For the sake of clarity: Clockwise
- If your turning CW from zero, your heading towards 35.Counter Clockwise
- If turning CC from zero, your heading toward 5.ST
= shakle tension (pulling up on the shackle as if you were going to open it)
It is this action that causes the pawl on the latching mechanism to come in contact with the cams, allowing us to 'read' what's going on inside the lock. The amount of force used here is crucial- too much and you'll catch every one of the 12 gates. Too little, and you'll miss the stopping points we'ere looking for.
Now, we're going to find 3 "stopping points". Two of these will be very
dinstinct, the other, not so obvious. Using these 3 points, we'll derive the 1st and 2nd #'s of the 3-digit combination. I'm going to first attempt
to explain how to find these points, then, we'll talk about actually utilizing them.
First, catch all the cams and clear the dial with several CW rotations. Now, apply ST and continue CW until reaching a "stopping point". Still applying ST, reverse directions, now turning CC until hitting the 2nd stopping point. Note: You'll have more than 2 full rotations before arriving at this 2nd point, and, you'll hear and feel 2 of the cams being picked up along the way.
TIPS: If you encounter alot of choppyness/bumps on your way to either of these points, too much ST is being applied. Keep in mind that some minor "bumps" are ok, and will not interfere with finding the stop points. However, if the dial is contantly being stopped (catching/snagging) at multiple points as you turn, the ST needs to be adjusted. Experiment, and you should be able to find the perfect ST which allows the dial to spin freely between these 2 points. Both points should be very
solid. Meaning- it would require releasing ST and/or a decent amount of force on the dial to overcome it and continue turning. If your unsure about the reading your getting, go back and forth, hitting both points multiple times to ensure they're stopping on the same spots on the dial each time.
Now for the 3rd (not so obvious) stopping point. This one will require a bit more practice and patience. You've hit the 1st stop point, reversed direction (CC) and you're now setting on the 2nd point (still applying ST). Back the dial away from this point (CW) just a fraction (1mm or less). Now increase the ST by the slightest of margins (I cannot stress this enough- SLIGHTEST). Then continue CW to find the 3rd and final stopping point.
TIPS: This is nothing like finding the 1st 2 stop points. ST must be just right. Turn the dial very slowly and evenly. Focus on being light-handed with the dial. Using just your thumb and index finger, take a very loose grip toward the top of the knob. The grip should be such, that your fingers will begin sliding around the knob when any resistance whatsoever is encountered. Also, I find you don't always
have to increase the ST when trying to catch this 3rd stop. Try it both ways and see what you come up with. Don't get discouraged. Even after all the practice I will still sometimes catch the wrong #, or, pass by the correct one. This just lets me know I need to adjust the ST on the next try. Even with a couple of tries it's still pretty quick overall.
OVERVIEW: Clear dial. Apply ST, rotate CW to 1st stop point. Keeping same ST, go CC to 2nd stop point. Increase ST slightly (if needed) and go CW to 3rd stop point.
WHAT THEY MEAN: Stop point #1; add 5 to this and you have the 1st # of the combo. If you happen to land in between 2 #'s, round up, then add 5 (ie. 31.5 you would round up to 32, then add 5. The 1st # would be 37). Oops, I said no math didn't I. Oh well, we won't be counting any higher than this, so you can leave your shoes on
Stop point #2; really just a reference point. It may also position the cams in such a way that allows us to catch the 3rd stop point.
Stop point #3; add 1 to this to get the 2nd # of the combination. Same principle applies if you land between two #'s.
So, clear the cams, dial in the first 2 #'s, then "run the clock" while pulling on the shackle every couple of #'s till it opens. A more elegant and less frantic way of doing this is to have enough ST so you can feel each time the pawl drops into a gate (the gates are about every 4 spaces on the dial). Pull the shackle at each of these 12 gates - one will pop the lock.
If your budget allows, I'd purchase a couple of these. I'd suggest starting with one of the original ones with a black dial, only because the two colored ones I have just seem to be a bit more finicky. Do yourself a favor and look at the combination before trying this method. Knowing the combo should help you more quickly adapt your technique for finding the correct stop points.
Several example locks: (remember, 1st & 3rd stops give us the first two combo #'s)
Lock #1: 3 stop points- 32,23.5,11 Lock opened with 37-12-29 Actual combo 37-11-29
Lock #2: stop points- 0,31,18 opened with 4-19-7 Actual combo 5-19-9
Lock #3: stop points- 0,32,6.5 opened with 5-8-0 Actual combo 5-7-1
One other thing. I may have stumbled upon an exception to this method. I've come across one that this doesn't seem to work on. I suspect the reason for this is the combo (10-16-10). The 1st and last digits are the same. I'll have to purchase a couple more like this and find out what the deal is. In the meantime here's what I do with this one. I use manipulation to find the 1st # coupled with the "12 stick points" method. This leaves me knowing the 1st and last #'s and 10 possibilities for the 2nd. Still only 10 possible combos to run through. Not bad compared to 80.
Whatta ya think? Stocking stuffers for the grandkids someday?