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More elaborate manipulation tools are available but this is a low cost way to begin practice. In a real manipulation situation, the length of the pointer is only restricted by other obstructions on the safe such as the safe handle. The longest possible pointer provides the widest and most easily noticed variations during readings.
You will also need some pages of graph paper. This S&G lock dial contains numbers from 1-100. Mark the graph papers so that each vertical line represents 2 1/12 numbers. Therefore you will have 40 vertical lines. Choose any horizontal line on the mid-point of your graph paper and mark it as your Left contact point. (In our example the Left contact point was at 13). Above the horizontal line mark additional horizontal lines with 13 1/4, 13 1/2, 13, 3/4 Below the “13” horizontal line mark additional horizontal lines with 12 3/4, 12 1/2 and 12 1/4.
First, turn the dial to the left at least 4 revolutions and stop at “0”. Now quickly turn the dial to the right one revolution. As you approach “0” you should feel and hear the drive cam “pick up” the wheel adjacent to the drive cam (3rd wheel in a three wheel pack). Continue turning quickly through a second revolution. As you approach “0” again you should feel and hear the 3rd wheel as it “picks up” another wheel (2nd wheel in a three wheel pack). One more revolution and the same sound and feel should be noticed as you “pick up” the 1st wheel. Any further dial revolutions should not show any difference in the sound or feel. You have now determined that there are three wheels (and combination numbers) in your lock.
The next step is to use a small probe or screwdriver and align one of the wheel notches under the fence. Then take a reading and note any difference in the drive cam contact points. There was little change when testing the 1st and 3rd wheels, but in our sample, the 2nd wheel showed a visible change in the contact reading.
Obviously in this case the 2nd wheel is larger enough as compared to the other two wheels to allow the fence to move in slightly when the notch is aligned with the fence. Contact readings will change because the lever tip has moved slightly deeper into a wheel notch.
A friend obtained a Sentry ® 5560 Fire-Safe ® at a "bargain price," figuring that I could make the minor repairs and he would have a safe. He was so excited as he spoke, telling me the safe was...