Bells; preparatory work for Horological Journal cover - November 2009

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B now begins work on the bell mounts and how the bells will be positioned. The mockup bells were a bit smaller than the actual ones that were made for us from the Whitechapel Foundry, London back in October of 2006. This presented some problems in positioning and esthetics. The second photo shows especially the large over-hang of the bells. In the current form they overwhelm the symmetry and make the right side too heavy; unbalanced.

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The next step was to insert the bells into the mockup to see how we could improve the design. The first two photos show the bells as first designed. The last, end on shot shows the bells reconfigured to put the smallest bell in the front as opposed to the largest. This allowed the set to look more tucked in behind the tellurium dial giving more balance with the remontoire on the opposite side.

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This went quite a way toward making the bells look less prominent from the front. We also reworked the mounts to tuck the bells about 1/2" closer to the frame to more fully balance the bells with the remontoire mechanism on the left side.

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We now turned our attention to the mounts which will be needed to attach the bells to the frame. This also was relevant to certain areas where we needed an 'outboard' cock to handle a wheel that would not fall within the range of the pillars of the main movement frame. Given the number of wheels and complexity of the movement, there is no way we could keep all of the wheels within the main movement pillars. It's interesting to note that our vertical frame pillars hearken back to the very earliest frame designs of the 12th century where the wheels were confined to the vertical frame bars in what are known as birdcage designs. This was carried over from the age of wrought iron to that of the cast iron frames in the Victorian period of the mid the later 1800's until fully formed cast plates separated by spacers were made for all but the largest movements. For further discussion see a paper I've written on history of tower clock design.

The first photo below shows what a cast outboard piece would look like for a wheel. The last photo a similar piece to support the bells. While the look of these models was very nice, I liked the complexity and texture that a set of cast pieces would bring, I was concerned that there were no other areas of the movement where a casting was used. We decided to keep with the curvilinear form, but to fabricate the parts in the same manner as the rest of the material, that is to be sawn from flat brass stock. The third photo shows a mockup of what a flat stock versus cast would look like opposite each other.

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Next we turned to the preparations for the photo shoot needed to produce material for the January 2010 front and rear covers of the Horological Journal. The editor had approached B about this possibility early in October. Up to this point the movement's dual Wagner remontoire had been using a set of hex nuts as the remontoire drive weights, so an appropriate decorative weight had to be fabricated.

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Below is a close-up showing the concentricity and complexity of the time train. Next the photo shoot setup.

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Shown below in the background is the actual movement as completed to date with the wooden mockup in the foreground.

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These are the front and rear cover photos chosen.

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