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Safe Opening by Side Drilling PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harold Fink, Locksmith, CRL CPS   
Friday, 23 April 2010 00:44

Safe Opening

Safe Opening by Side Drilling or Top Drilling


Safe opening by side drilling or top drilling safes can often be the most efficient of safe opening methods. Other than safe lock manipulation, front drilling is often the preffered method of safe opening. When a safe lock failure requires that the safe be drilled, it does not necessarily mean you must approach the safe opening from the front. Safe opening by side drilling or top drilling may be your best safe opening method, depending on the safe lock and the construction of the safe. Advancements in safe technology and safe construction methods, such as glass, difficult hard plate, effective repairs, or additional relocking devices often make front drilling extremely risky and not a recommended course of action in opening certain safes. To not  know what is between you on the outside of the door and the safe lock case is an open invitation to disaster and almost certainly a recipe for a difficult and complicated safe opening, rather than the efficient, professional safe openings we prefer and take pride in.
The recommended safe opening procedure for many high security TL-15, TL-30, TRTL-30, TL-30 x 6 or better safes is often through the side. It is often possible to side drill a safe and penetrate the safe lock case without  touching any glass and setting off any relockers. Safe openings can be performed where relockers are pinned to prevent firing and the glass allowed to break. This is often the best safe opening method if there is no access to the top or side of a larger safe. However, drilling a safe with glass that is broken as part of your safe opening procedure will require that you replace the glass in order to repair the safe back to its original condition, and it may be difficult and or costly to replace the glass plate in many higher quality safes. Additionally, you will save much time in your safe opening procedure by not having to devote time to drilling for the relockers and pinning them to prevent firing. Your efficiency in safe opening allows you to offer more competitive rates for your valued customers and avoids any loss of security of the safe itself when you have completed your repair in a cost effective manner.
In most cases the only damage to a safe in a side drilling safe opening is the hole itself, which can be plugged and repaired in a manner which is more secure than the original construction of the safe. You must have a safe opening procedure which includes the penetration itself and an understanding of what is between the side of the safe and the safe lock case.

Side drill safe opening or top drill safe opening methods

1. Side drill to view the change key hole with your scope.
2. Side drill to penetrate the side of the safe lock case and view the wheel pack.
3. Side drill to punch the lock bolt into the safe lock case.
4. Side or top drill to cut off a lock bolt or compromise the boltwork of the safe.


Unlike front drilling safe openings, where you drill into the safe until you reach the safe lock case, side drill safe openings may require exact measurements. If you are going to drill into the side of the safe to scope the safe lock through the change key hole, you must determine exactly where that change key hole is relative to the side entry hole. For your depth measurement, you can remove the dial and insert a thin stiff wire into the spindle hole, alongside the spindle until it hits on the case of the safe lock. Add about 1" more to accomodate the thickness of the safe lock case, and another 1/2" to allow for clearance between the safe lock and the cavity between the safe lock case and door cover. Add your measurements and measure that same amount from the front face of the door, at its edge, back along the side of the safe. This is good for the depth measurement. For the elevation measurement you must determine the handing of the lock and its position (right hand, vertical up, vertical down, or left hand.) If you don't determine the handing with references or by making an educated guess, using the safe handle orientation and position, you may be drilling more than one hole.

 

Safe opening measurements for the safe lock change key hole


1. If the safe lock is installed vertical up, the change key hole will be 1/2" down from the dial center and 1/2" to the left.
2. If the safe lock is installed vertical down, the change key hole will be 1/2" up from dial center and 1/2" to the right.
3. If the safe lock is installed right hand, the change key hole will be 1/2" down from dial center and 1/2" to the right.
4. If the safe lock is installed left hand, the change key hole will be 1/2" up from dial center and 1/2" to the left.


Some safes do not provide a change key entry hole in the back plate of the safe lock case. There may not be enough clearance between the safe lock back cover and the door cover material to insert your scope, even if there is a change key hole. In cases like this you can drill into the side of the safe lock case and view the wheel pack of the combination lock. It is also possible to drill the lock bolt away or compromise the boltwork if you can view the boltwork arrangement with your scope and the design of the safe allows this safe opening method.

