Consolidated Time Lock Co., Cincinnati, Ohio - 1 movement mounted to a Hall Premier size #2 combination lock, and Crescent combination lock by Hall's Safe and Lock Co.

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Hall lock w Consolidated 1mvt (2).jpg (854918 bytes)

Hall lock w Consolidated 1mvt (1).jpg (816754 bytes)  Consolidated 1mvt3.jpg (1150965 bytes)A


This video demonstrates the single movement Consolidated time lock mounted to a Hall’s Safe and Lock Co. five tumbler combination lock, c. 1885. A time lock is designed to keep the safe closed until the desired time even if the correct combination is dialed in. However should the time lock fail, the safe cannot be opened at all and has to undergo an expensive and destructive drilling procedure. To avoid this, time locks were usually equipped with two or more timers to provide redundancy. However, Consolidated, which was also owned by the Hall's Safe and Lock Company, did market for a limited time a single movement configuration; perhaps in an effort to provide a less expensive alternative. To get around the very real possibility of a lock out from a defective single timer, there was an elaborate procedure to override the time lock as outlined in the video. This was Hall's Infallible Lockout Protection system. Of course this obviates the explicit purpose of a time lock which is to prevent anyone from access. The single timer model was a transitional product and was soon superseded by time locks with two or more timers. After viewing this video one might realize that the override combination could easily be derived from the knowledge of where the emergency fence is in relation to the main fence in the combination lock. In this example that fence is at the 9 o'clock position from the 12 o'clock position of the main fence. So one would simply need to add to appropriate combination a number to whatever the normal combination would be on the dial to arrive at the 9 o'clock position. This is not quite the case as the fence had two rows of threaded holes that allowed the user to move the "teeth" of the secondary fence by 3 digits defeating a straight line deduction from the actual combination even if the location of the secondary fence is known. However, I have to say, that in the dozen or so Hall combination locks I have seen, no one has ever made use of altering the fence "teeth" from the straight line provided from the factory. This was a weakness of this design. Of course it would require an intimate knowledge of the lock which was unlikely to anyone outside the Hall company. It is unknown if there ever was a compromise from the personnel of the Hall company divulging the "secret" combination. And even so it should noted that a would be burglar would need not only that combination provided by Hall but also the normal combination. This requires collusion from both the people at Hall as well as someone within the bank.


The company also had another type of time lock override system called the Concussion. This system relied on an internal pendulum or ratchet connected to a very high ratio gear system that would advance a mechanism that eventually would override the time lock. The key to this design was the ratio of the input gear connected to the pendulum or ratchet which was on the order of 1000:1; resulting in it taking a very long time to disable the lock and making it impossible to surreptitiously disable the lock in time before discovery.

A. Single movement Consolidated lock mounted to a size #2 combination lock by Joseph L. Hall's firm, Hall's Safe and Lock Co, Cincinnati, Ohio. c. 1885. Consolidated Time Lock was a separate, but wholly owned company of the Hall firm. This was done to shield the parent company from the litigious environment that permeated the time lock business at that time. This is an example of a short transition period that the development of time locks took. At first total control of the opening of the vault was not quite trusted to the time lock alone. The following is quoted from The Lure of the Lock, The John M. Mossman Collection, "This lock is of greatest possible interest as it contains a secret combination which can be used in case of "lockout". (Failure of the time lock). "This combination was held by the maker until an emergency arose when it would be telegraphed to the bank." Of course what's to prevent someone from inside the time lock company from performing an unauthorized entry? Seems to negate the entire purpose of the time lock in the first place. Soon, however, bankers realized the reliability of these locks, particularly when two or more movements were used to add redundancy, see safe door photos below. Movements made by E. Howard & Co., Boston, MA. made under the H. Gross patent of February 8, 1876. 3 5/8"w x 3 1/8"h x 2 5/8"d, case #3099, movement #3099, combination lock, 3 3/4"h x 4 3/4"w x 2 1/8"d combination lock bolt #4072. file 9

See below photos of an example of a Consolidated dual movement time lock in conjunction with a Hall (later Consolidated Co.) combination lock on a safe door.  

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B. Similar single movement Consolidated lock as above but mounted to the dual combination lock known as the Crescent, also by the Joseph L. Hall company, c. 1883. This lock has an independent pair of four tumbler combination locks with seventy numbers controlling the bolt and as with all locks that had a single movement time lock was equipped with the Infallible lockout protection system. Evidence of this is seen in photo three where each wheel pack has the regularly used fence at the 12 o'clock position with a second one only used in case of the time lock failure located at the 9 o'clock position. The Crescent could be set for either single or dual custody. To open when dual custody is chosen, the first combination is dialed in, and left on the last number. After the second combination is set, both dials are turned simultaneously to throw the bolt open. (1) Notice how easily this wheel pack can be removed for service or, in most cases, an easy change of the combination numbers, photo five. A few dozen of the Crescent combination locks are known with five that have an associated time lock. 3 5/8"w x 3 1/8"h x 2 5/8"d, case# 2370, movement #2370, combination lock, 6 5/8"w x 4"h  x 2 3/4"d, bolt #296. file 152

Both of these locks represent a rare variety of 'transitional' time locks. Early locks that used both a single movement time lock as well as an integral combination lock that could be used to open the safe in case of a timer failure, this was Hall's Infallible lockout protection system. Although Hall's Infallible system was quite successful, this was during a time when some bankers still did not quite trust the fact that their safe would be under total control of the time lock. Notice that these locks used only one movement. The use of redundant movements obviated the need for all the complex and less reliable or secure backup approaches. It should be noted that in the entire history of the use of factory installed time locks with redundant movements, when the lock was properly used and serviced, and in the absence of tampering or efforts at forced entry to the safe, there has never been a total failure of a time lock resulting in the door being unable to be opened. The safe door below shows this arrangement with a single movement time lock controlling a single five tumbler combination lock as illustrated in example A.


Below are photos of a 1 movement Hall time lock mounted to a Hall Premier size #2 combination lock from the John H. Mossman collection at the General Society of Tradesmen and Tradesman museum, New York, NY.


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(1) American Genius, Nineteenth Century Bank locks and Time Locks, David and John Erroll, p. 130