PT/35(b): Analysis of the resin at Ciba

The watermark “S I B” visible ( Well, at least visible to anyone except to the experts of the CIA and the FBI as explained in: The THURING Board Watermark: FBI Analysis ) on the main board of the MEBO MST-13 timers seems to indicate that these boards were produced by a Swiss branch of the ISOLA Company.

According to a well-informed source, THURING AG always ordered the Copper Clad Laminates from a Swiss branch of ISOLA: Schweizerische Isolawerke AG in Breitenbach. (SIB)

If true (and there is very little doubt about it), this gives rise to yet another enigma.

In early 1990, the resin of a board from ISOLA (Switzerland) was tested and definitely ruled out as the source of PT/35(b)! Let us investigate this anomaly.

DP/124-03 (Flipped vertically)

DP/124-03 (Flipped vertically)

Let us go back to the Timeline Part II and in particular to the entry dated 8 March 1990.

After the visit to Ciba Geigy on 8 February, he [Harrower] made contact with a number of companies involved in the production of fibreglass laminate used in the manufacture of PCBs, and obtained samples of the various laminates they produced for comparison with PT/35(b).

He received in total 23 different sample laminates from producers in Europe and the Middle East, which he understood covered all the production companies, and he produced DP/143 (prod 337), a schedule showing the laminate samples and suppliers.

He provided the 23 samples to John French at Ciba on 8 March 1990 for comparative analysis. He later obtained a statement from French of the results of the analysis. (…)

According to French’s HOLMES statement after his analysis of the various samples he found that two types of laminate, Ditron (manufactured in Italy) and Sefolam (manufactured in Israel) were the closest match to the spectrum obtained from DP/12 [NB. DP/12  was extracted from PT/35(b)]

Now you probably remember the MEMO of Williamson dated 03/09/1990.

“The epoxy resin is slightly altered to suit the specific purpose to which the completed PCB will be put, e.g. certain chemicals are added for their fire resistance properties etc. Each laminate manufacturer differs in the type of chemicals and the quantities which they add making their resin slightly different from that of their competitors.” (Page 2)

“On 8th February 1990, John French, Senior Chemist, Research Analysis Department, CIBA GEIGY PIc., Plastics Division, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, carried out a test in an attempt to identify the resin. Ciba Geigy PIc., are one of the worlds largest producers of resin for the PCB industry. Mr. French removed some small fragments from the piece of circuit board and analysed them on an FT-RI (Fourier Transform Infra Red) Spectrometer. This test showed that the laminate was manufactured using a Bisphenol A Epoxy Resin cured with Dicyandiamide which is very commonly used in the industry.”

“The reporting officers thereafter made contact with all companies in Western Europe, Israel, and East Germany, who manufacture copper clad laminates for the PCB industry and obtained samples of their laminates. On 8th March 1990, they returned to Ciba Geigy Plc., and supplied the following samples of laminates to Mr. French for analysis and comparison with Production PT35.”

Among the 23 samples, there are three from ISOLA, including one from ISOLA Switzerland. And yet, the report goes on with this conclusion.

“The results of the test carried out by Mr French were analysed on computer and two types of laminate, Sefolam and Ditron appear to give the closest match to Production PT35. It is worthy to point out at this stage that in the opinion of Mr French the condition of PT35 due to its exposure to extreme heat could have had an effect on the results of the analysis. Also, while the match to the two laminates, Sefolam and Ditron appear very close, this can only be treated as an indication and is in no way conclusive.”

What happened?

Firstly, Mr French took two spectra of DP/12. And they are very different.


First Infrared spectrum of DP/12 [extracted from PT/35(b)]


Second Infrared spectrum of DP/12 [extracted from PT/35(b)]

Mr French then compared the first of these spectra with the Selofam and Ditron samples and came to the conclusion that there was a possible match.


I will not argue here with that conclusion. Let us just say that it is “reasonable”.

In order to rule out ISOLA, he compared the second spectrum of DP/12 with a spectrum from ISOLA (MILAN) and concluded that there was no match.


OK. Fair enough… But look what happens if you compare ISOLA (SWISS) with the first DP/12 spectrum used for comparison with DITRON and SEFOLAM.



This changes everything for  the match is “reasonably” good….

And indeed,  I would not be surprised that ISOLA (SWISS) was the supplier of THURING AG [almost a sure bet at this point in time] and that PT/35(b) was built on such a board, although as I have explained [DP/10 : Evidence of Fabricated Proof?], one that was built some time  AFTER the MST-13 boards were fabricated.

Let us now move to the TIMELINE of PT/35(b) PART V

4 March 1992

According to their HOLMES statements, on this date McAdam and Buwert travelled to Ciba Geigy and interviewed John French, who removed from DP/347(a) a small sample, DP/505 (Crown label 407) to allow infrared spectrometry, and a spectrum, DP/506 (prod 346) was produced. Mr French then examined DP/12, a sample removed from PT/35(b), and subjected it to the same test as had been done for DP/505, and produced another spectrum, again labelled DP/506 (prod 346). French’s conclusions were included in his statement.