Side drilling a safe and viewing the change key hole with your scope requires that you make an alignment of the wheels, taking notes of the numbers as you read the dial. Safes with Sargent & Greenleaf safe combination locks have the #3 wheel closest to the drive cam at the rear of the lock. When viewing the wheels through the change key hole you can either scope the change key entry hole in each wheel or scope the gates. The wheel gates are much easier to find. Make a mark on a dial ring 41 numbers clockwise of the opening index. Whenever a gate appears through your scope hole, note that number on the mark on your dial ring. This a working combination number which you can later dial to the opening index. Determining the gates in the number 2 wheel and the number 1 wheel is more time consuming because the number 3 wheel will obstruct your view. You must constantly advance the dial very slightly to move the #2 wheel around, but always return to the #3 wheel to open your window of view through the gate. After you determine your number for wheel 2, you will have to place both wheel 2 and wheel 3 at their respective numbers every time you advance wheel 1 to determine its number. While it is possible for one safe tech to scope the change key hole of a safe lock, it is much easier for two safe techs, or one safe tech and a good camera. If you are good at dialing you can concentrate on which wheels you are moving at all times and can do it alone. Unless you have really long arms this safe opening procedure makes a camera very useful and quite indispensible.  It can be quite difficult to concentrate on how you are dialing the safe lock combination wheels while being distracted by your aching back, stretching to reach the dial while you struggle to maintain your view through the eyepiece of your scope.


You must have good references of how safes are constructed or experience in certain safe designs and construction to succesfully drill from the side. When faced with your next decision about attempting a safe opening by side drilling or top drilling, remember time spent in determining the design and construction of the safe you are opening may save you lost time in additional repairs due to poor decisions. Safe opening by side drilling will become your preffered method of safe opening in many more safe openings and should not be something that intimidates you. Side drilling or top drilling is often the most efficient and preffered method of safe opening.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 April 2010 23:56
 
Safe Opening - Meilink Safe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harold Fink, Locksmith, CRL CPS   
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 01:28

Safe Opening - Meilink Safe

Cam Punching Method

Essential skills that an experienced safe technician should have:

  1. Knowing how to dial open a lock when manipulation is possible and is likely to be the most efficient method of entry.
  2. Knowing how to properly diagnose a malfunctioning lock.
  3. Knowing how to pull dials and when to pull dials on locks that allow pulling of the dial without damage to the lock.
  4. Knowing how to drill for drop in of the fence.
  5. Knowing how to drill the fence off.
  6. Knowing how to transfer wheel gates.
  7. Knowing how to drill carbide-included hard plate or through previously drilled safes with an effective repair in place.
  8. Knowing how to and when to cam punch a Meilink fire safe.


Most safe service technicians can do most of the items listed above. In my own experience, the three skills I am less likely to see in less experienced safe techs are knowing when to manipulate, knowing how to transfer the wheel gates and knowing when to punch the cam.
Although I am referring in this article to Meilink safes, they were actually produced by Center Manufacturing and were sold to Meilink, Sears, and others. Click here for locksmith login, locksmith resources sectionof this site for measurements to punch cam and read the remainder of this article. SafeandLock.com is free to contributing locksmiths. Login and begin to contribute, or pay $29 per year for unlimited access to valuable locksmith resources, including years of locksmith and safe tech knowledge, including safe opening.

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 January 2010 00:41
 
Safe Identification PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harold Fink, Locksmith, CRL CPS   
Friday, 01 January 2010 08:07

Safe Identification

Safe Identification and Estimates for Safe Opening

Safe Identification does bring to light that a picture truly is worth a thousand words. An expectation of many safe technicians to have an image of your safe in order to properly identify your safe and provide an estimate for a safe opening is not unreasonable. For safe identification purposes, it is helpful to be able to send an image of your safe in an email. You can assist a locksmith or safe tech over the phone, or in an email, with safe identification by offering several important pieces of information, with or without an image. Proper safe identification should be helpful in obtaining an accurate quote for safe servicing fees or safe opening fees, should you be in need of safe services by a professional safe technician.

First, what is the overall size and shape of the safe? What is the size and shape of the door? When was the last time you were successful with the safe opening, and what do you remember with regard to the operation of the safe combination lock?

