The Unfathomable Mystery of the Togo Timer

We have learned quite a bit about the making of the MST-13 by MEBO employee Ulrich Lumpert. We also know that BATF agent Richard Sherrow allegedly brought one such timer from Togo back to the US. Quite logically, once the link between the MST-13 timer and MEBO was established, the investigators interviewed Lumpert.

Let us now listen carefully to what he has to say about the Togo timer. But let us first review  some of the information we have gathered about this timer.

The Togo timer is lacquered on both sides (See page 3 of the CIA report) and it has not been built into a box since its corner have not been cut. Therefore it can ONLY come from the Production-Series as I have explained in this post: MST-13 Timers Delivery Timeline. All “pre series” MST 13 timers were built on Thuring boards that had been lacquered on one side only.

In other words, it is built upon a Thuring board that was part of the second order made by Lumpert. These boards were delivered on 12 November 1985.

In a series of short posts (Building the MST-13 Timers. JUST DO IT!), I have explained what technical problem had, in my opinion, prompted Lumpert to use a variable capacitor which was eventually soldered to the board in a rather awkward fashion.

Togo Timer. Photo taken by a BATF agent

Togo Timer. Photo taken by a BATF agent

This feature (the variable capacitor being mounted diagonally and not like Lumpert intended to do it when he designed the board) is also clearly visible in Figure 3 of the CIA report. Now, the time has come to listen very carefully to Ulrich Lumpert.

On 23 May 1991, in Zurich, Lumpert was questioned by Swiss Inspector Fluckiger in the presence of Scottish Police officers and FBI agents. (Williamson, Buwert, Edward Marshman)

Lumpert is shown ten photos from the so-called “DP 124” file. Here is what he has to say about this picture (n° 4) of the MST13 timer allegedly recovered in Togo in September 1986.

PHOTO 4 - DP 124

PHOTO 4 – DP 124

Photo 4 is a MST-13 timer with a 2 position timing switch.  This is a pre-series timer because the condenser (capacitor)  has been soldered diagonally and the soldering points near the switches of the power cable have not been covered with a plastic protective sheet.

On the other hand I can verity that the circuit board has been coated with a protective lacquer which points to a later development of circuit board. (Lumpert is able to conclude this correctly because he can see that the circuit tracks are not shinny and thus have been covered with the green lacquer.)

Lumpert’s comments beg an obvious question. How is this possible?

The assembling of the component is clearly the one used in the pre-series. However, the board comes from the second order of boards made to the Thuring company which were used for the production-series.

What is going on here?

Just in case you wonder about Lumpert’s memory, here is how he built the “production series” MST 13 timers.

DP/111 Control Sample

DP/111 Control Sample

A far better work, don’t you think?

The Togo timer looks very suspicious and we will no go back to our study of the events surrounding its alleged recovery.


(*) The word “unfathomable” was used five times during the trial…

“Dr. Hayes seemed to have no real recollection independently of his notes of having found PT 35B.  The sequence of the PT numbering and the absence from the notes of a drawing of the circuit board are unusual features.  The pagination of the notes was described by Hayes as “an unfathomable mystery” , for which he did propose an explanation, but unfortunately one that does not work. The memorandum of the 15th of September 1989 is difficult to understand if the fragment was indeed found on the 12th of May 1989. PT 35B is an important piece of evidence on which the Crown rely and in respect of which it is for the Crown to satisfy the court as to its provenance.  I submit that the irregularities and peculiarities which attend this item are some which the court ought to have some hesitation in being satisfied as to the item’s provenance.” Lockerbie trial page 9624.

MST-13 Timers Delivery Timeline


Building the MST-13 Timers. JUST DO IT!

Lumpert Statements

This entry was posted in BATF, BKA, CIA, Lumpert, Marquise, MEBO, MST13, Togo and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Unfathomable Mystery of the Togo Timer

  1. Brendan says:

    Another indication that the “Togo” timer is pre-series is the connection of two resistors to the pins of the oscillator integrated circuit.
    Lumpert said in his statement:”Photo 7 This is an oscillator with the resisters which were added later. It must be one of the pre-series timers.”

    This modification is described in the CIA report:
    “Figure 6 shows two chip resistors added “tombstone” fashion by bending the integrated circuit leads up. This is not easy to do and is very labor intensive.”

    If you look at the photo of the “production series” timer, the ‘tombstone’ resistors have disappeared from the oscillator integrated circuit at the bottom of the right hand side. One of them appears to have been placed, instead, on a cut track next to the right hand connector pad of the quartz crystal. The other resistor is presumably connected in a similar manner underneath the crystal, where it is not visible in the photo.

    Both this later modification and the other ‘improved’ connection of the variable capacitor involve connecting components to tracks rather than straight to the the integrated circuit’s pins. It appears that someone looked at the tracking of the circuit board and decided that it was less messy to connect to tracks than to pins.

    Another more professional looking feature of the production series timer is the use of zero ohm resistors rather than pieces of wire. A zero ohm resistor simply acts as a connecting lead, just like a wire, but is convenient for use on surface mounted boards. Two of them can be recognised from their marking “000” in the photo next to the bottom of the variable capacitor.

    I can think of only one explanation for how the ‘Togo’ timer was built using the ‘old’ method with the newer version of the circuit board. The second order of boards from Thuring could have been used for two different batches of timers. The first batch was built with the old method. Only after that did someone think about improvements to the build method. Then after that there was a batch of “production series” timers built usind this new method.

    Some light might be shed on the timing of the building of the different timers if an invoice for the zero ohm resistors could be found. They were missing from the pre-series but they appeared in the production series timers.


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