Yale & Towne Manufacturing Co., Stamford, Connecticut - 3 movements, Type B

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In 1887, Yale patented a time lock design that would mark a new direction for Yale and, eventually, the entire time lock industry: its Type B and Type C time locks, which went into production in 1888. Based on pocket watch movements rather than on the larger clock movements of the Pin Dials, these smaller-format movements were inherently suited to be individually replaceable or "modular" movements. These were also the smallest format three movement time locks made to that time. Yale would not have a smaller three movement design for bolt dog release until the model T321 introduced about 1900 and would never surpass the compact Yale C and E designs for the automatic release function. No other time lock manufacturer made a smaller three movement lock.

The line of Yale Type B through E and EE time locks pictured, upper row from left to right. The lower row shows A and G.

Only the Type B through EE series went into production.

The A was a unique patent prototype piece and was never slated for production. The G was only made as salesman's samples. At the present time only one Type C, EE and complete G has been found. Like the EE shown, Yale did make one or two BB, and three DD locks, none of which are known to survive. There were no records of a CC being made. These facts makes this collection unique in that it contains the most complete set of all the examples extant. No records for or examples of a Type F are known.




The second photo shows the knurling around the movement base for the operator to grip onto when turning the base. This is not an easy task since it takes quite a bit of torque to turn the three main springs simultaneously; furthermore the four plate mounting posts and the case hinge wall make getting a grip and turning the movement plate more than a few degrees at a time very difficult.


The Yale Type B time lock, demonstration of winding and setting the movement.


The Type B and Type C were introduced simultaneously in 1888. The patent drawings here illustrate the Type B with the release designed to operate on the safe's bolt work. Here the introduction of standard pocket watch movements was illustrated. It was known right away that the power supply contained in a regular pocket watch would be insufficient for use in a time lock. The first issue being duration, whereas a pocket watch was meant to be wound daily, a time lock needed to have typically seventy-two hours. The second being that of the power needed to operate the time lock release mechanism. A quote from the patent abstract addresses this issue as well as the economics involved. "We take an ordinary one day watch movement and remove its mainspring...and is provided a pinion which gears with a wheel upon a spring arbor within a spring barrel containing a strong spring which will cause the time movement to run a much longer period - for example seventy-two hours with one turn of the mainspring arbor. ...and with force enough to operate a time lock." And now for the economics. "By this modification of an ordinary one-day watch movement we are able to quickly and satisfactorily produce a time lock movement at a materially-reduced cost, and time lock manufacturers are enabled to buy their time lock movements in the open market, and alter them, as described, for use, which is a great practical convenience and economy." The movement chosen was a size #14, model 84 by American Waltham Watch Co. The damascene design indicates that these were the "Hillside" grade. It turns out that the Waltham movements used in the series B through C were not completely "off the shelf" movements that just had their mainsprings substituted for a larger one. Each movement had to be retrofitted with a special wheel that substituted for the regular one in the movement that was adjacent to the original spring barrel. This wheel had a longer arbor that went past the lower movement plate with a pinion at the lower end that connected to the new spring winding gear, and which was held with a specially made cock at that end secured to the lower movement plate.

The economics of servicing is not mentioned and this may be because at this point interchangeability was not yet achievable and this is evidenced by the fact that the individual movements and base plate locations are numbered. In the end, Yale abandoned the use of pocket watch movements for their time locks after the Type B through E series. But others, a few years later did, notably, the Consolidated Time Lock Co. began this practice around 1904 until their bankruptcy in 1927 and the Victor Safe and Lock Co.'s Banker's Dustproof line, in 1906 which was later acquired by the Mosler Safe Co. which continued this method throughout their production life until their bankruptcy on 2001. The design of those time lock models allowed the use of unaltered pocket watch movements with true interchangeability.

An interesting feature is illustrated by Fig. 10 on the second sheet. This is a winding key which was meant to fit into a pinion that would mesh on the toothed rim of the rotating movement base plate. This would have provided a more accurate and easy winding of the time lock and would have eliminated the back lash inherent in the production model. Unfortunately the pinion and toothed base rim was never incorporated and the operator wound the base counterclockwise directly. A weak design, which was later corrected in the Type D and E using a central winding key. Had they retained this feature the Type D and E may not have had to be made.


