Tower Clock Restoration Unfolding and New Guy

Discussion in 'Tower, Monumental & Street Clocks' started by scootermcrad, Mar 1, 2016.

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  1. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    #1 scootermcrad, Mar 1, 2016
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    Hello everyone!

    Long time enthusiast of all things mechanical and interesting. I've been specifically interested in tower clock movements for many years and I'm trying to learn all I can about this unique category of keeping time.

    I'm diving right in to my hands-on education with the assistance to my local community with their Courthouse clock. We are still trying to get the permissions to access the clock tower so we can get a first hand view of the condition of the clock components, but what I know so far is that the movement seems to be an E. Howard "Round Top" with single strike mechanism and bell. I am trying to learn all I can about this particular movement so that we know what to look for upon entering the tower. I will inevitably become the "keeper of the clock" as well, so the more I can learn the better.

    Being that we don't know the condition of the clock yet, and what will need to be restored, I don't have any specific questions, but maybe some more general questions. What was a typical ware component of this style movement? What is the typical drive weight for the clock and strike mechanism? Things to look for during initial inspection? I know nothing about this particular clock, so anything you guys could share or link me to would be very much appreciated.

    I will certainly be doing lots of reading and research in the mean time, but I at least wanted to start a thread introducing myself and the project that I'm about to start.

    Thanks for reading and any help! This looks like a great community and I'm very excited to do some reading and participating.

    Scott
     
  2. doug sinclair

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Welcome,

    You came to the right place!

    I look after this exact clock, and have since a number of us restored and installed it in a historically significant cupola 26 years ago. You can hope that this clock is original and hasn't been modernized by gutting it and fitting some kind of electric motor. I think we would be better able to advise you once you get into the tower and upload some pictures.

    In hopes that it is all there, andbhasn'tbhad major damage, there are a few things to look for.

    1/ Worn pinions.
    2/ Loose bearings.
    3/ Worn or damaged escape wheel teeth.
    4/ Worn pallet faces.
    5/ Rust!
    6/ Pidgeon guano!
    7/ Rusted or worn cables.
    8/ Damaged pendulum shaft (often made of wood).
    9/ Some have been converted to electric wind.
    10/ Condition of dial trains if they've been exposed to the elements.
    11/ Condition of the hands.
    12/ Condition of dial(s).
    13/ Condition of pulleys.
    14/ This perhaps should have been at the top of the list. CONDITION OF SUCH LADDERS AS YOU MIGHT HAVE TO CLIMB!
    15/ Presence of weight wells to stop weights from swaying.
    16/ What sort of weights are being used. Some tower clocks use a box or rocks or scrap iron. Some use proper weights.
    17/ Is there a bell? Condition? Clapper or hammer present?
    18/ Is the tower pidgeon proof, dust proof, water proof? If not, it will have to be made so.
    19/ Can it be made VANDAL PROOF? Do you want to know why I ask? It's an important question.
    20/ If the bell will be operational, are there any city ordinances about the sound? Might the neighbourhood complain?
    21/ Do you have lability insurance? Who owns the clock? Will you be able to get along with them? Does their insurance cover the
    the project? If you have no insurance and you have an accident, are they responsible for covering you?
    22/ Are there damper boxes below the weights if a cable breaks?
    23/ Might there be danger to anyone who works in the building, on the next floor below the clock? Ask me why I ask!

    As as to how much weight? Ours runs with 750 pounds, single compound, on the strike side, and 125 pounds with no compound on the time side. Depending on the fall available for the weights, you may have to do additional compounding, thereby, you will need a lot more weight. You may find answers when you get into the tower as to compounding and weights. Who is going to ".head man" this project? I ask because quitting is not an option once you start. Can you rely on any helpers? See if you can get yourself a copy of The Tower (or Turret) Clock Keepers Manual. It is English, and I don't have an ISBN number, and I don.'t remember the author's name.

    If you have questions, get back to us.


    image.jpg image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg
     
  3. scootermcrad

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Doug! I've been reading through several threads regarding this type of E. Howard and I've seen your responses. I was hoping you would respond to this. Thank you!

    That is a wonderful list of things to look for! Sounds like the escapement wheel is often times an issue with these. I'll look for that, especially. I've been going through all of this in my mind and formulated a list that looks very much like the one you've made above. You've raised some EXCELLENT points that I hadn't thought of, though. Liability insurance! Very good point! I will have to find out about that for sure. Those are the details that will be discussed next meeting with the group. Great thing to bring up.

    The clock seems to be very secure, as far as isolating it from vandals and mischief. For that matter, we're trying to figure out WHERE the access point actually is. We're going to find this out in the next couple weeks. I'm very excited to get in there.

    What is the feeling on auto-winders? I've seen a few in person in a collection that I visited once. Is this something that people often use? My feeling is that the clock would tend to be neglected if it's not visited weekly for winding. What is the realistic view on care and winding?

    Doug, what do YOU look for when you care for your Round Top? What is your task list every time you climb up there? I'm going to ultimately be the person doing this for our town and they are going to want some idea of how that works. The building is a private building, so I suppose the logistics of access and security is something they will want to talk about.

    Thanks! Great start to this thread!

    OH! And this is the building... :) (image from the internet)

    8167089607_d448be8a9f_b.jpg
     
  4. scootermcrad

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    #4 scootermcrad, Mar 2, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2016
  5. scootermcrad

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Additional question!

