Consolidated Time Lock Co., Cincinnati, Ohio - 2 movements, modular

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Consolidated time lock mounted to Hall's bolt motor. Next the door to the lock open and the front plate of the bolt motor removed. Consolidated and Hall were both owned by the same entity. Hall started out as a safe manufacturer founded by Joseph Hall. Shortly after Hall decided to enter the time lock business he started a separate corporate entity, Consolidated, in order to shield his safe business from the litigious environment that surrounded the time lock business at the time.

 

The prototype modular movements.

The two photos below show another example in the Harry C. Miller lock museum in Nicholasville, KY. This as well as a three movement of the same type is to this author's knowledge the only other examples of this style of time lock.

 

A. c. 1900. This is a rare example of an experimental transitional time lock from the Consolidated company. Beginning in 1887 Yale introduced the first production lock with the feature of interchangeable, modular time locks. Yale used Waltham Watch Co., Waltham, MA, movements beginning with their Type B through E  series of locks to do this. In 1888 Sargent & Greenleaf introduced their concept of modular time lock design with the introduction of individually removable time lock movements of their own manufacture in their model Triple A. Although these movements were not yet truly interchangeable, that would come by 1895. Up to this time any time lock that had more than one movement had these incorporated into one movement plate or were made as matched pairs requiring the change out of both movements, or repair on the spot by an experienced technician; a more expensive proposition. Modularity allowed a simple swap out requiring far less training. The example shown, made around 1900 was Consolidated's first attempt at this problem. Prior to this all of their two movement time locks were combined as matched sets and not interchangeable. To prove the point, both movement dials always had the same serial number marked on both dials. One can see that they abandoned the horizontally mounted platform escapement made by E. Howard for the more a conventional configuration where they are positioned on the same plane as the rest of the movement. The movements are not signed, Mr. John Erroll thinks they were probably made by Seth Thomas, but the design on the platform escapement are similar to those that later appeared on the balance wheel cocks of the Elgin watch movements which later Consolidated used and do not resemble any of the designs that the E. Howard company used for Consolidated or any other time lock maker which employed that company. One can see that Consolidated still clung to the same dial and lever actuator design that connected to the snubber bar. One has to wonder why Consolidated did not simply take their existing single movement design and gang those together. Perhaps the expediency of using an existing pocket watch movement was the answer. This idea was later copied by other makers, Mosler and Banker's Dustproof who used pocket watch movements exclusively in all their models.

Time lock mounted to a contemporaneous Hall automatic bolt motor with original winding lever. The serial number of 7557 on the dial is the highest number encountered indicating that this was one of the last to be made before consolidated shifted to the new dial and modular movements based on Elgin Nat'l Watch Co., Illinois pocket watch movements, see example below. Case (time lock only), 3 1/2"h x 3 3/4"w x 2 3/8"d. Case #1117, movements 7556, #7557. file 202

 

 

 

B. c. 1904. First larger scale production version of Consolidated's modular time lock movements, abandoning individual time lock movements for production watch movements from Elgin National Watch co. This new design was based on Harry Dalton's patent #775,523 dated November 22, 1904 (see below). The new design may have been motivated by the fact that the E. Howard company stopped making movements for time locks sometime in 1902. Notice the shock resistant spring mountings for each lock as well as the beginnings of interchangeable modular design that was the trend in the industry by this time. This lock has signed Elgin Nat'l Watch Co., Elgin, Illinois, movements, fifth photo. This signature was quickly replaced with Consolidated's own logo and the early numbers stamped on the movements demonstrate this. The last photo shows a Consolidated rebadged, (left) and original Elgin signed movement (right). The rebadged movements would remain with their change in movement suppliers until the demise of the company in 1906. Consolidated and it's earlier incarnation as Hall Safe & Lock paid special attention to their case decorating. Here, although the design is plain compared to their earlier models, they do a diamond crosshatch on the case sides verses square pattern for the door, third photo. Consolidated ceased production in 1906, so while this style of lock is of a later vintage than those shown with the earlier Howard movements that have the horizontally mounted balances, there were fewer of these made making them rarer. 4"w x 3 1/2"h x 2 3/8"d. Case #1271, movements stamped #22, #23. Dials numbered #8165, #8186. file 80

