Time is what prevents everything from happening at once
Mainspring winder with reversible ratchet
James Marten, our glorious leader, took to the bench with a mainspring which had been pulled out of its barrel causing a permanent set. “This is not acceptable” he said, peering over the top of his glasses sternly at the audience and then explained that a mainspring winder could prevent this evil and should be considered an essential bit of kit for any clockmaker’s workshop.
He than produced his mainspring winder, similar to the example illustrated above and a fusee barrel with mainspring inside. Once the cap had been popped off and the mainspring fully wound, James took a pair of short-nosed pliers to grip the end of the spring before removing the barrel – the shorter the nose of the pliers the greater the grip. The spring was kept from unfurling by hand and inspected for sharp edges before being released slowly – during the process being careful to position his body so that he was out of harms way. The spring had a slight set to it and James then demonstrated how it was possible to reduce this by careful systematic bending and corrected the shape so that it would develop inside the barrel with out scraping either end.
We were then shown a new spring, which was released from its binding, wiped and checked. The first and most important thing was to make sure that the hooking was central and of the right shape. The hooking should, ideally have a flat edge to receive the barrel hook so that it can find its centre inside the barrel and most new mainsprings have oval hole, which prevent this and therefore should be carefully filed to shape -ensuring that no sharp edges are left – and bent so that they readily meet the hook. Once the spring was wound up and fitted to the barrel, the arbor was then fitted and gripping the square with a pair of parallel pliers, James checked to see if it engaged properly with the end of the spring – which it did. The spring was oiled lightly to the tops of the turns, using engine oil, definitely not lacquer (you had to be there) and the cap replaced. The square was then help in the vice and the barrel checked for endshake. James wound up the spring, pausing every now and then to check the endshake. When it was fully wound with equal endshake at every stage, it was allowed to unwind and judged ready for purpose.
Concluding his demonstration, James explained how to measure a mainspring with a view to replacing it. Using a bench micrometer, he checked its thickness and a ruler to check the height, as well as the barrel’s inside diameter.
James managed to make, what can be quite a terrifying job for the inexperienced workman, look safe and easy – the mark of a true professional!
The first demonstration of the evening was given to us in considerable detail by Ron Rose, who firstly described the equipment required for piercing out intricate designs in brass and other materials, and went on to demonstrate the procedure with great effect.
A thin metal table with a wedge cut out from it is firmly set up on the work bench to support the job, and a deep throated piercing saw with a round back blade is used. The blades Ron uses are German and can be purchased from Cousins. The choice of blade requires two to three teeth per thickness of work to prevent snagging, and the edge of the metal table can be cut against to reduce the speed of cut when making an intricate manoeuvre. The stroke needs to use the full length of the blade, so there will be constant wear over its whole length, but by using only part of the cutting area it increases wear in a small section and when another part of the blade is used it will grab and break, but lubricant should not be used.
Now for the demonstration. A pattern is glued and rolled onto the work using a mild adhesive. Ron advises to cut to the line as this reduces filing time. (Try it!!). The saw remains parallel with the arm and does not follow the line of the pattern, as the cutting action remains on the same spot. It is the work that is fed into the blade and on the line as was demonstrated with a circle partially cut out by Ron, and when examined against the light one could not see the point of owning a file. The circle was perfect and without jagged edges.
These skills are only mastered over long hours and many years of practise. Ron has been using a piercing saw from the age of fifteen, and has been most generous to share with us some of the lessons he has had to learn the hard way.
Ron received loud and very appreciative applause from the members and guests.
Alan’s talk showed us how to convert a ”LINDOW” wheel cutting engine to fully automatic indexing and feed.
The Lindow is a sturdy machine imported from America by Malcolm Wild it uses conventional indexing and manual feed/return of the cutting tool. This method requires concentration and is open to error especially on unusual and high wheel counts.
Using a couple of recycled stepper motors, some inexpensive toothed belts and wheels, stepper motor drivers and some freely available software Alan was able to convert this machine into a fully automatic and highly accurate wheel cutting engine.
