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Archive for May 2013

Lagard electronic locks











I’ve had a few of these recently so though I’d just do one blog post rather than lots of individual ones. These locks are pretty good, certainly reliable and easy to use. Trouble steps in when you want to add extra users and reprogram codes. The instructions supplied and on line are concise but many people find them confusing. Keypads sometimes fail due to worn cables, batteries fail and as with anything electronic they sometimes just die without explanation. I offer a full service for these locks, replacing worn keypads, re-coding, changing batteries and general fault finding (including restoring back to factory settings). If you have a Lagard electronic lock fitted to your safe and require any help please give me a call

Phoenix Fire Commander








Here is a Phoenix Fire Commander safe (model FS1900) that had been damaged in a burglary. The handle had been smashed off rendering the safe locked shut. I attended and had the safe open within five minutes after studying images I had from previous jobs I saw that I could get the door open fairly easily even without the handle. The meticulous notes, measurements and photos I take on all jobs really do pay off.

The handle was temporarily fixed and I ordered a new one from Phoenix. I’ve only had a few dealings with Phoenix but every time their customer support has been fantastic.

Dreadnought floor safe











Here is a Super Dreadnought safe lid, stripped down ready for refurbishment. The safe was in a poor state of repair, rusted, full of old thick grease and in general need of some TLC. Currently stripped down into component parts I have cleaned and polished all working parts. The only thing remaining is to remove the deep scars from the top of the lid and replace the handle. I’ll post a picture when the job is completed. Doing repair work on safes is great fun. It also gives you a much greater understanding of how they operate.

If you have a clunky old safe with a sticky lock or door and would like it serviced please give me a call.

Phoenix 1220 Centurion safe


Here is a Phoenix 1220 Centurion safe fitted with a combination lock. The key lock basically is the handle for the safe so even if you have the right code you cannot open it without the key. This safe was complete with instructions, code believed to be correct but the keys had been lost a long time ago. It is normally in my experience for people to have the keys but have no code so this job was quite novel.

I first of all picked the lock open with the code dialled in to confirm that the code they had was indeed correct. The plug turned and the door was open. Once the customer had removed all the contents I started the process of impressioning a blank key to the lock. I produced two keys for the customer so they now have a fully working safe .

If you have a Phoenix safe and only have one key or have lost the keys or code give me a call and I’ll be happy to assist

Mauer President record opening











This is a mauer president fitted to a lock some distance away from Horsham. I attended the site hoping I had everything I may need to get this open and replace in the shortest possible time.

Using Jason Jones’ excellent president 2 in 1 pick I think I broke my personal record. The lock fell open. I had practiced solidly though and knew that a president lock was fitted to the safe. The practice paid off. I have a couple of tools for this lock and I spent longer creating a workspace for myself in a cramped stock room / managers office then I did actually opening the safe. The re-fit was quick and even with a second lock to open I had packed up and started on my way within an hour of arriving. Its the first safe I’ve put my new magnetic business cards onto. Its something I plan on doing on all jobs from now on as all my contact details are on one little card and unlike a sticker can be removed easily and put somewhere else if required.

Although I primarily cover M25 South to the coast I’m willing to travel pretty much any distance to do an opening.

Peake Fireguard safe retrofit











This is a Peake Fireguard safe that originally had a Willenhall 7 lever lock fitted. The customer wanted a combination lock fitting. After a site visit I noticed that the safe had been pre-drilled to accept other locks. Great I thought…

Armed with a brand new combination lock I returned and started to go about fitting the lock. 1 hour tops. When I removed the existing lock and held up the new combination lock I noticed that all the holes had been drilled about 4mm too high. This meant that the lock, or any other standard euro footprint lock would not fit into the safe without major work. If the distance had been greater than it wouldn’t have been such a problem but due to the proximity if I drilled the holes would have overlapped. Chemical metal is good but I would not want to rely on it for fixing a lock inside the safe door.

I decided upon a plan which involved modifying the lock to suit the door, it was quite time consuming and difficult with the tools I had at my disposal but I got the lock fitted and working.

