Papers and Presentations

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The papers below are a formalization of notes and slides that I have used over the years in my live lectures.

The Evolution of Tower Clock Movements And Their Design Over The Past 1000 Years

This is a general overview of the various mechanical developments as they relate to tower clocks. Specific categories include, frame design, escapements, remontoire, strike systems, winding and maintaining power systems. All accompanied by photographic examples. Paper ends with a brief description of a small tower clock restoration project.

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A Brief History of the Great Clock at Westminster Palace, Its concept, construction, the great accident and recent refurbishment

This paper starts with a history of the clock's antecedence and the fire that destroyed the old Westminster Palace. Next we look at how the clock was put out for bid and the intrigues between the competitors and the referees. The conflicts between the clockmaker, Edward Dent and the chief architect for the new Palace, Charles Barry are explored which lead to a design compromise that was the proximate cause of the great accident which would occur to the clock 114 years later. The heart of the paper is an analysis of the accident itself as conducted by official British forensic scientists. The paper finishes with a description of the recent major overhaul conducted in 2007 for the clock's 150th anniversary. All accompanied by photos and diagrams.

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Paul Pouvillon's Astronomical Clock, A Brief History and a Description of the the Clock's Restoration 

The astronomical clock by Paul Pouvillon was considered the most complex small domestic skeleton clock made up to that time. This paper starts with a brief biography of Mr. Pouvillon. Next is an exploration of the methodology of its construction. The majority of the paper is devoted to the extensive restoration the movement needed to bring it back to full functionality with many descriptive photographs. At the end there is a discussion of the tensions between conservation and restoration that every owner of a significant artifact must address. The appendix contains a set of schematics. A three-part article based on the on line paper about the Pouvillon astronomical clock (above) appeared in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Bulletin, in the July/August, September/October, November /December 2013 issues. 


Papers I have written on the Astronomical Skeleton Clock project, from its inception in 2006 to completion in 2021


Original presentation paper on the Astronomical Skeleton Clock

Halfway Point of the Astronomical Skeleton Clock, year three

An Astronomical Skeleton Clock, Where We Stand after Six and One-Half Years of Construction

An Astronomical Skeleton Clock Where We Stand after Ten Years of Contruction

An introduction to the Astronomical Skeleton Clock project. This paper explains the concepts and design of a very complex skeleton clock I am having made to my commission through the presentation of the full scale wooden mockup made in July of 2006 before beginning on the actual fabrication in metal a year later. This device will have 21 complications, 3 remontoire, over 300 wheels, and 8000 parts. While it will not be the most complex horological artifact made in the past 200 years, I hope it will be one of the more interesting. Where this device will distinguish itself is in its visual presentation in the form of intricate design, the frequent and fascinating dance of various components, and the attention to detail in the form of superior fit and finish compared to anything that has been done before on this scale. This paper was published in the August 2007 issue of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
Bulletin, August 2007.       

In August of 2010 I had written this paper commemorating the third year of fabrication and what was thought to be the half-way point in the creation of the Astronomical Skeleton Clock but was actually about one-third. About 150 of the over 400 wheels had been completed. The time train was finished and working on and off for about a year. A major redesign of the movement was initiated in December of 2008 and completed with a new mockup in March of 2009. By this time nearly all of the components that would reside between the main movement plates were complete and had been transferred from the temporary plastic main plates to their metal counterparts. In January of 2010 the project appeared on the front cover of the British Horological Society's Horological Journal. The bulk of the clock to the casual observer would look to be mostly complete at this point. However, the same number of components are yet to be fabricated  in the form of all of the sixteen celestial complications, behind-the-dial-work, polishing, gold plating and fabrication of the stand and case yet to be tackled. The adventure continues...

This paper serves as a basis for an article published in the April 2011 issue of the NAWCC Bulletin.                                                  

In October of 2016 I had written this paper describing where the Astronomical Skeleton Clock project is as of March 2016. Since the August 2010 paper we have completed all of the machine's four main trains and have moved onto the nearly fifty complications. Many of these are now complete. We are now about 80% complete for the movement itself. Then we move onto the final surface finishing of all of the nearly 400 wheels and  8000 parts and then the case and stand. The August 2010 paper was title as 'The Halfway Point' and this was a bit optimistic. We could not know at the time that we were actually about one third complete. Completion is now estimated to be in 2020. Actual completion was early 2022. This paper served as a basis for an article published in two parts in the January-February and March-April 2017 issues of the NAWCC Bulletin. 


In July of 2020 this paper was written to document the construction of the Astronomical Skeleton Clock as of July 2019. At this point the machine was basically mechanically complete. By the time this paper was finished in July of 2020 the decision was made to change the clock from a weight driven to a spring driven movement. Also by this time the process of final finishing of some small uncompleted tasks, then the huge process of debugging and then the polishing, lacquering, bluing and change out of conventional steel ball bearings to ceramic (requiring no lubrication) was underway.

The clock will be done sometime in 2022, but since this is a fairly long article, and would be published in the NAWCC Bulletin over three parts; the magazine is published bi-monthly so it would cover six months in addition to the three to six months for the article to reach its publishing cue, I wanted to bring this out to be more timely than over a year or more after the fact.

I may either add to this article when the project is complete, or make final presentation. But one could combine all four of these papers to get a good overview of the design, construction and characteristics of this monumental project.

This paper serves as a basis for for an article published in three parts in the
November-December 2021, January-February 2022 and May-June 2022 issues of the NAWCC Bulletin.                                                                                              

The first video montage covers the clock from its inception through August 2010.   The second video montage is of the completed project as of October 2021. 

A few publications where the astronomical clock project has been featured


                                                        NAWCC Bulletin August 2007                                                                                                                                         NAWCC Bulletin April 2011

                       NAWCC Bulletin 2 parts NAWCC Bulletin 3 parts
                        January.-February 2017 November-December 2021
                        March-April 2017 January-February 2022
  May-June 2022


    British Horological Journal, January 2010, (this was just a cover feature-no article).              Antiquing Magazine August 2012

                                                                                                                 British horological Journal September 2021 

Papers I have written about time lock history, manufacturers and collecting

A discussion of the Sargent & Greenleaf Company's history and their line of safe and vault time locks from the perspective of a collector.

A discussion of the Yale & Towne Company's history and their line of safe and vault time locks from the perspective of a collector.

A discussion of the Hall's / Consolidated Company's history and their line of safe and vault time locks from the perspective of a collector.

            A photo-article introducing time locks.

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