    It appears that all the hand components are there. I obviously don't have a clue of the condition yet, but I know we will DEFINITELY need to have the faces restored or replaced. They should be glass now. Do people still replace them with glass or have we gone to more modern materials? It's going to be important to be as historically correct as possible, however I realize sometimes we have to do what we have to do.

    I saw some great threads on back-lighting. Looks like there are some great solutions for this, already. I'm not sure if the lighting is still in place for ours.
     
  6. FDelGreco

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Scott:

    Welcome to the message board.

    I’ve done a few Howard roundtops and they are one of the easier clocks to do.

    The best way to learn about restoring a tower clock is to talk with those who have. The National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors that sponsors this MB has many chapters and there are three in North Carolina. If you are a nonmember of NAWCC, you can attend these chapter meetings at least a few times before you have to join. Chapter 17 in Lexington has several members who have restored some significant tower clocks. For information about the next meeting, contact Bill at wbudusky@northstate.net. Chapter 191 meets in New Bern. Contact Dobert at dowsley119@gmail.com. Finally, chapter 126 meets in Arden. Contact Georg at gjpiulz@yahoo.com. (These addresses are shown in the chapter highlights portion of the Association’s magazine so I assume they are OK to show here.)

    We also have a special interest chapter, “Tower and Street Clocks Chapter 134,” devoted specifically to that subject. We meet three times a year – at the Southern Ohio regional in Wilmington OH in April, at the national convention in Louisville KY in July, and at the Eastern States regional in Syracuse NY in August. We have 80 members who collect and/or restore tower and street clocks.

    The book that Doug Sinclair was thinking about is “The Turret Clock Keepers Handbook” by Chris McKay, the foremost authority on tower clocks in the UK. You can find several sources of the book on bookfinder.com:

    http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac=sl&st=sl&ref=bf_s2_a1_t6_6&qi=qMxir3bBFbJvjnkYv,p3a12fb3g_1456926708_1:12:45&bq=author%3Dchris%2520g%2520mckay%26title%3Dturret%2520clock%2520keeper%2527s%2520handbook

    Finally, Chris drafted a 48 page manual titled, “Guidelines for the Repair, Restoration, Conservation, Preservation & Maintenance of Turret Clocks” a number of years ago, but I don’t think it was ever published as I can’t find it anywhere. He had sent me a draft copy a number of years ago to review. If you send me a private message through this message board and give me your real email address, I’ll send you a copy. It contains some UK English words that may be tough to translate into American English, but for the most part it is informative.

    Frank
     
  7. scootermcrad

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Frank,
    Wonderful! Thank you for the response and connections. I will reach out to the members you mentioned and see about meetings and membership. I think that would be of great benefit to my tower clock journey to restoration, care, and collecting of such time pieces.

    I will send you a PM with my information. I really appreciate the offer to do this. Any and all information I would consider extremely valuable.

    Thank you!
     
  8. Les harland

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Winding a clock weekly is not too bad providing you can find some to do it while you are on vacation
    A clock I used to wind Ayot St Peter Hertfordshire UK lasted last exactly forty eight hours between winding
    The only way to keep on top of it was to wind it every day
     
  9. scootermcrad

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    WOW! Do you still do this or did you put an auto-wind on it?
     
  10. Les harland

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    There is an auto wind on the clock now
    I have not been there for some time now
     
  11. doug sinclair

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Automating one of these clocks can be done in two different ways that I know of. Leaving the clock as original, and rigging it so it is wound by automated means. This means a gear reduction motor rigged to the winding arbors, and limit switches on the cables to control wind up and run down. Or the way that distresses me when I see it. Basically, GUT the clock, fit two electric motors between the plates. Particularly stressful on the STRIKE side because in the clocks I have seen done this way, the motor acts on the gears in the top of the train to drive the heavy gears at the bottom of the train. This will destroy the gears and pinions over time.

    There may be other opinions offered on this, but this is how I see it.
     
  12. scootermcrad

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Thanks Doug! I watched a video earlier of a winder for the strike side of a E. Howard #2 and it looked brutal. Not sure if it was just being tested and wasn't set right, but it just looked like it was stressing the lower end after each strike.

    I like the idea of being attentive to the clock and keeping it historically as-is. Gives the opportunity to look over the clock, make sure everything is in order, etc.. However, I may think different if I'm doing it every week. :)
     
  13. scootermcrad

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Good evening everyone!

    Well, I have an eventful update. I met with the local county commissioners and Historical Society this evening and learned some very interesting things.

    First off, the information I received about the clock being an E. Howard "round top" was absolutely false. The clock actually appears to be a Seth Thomas, based on the pictures I saw in the meeting. The condition of the clock is a little more apparent now, and appears to be completely restoreable. A local historian was also invited to this meeting and presented an article that showed who the original winder of the clock was as well as some changes that were made to the clock. In 1959 the clock was "electrified". And by this, it was meant that auto-winders were installed. It was hard to tell from the presented pictures what was left of the clock movement, but from what I saw, it appears that all is mostly intact.

    in the meeting, I found out that the clock was evaluated for "restoration" (read replacement) in 2009. Full electrification including a speaker for the bell. I about fell out of my chair when they told me that they were actually considering this, as the building it is in was restored incredibly well. I proposed my plan for restoration of the mechanical movement with volunteer help and the tone changed a bit in the room. Ultimately it's their decision, but I hope that they will decided to give restoration and preservation a chance for the Seth Thomas.

