Wednesday 12 October 2011

Lunatic Lock

Lunatic Lock
So far my puzzle collection includes 2 puzzle locks. I have the Danlock which is my favourite and the Poplock T5 which took me a whole afternoon to solve and is also quite spectacular (review coming when I get a chance). I decided to increase my collection of this genre and seeing as I cannot afford any of the bigger Poplocks, I ordered some of the cheaper ones from Puzzlemaster - the first one I tried is the Lunatic Lock which is pretty cheap at $16 Canadian.

This one has been reviewed by Jeff on his blog, by Oli here and by Brian here. Brian and Oli managed it in about 15-20 minutes each - much faster than me!! It is made for Puzzle Master and comes well packaged in a blue box with the instructions to "remove the post and open the lock". No solution is included but one can be downloaded from here and you might well need it! The difficulty is rated as 8 out of 10 (Demanding) by Puzzle Master which I think is probably about right.

This lock is made from brushed aluminium with what I think is a steel shackle and central bolt. It is a decent weight and in size is 8 by 8.5cm. Whilst not unattractive to look at, the quality of the finish on this one is quite poor - it is quite roughly made with the corners and edges being quite sharp in places. The bolt and shackle are also not particularly nicely done either with many scratches and irregularities on the surface. But… don't let this put you off - it is very cheap and quite a nice puzzle to solve (just not the best one for a display cabinet!)

The padlock looks to all intents and purposes like a normal padlock but there is a bolt inserted in the top and after a few moments you realise there is...  no keyhole!! When I picked up the lock the shackle has a little play in it and the bolt could slide in and out fairly freely. What to do next? Idly fiddling with it I suddenly reached a point where the bolt wouldn't move any more and then all of a sudden it would! Hmmm! It takes a few minutes of investigation to discover what is happening to allow the bolt to lock and release but this doesn't help you release the shackle. Repeatedly doing the same thing, as usual, got me nowhere - Einstein did say:
"Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".
Oh dear - I guess I'm going to be locked away fairly soon! After about 45 minutes I was getting nowhere and put it down for a while to think.

An hour later I had an idea about the mechanism causing the funny behaviour of the bolt and from then on there could only really be one way that the lock itself could open (there are other possibilities but not in a $17 puzzle!) Having thought it all through, carrying it out is another thing entirely. At one point I decided that I must be wrong in my assumption and was ready to give up! All of a sudden it opened and closer inspection showed that I had been right all along - the mechanism is really pretty straight-forward but has to be done exactly right to work.

Open at last
I can recommend this one as a decent puzzle for anyone willing to overlook the quality issues. A few others have had a play with it and all failed - none have commented on the finish so maybe I am being harsh comparing to my other much more expensive locks. One of the comments at the end of Oli's review suggested getting a stumped puzzler to draw what they thought was happening as a cross-sectional diagram and this usually allowed them to solve it - you should all try this and let me know whether it works for you. I tried it and they still failed!

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