Lost an old Master Lock combination? There’s a process to retrieve it

My buddy bought a combination padlock at a garage sale. It was made by Master Lock, and was the model with the stainless-steel case with a black dial and white numbers ranging from 0 to 39. The shackle was locked; the three-number combination was long gone.

But it costs almost nothing, and provided him with the amusement of watching YouTube videos showing how a combination lock can be opened by just feeling how numbers felt when they were rubbed by the turning dial. That was the concept, anyway.

Unsuccessful, he passed it on to me to see what I could do. I fiddled with it a bit, and decided there must be an easier way to get the combination.

As it turns out, there is. The Master Lock website ( has a home page with tabs at the top — one of which is marked “Personal.” Click on it, and another page comes up with a box labeled “Lost Combinations.”


The first alternative for combination recovery was to go to a Master Lock retailer. Take the lock. It must not be attached to anything. There should be a clerk who is the Master Lock agent with a telephone number for the company.

The clerk will read the serial number on the back of the padlock to the person on the other end. The combination will then be given to the store clerk, who will then pass it on to the customer.

“Please note that although Master Lock does not charge for this service, the retailer may charge a fee,” the webpage said. I never learned whether there would be a fee. On three visits to three different hardware stores, the result was always the same: We were on hold for about 10 minutes and finally gave up.

A second alternative was productive. “Send a picture of the lock clearly showing it is not attached to anything,” the webpage advised. “The image should clearly show the entire lock and the serial number. The lock cannot be attached to anything. Any photo with digital edits will be rejected.”

Lonnie Brown

Lonnie Brown

Attach the picture to the “Contact Us” form and fill it out. “We will respond in 7-10 days.”

On the 10th day, they responded. The combination worked the first time.

But for a little while, I had my buddy believing that I had become a bit of a Houdini with that lock.

Lonnie Brown can be reached at [email protected].

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: If you’ve ever lost an old Master Lock combo, the company has a process