    I will be taking the official tour next week and hope to get as many pictures as I can for identification and a more realistic view of what needs to happen. I know for sure that the faces will need to be restored, the motionworks need to be cleaned and restored and enclosures made to protect them. The movement itself has had some kind of make-shift galvanized box put around it, but I think that help preserve what is there. Pictures showed a lot of duct and grime and surface rust, but it didn't look to be out of line for a basic restoration. I'll know more next week when I see it in person.

    Now to do some research and figure out what Seth Thomas we have here.

    On a side note, thank you to everyone that has sent me things to read and contacts for people. I have been reading my guts out and am more excited than ever now. I have learned a ton just in the last couple weeks. I have also officially joined NAWCC and will be doing to the local chapter meeting this weekend.

    Thanks for everyone's help! I'll keep you posted as I learn more about this restoration!
     
  14. scootermcrad

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    #14 scootermcrad, Mar 14, 2016
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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    OH! And I found out WHEN the Seth Thomas movement was in stalled. 1876. I'm hoping to find it registered or accounted for somewhere. If I had to guess, I would say it might be a ST #2? Or at least it looks similar from the pictures I saw.

    Looking through records for Seth Thomas installations, I came across Hotchkiss installations. This clock is listed as Seth Thomas/Hotchkiss. Someone please tell me more about this.

    THANK YOU!
     
  15. scootermcrad

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    #15 scootermcrad, Mar 14, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2016
    Sorry to keep blowing this up, but I just received some pictures. I'm wondering if I should start a new thread on this, now that we know it's not the E. Howard I thought it was.

    So it appears we may be missing the pendulum, escapement components, and a few other things. I'm praying these parts are somewhere laying around or being stored. There may be no turning back, though. Maybe in this case it is best to replace the motors with new ones if parts cannot be had.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm guessing this is the strike mechanism

    [​IMG]

    All four faces and motion works look like this and appear to have had glass installed with numbers added and frosted paint?

    [​IMG]

    Bell and strike

    [​IMG]

    What am I looking at here?

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Donn Haven Lathrop

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    First, it's NOT an ST #2. ST# 2 was/is a time only clock. Get a copy of "Seth Thomas Clocks and Movements, Third Edition, Volume II". Start on page 816. This one is obviously a striking clock. Just for the hell of it, WHERE is this clock located? And could we get in-focus, better illuminated photos? T'would help a lot.

    As for the Seth Thomas/Hotchkiss listing, that came from a listing of clocks made and installed by A. S. Hotchkiss, published by A. S Hotchkiss. Seth Thomas padded their installation accounts--Does this surprise anyone? Don't forget that Seth Thomas had purchased the Hotchkiss business in 1872. And that data is from the listing of installations I mechanized and posted.

    The "electrification" imposed on this clock WILL destroy it. Clock tooth profiles are NOT designed to be driven from the top end of a train. What was disengaging friction now becomes engaging friction, and it's severe. Further, the "gentleman" who designed and installed the motors and mercury switches nearly always took with him the parts--escapement, fan fly, etc.--when he left. Rumor has it that his son is going about and replacing the missing parts to restore the originality of the clock for a hefty sum. Built-in job security, don'cha know? This is NOT a self-winder, it's using electric motors to drive the trains from the top end.

    Where is the bell hammer? I don't see it.

    And change the heading under which the thread appears. T'aint no Round top.
     
  17. scootermcrad

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Donn,
    Sorry, the level of research I've done between the start of this thread and now has been 10-fold! My eyes have been bleeding from all the reading and my head is spinning with all the info and help I've received.

    First thing I tried to do when I found out the clock was NOT an E Howard was try to change the title, but it wouldn't let me edit the post. Not sure why. Maybe beyond the grace period? Not sure.

    My guess that it was a #2 was WAY premature and a BAD guess in so many ways. HA! So excuse the premature guessing. I've learned.

    The pictures were taken by someone else and have been all I have to reference. Tuesday I will be going up and taking a bunch of fresh pictures and hopefully with much better details.

    With the help of one Mr. Phil Wright, in Ohio, we seem to have identified the clock as an early ST, probably from the hands of Hotchkiss, and probably built in 1875 for the 1876 installation. We are assuming it to be a #6a, which was similar to the ST #16A or #16B and even resembles a #17, in a lot of ways.

    I'm going to start a fresh thread on this next week, since it's been kind of gobbely-gooped up with my own bad assumptions and terrible pictures. I'll have much better pictures next week.

    All good points! I assume the person that electrified it took the parts. He is no longer with us, so it may be a challenge to get them back. And I'm praying that the driving motors haven't done irreversible damage. Not sure about the bell strike hammer, but it seems that portion may have been taken out of service because of complaints from when it was actually still a courthouse.

    Updated thread to come! Thanks for your input and I apologize for all the pre-mature assumptions. This whole thing has really been incredibly educational and a great way to get educated on these massive clocks. I'm thrilled and determined! Nothing like jumping in head first. Hopefully there's a bit of water in the pool for me... HA!
     
  18. Stotman

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    You have nothing to apologize for or to feel bad about. This board needs new people to start new threads and post pictures. I enjoy reading all new posts and looking at the pics of all of these old clocks.
    Phil Wright is a good guy and has helped me with one of my restorations.
    Welcome to the group and keep posting.
     