According to the police report the result of French’s analysis was that both samples from PT/35(b) and from DP/347(a) showed bisphenol A epoxy resin cured with dicyandiamide, both samples being made from chemically similar materials. The manuscript statement of French was prod 358.

He stated that on comparing the results, he was prepared to say that the sample was constructed using the same type of resin as the sample taken from PT/35(b). The same curing agent had been used, and both samples had been made using chemically similar materials. He said it was not possible to state that they had been made by the same manufacturer.

Of course, the real question put to Mr French should have been: do PT/35(b) and DP/347(a) come from an identical copper clad laminate?

Let us simply look at the IR Spectra once more time.


Infrared Spectrum of PT/35(b) taken at CIBA

Infrared Spectrum of DP/347(a) taken at CIBA in early 1992

Infrared Spectrum of DP/347(a) taken at CIBA in early 1992

The answer to this question is simply devastating. It is a resounding NO.

PT/35(b) and DP/347(a) come from two “similar” but clearly different copper clad laminates. For instance, notice the presence of the 2200 cm-1 absorption line in the DP/347(a) spectrum which is obviously absent from the spectrum of PT/35(b).

Let us summarize…

I. The “Thinning” of PT/35(b) is wrong. (Pure Tin vs Tin/Lead for the Thuring boards).

II. The density of the copper nodules on the “Matte” side of the copper foil is evidence that PT/35(b) was built on a copper clad laminate manufactured well after the time the THURING boards delivered to MEBO in 1985 had been produced.

III. The epoxy resins used in PT/35(b) and in the Thuring boards are obviously different. (Probably to take advantage of the higher density of the copper nodules in PT/35(b) as noted above.)

As the Yanks like to say:

Three strikes and you are out.

Main board of the MST13

Main board of the MST13


Statement of witness: Albert FRENCH

Applications of FTIR on Epoxy Resins

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9 Responses to PT/35(b): Analysis of the resin at Ciba

  1. Morag says:

    OK, some actual conclusions on the table. Liking this approach.

    It’s probably premature to speculate about what’s going on, but what the hell. I can’t see how a resemblance this close but falling short of perfection can be accidental. The pattern of the tracking is essentially perfect, right down to what Feraday called the “over-run of the line” (the two places where the Letraset used to create the template wasn’t cut flush on a corner). This links the fake board to the original template or a perfect copy that retained its small flaws. My understanding is that you wouldn’t need the actual template to make such a copy though, you could do it by photographing an existing unpopulated board. No doubt more on that in due course.

    The materials used are as close as one might reasonably expect a determined forger to achieve. The tinning layer is the big boo-boo, and even that is fairly subtle. Ludwig has identiified two more, more subtle, discrepancies.

    Someone who merely required more boards to make more timers would have no reason to strive to create such a close match. It might have happened if MEBO had had another batch manufactured at a later date, but if they did, Edwin ain’t telling. But even allowing for such an eventuality, two things stand out.

    First, the solder resist. This was only present on the reverse side of PT/35b, which matches it to the first run of 10 boards ordered by MEBO. This component is pointless. It’s merely cosmetic. Why ask for that to be applied to the reverse, when you didn’t ask for it to be applied to the business side, the side that could actually use a solder resist? Nobody ever explained that. It wasn’t like that in the second batch of 10, which had solder resist on both sides, necessitating the extra template step to apply it to the business side. (I have a small suspicion that the pointless application to the reverse side only on the first batch was some sort of mistake or mis-communication.)

    I can’t see why another batch, even ordered by MEBO, would incorporate the reverse-side-only solder resist. And yet that’s how PT/35b is, just like the first batch, as if made to look as if it’s one of that batch. I also can’t see why a batch manufactured commercially would have used electroless liquid tin immersion plating. That’s a feature of amateur small-run or one-off hobby productions.

    My conclusion, at the moment, is that PT/35b is from a board made as a deliberate copy of the first ten MEBO/Thüring boards. But later, obviously. Who made it, and for what purpose, and how did it get into the Lockerbie chain of evidence? Will we ever find out?


  2. George Thomson says:

    Morag. I sense that you and I need to meet for a coffee again as I also sense that you are coming round to my way of thinking. The fragment was introduced into the evidential chain in January 1990 Steps were then taken to reverse engineer its existence back to May 1989 and for a little bit of extra drama they claimed that it was the subject of The Lads and Lasses Memo. IT WAS NOT Then there is the so called Togo timer. OR NOT.


    • Morag says:

      George, I’d love a coffee. I have a completely open mind on PT/35b. I am a blank canvas. I simply can’t see how, when, where and by whom it could possibly, realistically, have been introduced into the chain of evidence after 16th January 1989. Solve that one, and I’m all yours.

      I don’t necessarily buy the easy assumption of the reverse engineering of the provenance, for a number of reasons. If that could be overcome though, it would be an extremely elegant solution.

