Wednesday 2 October 2013


I’m sure that anyone who has read more than a few of these blogs will know that I am pretty nostalgic about my high school days. The people, the times, the friendships, the teachers and to some extent, even the education had a profound impact on me.

One of the things from that era that has remained with me throughout the years is the Dudley lock that kept my locker closed throughout the six years I spent in high school. It kept out the Borrowers, the Merry Pranksters, the Narks and all other prying eyes and minds. It protected my textbooks, gym shorts, coats and boots, pens, papers, and an assortment of things that I just accumulated. Old “Dudley” did the job he was purchased for and he did it well.

“Dudley” has continued to work for me throughout the years. He would come to the gym with me; he kept potential burglars out of a number of buildings and locked many fences over the years. A few years ago, I bought an eight pack of locks that were all keyed alike and they have taken over the protection duties, leaving “Dudley” to retire in the back of a drawer or a box where it is warm and dry. To tell the truth, “Dudley” had become a little sloppy over the years and instead of a specific combination, anywhere close to the combination was good enough.

I have picked up other Dudley locks over the years and I have one that has taken over the personal protection detail. It is good, but it isn’t “Dudley”. We just don’t have the history and probably never will. I used the new lock over the past little while to protect my meagre possessions from Post Office thieves on the days I worked there. It was somewhat stiff and didn’t tolerate a missed number the way “Dudley” does. Perhaps he wants to make a positive impression, but frankly, he is trying too hard.

I found a Dudley lock on the street a couple of years ago, and it was in pristine condition. Nary a scratch and the only problem is that it was closed and I of course don’t have the combination. Every now and then I would pick it up and spin three numbers at random, but to no ones surprise, this Dudley kept closed. The other day I decided that enough was enough! “Dudley” has served his time and deserves a quite retirement, but this new guy needs to pick up the slack.

Thankfully there is the internet and lots of sites for budding safe crackers and those interested in learning the ways of locks. I tried a few different sites, but most of them were set on some kind of damage to the lock which wouldn’t happen unless I couldn’t get it open. I finally found one, the “Dudley Combo Cracker” that I felt was worth a try.

It turns out that although there are 60 numbers on the face, there are really only ten positions of four numbers each. That takes the possible number of combinations from 216,000 down to 1000 which a guy could conceivably do if he happened to be retired with nothing better to do with his time. However, the number of combinations can be further reduced by tossing out the last digit. Most of us at some time or another have dialled the first two digits and left the last one to speed things up. Once you have the first two numbers all that you have to do is move through the positions until the lock opens. Now, we are down to 100 possible combinations.

This site went on to say that most (not all) Dudley locks have a first number that is larger than the second number which reduces the combinations down to 45 possibles. Not too bad at all. The chance of you having to go through all 45 is minimal if you aren’t me. I went through all forty five and then I did the forty five with first numbers lower than the second number and it still didn’t open. I was pretty down because I’ve come to believe that if something is on the internet then it must be right…right?

Just as I was about to give up, I realized that I had been spinning the second number incorrectly. Hey, it has been a while since “Dudley” and I were paying attention to each other. You have to turn completely around the dial and then hit number two. Doing it right, I got the correct combination in 26 tries. Yea me!!!!

Of course, I have little or no use for another combination lock, but that’s not the point, I got the lock open. Somewhere, in the back of a dark and cluttered drawer, “Dudley” is proud of me.

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