  19. Donn Haven Lathrop

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    Still don't know where the clock is. Could be in:

    Athens, Court House--Hotchkiss AL
    Birmingham, City Buildings--Hotchkiss
    Monticello, Court House--Hotchkiss
    Searcy, Court House--Hotchkiss
    San Bernardino, Court House--Hotchkiss CA
    Georgetown, Court House--Hotchkiss
    Marietta, Clock--Hotchkiss GA
    Freeport, Court House--Hotchkiss IL
    Macomb, Court House--Hotchkiss
    Nevada, Court House--Hotchkiss
    Freehold, Court House--Hotchkiss NJ
    Jefferson Market Court House--Hotchkiss
    Concord, Court House--Hotchkiss
    Greensboro, Court House--Hotchkiss NC
    Athens, Court House--Hotchkiss OH
    Defiance, Court House--Hotchkiss
    Eaton, Court House--Hotchkiss OH
    Mansfield, Court House--Hotchkiss
    Richmond, City Hall--Hotchkiss
    Sandusky, Erie County Court House--Hotchkiss
    Steubenville, Court House--Hotchkiss OH
    Meadville, Court House--Hotchkiss PA
    Wilkes Barre, County Court House--Hotchkiss
    Jackson, Court House--Hotchkiss TN
    Jackson, Court House--Hotchkiss TX

    As for damage, check the pinions first. They catch the brunt of what is now engaging friction. As I said, rumor has it that the missing parts are now controlled by the son of the man (I can't remember his last name--first name is Robert) somewhere in PA. Anyone know?
    Scour the area around the clock--his contract may not have included the removal of the missing parts. I found the parts for a clock in NH neatly tucked under the bell above the clock. But only once.

    Early clocks had a very distinctive shape to the pallets--check Shelley's "Early American Tower Clocks", Section II. None of Hotchkiss' late clocks are illustrated (never seen one illustrated) simply because they were made after the 1870 cutoff date.
     
  20. scootermcrad

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Sorry. I was trying to be a little discrete about where the clock is until things are all underway. It's the Concord Hotchkiss listing.

    Well that makes sense why I'm having such a hard time finding any information on the Hotchkiss tower clocks.

    I'm really anxious to get up there and take some detailed pictures of this thing. I'll have a look around for the pieces while I'm there. I don't think anyone has been up there since 2009, so the condition of the tower interior is a bit of a mystery, so I'm hoping that things are safe from the stand point of bees and critters. Otherwise it will be a real short visit. :eek:


     
  21. FDelGreco

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Don't forget to check the basement.

    Frank
     
  22. scootermcrad

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    Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy

    Stotman,
    I just saw this reply from you. So sorry! Thank you for the encouragement. I appreciate it. This is all new territory for me, so any help from you guys is going to be greatly appreciated. :)
     
  23. scootermcrad

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    Okay everyone! I just got home from seeing the installation first hand. What a mess. Beyond the installation itself missing parts, the stairs are SCAAAARRRYYY! Maybe not as scary as the ghost Judge that supposedly haunts the courthouse, had I run into him (HA!), but definitely scary. The floors are going to be replaced and various platforms structurally reinforced. Electricity will also have to be updated. That's just the basics though.

    I'm going to be proposing several scenarios to the country, on behalf of the local Historical Society. They will then be reviewed by the county and then funding will be raised once everyone agrees on a plan of attack and final outcome.

    Here's what I learned tonight, besides all the building issues. Overall, the belfry and clock area is pretty well secure from outside elements. No bee infestations or bird problems, but years of dust and dirt. Nobody has bothered to sweep, maybe ever. HA! Lots of junk sitting around also.

    The clock faces were originally wood and wrapped in sheet metal. They are present, but in poor shape. The faces present are simply plate glass with screen printed details, or maybe painted. Not the correct roman numerals and the minute marks are all peeling off. They are installed from the inside, which will make restoration much easier. The copper dials are all still in place, but I'm not sure how they are installed yet. They may ALSO come out from the inside. Those may be left alone, though.

    Working backwards from the faces, the motion works, hands, and bevel gears are all working freely and appear to be in good shape. I don't anticipate any issues. Everything appears to be original and untouched.

    Moving down to the movement, this is where things get dicey. The whole installation is in a galvanized box, which appears to have been done sometime in the 80's. It definitely protected the movement from dust and bird poop. It also made it VERY difficult to see the movement components, but from what I could see, the movement has no original paint left on it or has been repainted poorly. The pendulum and escapement components have all been removed, including the arbor, which is heartbreaking. The set dial is also missing, but hands are still in place. We will have to try and find them or we will have to have them made.

    The motors that were used were installed fairly responsibly. One hole was drilled for the bracket, while the other bolt used an existing hole, so not too devastating. The gear motor driving the clock is driving from the top, as expected. The good news is, I don't see a lot of wear and it seems that the clock potentially hasn't run since the late 70's and at LEAST the 80's. So maybe it didn't run long enough to do damage. There seemed to be no tension on the components at all, as if the gear motor had been disengaged. There was a bit of lash in the wheels, but the teeth don't seem damaged or mis-shaped. Can someone tell me how much lash should be expected?

    The bell train appeared to be mostly complete, less the fly components since it is run off of the lower gear motor. Was difficult to tell what the chain was driving, but it appeared to be running the large wheel? The main bell strike hammer and components appeared to all be there and functioning as well. I may or may not have "checked the operation". :D Bell appears to be in good shape, less a tiny nick out of the edge.

    Also missing are all of the counterweights and cables. Even the pulleys have been removed. I saw one old cut cable hanging, and that's it. No evidence of weight shoots ever existing, but there were plenty of slots in the floor and plenty of room for the weights to hang below the belfry platform. So that will be pretty challenging to set up, but at least we can do what works best for the installation and building.

    For the missing components, we've checked everywhere in the building. It's a long shot, but someone knows the family of one of the original clock keepers who ran a shop on the same block as the courthouse and also did the electrification.