I don’t think the lock hit it off with the safe as when I went to put in a new code a component in the lock slipped and the dial ground to an abrupt halt. After several tries this fault kept repeating itself. Not happy with this and fearing a lock out I replaced the old lock and took the new lock away to examine.

I found that a single component had been installed incorrectly in the lock, this was causing all the problems. I tried several code changes and it worked every time.

Back to site I re-installed the combination lock, the customer inputted a new code and tested the lock several times before I left.

A simple job that turned out to be a bit of a nightmare!

If you have a Peake safe and want a combination lock fitted give me a call. A free site visit will be a must from now on though!

Rosengrens and Dudley Europa opening



Called to open a Rosengrens Saturnus safe that had a failed Lagard electronic lock. The door is extremely thick, too long for my scope so I could not identify exactly what circuit board was inside the lock. All the tools I’ve made to defeat this type of lock were too short so I had to open it via another route. One very small hole was all that was needed after some careful measuring! The door is protected by a full sheet of glass and other relocking devices. You have to be extremely careful putting a drill anywhere near this safe! The safe is to be professionally restored and put back into use. I got to use my Strongarm mini rig again, love this tool it really does make drilling easy and precise.


The second safe, a Dudley Europa grade 2 was locked out with a Lagard combination lock. I tried manipulating but just could not get a reliable reference point. The dial was pretty stiff and even with an audio amplifier I could not really gain any useful information.

I ended up drilling a small hole into the safe and using a large endoscope I visually decoded the lock.  This enables the lock to be re-used and after minor repair the safe is restored back to full working order.

Chubb 3R35 Bank job

Had a very interesting and challenging job today. I had to break into the front door of a bank. First time for me!

After about 30 minutes Sussex Police had paid me a visit, concerned locals had called to say a man was breaking into a bank. Both officers were very nice as I explained what I was attempting to do.

Due to the construction of the door my tool for the lock would not work, this caused a big problem. It is a high security Chubb 3R35 (shown below) and it is considered one of the most difficult mortice locks out there to pick.




The Chubb 3R35 requires you to firstly unlock the latch mechanism and then turn the key again, one full rotation to withdraw the latch so in effect, without the key you need to pick it twice. Picking these locks once is hard enough so I was ‘quite excited’ when the latch retracted and the door creaked open.




Once the door was open I managed to get the lock out of the door which was tricky, re-lever and then test, fit back into the door and re-secure the premises.

Again, due to the door width it was a nightmare getting the lock deadlocked. I had to modify a key which probably added 40 minutes to the job.

Chris Belchers fantastic pocket curtain pick saved the day this time. He did make a bespoke tool for the 110 and all its siblings but it was fractionally too short. The original, although very close to the limit, just reached and allowed me to pick the lock. It was the last tool I tried, very nearly defeated I am so happy I tried it, made my day.

Second successful mortice lock opening this week. Nice to get to practice on door locks from time to time.

The picture below shows the side of the door, nearly 2 1/2 inches deep in the door.


Large Stratford Concord safe with combination lock












Here is a large Stratford Concord safe with combination lock fitted that I opened this afternoon. I had no information on this safe  so was unaware of the internal mechanism. I suspected it is a Stratford safe due to the handle but it has been refurbished some time ago and there was no other identifying features. Jason over at Key Elements locksmiths gave us some good information on identifying stratford safes over the weekend which I have no doubt I will use in the future.

The combination lock was very ‘sticky’ so manipulation was out. I planned to drill and using a long endoscope decode the lock from inside the safe.

Whilst drilling I found that the safe had been drilled before and the repair did start to hinder my progress.

Once inside I could clearly see my target and went about decoding the lock.

No matter how many times I entered the code this thing would not open. Eventually after several number changes the lock made the reassuring ‘clink’ and the bolt retracted. It took some strength to move the lock and handle as this thing had been locked solid for some years.

Once open I removed all working parts including a nice sheet of glass (good job it wasn’t drilled from the front!) to decommission it as it is being sent for scrap.

I took the lock apart to find a fair amount of debris in the lock case, even out of the safe the wheels of the lock were covered in grease and the drop arm was also sticking so that would hopefully explain why it took some time to get the lock open when the code was identified quickly

Another good experience and another safe opened and images and measurements for my files.