Sargent & Greenleaf, Rochester New York - electronic time lock, SIRIUS model 6295 E.T.L.

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SIRIUS model 6295 E.T.L. An electronic time lock by Sargent and Greenleaf, c. late 1980's to early 1990's. This was configured to act upon the safe's bolt work from either the right or left hand side of the case, photos 3 and 4 and could also function as a delayed action timer, DAT, in addition to a conventional time lock. Other features included a 'short close' option, full year programming of opening times, and vacation program. The SIRIUS time lock was one of the most sophisticated time locks in the industry. In the U.S., it proved too sophisticated for the end user. Price hampered sales and for the most part, SIRIUS was confined to Europe where it enjoyed some commercial sucess.

I have not tried to power up this device. It appears to use a 9VDC battery for the electronics with a pair of AA batteries for the two motors that are used to block or release the safe bolt work on either side. My guess is that only one motor is in use once the lock is set up to conserve power. The five green circled buttons were used to program the opening time with hours, minutes and AM or PM times. I can only guess the red button is a safety in case one is locked in the vault to release the bolt dog. The manual dial to the left of the red button switches between functions and the auxiliary 14 multi-pin plug-in connection provides for auxiliary audit trail and and external function monitoring. There was simpler, less expensive model, the C.T.L. that was designed to compete with a standard three movement mechanical model and to be more end-user friendly.

It would seem that the batteries were not expected to be replaced very often since one had to remove four difficult to get to Allen-key bolts to open the front panel. And as one can see it is not the type of area where a person who is not familiar with this device should be poking around. Case 4.25"h x 5"w x 3.25" d. file 179

Sargent and Greenleaf was not the only time lock firm to try their hand at an electronic time lock. The British safe and lock firm Chubb had also produced an electro-mechanical time lock in the late 1960's. The controls and readouts were mechanical push-buttons and with conventional analog clock dials whereas Sargent's  readouts were digital and controls were all electronic. In both devices, however, the bolt blocking mechanism which under all circumstances needed to have some mechanical way of interacting with the the existing safe's bolt work, had a physical actuator. Chubb's time lock was a failure due to its unreliability, lockouts were reported with this device - a fatal flaw where a time lock is concerned. Sargent's time lock reliability in unknown, but considering the fact that there are no other examples, that I have seen, it was probably also a failure.

Time Masters (TMI) introduced an all electronic time lock in the late 1980's using integrated circuits and liquid crystal readouts. It had a much better track record, but still it was never widely adopted.

The point of these firms efforts was to eliminate the mechanical watch movements that were integral to all time locks since their introduction in the 1870's. Those movements required regular inspection and maintenance from a skilled person to ensure proper operation to the satisfy the bank's insurance company. But in the end, the electronic devices also require regular maintenance, if for no other reason than the replacement of batteries, let alone the problems associated with electronic component failures much to the chagrin of those same insurance companies. The tried and true designs of the mechanical movement proven over the past 140 years were simply more cost effective than the new approaches and to this day those mechanical time locks controlled by wind up mechanical movements are still in use today.

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