Physical Security: Cracking a MEILINK safe with a lost combination is actually possible! #SafeCracker

JohnMHoyt Business, Fun Stuff, Homeland Secure IT, John M. Hoyt's Personal Stuff, Pamela M. Hoyt's Personal Stuff, security 40 Comments


A similar MEILINK fire safe

Do you need to get in a locked safe? Are you wanting a new career as a safecracker? Boy do I have news for you – It’s easier than you might think.

My wifey has a MEILINK fire safe that holds important documents like birth certificates, and the millions of dollars in spare change we have (bah!) which is rarely accessed, and never locked. It’s just for fire purposes, not really security.

Wellllll, long story short, somehow this safe got locked. I blame the cats. But either way, it was locked, and Pamela McAbee Hoyt could not remember the combination. She thought she knew it, but wasn’t sure. She came up with 5 or 6 numbers that she was pretty sure it could be, but questioned the order.

She wrote them down as she tried them. She spent HOURS trying to get into the thing, all the while getting more frustrated. Then she tore the house apart (literally, not figuratively), searching for the card that had the combination on it. Newp, nowhere to be found.

I called a locksmith and safe technician friend of mine, he said he would have to drill this safe that has been in her family for 30-40 years, which would leave it in an inoperable state without costly repairs, so that was not appealing.

I then tried to make contact with a man who claims he could “manipulate” the safe (crack it), but no response.

We called the manufacturer who could actually give you the default factory combination (for a fee) if you provide the serial number. There was no serial number anywhere on it (There is one INSIDE, but what good is that?!?!).

Sooooo, I googled for “how to open a meilink safe” and came upon several links, the most interesting of which was a fella with a very similar safe that he has lost the combination to. And in that article, he has further links to “How Mechanical Safes Work”, and one that was far more interesting to me, being a geek, entitled,  “Safecracking for the computer scientist”.

I followed that last link and read it, not once, but a couple parts a few times.  From the article, I knew that I could go buy myself a massive drill and a diamond bit, and be in that puppy, but I was really drawn to the “manipulation” part, and after I had absorbed what I could, I pulled this safe out of its cubby hole into the living room, where I had light and wasn’t cramped and started working the dial. This was around 2:00 or 2:15 this morning.

Luck was on my side! The first number was easy to determine, obviously, that wheel was where the fence was making contact first, unlike in the article. And when I looked at the attempted combinations that Pamela had tried, guess what? It was one of the ones she had guessed at, in fact, it was her 3rd guess.

I found the 2nd and 3rd numbers were also the numbers she knew them to be, and actually in the right order.  But why was I able to open it when she could not?

She had used the correct pattern for that safe, which is:

  • Turn the dial to the right several times to “clear it”, stop on “0”
  • Turn the dial to the left (ccw) 3 times past the first number and stop on that number on the 4th go-round
  • Turn the dial to the right 2 times past the second number and stop on that number on the 3rd time around
  • Turn the dial to the left 1 time past the third number and stop on the 2nd time around
  • Turn the dial to the right until the dial stops
  • Twist the handle and pull the door open

Easy, right?

Yeah, kinda.  You see, when a safe ages, and especially if the people opening it for years have been kinda quick with the dial, it becomes worn and what may have been 55, could “drift” and be several numbers off.  There are lots of articles on the web about that, and my locksmith friend had told me that from the start.

That is apparently the case with this safe…  It has probably never been serviced and my wife admits to twirling that dial back in the day as fast as she could, so we’ll go with that.

Bottom line – the safe is open, and I have verified the combination works, multiple times now, and before it ever gets locked again, we’ll probably verify it a few more times.

Lessons learned include:

  • Put the combination in more than one location
  • Make sure someone else knows how to operate the safe besides you
  • Verify the combination works before locking the door closed
  • If you want to use it as a fire box, and not actually lock it, remove or disable the combination lock components
  • If the combination has never been changed, knowing the serial number could help – write it down
  • The internet is not just for porn. You can find some great articles that will help you become a safecracker =)

Need help getting in your own safe? Read those articles, you might surprise yourself.

Now if only I could remember the password to the file where I stored the safe combination.



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Comments 40

  1. Do I have to know any of the correct #s. Its a safe that was opened when i got it from my grandmother before she passed, although i closed it thinking i had the correct combination!
    and “yadayadda”!

    1. Post

      I imagine I could have gotten it if I didn’t have any of the numbers, but it sure made it easier to determine that the number was right, as I felt it.

      If you are in the Greenville or Upstate SC area, I would be happy to look at your safe. I’m not a “safe cracker” by any means, but I believe I could do it. A real professional charges something like 400-1000 dollars to “manipulate” a safe open.

      Oh yes, and you will be told by a pro that the Meilink is “impossible” to open due to it having plastic wheels, which is crazy, I felt it… =)

      Good luck!

  2. Within 5 minutes of reading your site information, I got my safe OPEN! I’ve been trying to rember the combination of my locked safe for the past few years. It turns out I knew the correct numbers, they were just in the wrong sequence.


  3. I have the same safe.. i lost BOTH copies of my combo.. is there anyway this side of calling the company and paying the 99 dollars to get the thing open? I don’t want to harm it and if I call a locksmith that’s excately what they’ll do.. any ideas?

