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


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” (updated link below).

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.

UPDATE: 2019-06-03

It’s been 7 years since I posted this blog post, and I get emails, replies and phone calls all the time asking me to help.  I’m sorry, I cannot help you with your 40 year old safe located in Indiana.

Your options are:

  1. Contact a reputable locksmith that specializes in safes and have them either try to manipulate it, or drill it.
  2. Contact Meilink, who is now owned by Fireking.com it would appear, and if you are lucky and the combination has not been changed, and you have the serial number – pay them a small fee and they will send you the original combination.
  3. Attempt to manipulate it, or drill it yourself.

Here’s an updated link to the one above “Safecracking for the computer scientist”

If you managed to get into your safe using any of these methods, feel free to respond. I don’t approve all responses – but I will do so for any relevant information you send me.

Good luck!


UPDATE – 2021-03-07:

This article was originally published in 2012, and to this day, the author receives multiple inquiries per week about how to get into a safe, or change a combination.

While we try to answer all phone calls, emails, chat requests and even replies to this post, we typically end up passing along the same information.

We can’t give you a combination.  Your only hope is to contact the manufacturer and give them the serial number and see if they have the default combo.  Optionally, you can call a locksmith.

You can get more information from Meilink’s parent company here:


UPDATE – 2022-03-01:

Another year has passed, and still phone calls, emails and responses come in asking if we can open a safe, give a default combination, change a combination, and the like. While I am sure we COULD – that is not what we do. We are a Business IT provider. We would LOVE to help you with your computer, server or network, business related issues. We offer sales, service, support, consultation for anything connected to your network in the Greenville and Upstate South Carolina area.

Let us help you with your business computer needs, and let’s leave the locksmithing to the professionals.

If you need assistance with a lock or safe, go to Google or your favorite search engine and put in “local locksmith near me” and you will be in business!

Good luck!


Comments 75

    1. I have a Melink safe.I just got it from a man I done some work for.Anyway the safe door is open. I took the cover off the back of the dial.How fo and find the combination?

      1. Unfortunately, without physically being there, I would not be able to help much. I’m sure that you can turn the dial until everything aligns, noting the numbers….

  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!

      1. Thank you so much for the small instructional part. It is 12/26/2018, and I was skeptical the article would have relevant knowledge to my problem. However, that simple set of proper instructions, took about half an hour to get right, yielded a “golden reward”. A little over $15,000 in older krugerrand, been locked in a safe since my wifes mother passed in 2008. We thought she might have had some old small gold rings in there or something smaller, so we put it aside. We are moving now and found the safe in a closet. Nice suprise. Thanks again.

          1. I have a Meilink Safe, I also have the combination but after putting in the last number then turning the dial to the right until it stops as per the directions and I have done this many times before but now it gets to zero and “clicks” but does not stop and I can open th safe. Any ideas? Thanks

      2. There’s a free Meilink safe for free pickup downtown Columbia SC if you want it. I saw it on Craigslist then I stumbled on your write-up. Take care!

      3. I have a meilink s49435 but have lost the combination. Is there anyway that I would be able to get this safe open?

  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

    1. Thanks for replying… I *COULD* open it using the method outlined, however, paying me for my time would be crazy! Try it and see if you can do it.

      1. HELLO To any body ! I need the right combo to get in that same safe ? I need a one time deal ?….LOL…YEA right who is going to air that combo ?

      2. I have a old meilink safe from my grandmother n I lost the combination can u help at all thanks

  5. Great info thanks…have a Meilink and knew the combo but the sequence had escaped me.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  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

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  21. 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!

  22. I have a Melink 1916 that I list the combo to. It is currently open. How can I set a new combo?

  23. 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.

  24. I picked up my Mielink at a garage sale to put my valuable jewelry in bcuz of my arthritis, i cant qear the rings. The lady i bought it from gave me the combination on a smallpiece of paper which as you probably guessed…I LOST IT!!.I want to get my jewelry out but cant..can anyone please please help me figure this out so i dont have to spend extra money i ne4d else where on a lock smith?

  25. My Mailink safe came with a house we just purchased. Its open, and i have no idea how to set a new combination on it. Could anyone offer a suggestion how it’s done? I’ve never owned a safe like that so for now it’s a giant hunk of steel sitting in my closet. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  26. Thanks for the info. Father in-law passed recently and my wife and I were cleaning his house. Had no idea what he had in the house due to estranged relationship. I found a Hercules safe and we thought cool. Obviously it was locked and my wife had no idea about it or any combo. Been sitting in our garage for a two weeks and today I decided go online to see if there was a way to open it. Came to his page/blog. Was not very hopeful. I happened to also find wife’s grandfather’s wallet in the house. Thought the safe was possibly his and not her father’s. So I looked for his driver’s license thinking combo maybe his birthdate. It was in the clear holders that everyone puts their licenses, credit cards, business cards, kid’s pics, etc. It was difficult to read due to discoloration, so I proceeded to remove the license. I ended removing the other card also in the sleeve. Well, there was a third business card sandwiched between the two. On the back was a combo. It read Left ##-4, Right ##-3, Left ##-2. I showed it to my wife and she asked, if that is a combo, then what are those extra numbers after them. I thought for a quick second and then told her about what it said above in the blog. Thought to myself, this can’t be it, but let’s try it. Went into the garage and tried it. Didn’t work. S#%*! Tried again changing a few things. No luck again. Tried it a third time like the first time. My wife came in to see. Got to my last number and tried pulling it open. Did not open. So my wife bends down and twists the knob ccw saying it looks like it didn’t catch. The door opens! In it, no bundles of money, jewelry, actual stock options. Better than all that was my wife’s family history. Family documents that now tell her about who she is and where she came from. All new to her.
    Thank you for the information on how to open the safe correctly. Without that, I would not have looked in the wallet and then understood what those numbers meant on the business card.