    PICTURES COMING! Hold tight! I need to upload them from the camera.
     
  24. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Okay, here are the pictures. I'm pretty comfortable around a camera and I have to say that it was very difficult to get pictures with the heavy glare from the windows and the low lighting inside the box, not to mention hardly any room to move around the box or get the camera inside the box. Even with an 18mm wide (ish) angle lens I couldn't get the whole movement in one picture.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    All of the wheels I could get my eyes on looked like this one.

    [​IMG]

    The clock motor setup

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    From the fly side. This really shows the majority of the missing components.

    [​IMG]

    Moving out and up...

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  25. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    These next two pictures really show the condition of all 4 faces and motionworks.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And here's one of the ORIGINAL wood face, wrapped in sheet metal

    [​IMG]

    More bell train stuff, including the lower motor. Sorry. Dark and not very descriptive

    [​IMG]

    From the fly side

    [​IMG]

    Had to just stick the camera in the box here. Not great, but shows condition

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  26. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    And moving down the stairs to the bell components

    Not sure if this is original or added later, but most of it appears to be missing, including the hammer assembly. Can't figure this assembly out.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Last, but not least, the business side. I didn't get any pictures of the linkage, but all was present and functional.

    [​IMG]
     
  27. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    #27 scootermcrad, Mar 23, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
    So here's my questions:

    1) How much lash is too much lash in the unloaded train?

    2) If parts cannot be traced back through the family of the gentleman that electrified the clock, is my best bet to assume parts from Phil Wright's Hotchkiss is going to be the best bet for making patterns for new parts? Or should I be looking at a Seth Thomas #16a or #16b? Something else? I believe the Hotckiss would have been slightly different. Pinwheel, possibly.

    3) Level of restoration! No sign of original paint or tags on the chassis. Match the green paint and repaint? Would brush painting be a more correct finish?

    4) The county will want auto-winders. Recommended source?

    5) Have any of you tried a control system of sorts to remotely control the bell strike without modifying the original mechanism and strike components? This is a huge concern by the county commission.

    6) Counterweights - starting from scratch. What is the latest trend in restoring this portion of the assembly? Safety of the system is important, so I'll be taking into consideration tethers and/or fall absorption box of some kind.

    7) Faces. Would it be considered unethical to restore everything, but install frosted glass, back-lit faces instead of the original wood faces. The county feels they will want the faces to be back-lit, like the current configuration. This seems fair and since the original faces are present, they can be preserved in the museum that's in the building.

    For reference, here's Phil Wright's Seth Thomas/Hotchkiss that is determined to be a #6a. This appears to be a very close match to ours.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is just the beginning of my questions, but that's enough to start with.
     
  28. Jeremy Woodoff

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    Just want to say how much I applaud your effort to persuade the owners to restore the clock. It is an important and worthwhile project! And as time goes by each of these clocks preserved and restored will become more and more scarce and appreciated.

    Without unnecessarily bringing legal issues into play, depending on the sources of funding for the building's restoration and local and state laws, protection of the historic mechanism may be a requirement, as it is a significant component of a historic building. Perhaps just something to keep in mind if the decision seems heading towards a modern replacement clock.

    I think the original dial design would be a much better fit for this Victorian building. It should be possible to light it with discrete LEDs from the exterior.
     
  29. FDelGreco

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    Scott:

    Sometimes when many parts are missing and the ones left are in bad shape, it’s better to find an exact replacement clock and install that instead. Any “good” parts from the old clock can then be sold to those needing them which helps finance the job; the bad parts can be cleaned up and used as giveaways in any fundraiser you may conduct to finance the restoration process. Let me tell you about one of my experiences.

    The Howard roundtop time and strike clock in the Geauga County courthouse in the Village of Chardon, OH ran until 1944 when a weight cable broke. The weight crashed through two floors and ended up in a courtroom while court was in session. The officials said “no more” to a weight driven clock so they had it electrified, with a motor driving it from the top of the train. It took 25 years for the motor to grind everything to a halt when it stopped in 1970. It didn’t run for the next 25 years until Tom, one of my chapter members, saw it wasn’t running while on a hot air balloon ride over the village.

    We put together a team of five members from our chapter and told the county we would restore the clock to original condition pro bono – with the county paying only for parts – no markups. They were a little hesitant about the money so a jewelry store owner in the village square started a fundraiser. She raised $20,000 in one month! We were set to go.

    We took the clock to Tom’s house – in pieces – and reassembled it in his garage. It was in deplorable condition with many parts missing or damaged beyond repair. I remember one of the great wheels had all the teeth leaning significantly in one direction.

    We found a collector in Texas that had an identical clock and we bought it from him. It needed some restoration – cleaning, rebushing, repainting, and pinstriping. The escape wheel was wrong, so we had a new one made. We made a temporary short pendulum for it so we could test it in Tom’s garage. We sold the old frame and winding drums to someone who needed them.

    We reinstalled the clock in the courthouse, carrying it up piece by piece. The clock was originally installed at the same level as the dials, but that room was not weather – or pigeon – tight. We installed the clock two floors down, just below the bell room, in the highest floor that was weather-tight and heated. I built a huge Plexiglas case to house the clock. We had to install a really long vertical drive shaft from the clock through two floors to a distribution tower in the dial room. I built a platform on which the distribution tower sat – I made it from planks of oak that came from a 300-year old oak tree that had fallen decades ago and was sawn into lumber and stored in a barn. Two Chardon residents (brothers) donated the lumber because they wanted to be part of the project.

    We added an auto rewind system on each train. We put new weights – lead plates we had made so we could add or subtract weight, in steel chases with a huge truck coil spring on the bottom of each in case a cable broke. Microswitches turned the rewind motors on and off – that rewound each train through a gear reduction box, electrically operated clutch, and drive chain on each side.

    The village was excited about the restoration. There was a big ceremony to start the clock at 12 noon. I even made a speech from the village gazebo. A young boy who was the great grandson of the guy who used to wind the clock prior to 1944 was there to start the clock.

    Last October, one of the wood hands on the south dial broke and stopped the clock. I was lifted more than 80 feet into the air by the fire department’s ladder truck to change out the hand. Funny – as there are no other buildings in Chardon that tall I asked the fireman whether he put out many fires with the ladder truck. He said, “No, we mainly use it to fix flagpoles.” Geez…a $1+ million truck to change hands and fix flagpoles!

    As it turned out, once the restoration was complete and the clock running (1996), the county engineers quickly decided – right or wrong – that ringing the bell would shake the mortar in the building walls loose so they would not allow striking to take place. So the clock has run well but silently for the last 20 years. An electronic carillon provides the sound. Check with the officials ahead of time to make sure they will allow bell striking. Ours weighed about 1500 pounds.

    Frank
     
  30. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Great suggestions and I actually have it on my list to find out about historical protection for the movement, if it's deemed restorable.

    I have an uphill battle, and I'm concerned about the ability to replace the parts, but at least I have one to look at (8 hours away) if I need to. I'm not sure if that particular movement has a home, but maybe it could be purchased as a suitable replacement if ours cannot be saved. Some stress I'm taking on here to make sure the right thing is done, but I think it will be worth it.

    As always, Frank, that's a great and inspirational story. In FACT, it would be possible to move the movement one level down from the bell assembly. Obviously some rework on the bell strike will have to be done, but the counterweight system will also have to be redone.

    What did you use for counterweights? Did you attempt to keep it historically/era correct with the weights themselves or did you go with something made of more modern materials (cast plates)?

    There only seems to be concerns about the bell ringing during certain events and at night. The courthouse has been replaced with a theater, so obviously people don't want to hear the bell during a production or movie screening. Bell striking taking place itself, should be okay, I think. We DID happen to find out that the bell weighs 994 pounds, when digging through some historical archives.

    Frank (or anyone). How much play in the wheels is too much? The teeth look okay to me and I don't see any evidence of breakage. I will certainly have to start removing it to know REALLY how much damage their is, but I need to start thinking of a plan of action for all of this. So far I'm up to about 5 different plans, and throw a 6th in there with the idea of moving the clock assembly to the floor below the bell platform.

    Thanks everyone!
     
  31. FDelGreco

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    Scott:

    The original weights are long gone. We bought lead plates about a foot square and 1/4" thick. I remember they weighed 16 pounds each. We had a slot cast in them so one could slide the weights on and off the weight holder without disassembling the cable. Incidentally, they are weights, not counterweights.

    BTW, if this is a historical building on the national register, you also may have to concern yourself about making changes to the structure. They often are not allowed. In the courthouse, a historical building, I couldn't replace an original ladder that went from the bell room up 16 feet to the dial room. It was homemade at the time the building was constructed, with 2x6 stringers and 1x6 treads, and at a relatively steep angle. I went up and down that ladder many times, but one time as I went up, carrying a toolbox, a tread broke out under me. I fell to the next lower tread that fortunately held. I've since learned to keep my feet as close to the stringers as possible when going up and down these old ladders. Less stress on the treads.

    I could have replaced that old ladder with a modern aluminum or fiberglass one, but they wouldn't let me.

    I did replace the tread.

    Backlash in the wheels and pinions may vary. First, do the gears transmit power without faltering or binding? Second, you can find in many clock construction and gear cutting books pictures where the gears rub each other in a perfect fit. But chances are if the pivot to pivot spacing is correct (i.e., no rebushing needed), the mesh is correct.

    Frank
     
  32. scootermcrad

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    Frank,

    Oh man. I have to apologize to you and everyone else on here. My terminology is very "green"! "Counterweights" are for elevators and it wouldn't even make sense when talking about any of this. Also, faces versus dials, etc.. GAH! Sorry guys! I'm new and diving in head first. I appreciate the corrections. (red faced) I'll get there.

    VERY good points about the structure. When I was in the tower with the the gentleman from the county, he asked about the structure itself as it pertained to the installation. There have been several alterations to the building's structure already when they converted the courtroom to a theater. Lots of modernization to the second floor and its structure In this case, there is a concern of safety, so they are planning on addressing it if the clock is to stay. Curious to see what come of this. The platforms themselves seem sturdy to me. The planks/flooring is a bit questionable though. When the rest of us meet for the Historical Society monthly meeting we will also be discussing this. Ultimately, the stairs were very scary and not in good shape. I'm concerned about carrying heavy components down the stairs from the clock before some kind of provisions are made.
     
  33. FDelGreco

    FDelGreco Registered User
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    Scott:

    What is the distance from the ground floor to the dials? In some restorations, the clock is relocated to the ground floor in a PlexiGlas case -- like in a lobby for the public to see -- and a long, vertical shaft, properly supported, goes to the dial room. It makes safety, maintenance, etc., much better and gives the public a look at the workings of a mechanical clock.

    Frank
     
  34. scootermcrad

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    #34 scootermcrad, Mar 23, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2016
    Frank,
    Just guessing out loud, climbing to the second floor from the lobby/entrance is about 20 feet. Climbing from that level to the third floor is another solid 15 feet. Next climb would be approximately 15 feet to the bell platform. Then another 15 feet to the dial/clock platform. 3 feet from there to the center. Soooo... almost 70 feet from the entrance.

    The entrance is a little cramped, actually, but the second floor, by the entrance to the theater might be a nice place. Not sure how the weight assemblies would work from there, though.

    The third floor, directly below the tower and directly above the entrance to the theater, is mostly a full structural area, but vacant. It was probably the balcony area of the courtroom, at one point. Now just open and exposed to the structure and used for storage and has a catwalk for the theater.

    I'm guessing the original weights probably hung directly over the ceiling of the theater/courtroom entrance... where people would gather. (yikes)
     
  35. novicetimekeeper

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    Presumably if you are going to change to electric autowinding you no longer need such a long drop as you could simply wind more often.
     
  36. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Very good point, actually!
     
  37. Donn Haven Lathrop

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    #37 Donn Haven Lathrop, Mar 29, 2016
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    Scott,
    #1. The train will be loaded when the weights are working. Remember, if it rattles, it'll run. Just check the bushings for excessive wear. They are the determinants on clearances.

    2. Use Phil's clock for patterns. See the pallet carrier at the top of his clock? Looks like an upside down horseshoe? That's a Hotchkiss pallet carrier. Make the escape wheel the same as the one in Phil's clock.

    3. Tear apart the box the clock is in. Give yourself some room to work. If need be, make a new box--bigger so you can walk around the clock--your successor will bless you. Take it apart, down to the frame, disassemble the frame, wash it, match the paint, and break out the brushes. How many rattle cans and air compressors were in use in 1876--HMMM?

    4. Auto-rewind? The best I can think of is the Balzer Family Clockworks in Freeport, Maine. Rick and Linda Balzer 1-207-865-1799. Be prepared for a fairly high price--auto-rewinds don't come cheap. DO NOT PLACE **ANY** WEIGHTS OVER A POPULATED AREA!!!!! Build a box under the pendulum bob that will allow the bob to fall maybe 2 inches. That's 75-odd pounds if cast iron. It hurts if it falls on your head. There may be a catch at the top pf the pendulum rod, but I don't see one on Phil's clock. Build a pendulum bob catcher under the bob.

    4. "Have any of you tried a control system of sorts to remotely control the bell strike without modifying the original mechanism and strike components?"
    I have a hunch that that's the odd extension on the strike side of the clock. Somehow it moved the strike lever head out of the way of the cams that lift the strike hammer.

    5. "We
    ights - starting from scratch. What is the latest trend in restoring this portion of the assembly? Safety of the system is important, so I'll be taking into consideration tethers and/or fall absorption box of some kind."

    Look in
    the BULLLETIN, build your weight 'chutes out of wood, and make up weight catchers like the ones described in the article:

    <http://www.nawcc.org/images/stories/2010/articles/2015/416/416_323_327.pdf>

    Use stainless steel wire rope to support the weights. I wish you luck on finding sheaves of an appropriate size--at least as big in diameter as the winding drum. Cuts way down on stress within the wire rope.

    6. Use the frosted glass for the dials. Remove all the Arabic numerals, replace with Roman numerals. Replace minute and 5-minute markers. Seal the glass all around to keep water out.
     
  38. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Thanks Donn! Great response! I'll reply under each numbered comment in RED.
    Thank you so much for that huge response! I appreciate it!
     
  39. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    More questions! A records question (or observation) and a bell installation question...

    I have been digging through the early Seth Thomas records, here on the NAWCC database, and can't seem to find record of our installation in the receipts (eyes were bleeding after 10 minutes of staring at amazing cursive handwriting), but I keep running across a Seth Thomas Hotchkiss 6A records for neighboring Greensboro for their courthouse that was built in 1873. I'm trying to find record of what happened to that courthouse. I'm wondering if something happened and that clock was in-turn installed in our courthouse, for some reason. Later records show our courthouse to have the Hotchkiss as well as the Greensboro courthouse, but that courthouse no longer exists in Greensboro. Strange that the early records (1870-1877) do not show our installation. Were there OTHER Seth Thomas installation documents somewhere besides the NAWCC resource section?

    The other big questions are about the bell installation. We have a Meneely bell and it is a "Rotary Yoke" style bell. It does not have the large pulley on it, so I'm not sure if it was ever set up to rotate, but it was definitely intended to be struck in the stationary position from two sides. One side is still intact, however the other side appears to have a striking/chiming mechanism of some kind. Can someone tell me more about what the mechanism is seen here?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Rest of the bell assembly. Was this a bell assembly that was installed to never swing?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  40. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Good day everyone! I could use some help and I have a quick update.

    We are underway with getting approvals and going to start the community fundraising as soon as we can get a ball park figure to get the ball rolling. I haven't done this many proposal reports since I worked on a military contract! HA!

    I have the work narrowed down and I know what tasks I'll be taking on and what tasks I'll be hiring help for. The more I read the more I'm starting to realize the importance of this early Hotchkiss movement! Things are looking good, but super political at this point.

    One thing that has become apparent to me is the escapement was to be of the PINWHEEL type. Seems this was kind of rare for an early Seth Thomas tower clock movement. Is that a fair statement? I'm pretty sure this is going to have to be recreated from scratch. I'm having a hard time even finding pictures of a similar type of clock, let alone the escapement assembly. I've found two similar clocks, at this point, and one is only partially assembled.

