Bowley is back, with an "almost unpickable" padlock
Back in 2015, Canadian inventor Ryan Bowley successfully crowdfunded his deadbolt Bowley Lock – it was claimed to be virtually pick-proof, yet still affordable. Now, he's back on Kickstarter with a very beefy padlock that incorporates the same proprietary technology.
As we first explained three years ago … in a conventional lock, the key enters a pin tumbler as it's inserted into the lock. As it does so, its cuts (the uneven bits along the side) push up on the pins. Once it's fully inserted, all the pins have been pushed up to sit evenly in a line, allowing the lock cylinder to be turned.
The problem with such systems is that a lock pick tool can also easily be inserted, then used to push up the pins. In the Bowley system, however, the key doesn't engage the pins upon first entering the keyhole.
"The key must be first inserted and then rotated 180 degrees to the top where the pins live," Ryan explained to us at the time. "At the same time the slot cut in the key allows the key to travel around an internal shield within the lock. Once the key is rotated to the top of the lock it is pushed in a little bit farther. This action is then similar to a normal lock in which the pins now fall into their correct position in the key bitting, and the pins are at the shear line and the cylinder can be rotated."
The mechanism can be seen in action, in the following animation.
For the new padlock version, which is known as the Model 543, Bowley has taken that same concept and improved upon it. Instead of just one row of five pins, the 543 has a total of nine pins that are arranged in two opposing rows. In order to engage these pins all at once, the key now has two "forks" (rows of cuts) instead of one.
Other features of the padlock include a 7/16-inch hardened steel nickel-plated shackle that's protected against cutting attacks by a shackle guard, along with a 1/4-inch-thick hardened bottom plate for protection against drilling attacks.
Backers can choose between a relatively lightweight aluminum-bodied model, the flagship stainless steel model, or a Kickstarter-only brass version. Pledges range from CAD$175 (about US$137) for the aluminum, to CAD$225 (US$176) for the brass. Assuming it reaches production, the Model 543 is expected to ship in September.