    1. First off, sorry for your loss. Secondly …. Awesome story!

      Glad the article was some help to you. I love the internet and how much we can learn from one another.

      Wish you had discovered a major treasure, like a lost Picasso, or a pound of gold, but even just opening a safe is quite the reward for your work!

      Best wishes and thanks for taking the time to respond!

  27. I have a Meilink Safe, I also have the combination but after putting in the last number then turning the dial to the right until it stops as per the directions and I have done this many times before but now it gets to zero and “clicks” but does not stop and I can’t open the safe. Any ideas? Thanks

  28. If it wasn’t for your site we would’ve NEVER gotten into my boyfriend’s Mother’s safe!!! We were not putting in that last step to turn it to the right until it stops. Thank you very much!!!

  29. I found myself in possession of a Brinks Safe which was quite small and quite clearly not the best product they make, however it was a Brink’s! I didn’t have the key or the combination! Well… I could try calling Brinks and incriminate myself or try cracking it on my own. Couldn’t beat the lock, combination or key. However, while pondering the issue I realized that my goal wasn’t to beat the lock, it was to get into the box! I re-examined the box and went to work on the hinges which proved to be fruitless as they were internal. The box had a clasp that lacked down from the top half securing it to the bottom half. I was able to get underneath the clasp without disengaging it and this is where I found a design flaw. Underneath the clasp on the box the hinges were exposed AND able to be manipulated. I was able to beat the design of the box and also put it back together the exact same way unharmed. A couple of funny coincidences. Locked myself out of my house in the middle of the night investigating noises and was able to beat the sliding glass door with about 20 mins worth of effort and there was no damage done to the door! I never was able to trip the lock but that’s not the point is it??? Second coincidence is that I got a Meilink ThermoVault free! Unfortunately, its clearly an older model and I have no clue as to the combination!!! I look forward to the challenge. There is nothing illegal in my actions! I sobered up 6 1/2 years ago and went back to school and now I am a therapist that offers counseling to addicts and alcoholics as well as many other issues!?
    I wasn’t always a Boy Scout so I dabbled in crime as a way to support an addiction. Let me iterate that I never broke into homes and NEVER used a weapon or hurt anyone.

  30. Interesting blog. I have been trying for days, with a good 4 digit combo, and find conflicting info on the net for sequence.
    You say “Turn the dial left 3 times past the first number and stop on that number on the 4th go-round.” Others say one less revolution, but neither method works. I feel the dial turning, but on my last number reached by turning left, nothing opens and turning back to right never finds a stop either. Any suggestions? I know there is $10K in old coins inside, so it is a worthwhile goal. Thank you.

    1. If you have a Meilink safe like I outlined, it SHOULD work given the sequence I posted. If it’s not the same safe, you may need to find a tutorial online for that model. Youtube is a great resource where someone will show you in a video!

      If you know there is 10k in the safe – I would be inclined to have it drilled! It can be repaired for a few dollars and you’ll never even know it!

      Good luck!!!

    1. Larry, that makes me happy to hear!
      I’ve received a lot of feedback from people who have been able to get into an old safe they either forgot the sequence of how to open it, or where there had been just enough wear to keep them from opening it with the combination they had!

      I’m waiting for the one who says they found a priceless family heirloom or a million dollars when they opened it up!

      Thanks for the comment!

  31. I picked up my Mielink from a friend who was fixing up a house he bought. I don’t have the combination, but the safe door is open, but in the locked position. Is there a way to take the back panel off of the door and find the combination?

  32. I purchased a home and inherited a Melink # 521 safe , scrap of paper with combination was on floor in another closet , tried more than a few times, does not “stop” as you indicate in your suggested instructions….any ideas ?

    Appreciate any assistance you can provide .


    Barto , PA.

  33. I have an old Meilink Val-U-Vault safe that we didn’t know the combo for, but thankfully it was locked open. My Great-Grandfather purchased it sometime in the 1930s (we think). I’ve been reading the posts here and thought I can help, assuming your lock is like mine.

