Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Antique Clock Replica

Sooner or later it seems that most hobby machinists have to fulfill a need to build a clock. Not because they need one, but because need to satisfy the desire to prove to themselves that they can do it.
Over the years I had accumulated numerous plans that were available, but somehow I do not get much satisfaction from building something from someone else's plan, I'd rather do my own thing. That is not saying that I do not glean ideas from others, because I do that a lot, and sometimes modify them to fit my own needs.
For the clock, I finally went to the library and got a book on old clocks. I picked a small one with a picture that showed a good representation of the working parts and went from there.

There was no way of telling what size it was so I just guessed. It was pretty easy to estimate how many teeth in the gears, etc. so it was not all that difficult to make a scale drawing. According to the book the clock was built about 500 years ago, and perhaps that is before they had invented screws, because there are none in it. Everything is either riveted or fastened with tapered pins. At first I thought "how awkward", but it turned out to be every bit as easy as using screws.

There are a few changes in the design of my clock and the original. Mine has a little dragon rather than a bird to support the foliot or balance that controls the speed, which hangs by a thread. It keeps fairly accurate time, except it is different that modern clocks. There is only one hand, that takes two hours to make a revolution. My only guess is that 500 years ago they were still using hour glasses, and perhaps they had not standardized on the 12 hour dial as we now know.
Anyway it turned out to be a very satisfying project.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mowing Season

Can you believe that after a long cold winter we are fast approaching the lawn mowing season. I have been so envious of those people with riding lawn mowers. Riding lawn mowers are expensive, however I have the skills that I used to build my own "Self Powered Riding Lawn Mower".

Now, I am the envy of all those "push mower" people.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Most people as they grow older go through a period called a second childhood, But not me, I do not have to worry about anything like that. I have not grown out of my first childhood yet. When my body was little I had a toy elevator that was lots of fun, but it was cheaply built out of tin can type material and did not last. I was longing for that toy, so recently I constructed a replacement as near as I could recall. It is not exactly the same, as 70 years is a long time to remember something. The original used large glass marbles. I think they were called a taw. The reproduction uses 3/4" steel ball bearings. A release mechanism releases one at a time into the elevator car which travels to the bottom and is dumped out. Then it returns to the top for another one. There is a propeller on the pulley shaft powered by a one way clutch out of a computer printer that adds a little commotion.

It will keep running as long as there are balls on the feed chute, so it is a lot of fun for kids to keep putting them back up there.
The problem I have with it is that whenever our great-grand kids come to visit, they always want to play with the elevator, and they do not want to let me have "my" turn!

Oh, and by the way I got a corrugated roof formed and shaped for the steam shovel yesterday, although it is not fastened down yet.

I do not know if roofs were to provide protection from sun or storm, but either way I'm almost ready.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Corrugated Roofing

The steam shovel model has progressed to a point where it could have its corrugated roofing installed. But where do you find "scale" roofing?
Make it of course.

Forming roll dies were machined for a hand cranked Chinese built beading machine with an 18" throat. At first it would not work very well because it was not rigid enough and flexed. However machining some of the ridges off the rolls it works much better, as can be seen by the sample tested.

The metal being formed was salvaged from the side of a discarded clothes drier. That is a good source of material. I use it all the time. Now I can proceed and form the roof, and the machine has enough throat that I believe I can do it in one piece if I start at the center and work both ways.
After I showed the sample piece to a friend, he suggested that I could start manufacturing scrubbing boards. That is real good advice, except 100 years too late.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Last week on April 1st we took a little trip about 100 miles north to Brigham City so that we could visit with friends from Idaho who came down to pick up an almost completed melting furnace from another friend, George. For some reason when we get together we always exchange little gifts with each other. On this trip Ira brought me an antique valve grinding machine to put in my collection.

It is pretty unique, I have never seen one like it before. It has gears inside the housing that rotate the valve as it is being ground.
Upon getting it home, it sort of became like the straw that broke the camel's back. I simply did not have a space in either of my display buildings to put it. I had already had thoughts about doing it, but that triggered a rearranging frenzy. A bunch of the smaller models were moved from the buildings and put on display in our family room. Since our family has grown and moved away the room has not been needed much, so this put it back to good use again.

The whole change was for the better. It separated the models from the antiques. The family room is a much better environment for the models. There is a space for the old valve grinder out in the buildings, and the other things could be spread out a little for better viewing. A couple models were placed on service carts. On the second shelf are a few sample wood casting patterns for show and tell, and on the bottom are back issues of some of the modeling magazines. The extra weight down there made the carts more stable, and it freed up some shelf space in my library for more books. Oh, and I have one more cart, and space for it to display the model steam shovel if and when it ever gets completed.