  4. Hi guys, I my mom (86 years), forgot the combination number, is there any way to open this safe with other number or what. Thx. Caracas – Venezuela

  5. thank you!! I inherited a safe from a family member and just got it to work for the first time! just knowing the proper sequence and a little concentration and i got it. pretty sure this safe is from the 50’s so its good and worn.

  6. Hi, I buy a meilink safe in a garage sale and they give me the serial number but not the combination… I need open it because is like a goal for me… can you help me? Thanks

  7. I inherited a meilink safe. The door is open and lock is in locked position and I have no idea how to even start to get the combination or to get a new combination? Please help. I am in Denver, Colorado and could take the safe to someone to help me.

    1. I live in Littleton, CO. Been in the lock business for many years. Would you like me to help you? You say the door is open and in the lock position. GREAT! Better than locked up, closed lol! Call me! 303-933-3336 Robert

      1. Robert,

        I have the same situation where my safe door is open but locked and I lost the combination after I received it from my father. He was the only one who could ever open it. It is not doing what it is intended to do if the door isn’t closed and locked, or I cannot open it.

        If I give you a call, can you walk me through what I need to do to find the combination? I live in PA so it would be a bit far for either of us to go to meet in person.

        Thanks in advance for your help.

  8. Love this Forum , finally , I am back on track , my concern is ( need to restore Safe, any hint , contact to do it—-From central Jersey……Thanks

  9. You know, when dialing the combination, it is pointless to “clear” the wheel pack. Just dial 4 times to the first number, 3 times to the second number, 2 times to third number, once to open the lock and pull/turn the handle. And please, no “past the number x times and stop after the y round”. Just 4 times to the first, 3 times to the second etc.

  10. Thanks for the information. I had a Meilink safe that came with the house we purchased about a year ago. I had the numbers but did not know the sequence of turns for each number. After reading your post I used the numbers I had and opened it on the very first try. Thanks!

  11. I recently purchased a new house in Colorado. The sellers left an old safe in the garage with no combination. It is a Meilink safe with serial # 88-6191. Is there a way I can get the combination or is it just junk. The people that use to live here were garage sale fanatics, I figure they probably bought it in a sale somewhere.
    Gator Grice

  12. I recently purchased a new house in Colorado. The sellers left an old safe in the garage with no combination. It is a Meilink safe with serial # 88-6191. Is there a way I can get the combination or is it just junk. The people that use to live here were garage sale fanatics, I figure they probably bought it in a sale somewhere.
    Gator Grice

    1. Yes, you can likely get the combination from the manufacturer (for a small fee) since they keep record of the factory combinations linked to each serial number.

      IF the combination has been changed since it left the factory, then that route would do you no good, but from what I understand, people rarely pay the money to get combinations changed, and doing it yourself is not an easy task, so, spending the money might not be a bad gamble.

      The other option is to get a locksmith to open it and give you the combination or set a new one. This safe CAN be manipulated even though it has plastic parts that make it very difficult. They can also just drill it open and fix it back again.

      These are well made safes, and the investment to get it functional compared to the cost of buying a new one could be worth it!

  13. I won a storage auction and there was a safe that looks very much like the one you have at the top. On the dial itself, may have had a mei link emblem, paper? What ever it is, is removable. I removed the silver paper that had started peeling and its that 40ish green color underneath and its rubbery and in good shape. I then took off the tip of the dial, which is black on your photo, and it revealed a what could be the combination?

    I really haven’t thought that much about its contents, but want to repurpose it and use it for furniture! I’ve had it for over a month without attempting to open. If my dial numbers are the combination, how do I use them in different sequences? It says S 81217. Any help out there would be appreciated.

  14. Hi
    I may have already emailed, but not sure if it went thru.
    The photo at the top of the page looks exactly mine, except the dial insert, which is covered on yours.
    On mine, an inserted piece of copper? with this inscribed
    S 81217. With your knowledge, what does this mean and can it be simplified?
    Thank you

    1. Guessing that is a serial number? Or maybe a service number that a locksmith applied, maybe….

      You can contact the manufacturer with the serial number and for a fee, they will give you the original factory set combination. Obviously that will do you little good if someone changed the combo at some point. I’m guessing that people change combinations very rarely.

  15. Hi, do you guys know if the locks on these old Meilink safes can be replaced or upgraded? I’m thinking about putting a digital lock on mine to simplify access for my family. Thanks!

  16. i have a 1985 meilink floor safe with a handal the door is open but locked it was given to me where is the seirial # i dont see it inside is it worth keeping i dont want to pay a locksmith its no good if i cant even close the door inside was the receite from montgomery ward and two treys

  17. I have a MEI LINK passed and the combination dial will not turn left passed 70. Turns right with no problem . Combination will not work any more with this problem. Anyone know how to get the to turn normally again?

  18. Interesting reading. Here’s our problem. Our safe is open but since my Father died years ago no one can find the combo. We’re afraid to close it. now what do we do? Thank you.

  19. I have a Hercules old safe my wife passed and now I have a safe with no combination can anyone help me open it I tried the #s on internet but none will open the safe. thanks

  20. Thank you so much! This helped me open my father’s safe after he passed. I found the numbers in his Bible, but didn’t know the sequence to open. This saved me and my family tons of additional stress!

  21. I lost my combination to my Meilink 2.0 cu ft safe and looking to sell it but need combination first. Can you help me, please? Also, do you know the value of these safes today.

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