Master Combo Crack

I never did try to crack one of those ubiquitous Master Combination Locks during 30×26. I own several of them, and I wasn’t about to buy another one.

It’s fair game if I find one, though. “What if it belongs to someone?” you ask. I’ve chalked this up to, “No one is going to return, recognize, and claim this totally generic looking shackled combination lock.” I figured if I didn’t give it a home, it’d end up in a landfill.

So I gave it a home. Because it needed one. And because I like projects.

I worked on this lock in 3 sessions of about 30 minutes each. I tried about 5 different guides on the internet. Each guide helped me hone in on possible numbers, and while I had a feel for relevant groups of numbers, I couldn’t quite zero in on a consistent lineup. Finally, I looked at what I considered the most likely numbers and positions across all the methods, factored in the fact that I often have to overshoot the target number on these locks, and tried again.

*clack*

Master Combo Lock Crack

genericMasterComboLocks++

30×26 Complete

30×26 was a good time!

I learned a lot. Most importantly I learned that most locks are for show. Locks are defeatable, whether by picking, destruction, or bypass. I knew this coming into 30×26, but now I have a deeper understanding of what that means.

At the beginning of this month, I thought I’d learn to pick a standard pin tumbler lock. I was fortunate to work on wafer locks, warded locks, and combination locks along the way. I learned about other mechanisms such as disc tumblers and biaxial pins as I researched my way through the month.

At the beginning of this month, I didn’t think I’d have to fashion my own tools. But it turns out tensioners aren’t one size fits all, so I ended up making a custom one out of a saw blade. I enjoyed that, and was happy to emerge from the experience with my fingers intact.

Finally, here’s a compilation of all the locks unlocked this month:

30×26 complete!

30×26 Day 31

The lock from yesterday, here it is:

I actually pick this thing one pin at a time instead of relying on the Bogota wand. I feel my way in from pin 1, then set them in order from front to back. You can hear the pins set because I’m putting a horrific amount of pressure on the tensioner, but still, it’s kind of neat to hear the pins set.

Yes, this is an actual doorknob attached to a door.
No, this is not a lock I rely on.

It’s nice to finish the month using the hook I started with on Day 1. When I made a video with it on Day 2 I was just kind of mashing the hook around in the keyway, but in today’s video I could visualize and pick specific pins.

I battled the Stubborn Master Lock a few more times, but we all know how that ends.

30×26 Day 30

Good news, I played around with a an actual lock today in the few minutes I had before leaving the house for the day, and only because I had an early afternoon appointment and didn’t have to leave early to catch the train.

I’ll have one more video for one more day tomorrow, of today’s lock.

Pretty sure Amazon thinks I’m training to be a spy and/or about to be arrested soon. Today it recommended a Concealable, Plastic Composite Double Lock Universal Handcuff Key and an invisible ink marker.

The key’s pretty neat. I kinda want one.

30×26 Day 28

I was going to play with spool pins when I got home but I didn’t feel like it. Wrestled with the Stubborn Master Lock a bit, then played around with the saw blade tensioner in the top of the American Lock keyway, mostly because I wanted to prove I could use it to open a lock. I then realized I didn’t have any videos of that tensioner in action so I made one:

It wasn’t easy. Because the tensioner is so thin it often slips loose and goes flying. This video took a lot of takes. A LOT of takes.

30×26 Day 27

It’s late and it’s my first moment of the day to even think about lock picking. I’m moving back to the repinnable lock to play with security pins. I have a single spooled pin in the first position right now, and while I can feel the spool catch and push past that to turn the plug I’m not seeing the plug counter-rotate like I’m supposed to.

Perhaps I’m being too heavy handed. Likely.

Hoping to have more time to play with this tomorrow.

30×26 Day 26

Came across this lock on clearance for less than 3 bucks. This isn’t something I’d normally buy, mostly because Think Before You Pink, but this was for science! Sort of. Mostly, I bought it because it was on clearance.

25 Million Possible Combinations (TM)

Notice that the lock claims to have “OVER 25 MILLION POSSIBLE COMBINATIONS™”. What. A. Lie. They give you plastic covers with different numbers and letters on them, then claim the lock has 250 times more combinations than it really does.