Alan demonstrated cutting a 29 tooth 0.8 module wheel. Using the software supplied free by Rex Svenson Alan entered the number of teeth and the module, the software calculates wheel diameter and depth of cut the accuracy is shown in this example it showed to be 0.000064” this is so insignificant. The system is a bit on the slow side for commercial use, but this is far outweighed by the fact that you can leave the whole thing to finish the job.
Alan makes all his cutters using the method learnt at a BHI seminar given by Jim Armfield and this along with the REX SVENSON software shows how simply and economically wheels can be cut to a high accuracy.
We are very grateful to Christopher Hurrion for this month’s lecture. First given in 1992 at the Science Museum with collaboration with Charles Allix he presented the fruits of research into the life Paul Garnier since the publication of the Allix and Bonnert book. Time and experience can only enrich our knowledge.
Those of us who appreciate carriage clocks owe a great debt of gratitude to Paul Garnier, who has been recognized as the founder of the Paris carriage clock industry. Born Jean-Paul Garnier in Épinal, France in November 1801, he was obliged to start working at an early age because his father died when he was only ten. Paul (his preferred name) moved to Paris at age nineteen to work for the clockmaker Lépine and attended the clockmaking school of Antide Janvier. About five years later he established his own business in Paris, showing great creativity and cleverness through inventions such as his version of a constant-force frictionless remontoire escapement which he incorporated in a complicated mantel regulator shown in the 1827 Paris Exhibition. Throughout his life Garnier had wide-ranging interests, but in my lecture I will concentrate on his work as a carriage clock maker and the various clever and creative things he did in that capacity. He was the key instigator in popularizing carriage clocks, and he did this with efficient production of attractive case designs and movements (including specifically his patented chaff-cutter escapement) while building his reputation using various versions of his signature that often included descriptive and impressive titles to distinguish and add value to his work.
Christopher Hurrion, a solicitor, has been interested in carriage clocks since being given a broken one nearly forty years ago, which he cleaned and set going again, more by luck than through technical knowledge. He has been legal adviser to the Antiquarian Horological Society for many years and was Master Clockmaker and President of the BHI in 2003. He is still on the Court of the Clockmakers’ Company and is currently and has been for the last seven years Chairman of the Trustees of the Clockmakers’ Museum & Educational Trust, an independent charity which is responsible for the Clockmakers’ Museum in Guildhall in the City of London.
Following the AGM there will be a series of short presentations:
– Duncan Greig presents an inappropriate use of lead solder – how not to repair a tourbillon
– A short film describing the manufacture of high quality gut lines at the Bow Brand factory
-Grenville Johns, to discuss fitting and wiring a 3 phase motor to a lathe
-Morris Fagg, describes a four facet drill sharpening jig and the benefits of the extra facets
-James will present an addendum to his excellent mainspring talk
The overhaul and servicing of complicated travelling and carriage clocks.
RON ROSE FBHI
Our speaker this year needs no introduction to members of the South London branch BHI. But for those of you who are new to our membership my personal recollections of his quiet and unassuming achievements are as follows. Ron’s horological career started when a school careers officer placed two options in front of him over 50 years ago.
A complicated carriage clock, shown for illustrative purposes only. Original image and catalogue entry for this clock can be found on the Antiquorum web archive.