      You were going to tell me about the Yorkie trousers, anyway.


  3. Craig says:

    The aforementioned scientific fact based findings absolutely devastate the whole enquiry from the very beginning.
    I am alarmed as to the findings, why on earth was this evidence not presented ?
    Why was this not shared by the Crown ?
    It’s all there as clear as day.
    What on earth was RARDE doing or presenting throughout this whole sorry saga ?

    To date, the Scottish Crown Office have incredulously been able to ignore every respected opinion and concern regarding this whole sorry matter, continually issue a mixture of hostile statements or sickening manipulative PR spin to deflect the blindingly obvious.

    Well, these folks cannot ignore this factual based evidence and other related information any longer.
    I feel Scotland’s international good standing and reputation of fairness is being held hostage by a politicized, legalese criminal gang.

    This whole matter is an absolute disgrace.
    As noted in 2009 Lockerbie Revisited documentary – It’s now official, the Scottish Judicial System is in complete fuckin disrepute.

    What’s now required is every Scottish Crown official involved to be frog marched out of that office and to be held to account.
    Furthermore, for anyone to even suggest this office could in any way be allowed or trusted to review any of these matters impartially, well, it’s inconceivable this could ever be.
    The reasons are obvious, this office is not only wholesale conflicted but completely compromised.


    I posted a comment about the ‘Togo’ timer and alleged recovery September 1986.
    A line of enquiry I noted was on the basis of the Nymph crystal, the time line with regard to the grey plastic covering.
    For numerous reasons, I now realise my comments related to the supposed ‘Togo’ September 1986 incident time line are incorrect.
    Sincere apologies.


    • Morag says:

      Well, these folks cannot ignore this factual based evidence and other related information any longer.

      Really? What’s going to stop them? They’re showing every indication of going right on doing it. There is simply no mechanism that would allow you, or me, or even the voting public, to frogmarch anyone out of the Crown Office and hold them to account. Unless you can think of one I’ve overlooked.


      • Scott says:

        “Well, these folks cannot ignore this factual based evidence and other related information any longer.”

        “Really? What’s going to stop them? They’re showing every indication of going right on doing it. There is simply no mechanism that would allow you, or me, or even the voting public, to frogmarch anyone out of the Crown Office and hold them to account. Unless you can think of one I’ve overlooked.”

        I agree. This injustice/charade could rumble on for years if not decades to come. Sadly Mr Megrahi is dead so there will no appeals. It is plain to see that all is not right and that the man as wrongly convicted. I live in Scotland and feel like i’m boring people if I mention it and yet this is Scotland (and the UK’s) largest murder enquiry and it was well and truly messed up maybe even deliberately. Sadly very few of us are interested. One of my close friends said the other day “Why do you care? He’s dead. Move on!!” well I want to live in a fair and just Scotland and there is nothing fair and just about Lockerbie.


      • Craig says:

        I think your comments validate the points made and highlight the problems.
        Under the current SNP Government and of course previous administrations, there is a complete breakdown of functionality and trust of both Government and Crown Office.

        Essentially Scotland 2015 is exhibiting the signs of a failed state.

        Let’s not forget both the folks at the Crown Office and SNP Government representatives, such as former practising Solicitor First Minister Nicola Sturgeon are practising or non-practising members of the Law Society of Scotland.
        There is an unhealthy, unspoken alliance between Scotland’s political classes and legal / justice office as they are all in the same club.
        It’s doubly concerning as many, many people agree of the political inference triumphing the interests of justice.
        Nobody ever breaks rank due to fear from a mafia type organisation in operation.

        Also, if anyone was relying on [former Solicitor] First Minister Nicola Sturgeon SNP supporting greater transparency and accountability surrounding the Scottish justice system, best to completely forget that:-

        “First Minister claims register for judges interests is ‘unworkable’
        Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has joined Scotland’s outgoing top judge in a bid to block increased judicial accountability & transparency with the creation of a register of interests for judges.”

        Justice Diary of Scotland

        I think Nicola has made it crystal clear where her true allegiance really is.


      • Morag says:

        “Failed state.” Hyperbole, much?

        There’s a problem with the Crown Office. Not rioting in the streets and shops running out of food.


  4. Allan Croft says:

    23 samples from the Europe and the middle east but not one P.C.B from the good old U.S.A??. why not? Dick of the F.B.I told Stew of the D&G old bill to STOP the search in the good old U.S.A for P.C.B firms Why Dick? did you not like other old bill stomping on your turf or you knew old Tom & his mates who arrived in Lockerbie the next day 22nd who found the 2nd of the half skid rail or stringer 39 in the field but Tom’s name in not on the rail but a Mr Douch who failed to swab the metal for SEMTEX to save a few pennies as Tom the F.B.I expert said ‘This piece of metal has been very close to a explosion’ why not Mr Douce? well Tom i have a Q for you and your mates Did you plant it PT 35 B only to go on T.V ‘I was ‘PUMPED’ when i I.D. the MEBO timer to the P.C.B.


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