Hello everyone, and here is wishing you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year for 2018. Interestingly, my first job for this new year will be tomorrow, changing the combination on a mechanical dial, 3-wheel lock safe. Initially the call was concerning some problems the owners were having with the safe, and they felt that an adjustment to the dial wheel on the spindle itself might be in order, but there were several issues that made me feel their request was circumspect–chiefly the fact that the problem did not occur for everyone who used the dial–only a few.
As a person who routinely has to use either your personal or company safe, if you are having problems dialing in the combination on your mechanical dial, probably the main problem you might be experiencing is IMPATIENCE.
If it turns out that ends up being the problem, then the remedy is quite simple–SLOW DOWN–dial the combination slowly, and if there are no other problems with the safe, then typically you will open it on the first time every time.
Generally, mechanical dial safe locks need to be finessed, as you will soon find when you spin the dial roughly and fast that haste REALLY DOES MEAN waste–and you will have to start from scratch each time you misdial the combination to the safe. Of course, this results in repeated attempts being necessary to finally get the safe open–which can lead to complete frustration–especially when one PRECISION dialing of the combination would have been all that was required, and would have done the trick all along.
For example in a three wheel safe–left-right-left, then SLOWLY right, back to the opening index, where you will ‘feel’ the fence drop into the aligned gates of the wheels might go something like this:
Let us assume the combination is 30-80-50, with an opening index of 10 ticks, when the fence falls in at 15 and pulls the bolt back at 5.
1. Turning left, pass the number 30 3X, landing on it the 4th time.
2. Turning slowly back to the right, pass the number 80, two times, landing on it the third time.
3. Turning slowly back to the left, pass the number 50 ONCE, then land on it the second time.
4. Now turn slowly to the right, and make sure you feel the slight ‘click’ of the fence dropping into the wheel gates at around the number 15, and continue until it stops at about the number 5. You should be able to now turn the handle and open the safe.
NOTE–if the misdialing problem still persists, and is consistent, then there actually might really be something wrong with the combination lock–either the mechanics are dirty, or are in severe need of lubrication (these two usually go hand-in-hand), or the brass wheels are severely worn. Older safes usually have these problems.
Fortunately, replacement locks for dial safes are relatively inexpensive, typically ranging form $150-$300 (sometimes more)–this compared to a new safe itself which can sometimes range into the thousands of dollars. This also depends on the size and type of safe as well.
These new locks usually come with explicit instructions for their installation, but if you are not at all mechanically inclined, than price compare what a good locksmith specializing in safe work charges. Get a three prices if possible so that you can establish a benchmark for your safe-servicing decision process.
Hopefully tomorrow, my assessment of a safe combination change (it has been over three years for this safe), along with a brief training session of the operators will be all that this safe requires. I’ll keep you all posted!