Master Lock Mystery

I’ve got a Master combination lock that has been around since I was a kid. Opened it thousands of times, and the combination is etched into my memory like my birthday. It was used to lock up the crawl space on the house I grew up in.

Well, I came across it up at the house about 10 years ago or so. It wouldn’t open. Tried several times. No dice.

Not the kind of guy to ever throw anything away, took it to my place, and stuck it to the wall of my shop with a magnet. Over the last 10 years or so, I’d take it down, while drinking beer out in the shop and give it a go. Nope. Won’t open.

Till last night. Sitting around drinking beer with the dogs by the woodstove, grabbed it off the wall, spun the dial around, and on the first attempt, ‘Clink’, pops right open, with that unmistakable sound. Then sound I’ve heard a thousand times. :eek:

I sprayed the inside with all kind of lube and cleaner. Reluctantly closed it. Turn the dial. Nope! :o

I did get it to open a couple times since, but WTF?

I guess I could use it for something I really, really want to keep safe. Or something I care nothing about. :smiley:

They come with a Lifetime warranty. You could send it back to Master Lock and see if they’ll fix it, although they’ll most likely just send you brand new one, which wouldn’t preserve your combination.

Mentally, one common mistake people make is inverting the right-left-right order and going left-right-left. Swapping two numbers is also common.

Mechanically, a little bit of rust can cause cams to stick when they shouldn’t.

For such an older MasterLock there are sites* out there that will help you recover the combination. First you find the 3rd number, then enter it into a script which produces a table of likely combinations. Does your combination appear on there? If you are off a digit or two this might tell you what’s what.

  • I think the board frowns on direct linking to such sites although they are quite helpful. I took an old lock one of the kids left here and recovered its combination using such a site. I use it the pool for minimal security.

Oh, I know the combination. Like I say, it’s burning into my memory like my birthday. And it still works. Just ‘intermittently’. I’d hate to think it won’t open again till 2029. :wink:

Are you real sure you opened it? Maybe the heat from the woodstove did something to it. Try warming it up. I have a dead bolt on a side door I don’t dare use. It gets stuck locked. It needs replacing.

Go look at the alternate ending to Big thread. There’s a lot of people who are absolutely sure about something that doesn’t exist.

One thing I learned from decades around computers. Never assume you are remembering something right.

If you think the middle digit is 10 but it’s really 7, being a little “off” at times means you have a chance of opening it. Being “right” means you won’t.

I may have taken that very lock off the assembly line and folded a box around it.
(In which case, it’s 23-SEVEN-15, not ten)

Ah, the joys of intellectually challenging summer employment during high school…

Bless Your Heart! :wink:

Thx. I’m just helpful like that. I’m here to serve.

Out by the fire last night:

It was open, so I slammed it shut. First try. No.

Second attempt. No.

Third time was a charm. Popped right open.


I once had a master lock that would get stuck in the open position from time to time. After I fiddled with it for a while, I could get the shackle to lock down again. It was intermittent, but I always figured that some of the parts inside must get stuck. Maybe same thing is happening to yours, but instead of getting stuck open, yours is stuck locked. :confused:

Have you tried oiling it? I think next time you get it open, throw a little 3 in 1 down the hole and let it seep in overnight. Then spin the dial for a bit, oil it some more, and repeat.

I figure there must be a piece of debris floating around inside the mechanism. Those locks are very simple inside, with few parts that could randomly break then work.
Do you hear the various clicks as the pins on the disks strike each other while rotating the dial–in other words does it sound the same way it always did?

I do believe that point was covered in the OP about 5 lines down.

Either that, or if it’s really broke, they might show up and kill you! :wink: