Clock Weight Ascending On Its Own

Discussion in 'Tower, Monumental & Street Clocks' started by Paul M, Mar 26, 2019.

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  1. Paul M

    Paul M Registered User
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    May 1, 2018
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    First off, let me start with a disclaimer: This is not an early April Fool's joke. Or, if it is, someone is playing it on me.

    The E. Howard Model 0 clock that I help maintain is installed in the attic of our Town Hall. I've installed a motion-detection camera to capture the hourly strikes as well as any other motion in the general area. This morning at 5:21:07, it detected the following motion:


    It's very subtle. You may have to watch it a few times. The hanging weight that powers the clock mechanism (rectangular box of gravel in the upper right corner of the video) goes up a fraction of an inch! If you listen closely, you can hear some little click in the background when this happens. Replaying the video over and over makes it clear: the hanging weight is moving up, staying up, and swaying slightly afterwards.

    Let me add that the clock has been keeping excellent time ever since it was refurbished two summers ago. The leading off work, though, was not restored, so the accuracy of the clock face itself varies between a minute fast and 3 minutes slow. Could some kind of hitch in the leading of work be the culprit?

    I'll be interested in any thoughts that anyone has regarding this bizarre phenomenon.

    - Paul -
     
  2. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    Maybe an earthquake?
     
  3. Paul M

    Paul M Registered User
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    Ha! No earthquakes this morning in New Jersey! I only wish I could blame this on something like that. A colleague suggested that a strong gust of wind blew through the attic and caused the weight to sway, giving the illusion of the weight rising. But as the before/after photos show, the weight definitely went up a fraction of an inch.

    tempbox.jpg

    It's hard to see how even an earthquake could cause this. Since the clock's timekeeping has been impeccable, I'm looking for a defect external to the clock: the pulleys, the cable, the leading-off work and the motion work. Any of these components could contain a defect, but what kind of defect could possibly generate enough force to cause the weight to rise rather than fall?
     
  4. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

    Apr 10, 2008
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    Is the weight support wire lying flat on the winding drum?
    I am thinking there may be a sideways force on the wire causing it to suddenly ride up over over the the turn next to it
     
  5. glenhead

    glenhead Registered User
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    If you watch the video closely at 1/25 speed with your Dick Tracy X-Ray Spectacles, you can see the gremlin jump from the top of the weight over to the other cable.

    That's just weird. It'll be fascinating to watch this thread and see what you find. Hopping weight cables as Les suggests certainly sounds plausible...

    Glen
     
  6. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    #6 MartinM, Mar 26, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2019
    Okay. I could see where, just like in a spring-driven clock, something akin to "stiction" allowed the cable to jump because of a rough spot in the drum having just been released due to unwinding and allowing the stretch in the cable to lessen..
    If the temperature was higher when the clock was last wound than it was at 5am, this morning, the shrinking cable theory seems quite plausible.
     
  7. Paul M

    Paul M Registered User
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    As shown below, the cable is wound nice and smoothly on the drum and should not overlap. But if it did overlap and then suddenly "jumped" down to the spool, that would cause the hanging weight to drop, no?

    temp.jpg
     
  8. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    Paul
    You are right
    I have made a mistake
    If I had been right there would have been some movement in the wire near the drum, I cannot see any in the video
    Sorry about that
    Les
     
  9. Henry Parker

    Henry Parker Registered User
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    Feb 21, 2019
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    I see a situation where the back of the weight box is hanging up on some projection, so as the weight box drops the front off the box drops; then as the weight box slips off of the projection, the front of the box rises as the box re-levels. And this movement would initiate a small swinging motion as the box re-levels free of the projection.
     
  10. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Some good suggestions here.

    Or.... it's haunted? :)
     
  11. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    About half way through one tick sounds slightly different from the others and the focus on the wire changes as if it is suddenly tightening
    This happens about the same time as the weight moves
     
  12. Paul M

    Paul M Registered User
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    Yep, that's our current theory as well. Actually, it's our only theory. Everything else defies the laws of physics! Bolstering this theory is the fact that the weighted box makes contact with a board behind it when it descends and that board has a few irregularities in it as shown below:
    temp.jpg
    I'll see if I can recreate the phenomenon over the next couple of days. I have to say, though, that when I look at the video it appears as though the box is going straight up, not simply leveling itself. And there is an audible click at the exact moment that the box moves upward. Weird.
     
  13. Paul M

    Paul M Registered User
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    Les, yep I hear that too. An extra click, different than the ticking of the clock. Could be the sound of wood cracking, I guess, if the box was hung up on an obstruction on the board behind it. That board has been there for years, though. It's hard to believe that an obstruction would just appear overnight.
     
  14. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    #14 MartinM, Mar 29, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2019
    I believe the click you hear is the initial breaking free from the cable slipping on the winding drum when it contracts.

    ETA:
    An example:
    If the clock were wound during the warmer part of the day, the total cable length is longer than it is in the middle of the night. Let's say it's 10 feet long in the warmness of day and only 9 feet long in the cold of night.
    When it was wound in the day, it took up 10 linear feet of space on the face of the cable drum. At night, it would have only been nine feet. The jump of the weight is due to the contraction of the cable aggressively overcoming the friction that was holding it at the longer length.
     
  15. FDelGreco

    FDelGreco Registered User
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    Probably not. If a 10 ft steel cable drops in temperature from 90F to 30F, it will contract 0.05 inches -- less than 1/16th of an inch.

    Frank
     
  16. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    Actually, for S304 it's more like .0336in. Or closer to 1/32in.
    It was an extreme (read "impossible") example to help make the point that an abrupt shortening of the cable could induce an impulse that could be seen, amplified, through the whole closed system and is the best explanation for the odd sound that I've seen presented, so far..
     
  17. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    Is the weight box hanging on a pulley?
    If it is and the pulley got stuck, putting more of its weight on one half of the cable and then unstuck itself to share the load across two parts of cable, it might jump like that.
     
  18. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    Why does the focus change in the upper right hand corner as the poltergisitic activity occurs?
     
  19. Paul M

    Paul M Registered User
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    I must admit that I never noticed that before, but I have no idea what caused it. However, I can now say -- with great relief -- that the laws of physics remain intact. The weighted box powering the clock mechanism did not spontaneously rise! I was in the attic a week or so ago when the weighted box was at approximately the same position as when it appeared to rise. As Henry Parker predicted, the box was snagged on a deformity in the board behind it and was tipping forward slightly. I nudged the box a bit and it leveled itself out. When you look at this video of the event, though, it once again appears that the weighted box rises straight upward slightly at the 20-second mark. Pretty amazing optical illusion. I guess I should do something about that board!

    This case if formally closed ... thank you all for your input!
     
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  20. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    Paul
    Thank you for letting the rest of us know what the problem was
     
  21. kevin h

    kevin h Registered User

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    I was hoping for a poltergeist
     
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  22. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    I was hoping for a leprachaun, one of the legendary little people from Ireland
    They get up to all sorts of mischief when nobody is looking
    I think one of their favourite tricks is to add another step to the stairs between the ground and clockroom
    That's what it feels like when going up them
     
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