Second, does it have a dial or keypad? If a dial, how many numbers are on the dial, and what identifying marks are on the dial and ring? If a keypad, what is the shape of the keypad? What sounds do you hear when you use the keypad? Are there any visual indicators on the keypad? Are there any identifying marks on the keypad? Is there or was there ever a key required for the safe? If so, where does the key go in with respect to the dial or keypad? Are there any identifying marks are on the key? If you never had a key, or have lost keys, what do you remember about what the key or keys looked like?

Third, where is the handle located with respect to the safe lock dial or keypad? Directly below? Directly to the left of the dial? Somewhere in between? What is the distance from the center of the dial or keypad to the handle? These are all questions that can be answered over the phone or in an email and should be extremely helpful in obtaining estimates for safe opening.

Without an image of your safe, some of this information should be extremely helpful in describing the basic safe design to an experienced safe tech. The basic design is often helpful enough for an experienced safe tech to properly identify your safe for safe opening estimates. Because images are so helpful in proper safe identification and in providing an estimate for safe opening, it is strongly suggested that you take a picture of your safe door and attach it in an email to your locksmith. Without it, you may get only a rough estimate for safe opening.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 February 2010 21:33
 
Open That Safe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harold Fink, Locksmith, CRL CPS   
Friday, 01 January 2010 08:11

TNT, nitroglycerin, safe crackers, MYTHBUSTERS...

Safe work is very challenging for those of us who earn our livelihoods working on safes. For many folks, safes are a mystery and exciting for people to fantasize about what is required to open a safe that is locked. While I prefer not to use the term "crack" when speaking about safes, there will always be someone out there who jokingly refers to a safe technician as a safe cracker, so I hope this article will help you open your safe.

I feel the most valuable skill that any safe tech can possess is the ability to dial properly and diagnose what is happening when the safe is dialed. The most accomplished, most sought after safe techs are at least capable of safe lock manipulation and will always dial it first, so to speak, instead of claiming within seconds of seeing your safe that it must be drilled. Therefore, the best advice I can give you in opening your safe is to dial properly.

When you dial properly you should be able to open a working safe lock when the combination is known. If you know the combination and it just will not open for you, make absolutely sure you are using the correct dialing procedure for your safe. Don't assume anything! I have opened more than one safe for a customer simply by dialing opposite to what they thought was the proper sequence. In many cases, when you know the correct procedure and the known combination is not working, you can carefully dial to the left of, or right of each number in the combination. Write down what you are doing as you do it, to reduce the probability of dialing the same numbers again and again. I have opened many safes for customers in this manner simply because they had gotten used to looking at the dial at an angle, so make sure you are looking directly down on the opening index as you dial and not off to one side or the other.

Make sure you don't have the handle of your safe in other than the completely locked position. You do not want to have any pressure exerted against the bolt of the lock inside the door, and feeling the handle to verify that it is turned away from the opening direction is a good practice. This allows the bolt to withdraw into the safe lock case when the correct combination is dialed, and prevents any pressure that could be exerted against the bolt from keeping the lever in the lock from dropping into the wheel gates. I will try to post more suggestions here, including our new dialing video, in the near future. In the meantime, try to dial it first and be deliberate in your attempts.

Last Updated on Sunday, 31 January 2010 00:40
 
Safe Deposit Locks - Key Changeable PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harold Fink, Locksmith, CRL CPS   
Friday, 05 February 2010 20:08

Safe Deposit Locks - Key Changeable

Key Changeable Safe Deposit Locks

Safe deposit locks have been manufactured for many years but very few safe deposit locks have been more confusing than the Sargent and Greenleaf, Precision Products, and ILCO Unican key changeable safe deposit locks. The 4540 was the first key changeable safe deposit lock with a movable fence manufactured by Sargent & Greenleaf. Precision Products started to make their own version of the double key changeable safe deposit lock called the 5400 series. Precision products began to manufacture their 5400 series under the Sargent & Greenleaf name, also known as the Sargent & Greenleaf 4500 series. Sargent & Greenleaf began producing the 4543 key changeable safe deposit lock while Precision Products kept producing the 5400 series key changeable safe deposit lock. Sargent & Greenleaf also began producing the 4545 key changeable safe deposit lock. From the outside, it may be difficult to tell the difference between them as they look very much alike. From the inside, however, they are definitely not alike. The plugs, cams and covers may be different. Additionally, the guard plugs may be very thin, and the key blanks may be different. For all of these reasons, you need to know what lock you have in order to replace parts of locks when you are called upon to service them.

