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  1. #11
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    Oct 2009
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    Cleveland, Ohio USA
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    Country: United States

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    You are correct about that. I should have said the "modern" manipulation method as it is generally described. No doubt Sargent, Yale, Hall and others involved in the making of the new fangled dial locks quickly realized that, like the English lever locks, slight machining differences could be identified and used to defeat the locks. A great deal of development in perfecting a dial operated lock was going on at this time. It is not always clear what methods were being used to attempt to manipulate the locks. There is much talk about holding the fence off the wheels. In the case of Sargent's Automatic, in the patent he states that it is the sound of the fence hitting the wheels that he is attempting to thwart. However, it should also be noted that the predecessor to the famous S&G 6730 was patented in 1866 by Sargent and Henry Covert, the same year Sargent patented his second Magnetic and it utilizes neither of the anti-manipulation features of the Magnetic nor the Automatic. It does introduce the combined fence/lever with the lever nose riding on the drive cam, which effectively holds the fence off the wheels through most of its travel. I remember spending the better part of a day trying to dial one of these early versions open. We eventually X-rayed it. It is hard to determine for sure, but it appears that there was a long period in this country where safe lock manipulation was ignored. And probably because so much attention had been put into the better locks of the 1860's and 70's, that resulted in an attitude of "why bother". Again, because of the secrecy, it is hard to say. It's seems that by Courtneys time, it was not at all a commonly used or known skill in the trade as it is today.

  2. #12
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    Aug 2004
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    Country: Australia

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    It's interesting, I do a fair amount of manipulation but have never had the opportunity to try on a lock of that type. I do wonder just how effective the designs would be against a modern, concentrated attack.

  3. #13
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    I am not a collector but I do have several No. 2-1/2 Automatics. These have only a single spring loaded arm that captures the fence / lever. Not mounted but holding the lock up to my ear I can hear the fence as it drops down onto wheels when I move the cam, so it is a possibility. But then again it is a 4 wheel lock and gravity only fence. Definitely would need an amplifier as the feel is so slight.

  4. #14
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    Without going into details on a open forum if you are aware of the system developed by Brian Hignett for dealing with vault locks with very soft contacts (sold in the US by Phil Shearer) I suspect that such an approach, when tied to quartering wheels etc would yield results.

  5. #15
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    Oct 2009
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    I don't always stay current on what Phil is selling. If it requires dial removal I know what you are talking about. On these early locks though, pulling a dial is pretty much out of the question. Now you have me curious. I may have to mount one of these Sargent 2-1/2's today and see how well it talks.

  6. #16
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    Oct 2009
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    I just pulled out one of the S&G locks and I had forgotten that at least on these, the dials were screwed on.

  7. #17
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    Well I think at least on the one S&G Auto lock I just mounted up and looked at, it could be possible but with difficulty as might be expected. He did more or less accomplish his stated goal by using the trigger lever. Not perfectly but even with an increase in dial sensitivity, and an amp, I doubt I would want to put in the time and effort required. Been there, done that, and I am pretty much a hack manipulator now. If it doesn't give up in about an hour, out comes the hardware.

  8. #18
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    Aug 2004
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    Do the locks you have feature the leather inserts in the drop arm ?

  9. #19
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    Oct 2009
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    No, these locks are from Corliss safes so they are later, probably from the mid 1880's. I do not know when they stopped using the leather but I suspect it didn't last more than 10 years, if that.

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