In Ron’s own words “thank heavens I was right-handed and chose horology” and at the tender age of 15 he took an apprenticeship with Thwaites and Reed; “the alternative would have been a typewriter engineer”. My first recollection of Ron was visiting the workshops above Strike One Islington in 1978. Already established as one of the top restoration businesses in London I appreciated the fine work displayed in the workshops. Learning of his recent publication of a book on English Dial Clocks I made it a priority in my Christmas list that year. I next saw Ron with his family exhibiting at the Clocks for Everyman exhibition 1980. Ron had to move his business from Islington and many of us have visited his shop on the junction of the Five Ways at 731 Sidcup Road, where he looked after the trade and public alike. Ron has always taken an active interest in the BHI helping his fellow horologist with work and advice when needed; he has trained three apprentices that I know of. In the 1990s he encouraged members of the South London branch to construct a skeleton clock at Upton Hall. This led on to setting up a workshop in 1998 for those individuals who wished to take part in the millennium project constructing their own skeleton clock. There were both professional and amateur alike working side-by-side revelling in the support that Ron gave them. The late Beresford Hutchinson was one of those members. For this Ron was awarded the BHI Barrett Silver Medal in recognition of his services to encourage the furtherance of horology. Ron’s own clock, his second, a month duration striking skeleton clock, is testament to his high standard. Ron has taken part in the Art in Action demonstrations, is a member of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers and was part of the examining board of the BHI. I have nothing but a high regard for his skills and ability to overhaul some of the rarest carriage clocks that collectors and dealers have placed in his hands. Over the years I have observed the high quality and reliability of his work with complicated traveling and carriage clocks.
Ron is the driving force behind the South London branch and without his perseverance the current workshop would not have come to fruition. Ron still continues to impart the knowledge; skills and camaraderie he has done for many years with this lecture which will include minute repeating work, Grand Sonnerie repeating work, lunar work, perpetual calendar work, a short video presentation and the work of James Ferguson Cole.
MARION SMITH – Researching 18th and 19th Century Lewes Clockmakers.
Marion was born, and still lives in Lewes Sussex. She was first introduced to Lewes clockmakers when she visited the longcase clock exhibition convened by the late Michael Sautter, at the premises of Bill Bruce. The longterm storage of a longcase clock by John Holman of Lewes, belonging to her nephew, served as a perpetual reminder that there was some research to be done!
A Richard Comber clock dial showing his refined style – from www.invaluable.com
Marion is a retired psychologist, with a post graduate qualification in social science research methods. Local history research is somewhat different. But there was enough common ground to give her the impetus to launch into the local archives, assisted by access to the books and extensive knowledge provided by Bill Bruce.
The talk will follow the course of her research into 5 significant Lewes clockmakers; considering starting points, sources, recording information, overcoming confusion and maintaining the accuracy of research findings.
The talk was a fascinating and enjoyable journey through an often overlooked area of horological history with great clocks and amazing instruments.
CLOCKMAKING IN SOHO, BIRMINGHAM DAVID HORNSEA
Our Speaker will be David Hornsey from Frome in Somerset. David was trained in the scientific field of Biophysics and has a fine arts degree which he gained from studies at Southampton University. He then studied at the British Horological Institute’s course in Birmingham before taking his training further gaining a Diploma in antique clock restoration and conservation from West Dean College. He has an intense interest in Art and technological history.
The title of his talk will be “Clockmaking in Soho, Birmingham” and will focus on the horological history of the mid-18th century to the early 20th. Paying particular attention to the clockmaking of Mathew Boulton of Soho House and the Lunar Men who spearheaded the Industrial Revolution. David will illustrate the progression of 19th century clockmaking with workmen like John Haughton and W F Evans who made many of the elaborate architectural skeleton clocks of the second half of this period. He will also address some of his other research into this fascinating period of the horological history.
Lots of useful tips, presented with great clarity!!
Pre-talk blurb read:
This month’s talk is “Hints and Tips” it will have an Engineering slant to it, but will be useful to people that make clocks or clock parts on a regular basis.
The talk starts with a couple of Sid’s favourite gripes, followed by a section on some useful tips on the uses of a
lathe and cutters.
The second section is practical tips on how to get the best from a small milling machine like setting the machine and vice correctly plus some useful tips on cutter alignment.
The last part of the talk covers compression and tension spring making , drills and their uses plus some other odd
things to help in the workshop like pin making and flattening of metals etc.
Regulars at the South London Branch will remember Sid as chairman of the Kent branch. His engineering knowledge combined with his straight talking style will make an interesting and informative talk. I am sure we all will learn