• The NAWCC Museum and Library & Research Center will reopen starting Wednesday, January 6, 2021 as per Governor Wolf's reopening mandate.

Kirby Mill Clock installed


Registered User
NAWCC Member
Feb 16, 2008
Well, here it is. After 93 years, the Kirby Mill finally got the clock that George Kirby ordered and never finished paying for! (see thread "Advise on finish")

After 1-1/2 years of a very enjoyable project, my wife and I installed the clock a few weeks ago. It still needs; motion works and hands installed, weight guards, some type of bell / chime, and floor cut out covers. We are also looking for an indicator dial for it, so if anyone knows where we might find one, please let us know.

You can call this a "repair" or "resotoration", but the decision process we followed was like this:

first - use the original parts whenever possible, and retain as much of the original finish as possible.

Second - use original Howard parts whenever we could even though they may not have been part of this clock (there were many missing parts including the time winding drum assembly, escapement wheel and bearings, pendulum spring, adjuster and casting, winding gears, several bushings, and many more parts).

Third - make new parts if original Howard parts could not be obtained.

Here's a few "things" about the clock, some of which were debated on this message board.

It was very important to us to make every effort to retain the original finish which we were able to "uncover" under many layers of paint. We did not "repaint" pinstirping or any other parts since they would have not matched the original.

Here's a few things we learned along the way (some from this message board) and a few facts:

After removing layers of paint to uncover the original, two coats of Mclosky satin spar varnish, steel wooled and past waxed gave a beautiful finish.

Brass was cleaned and polished with white viniger, table salt, and steel wool, then laquered.

I had to make a lot of screws and threaded parts, and non of the threads are conventional - all needed to be single pointed on a lathe.

Zig zag pattern on escapment parts was re-done by using a very interesting hand engraving process that required a custom engraving tool (learned form the internet, and commonly used to engrave brass musical instruments).

Weight cables are terminated inside winding drums by a simple knot that prevents the cable from pulling back through. The "pull out" force is minimal as long as 4 to 5 winds of cable are retained at all times.

This clock is currently running with 75 lbs in both weights and a single compound in the cable (so the clock sees 37.5 lbs), with very little power at the chime side.

Weight drop, as installed is approximatly 24 feet. This yields just under 8 days for time, and about 3 days of strike.

We installed the clock, gave the pendulum a light push, and the clock has not stopped yet. The pendulum in our mill lobby is really impressive and soothing at it's nearly 2 second beat.

Thanks to all who helped!



John Hubby

Senior Administrator Emeritus
Staff member
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Life Member
Sep 7, 2000
The Woodlands, TX
Sam, congratulations on a fine job! Very pleased to see your clock is running, and will look forward to more reports and photos as you get the remaining components in place.

Tom McIntyre

Technical Admin
Staff member
NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Ruby Member
Aug 24, 2000
I really love this project. I don't know if it will be enough to inspire me to re-restore the WVU tower clock that I originally restored in 1976 for its 90th birthday.

We only ran the strike a few times on my clock because the fly is terrifying when it has finished its striking run. I notice with your setup, the fly/fan is facing the observer.


Registered User
Nov 28, 2008
That clock looks GREAT !!! Great job !!! How tall is the tower for the clock? And what town is the clock at?


Registered User
NAWCC Member
Feb 16, 2008
Hello John, Tom and Mr. Jeepster,

Thanks for the comments and compliments. In regards to the fly position, I would have prefered to have the clock turned with the winding side out, but we wanted the pendulum "over" the show case in the front lobby so that it was not possible for anyone to be directly under it. If we turned the clock, the pendulum would have been near the center of the mill front lobby (above the entrance) and may have also interferred with a structural beam. The fly clearly could be called terrifying, but in reality, it's the only real "action" you see with the clock (other than the escapment / pendulum motion which we must admit, although soothing, is somewhat anitclimatic for such a large and beautiful machine!) We have minimal weight on the strike side right now, so it starts rather slowley, and never really runs so fast that anyone would be "slow" enough not to stand clear.

The clock tower is about 75 feet tall. The dials are 8 ft in diameter. My wife and I aquired this mill during 1997, restored it and moved our business in during 1998 (engineering and machine building business). The mill (The Kirby Mill named for George Kirby who owned it from about 1900 thru about 1950), is located in Mansfield, Connecticut. Anyone that would like to see the clock is welcome. The building is open during normal working hours, and the clock is fully accessable to anyone that would like to see it (one flight of stairs up, or by elevator).

I plan to install the clock hands and motion works next fall / winter. I will need to to a lot of work inside the tower before I can complete the motion works installation.

I'm still looking for an indicator dial is anyone has any ideas where I might find one.



The Tower clock man
NAWCC Member
Dec 1, 2008
Monticello Georgia
That is one Gorgeous Clock! And what an amazing home for the "old" tower clock reside, exactly where a tower clock was intended to be....... I bet if Mr Kirby could see it, he would be kicking himself for not making all his clock payments! :bang:

Great job on the painstaking restoration. All your hard work and your attention to detail shows throughout the entire movement.
If I'm ever up that way, I will definitely have to stop in and take a look!

Look forward to seeing the faces telling the time again! Good luck and great job!.



Registered User
NAWCC Member
Feb 16, 2008
Thank you very much Dan. Plan to have the motion works and hands in place this fall. You are welcome any time.

Know Your NAWCC Forums Rules!

Find member

Staff online

Forum statistics

Latest member
Encyclopedia Pages
Total wiki contributions
Last edit
Waltham Watches by Clint Geller