It does not have 25 million possible combinations. It has 100,000.

Older iterations of this lock had 10,000 possible combinations. They were also easy to crack. Master Lock has since fixed this vulnerability by making the outer rings overlap: the left edge tucks under the right edge so that you can’t see between the rings.

How, then, to bypass the lock? It’s not shimmable, since the ball bearing that releases the shackle won’t budge unless it’s on the right combination. So you have to cut it. You can cut the shackle, or you can cut the plastic dials to reveal the painted metal dials underneath.

As with Day 24, I’m not here to break locks, so I’ll leave this one be.

I really wish this lock wasn’t pink. I’d like it a heck of a lot more.

30×26 Day 25

Here’s an amusing little tidbit I learned last night:

Schlage deadbolts have this feature called an “Anti-pick Shield”. This has nothing to do with the pickability of the cylinder. Rather, the shield covers the part of the lock that’s in the door, to protect it from an icepick attack.

No joke.

Today I did battle with the stubborn Master Lock. Aaron gave me an old sawblade yesterday to fashion into more tools, and today I decided it was time I stopped complaining about how I didn’t have a tensioner large enough for the stubborn Master Lock and just make one. Out came the Dremel again, along with a couple files and some sandpaper.

I opted for a flat tensioner that fits in the top of the keyway.

Really Flat Tensioner

Only the very tip sits in the keyway. The notch is to hold the tensioner out far enough that it doesn’t touch the first pin.

Here it is in the lock. You can see where the notch rests on the outside:

Saw Blade Tensioner

If this tensioner were twice as thick it’d be perfect, but as it is it gets the job done better than the other tensioners that get shift and get wedged, although it does sometimes slip loose and launch itself.

I picked and picked and picked with this new tensioner. The lock would not open.

Finally, I took the lock apart to see what kind of pins it has. Unfortunately, the plug is held in place by a C-clip, which I have absolutely no interest in prying off and reattaching, because I don’t like to lose blood. Or C-clips.

Here is the infamous stubborn Master Lock, half disassembled:

Stubborn Master Lock Innards

See those 4 holes in the bottom of the cylinder? That’s what the pins slipped into the last time I opened this lock, causing me to think it was stuck. I just needed to work them back out of there to rotate the plug again.

Shortly after reassembly, I remembered that the cylinder is difficult to open even with the key. It often catches and refuses to turn unless you pull the plug out, but not too far, and at just the correct angle, with the key. This is not something I can do with a pick or tensioner.

What this means is even if I were to pick the pins properly, the lock still wouldn’t open. Perhaps that’s what’s been happening. I have no way of knowing.

Stubborn lock is frustrating.

30×26 Day 24

About a week ago, Aaron dug up an old Master Lock 175, which I decided to tackle today.

The internet has all sorts of information about the 175. This post and this video are two of the best that I found. There are plenty of other sites and videos that say pretty much the same thing.

I was pretty excited about opening a combination lock with a pick. Except I couldn’t get a pick to fit between the dials and the end cap. Not even the thin hook.

I looked at a small paperclip, since this guy managed to open his 175 that way. For the record, a small paperclip is thicker than my thin hook.

I didn’t think a soda can would be strong enough to work, but I tried it anyway. It barely squeezed past the gap, but deformed right away. I needed something thin yet strong.

Enter the razor blade. And a Dremel. I may still be so weak that I get winded washing my hair, but whoo I feel good enough to play with power tools today. Fashioned the following, thinned and polished at the tip:

Razor Hook

It’s thinner than the thin hook, and just thin enough to get into the lock:

175

Unfortunately, the gap between the dials and the end cap is still so thin that I can’t maneuver the tip of the pick back down to hook the thing I need to. I don’t know where all those YouTubers got their loosey goosey 175s, but this isn’t one of them. Looks like I lost the pickable tolerance lottery. (Or rather, Aaron won it.)

Not that this lock is secure. If you read the article in the first link (or this one) you’ll see that a screwdriver will take the end cap off, and after that the mechanism I tried oh so hard to reach will be openly available.

But I’m here to pick locks, not break them, so I will leave this one alone.

I will note, however, that there is another nondestructive way to get into this lock, but I’d rather spend my time on other things.