The first photo is a view of the underside of the movement mounting plate with the release set off pin located at the 12 o'clock position; next the small setting dial and difficult to read dial numbers around the beveled edge.


The main components of the Type B. Next the rear side of the inner plate showing the bolt dogging lever. The lever is spring-loaded in the dogged, or on guard position as shown. The lever shown by the red arrow has a pin that protrudes through the plate and contacts a pin on the rotating movement table. When the time lock winds to zero the lever is pushed to the left by the pin in the rotating table and the bolt dog which sits atop the end of the lever where the black arrow is positioned, is allowed to slide downward allowing the bolt pass by the dog and putting the lock off guard.

This style of time lock from Yale using Waltham pocket watch movements was first introduced via their Type B (pictured above) and Type C in 1888. The Type B and C were supplanted by the Type D and Type E about a year later. With the exception of one much earlier and limited example by Holbrook's Automatic time lock of 1858, this was the first time that a time lock maker introduced the use of modular movements and it was soon to become the standard way of outfitting time locks. The actual replacement of each movement in this lock was still somewhat difficult compared to the 'drop in' designs which would follow on later. However, the movements still could be swapped out on the bank premises in much less time than a repair of an individual movement would need. This was the first and last time Yale used an OEM pocket watch movement in their time locks. The fact that the movements were beautifully damascened and gold gilt and the unique case and operating design and look makes this lock one of the more visually interesting. 

The main differences between the earlier and later designs are the ways the watch movements were wound and the setting time was set and read. On the earlier models the watch movements were wound by the operator turning the entire disk containing those movements counterclockwise. One can see the knurling around this part in the sixth photo to facilitate the grip of one's hand to turn the movement disk. The seventh photo clearly show how the gearing located on the reverse side of the movement disk accomplishes this. The eighth photo depict the fixed read out dial hand that shows the setting time as engraved on the movement disk. A big disadvantage to this design is the fact that there is no chance to correct for overwinding since all three movements are wound simultaneously. Consequently Yale's instructions noted specifically that the user "must be careful when winding to to turn the cylinder to the left to take up the recoil of the springs, and to leave the desired mark standing exactly opposite the pointer". But with the risk of the inconvenience of overwinding was so high that Yale soon included an overwinding correction pin hole at the six and nineteen hour marks. Should the user overwind, a special pin was placed in the six hour hole. The dial would then be turned to the intended number of hours plus six, and as long as the pin was in place the lock would open when the movements ran down to six rather than zero. The nineteen hour hole worked in the same fashion. (1) I have seen an example of the Type B with those over winding protection pins. However those overwinding protection pins and their corresponding holes are not present on this lock. It must have been produced before incorporation of that feature. With a case number of 2B it conceivably could have been the second example of the Type B produced.


A copy of the original instructions provided by Yale for the type B lock. 

Yale Type B, 1888. The Yale Type B was the model which used a bolt dog to stop the safe bolts from being withdrawn. The company of E. Howard & Co. and later, after 1902, Seth Thomas supplied nearly all of the movements for Yale time locks (until the 1950's when movements from Switzerland were used). An exception are the Yale Type B through G models which used a modified version of a pocket watch; size #14, model 84 movements by American Waltham Watch Co. A smaller Waltham movement was also later extensively used in Mosler time locks. The movements were designed with anti-magnetic qualities - cutting edge technology for the day. Yale sold a total of 18 Type B's between December 1888 and June 1890. Yale introduced the Type D in May 1889 to correct for some of the design deficiencies in the Type B. Soon after the introduction of the D, Yale had an active campaign to replace the earlier model locks; destroying the old ones; making those very rare. Serial numbering appears to go up to 44. This being one of two known examples. 4.5"w X 5"h x 3"d. Case #2B, movement plate #26, movements, #3509728, #3509757, #4323326. file 177

An interesting aside is the fact that both Seth Thomas and E. Howard were companies that made a full line of clocks and watches. From large tower clocks (for public buildings) to domestic clocks to watches as well as movements for time locks. Click here to see a medium sized Seth Thomas and Howard tower clock.

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(1) American Genius - Nineteenth Century Bank Locks and Time Locks, John and David Erroll, pp. 244-246