Projects, Page Two
Maker, Unknown. Most likely a 'one
off' exhibition or 'engineer's' piece of English origin, c. late 1800's. Brass and bronze
hybrid flat bed frame design. Hour strike using rack and snail system with quarter strike
using a count wheel. Originally a three legged gravity escape with jeweled pallets (later
changed to four). Pendulum, dial, hands and weights were missing. Eight day duration.
27"w x 22"h x 11.25"d. Restoration work performed by the firm Buchanan of
Chelmsford. Click on individual photos
for more pictures and information.
The history of this small tower clock is unknown. A close inspection indicates that it
was never in a permanent running condition, perhaps never actually running at all. Over
time, it went derelict and fell into the hands of several 'repairers', bordering on
vandals. The original fabricator who fashioned the frames and wheels showed a high degree
of skill. Wheel work displays classical English design in that the hoop and spoke profiles
are relatively thin compared to their width. The other outstanding feature is the very
high tooth and pinion counts found throughout. The central going (time) train has six
wheels with the following counts: Great wheel 96 teeth, Second wheel 120 teeth and 24
pinion leaves , Third wheel (center)112 teeth and 20 pinion leaves, Forth wheel 96 teeth
and 16 pinion leaves, Fifth wheel 90 teeth and 16 pinion leaves, Escape wheel 3 teeth and
9 pinion leaves.
While the machining was first rate, the casting process was not. The main wheel of the
quarter strike train has a very large open void straddling the surface of the teeth making
it's operation under normal loads unlikely. Several other wheels have smaller, but
significant open voids. These are so large and obvious that it is a mystery as to why the
original maker went ahead with the fabrication of the wheel to it's completion.
The escapement has suffered under the hands of repairer/vandals and is useless in it's
present form. Originally it was equipped with white stone (perhaps agate) pallets since
changed to ruby.
Apart from the movement plates and wheel work the rest of the clock appears to have
been made by a different, far less experienced hand. The fly fans are so crudely made as
to be difficult to associate with the rest of the movement. Maybe the originals were lost
or never made. These appear to be completely makeshift. Perhaps as an experiment to
get the clock working. The frame shows several unfilled holes where the fans were tried in
one and then another position.
After initial tooth counts and experimentation it was found that 40 lb. was needed to
drive the going train on a simple drop. The strike trains, 70 lb. each. For a typical
large tower clock these numbers are not unusual. But for such a small clock it is huge. If
this was a non-descript movement meant to be hidden in a tower, then one might be able to
understand the design. However, it is obvious that this clock was meant to be seen, and
thus a large drop was not originally planned. As it turns out, at a comfortable viewing
height, the time train can only function for four days, the strike trains two; using a
simple drop. Compounding would have entailed a doubling of the weights which I deemed too
Given the outstanding features and this movement's great potential, I decided to have
extensive renovations performed by the firm Buchanan of Chelmsford, whose work has been
featured in the covers of the Horological Journal, October 2003 and April 2006.
This firm has also been commissioned to build a complex astronomical skeleton clock and
you can watch it's construction over the next 3
years beginning early 2007.