Sunday 18 December 2011

Poplock T6

Poplock T6
Rainer Popp is a master puzzle maker who specialises in the production of puzzle locks. So far he has made 6 different locks over the years and all have received rave reviews. Unfortunately they are mostly unobtainable now and when one does come up for sale they are hugely expensive (Puzzle Master still have the T5 version for sale at the princely sum of $350!!)

Apparently Rainer has had many many requests for a less "limited" edition at a more reasonable price (obviously, still with his customary difficulty and attention to detail) so he decided this year to make the T6. This one is smaller than his previous ones and is available in two finishes - I chose the stainless steel with copper rivets, but it is also available in steel with aluminium rivets. Interestingly the 2 versions are made as mirror images of each other. This came to me courtesy of Wil Strijbos (he is costing me a fortune) for the very reasonable price of €85.

Being made of steel it has a very decent weight to it and is quite small, measuring 5 x 3.8 x 1.5cm. The key is shiny and the lock is matt steel with very attractive brass rivets. It has already been reviewed by my fellow puzzle bloggers, Allard, Neil and Oli, all of whom gave it a very hearty thumbs up.

An initial look at this reveals that the very simple key fits in and turns round and round with no apparent function - I know it is a bit much to expect the key to just open it but you have to at least try it! After this you try to play with the rivets and hope that one moves - no luck there! Then it is time to actually pay closer attention to the construction - it is made from layers of steel (4 in all) and the shackle consists, also, of 2 layers. None of this was particularly helpful to me so being rather thick I went back to the key. I spent a few minutes turning the key and taking it out whilst pushing and pulling everything in sight! Sounds rather stupid but I was being systematic about it - after a while I realised that a small circular dent had become visible through the keyhole - I could have sworn that it wasn't there when I started playing. I could not understand where it had come from, seeing as I had just turned the key through 360º. A little further prodding with the key revealed that there are 2 layers on the inside of this lock and it is possible to rotate the top one or both of them together.

I continued to play with this for several more hours - noticing along the way that there was a very small notch in each of these internal disks (it actually took me about 3 more hours to realise that the bottom disk also had a notch in it but in a different orientation to the top one). Despite knowing all that is required about the puzzle, I still could not open it! I was obviously missing something! I had tried lining these notches up together at various points within the lock related to the shackles and tugged on them and the rivets. I gave up and went to bed.

The following day there was no sudden brainwave and I just fiddled. By accident I noticed something would move that I hadn't expected! It wouldn't open the lock but did explain to me the actual mechanism by which the shackles could be released! I quickly played with the key and realised what the notches signified and voila! It was open:

Poplock T6 - open!
I was absolutely staggered at the ingenuity behind such a simple looking object - it took me about 6-8 hours in total to open it and, I suspect, had I not made my accidental discovery I would still not have it open. Instructions are provided with it if you need them but I was determined not to use them.

I have given this one to a few friends to play with and no-one has managed it - although one has come very close. She was assisting me during a very very long operation and I left her to it, providing the odd encouragement when needed. Like me she made all the correct discoveries (and much quicker than I did) but just failed to get the next step - the unlocking mechanism itself.

I am greatly looking forward to Rainer's next lock - hopefully it will be similarly affordable. If you can find any available then buy it - you will not be disappointed! I consider this as enjoyable as the Danlock.

1 comment:

  1. Kevin,

    Nice review...hmm, its almost 11pm now in Singapore...but after reading your post, I am really tempted to go give my T6 a try also, while the motivation is there!!