Atkelar (atkelar) wrote,

"The Clock" project...

...has been an interesting project for sure. But let's start at the beginning:

As I'm sure I mentioned at some time, my grandfather passed away only a few years ago and left us (i.e. my mother and me) a fair bit of interesting and not so interesting stuff. While throwing away the not so interesting stuff(tm), my mother almost threw out an old clock because she thought that it needed to go. A wooden mantle clock. Most of it anyhow. There was part of the housing missing and what was left was heavily gnawed upon by worms and the clockwork wouldn't work anymore. But since I liked the chime and the face of that old thing - it looked kinda classy and expensive - I had decided to try to repair it and literlly took it out of the trash heap again, where my mother had thrown(!) it. Luckily, the glass cover didn't break and the housing was already beyond repair to begin with.

Thus began another side-project: complete rebuild of the housing and restoration of the clockwork.

I removed all the metal parts from the housing, which included the clock face and threw away the wooden box that was left. I tried to keep the new "design" close to the original, but decided not to duplicate it. Curved wooden designs are not easy to build. But a plain old box was out of the question for me.

Before I began fabrication of the new box, I took apart the clockwork. As much apart as I could without damaging it: the main shaft (minute hand) had gears on both sides of the base plate so it wouldn't come out and kept me from removing the springs by just "getting in the way". But every other gear and cog was removed and put into a container. From there I cleaned all the muck and slight rust from the parts and discovered that one of the bearings in the ground plate was no longer a 1mm diameter round hole but a 1mm by 2mm groove... yikes! Time, friction and spring force surely wasn't nice to the brass plate! That could explain why the clock wasn't working right anymore. How to fix that? Hmmm... After putting back all those wheels and cogs (I took pictures before the disassembly!) I decided that my best "quick fix" would be to put a tiny brass piece into the "groove" next to the shaft and thus "plug" that hole... The other option would have been to completely drill out the old bearing and build a new one, attach it with screws to the base plate. But I lack the tools for that job, so I'll keep that as an option in case my "semi-permanent" solution won't hold.

Clockwork - 1 Clockwork - 2 Clockwork - 3

Interestingly enough, I actually ended up with an extra piece: a bent piece of sheet metal (about 3mm square) fell out somewhere. It might have been the real reason for the clock refusing to work: Looks like it got cought in the gears sometime ago. But I have NO idea where it was supposed to be.

I wound up the springs, attached the pendulum again and found a place where I could "hang" the clock so I could try the mechanism. After a bit of fiddling around with the pendulum mount it actually worked again! Woo-hoo!

I created the new housing from plywood (4mm) which comes cheap and in suitable sizes. But 4mm wouldn't be good enough for the "load bearing" parts, so I doubled that to 8mm: Front, back and bottom are now 8mm plywood, the side panels and the curved top are 4mm. Everything glued together. For additional support and stability, I added some triangular pieces of wood at strategic points as well.

Clock: WIP

As you can see, the housing doesn't look like much at this stage... Also, I decided to cheat with the curve on top: Add a fair bit of "liquid wood" in between the small pieces and it looks like a curve without me having to bend any wood :) - the picture shows a version before some sanding of course.

Drilling the holes for the hands and for the spring winding mechanics was another challange: these have only about half a millimeter of "air" on each side... MUCH too narrow to do without actually measuring the clockwork and being quite three dimensional, it was not easy to get ANY accurate measurement. Hence the "move to left slightly" arrows on the front :)

Up next was a bit more decorative outside... I decided to purchase some veneer (right word?) to apply on the outside and make some inlays too. Here's a WIP shot:

Half done clock

The decoreative ledge on the bottom was another nightmare... being a bit of a non-wood-color-expert I purchased the wrong stain for the rest of the veneer... I noticed on a trial piece and got a better match that you see here... BUT during the finishing touches, I decided I'd rather have them darker and re-applied the stain to darken the wood... only to find out that I used the wrong one AFTER I finished the whole thing... Lucky me, it didn't take on very deep and I could remove most of it with only a bit of sanding... but still, the wood looks *slightly* off now.

The curved top was a nightmare with the veneer... I had to hold it in place until the glue set enough to hold it down. Ow. My hands still hurt when I think of that part.

For the clock face I had purchased a different (much darker) kind of veneer that was another nightmare to glue... it acted sort of like paper: it totally curled up when it got wet with the glue and my makeshift press wasn't quite strong enough to keep it down. But at least it streightened when it dried.

The clock face was worn with time and a bit oxydized so I decided to sand it and try a can of golden spray paint that I had from another restoration project. Took a few tries to get an even coat but it worked. Cleaned the glass from years and years of smudges too.

Adding it all together, I finally was able to wind up the clock in its new home with a key that my mother found at a flea market and that fit perfectly.

Finished clock

After fiddling around with the pendulum for a bit (again...) the clock now is only off by less than a minute per day and works fine. Yay!

Clock: The Inside
Tags: clock, project, report, restoration

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