    I watched A TON of videos, none of which helped because unlike the safes in the videos, my 3 wheels are attached to the lock plate, not the spindle to the dial on the front. They only move if the plate is properly installed, and a pin on the 4th wheel (which IS attached to the dial) moves the other three, which all have brass tabs on them; we’ll call this the “inside wheel” for today’s purposes (I’m sure it has a real name). So I can’t even turn the dial to see where the notches line up.

    Here’s where I lucked out: each of the three brass wheels on the lock plate has numbers next to a series of holes along the outer edge. The tabs the Inside Wheel pushes to move the lock plate wheels are inside a specific number. I wouldn’t think they’d bother etching all these random numbers on brass wheels for no reason, and that was the case. The numbers the tabs were in was the combo, and changing it was just as easy as removing a brass snap ring, removing each wheel, and setting the tab in the number I wanted (the wheel closest to the lock plate is the 1st number).

    Now it opens and closes and locks perfectly.

  34. I have the opposite problem. My safe will no longer lock.
    This safe came with the house and is built into the closet. We were able to change the combo and now it’s no longer locking. We don’t have a key nor the instruction booklet. I did however take s photo of the inside serial number just in case!
    Any ideas on what’s wrong? Does this even have batteries? If so how do you change them?

  35. My 90 year old mother has a 1980 Melink 1980 I have the current combination but need to change it since she leaves it opened and I fear her nurses might fall pray to temptation.It is

    How can I set a new combination?

    Thank you

  36. I recently lost the keys to my house so I would like a quoted for Rekeying the locks on my house. The current locks are Medico I think that’s the brand, I also have a meilink safe I need the combo changed on. I’m free normally on weekends so it’s best to call
    Before you come. Please respond asap as I’d like to get this scheduled soon!

    1. Thanks for the reply… We get a lot of inquiries about safes, locks and locksmithing, but in reality, this site just posted a blog post about meilink safe opening many years ago, and we are found in searches because of that one post.

      We are an IT company, providing computer, server, and network sales, service and consultation in the Greenville and Upstate South Carolina area. While we probably COULD open your safe, rekey your locks, that’s not our forte and we focus on providing excellent service when someone needs their business computer repaired, upgraded or replaced.

      Try a google search for “locksmith near me” and I am sure you will find someone suitable!

      Best wishes!


  37. We have a Meilink safe from my father-in-law. I don’t need help opening it, because I know the combination, and have opened it numerous times since we got it! But also, cleaning out some paperwork today (as it is the “Spring Cleaning” at our fairground, and they shred documents for nc) I ran across not only the paperwork for our Meilink safe (labeled Montgomery Ward incidentally), but also the invoice from 1980 indicating the price on this model #9017 was $129.97.

  38. Great article John. I got bitten by the safe bug several years ago after buying two safes at an estate sale. One required drilling and scoping to get open. Since then, I have bought and sold several safes. Some have been locked open, some cut open to extract the contents, and some that required scoping. All but a few have been sold. I’m hanging on to my Fireking media safe and my latest acquisition, a Meilink double door, 40”w x 28” deep x 74” tall fire safe. Greetings from the Low-country of SC. David

  39. Ok everybody I will give up the secret of getting your combination if your safe door is open. I recently picked up a meilink safe from a yard sale. The man gave it to me because he never had the combination. I took it home and started looking at the lock. On the inside of the door there is a cover held on by 6 screws. Remove it. Now you will be looking at the back of the locking system. There is a small box that koolds the wheels for the combination. On the right side near the top you’ll see a small hole. When you turn the dial on the front you’ll see the wheels turning in that hole. Turn the wheel 4 turns to the left (ccw) and then watch for a small notch to come around and stop when it lines up with the hole. Write down the number on the dial. That is the first number of your combo. Now turn the wheel right (cw) 3 turns and stop when the second notch lines up with the hole. Write down your second number of your combo. Now turn it left again (ccw) 2 turns until the third notch lines up with the hole. That is your third and final number for your combo. Write it down. Now turn it right (cw) until the dial stops and your door should be open.
    I hope this helps everyone who has a safe that is open but they don’t have the combo. Worked for me. Took me 20 minutes to figure it out.

  40. Thank you so much for having this article online. I have a Meilink safe, and found the combination numbers, but didn’t have the correct procedure on how to use them. Once I found the correct way to use those numbers, on your posting, I got my safe open. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  41. Our huge Meilink safe was purchased with the house in a safe room. We tried to use it with the same combo 4 years after purchase. Unfortunately, even a safe specialist locksmith could not open it. It had been previously drilled. So, he was finally after many hours, able to open it with his mirror tools and hammer. He refilled the redrilled hole with tungsten ball bearings and cold welded it sealed. The dial was worn out. He could replace it or install an electronic keypad. I chose the latter. Now we have easy access and only the battery replacement is required for maintenance. Yes, it cost $800 (open and replacement keypad). A new 25+ cu ft safe that size is about $5,000 or more new so it is worth it. I am storing documents, photos and master recordings in it.

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