 

Harry Dalton's patent of November 11, 1904 marked a significant innovation in time lock movements. While he was not the first to use pocket watch movements within a time lock; that distinction belongs to Yale with the introduction of their Type B model in 1888. However that design incorporated three watch movements within one unit, each acting in concert to operate the lock. Aside from Holbrook's Automatic time lock of 1858 which saw such limited production that it had little effect on the trajectory of the industry, Yale's time lock was the first to introduce modularity in a production run time lock. Dalton's innovation as reflected in this patent was to take that a step further and make each pocket watch movement a self-contained modular time lock movement. He claims several advantages. The first being that this design can use any common watch movement allowing freedom from being bound to one maker. This was fresh in the minds of the time industry as E. Howard had recently exited the time lock business in 1902 after its takeover by the Keystone Watch Case Co. leaving many firms to search for alternatives. Second a pocket watch, even a common class variety will generally have a finer escapement than that found on a special-purpose time lock movement, although how useful this is in the application of a time lock is questionable. Third, he claims that by using 'off the shelf' watch movements he can produce movements at less cost than would be from a special purpose made time lock.

In reality this design gained limited acceptance in the industry. There may have been some good reasons for this. The servicing of a watch movement is much more difficult than a special-purpose time lock movement. The latter are specially designed for easy service with holes in the plates at convenient locations for lubrication and removable escapement platforms. Furthermore, the entire mechanism and all its components are twice the size of those found in a pocket watch which tends to make servicing not only easier but requires a bit less expertise.

Besides the Consolidated company one only finds this design used by Bankers Dustproof Time Lock Co., Ohio Time Lock Co., and Mosler Safe Co. This is no coincidence. Some circumstantial evidence suggests Bankers Dustproof was the result of Victor Safe Lock's purchase of Consolidated in 1906 and banker's began production in that same year; further, Bankers Dustproof movement designs were almost exactly the same as those of later consolidated modular movements, the only difference being the fixed or turning dial (1). Bankers was sold to Mosler in 1915, and the short-lived Ohio Time Lock Co. (in business two years), which shared many features from the Bankers design was also bought out by Mosler in 1916. Even Yale, the first to use pocket watches in their Model B through E series of locks never turned to pocket watches again in any of their subsequent time locks.

 

 

C. 1905-06. Consolidated made only a few locks that operated directly upon the bolt work of the door. Their locks were mostly used with automatic bolt motors or in some cases operated directly on the combination lock by blocking the fence from falling into place should the correct combination be dialed in while the time lock was still on guard. The latter method was a fairly uncommon method of guarding the safe by any other makers. By far the most common was the use of an automatic bolt motor which would be tripped by the time lock or the use of a bolt dogging mechanism to block the bolt work from operating until the time lock went off guard. In this example an adaptor is mounted to the base of a two movement Consolidated time lock to allow it to operate on the bolt work in the conventional manner. This is evidenced by the hole in the base where the bolt work would slide through, last photo. By this time Consolidated had switched movement suppliers from Elgin National Watch Co. of Elgin, Illinois, to the South Bend Watch Co., South Bend, Indiana and the black dial format accompanied this change. This is the funkiest case this author has seen on a consolidated lock. It is a dull nickel with no attempt at a shiny surface or any surface decoration whatsoever. There is even an inscription on the base of the lock indicating "matte nickel".  This appears to have been a special, if ugly, order. 5 1/4"w (with base) x 4 1/4"h x 2 3/4"d Case #1719 file 203

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(1). American Genius - Nineteenth Century Bank Locks and Time Locks, John and David Erroll, pg. 314