Below you will find some helpful descriptive terms for identifying these locks: 1) The Sargent & Greenleaf model 4545, double key changeable safe deposit lock from S&G. 2) The S&G model 4540 key changeable safe deposit lock. 3) The S&G model 4500 (Precision Products manufactured model 5400). 4) The Precision products model 5400. 5) The ILCO model 54000 safe deposit lock manufactured by ILCO Unican. This should help you with safe deposit lock identification in the field.

SARGENT & GREENLEAF 4545
   ( S&G's current double changeable lock)
   - Incorporates two piece renters, plug and cam.
   - Has manufacturing date stamped in left hand corner of the lock case.
   - Uses 5/32" cap screw for changing both renters and guard keys.
   - Uses thick guard key.
   - S&G 4500 series stamped on back of lock case.
   - All levers are pocketed so the plugs go through the center of them.
   - Guard plug has no tail piece.

SARGENT & GREENLEAF 4500
    (Manufactured by Precision Product with S&G logo)
   - Incorporates single piece renters plug.
   - Uses thin guard key.
   - Uses 5/32" cap screw for changing both renters and guard keys.
   - Sargent & Greenleaf 4500 is stamped on the back of the lock case.
   - Levers are not pocketed, both plugs go into lock case beneath levers.
   - Guard plug has no tail piece.

SARGENT & GREENLEAF 4540
   (First double key changeable made by Sargent & Greenleaf)
   - Incorporates two piece renters, plug and cam.
   - 4540 series is stamped on the cover, closest the bolt.
   - Uses 3/32" cap screw for changing both the renters and guard keys.
   - Uses thick guard keys.
   - All levers are pocketed so both plugs go through the center of them.
   - Guard plug has no tail piece.

PRECISION PRODUCTS 5400
   - Incorporates single piece renters plug.
   - Precision model 5400 is stamped on the back of the lock case.
   - Uses 5/32" cap screw for changing both renters and guard keys.
   - Levers are not pocketed, both plugs go into the lock case beneath levers.
   - Uses thin guard key.
   - Guard plug has no tail piece.

ILCO UNICAN 54000
   - Incorporates single piece renters plug and cam.
   - Precision Ilco Unican Corp. series is stamped on the back of the lock case.
   - Uses 5/32" cap screw for changing both renters and guard keys.
   - Levers are not pocketed, both plugs go into the case beneath the levers.
   - Uses thick guard key.
   - Guard key has no tail piece.

The changing function s for all these locks is the same. To change the renter's keys, the function is as follows:
   Step 1. Insert guard key and rotate clockwise until it stop.
   Step 2. Insert renters key and rotate clockwise until it stop.
   Step 3. Loosen renter fence clamp screw (on the back of lock) with change wrench 3 1/2 turns counterclockwise.
   Step 4. Turn renters key clockwise and take out of lock.
   Step 5. Insert new renters key, rotate counterclockwise until stop.
   Step 6. Tighten renters fence  clamp screw clockwise.
   Step 7. Rotate renters key to locked position, remove key.
   Step 8. Rotate guard key to locked position, remove key.
Lock is now set to new renter's key.

The changing function for changing the guard key is as follows:
   Step 1. Insert guard key and rotate clockwise until stop.
   Step 2. Insert renters key and rotate until stop.
   Step 3. Loosen guard fence clamp screw (on back of lock) with change wrench 31/2 turns counterclockwise.
   Step 4. Rotate guard key counterclockwise to lock position and remove key.
   Step 5. Insert new guard key rotate clockwise until stop.
   Step 6. Tighten guard fence clamp screw clockwise.
   Step 7. Rotate renters key to locked position and remove key.
   Step 8. Rotate guard key to locked position and remove key.
   Lock is now set to new guard key.
 

Last Updated on Friday, 05 February 2010 20:17
 
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