    So I'm having a hard time finding some visuals for comparison. ALSO! It sounds like the proper pendulum bob for this clock would have been of the disc type, instead of the usual cylindrical style. Also, it appears the actual set dial would have been the same as similar time frame Seth Thomas #16a/#16b and #17. I think. This might help with locating a replacement. I hope I don't have to have this re-cast.

    Anyway, if anyone has visuals they can share of early Hotchkiss stuff, that would be appreciated. I'm also still looking for info on the bell striking mechanism shown above in the picture. The one that sits to the left of the bell on its own skid that appears to be missing some pieces.

    Thanks!
     
  41. Jeremy Woodoff

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  42. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    I saw that post. Great post! I missed the part about it possibly being a Hotchkiss design. Interesting! Thanks for the link
     
  43. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Okay! Replying to my own request, Phil Wright came to the rescue with some critical pictures for me. This is quite a site, right here. Almost all these escapement components will have to be made.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  44. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Hey everyone,
    I just wanted to post an update real quick, since things are sloooooowwwwwly starting to happen again.

    We have a meeting with the county on Thursday to discuss our plan for this restoration as well as what all we have learned. We've learned more about the history of the movement than we have probably anything else, at this point, but we have a plan in place. We know what's missing, what parts we'll be looking into the community for (literally!) and how we intend to replace the parts if we can't find them.

    In the meantime, I need some more help from this community. I'm looking for more information on Hotchkiss tower clocks PREVIOUS to the relationship with Seth Thomas that would maybe give us more detail on the parts that we are looking for. I'm also looking for a Seth Thomas Tower Clock catalog that would cover the #6A clock movement. Even just a scan of the catalog page would do the trick. I have a catalog from the correct era, but it skips a few of the models that were offered, including this one. We are probably going to have to replicate the pendulum and we only THINK we know what it looked like, but aren't positive.

    As for the plan itself, I think everyone will be happy to know, we are going to restore this to as close as originally designed as possible, replacing all the missing components with re-cast and re-machined replicas, only if we can't find the originals. The weight drive setup will be redone around the updated building structure and all safety measures taken as needed. There will be auto-winders installed but will be external for the least amount of impact to the clock as possible and prevent any further damage to the clock movement components.

    To take it to one more level, before re-assembly, I am going to make every attempt to 3D scan every wheel and unique piece so that a physical document can be kept in order to repair/replace these parts in the future, should anything occur later in the life of the clock. This would also give us the ability to build a scale replica for the museum on the first floor, if desired.

    Just an update. Hopefully someone can help me out with the info request above. Anything you folks could offer would be appreciated.

    THANK YOU!
    S
     
  45. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Update! We have some progress. Another visit to the clock and the protective box is off so I can see everything now. Now we know exactly what we have and we even found some clues to the puzzle and history including the weight chutes, one weight box, and the super important pendulum bob! Structural engineers were on sight to look at the stairs and we talked about lifting points so we can lower parts down and out. This is a big step!

    Here's a few pics for you guys!

    The courthouse

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    What is this dangling piece just inside the frame above the leg mounting pad? It resembles a bone, for lack of a better description.

    [​IMG]

    View from the dial room down to the belfry area

    [​IMG]
     
  46. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Still looking for information on this striking mechanism

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's the missing pendulum bob

    [​IMG]

    And the mystery of what was used for weight is solved!

    [​IMG]
     
  47. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Good morning, Folks! Just a quick update on our project for you.

    We've pretty much just been getting organized for fund raising and dealing with the political side of things. We've formed a non-profit group to handle the financial and legal components of this project as well as putting ourselves in the position to handle other community clock projects when they come to light.

    In addition, I've created a blog (http://cabarrustimesavers.blogspot.com/) so we can better interface and provide details and updates for the project to our community. We've been receiving a lot of positive input and encouragement from local groups to apply for grants and suggestions that donations are being considered. The unfortunate part is that the County (who is handling the structural part of this project) is going to take forever, but the work has been approved and the community is getting behind us to make this happen. It's starting to feel very real, but we're still far away from being able to remove the clock.

    Updates will be slow, but we're still going to continue to fill in the historical timeline for the clock and hopefully locate the purchase record for this clock. That might provide more answers for us.

    That's all for now! Still looking for some answers to some of the above questions, mentioned earlier in this thread. Please look through the thread and let me know if there is any additional information that can be provided on some of the mystery items.

    Thanks guys!


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  48. Mr. Time

    Mr. Time Registered User

    Feb 13, 2017
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    #48 Mr. Time, Apr 22, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
    Wow!.....what a huge project.

    I can only imagine the excitement but with a lot of anticipation with a heavy dose of patience to add. Yes, please keep this thread updated for as long as it takes to see this project's final completion (also provide as many pictures as possible).

    Lastly, I like reading about all types of restoration projects on vintage things such as clocks, automobiles, etc. so this thread has really got my interest. Just a suggestion but from time to time you should record (video) everything associated with the clocks project.
     
  49. scootermcrad

    scootermcrad Registered User
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    Mr. Time,

    I'm on board with you! I'm a big fan of seeing detailed restoration projects. Videos are planned as well and have also been requested by the county, when possible. I have the GoPro standing by. When the clock movement is removed from the tower, I'm hoping to set up a camera in the work space for time-lapse coverage, but we'll see how it all pans out. There are several restoration and fabrication projects going on in the small little work space where this will be done, so it might not work out.
     
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