picks. Now it only takes me up to 20 seconds to pick that lock. It seems to be a standard cylinder lock with now extra security. The cylinder rotates a few degrees and then stops. When I now turn the combination dial I can feel the key cylinder changing its rotation angle and the dial rotation is hindered by some friction.

A first analysis of the dial indicates a deep depression between 55 and 59. At the moment I assume this to be the cam gate location. Once the notch drops into this I have to turn the key cylinder slightly back to get out of it.This indicates that the cam gate has steep sides and maybe even the lever nose. If that is true I wont be able to measure the lever nose depth by measuring the cam gate width. Another approach would be to measure the key cylinder rotation angle which should be proportional to the nose depth in the cam gate.

From an expert on the internet I learned that this type of safe typically has fixed flies and the cylinder key lock is essentially the handle.

The fixed flies are much cheaper to manufacture. It essentially means that the safe has two different combinations depending on the initial dialling direction. This slightly complicates the standard approach since direction has to be taken into account. I might need to measure the fly width to get a better understanding of the lock.

The key lock being essentially the handle means that to open the safe one would first dial the correct combination and then turn the key to retract the bolts.

The next step is to set up some good way to measure the cylinder rotation and the graph the nose depth (angle) at the cam gate for different combinations.

More soon...


  1. So , Mike, What do you estimate the value of your Herring Hall & Marvin Safe to be? What was your initial investment of it?

  2. Hi Anonymous
    I paid about 250 NZ$ for the safe (if I remember right). Now that it is open and usable I would think the value is slightly higher (but probably not much). Of course the big value was in the contents and in the fun opening it.
    Cheers Mike