1/25/15

A Great Question About Center Holes

A clock builder asks:  "Should I be worried about this being too far off?  When I sand this wheel on a mandrel some of the printed lines for the teeth will fully disappear while others will be just showing.  Thanks."
Center Wheel Hole Off--Problem?

Clayton answers:  Euuuuuuw!  I really hate seeing that.  Did someone just kick me in the stomach?


These mechanisms are extremely forgiving of front to back wobble, as in the ply being warped.  As shown in the picture below, as long as the wheel can stay on the pinion the mechanism can be made to work.

Click on picture to enlarge.  Front to Back Wobble

But these mechanisms are extremely UNforgiving of up and down wobble, as in having the center hole for the arbor off center.  Those PD lines really must align perfectly all the way around the wheel.  As much as that hole is off from center one way, it is off double that amount on the other side.

The center hole is probably THE most important hole in the entire clockmaking project.  If, for example, a frame hole is off a bit, the PD's are still aligned perfectly all around.  The teeth are simply just a bit further apart ~  But if the center hole of the wheel is off, you've created a cam.  On the down side the cam will have too much clearance, and on the up side the cam will jam.

Click on picture to enlarge.  Center Hole Drilled Correctly



Click on picture to enlarge.  Center Hole Drilled Incorrectly

Now, that being said, yes, you can, with a lot of work, probably save that wheel.  You'll need to depth it, and in the process, you'll need to deepen the dedendums of both the wheel and pinion, and the addendums will already have been shortened by the process of spinning the wheel and sanding it perfectly round at the sander.  You may also need to remove some of the BACK side of each tooth in the area of the out of center hole of the wheel has caused the PD's cross each other.  That is because the tooth gets wider at its bottom.  The back side of the tooth is the non-contact side.  You'll need to look at your mechanism and see which way the wheel is traveling and determine which side is the non-contact side, and remove some "meat" from that side.  (as I mention in my book, the back of each tooth can be nearly ANY shape because clock gears only turn in one direction.)  This will, of course, show as asymmetry in the overall wheel's appearance unless ALL of the backs of the teeth are treated the same way.

The center hole in the picture you sent looks terribly off, but if in reality it is not really off by that much, give the wheel a try, and spend some time practicing your "depthing" technique.  You may even eventually qualify for your honorary Doctor Of Dentistry degree from all the additional tooth work.

Sorry...

Aloha, Clayton

12/24/14

Future Wooden Clockmaker Reveals His Improved Simplicity

Ronnie Cramer's Grandson's Version of  the Simplicity Clock
Ronnie emails:  "Good Afternoon Dr Boyer. I wanted to show you the new design my 8 year old grandson came up with for a clock.

I have attached the file. This is his version of my Simplicity. :)

Was made out of scraps I sent him from my wood shop. This is priceless.

As soon as I can I am going to order the electronic plans for the Genesis clock so I can cut the gears for my 11 yr old grandson. :) 

I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thank you for so many wonderful clock plans.

Ronnie Cramer
Tennessee"

Ronnie, that is absolutely delightful!  I had such a wonderful chuckle when I opened that picture of your grandson's work of art.  You know, it reminds me of a clock designed by Thomas Edison for his shop.  I've included a picture of Thomas Edison's wooden movement.  It is similar in style and just confirms the comparative genius of your grandson.

Thomas Edison's Shop Clock
Merry Christmas and a happy and successful New Year.

Enjoy!  Clayton

Ronnie emails back:  "Thank you. When I saw my grandsons picture, I had to smile as I was very proud. I will pass your picture and comments along that to my grandson.

I am encouraging all my grand kids to be creative and how to make stuff with their own hands. Your clocks help me do just that. I very much appreciate all you have done for the wooden clock community.

Ronnie"

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!

11/16/14

Introducing the Whirly!

Watch her go!

She's even pretty when she's not in motion:

Whirly by Robert Hains

Whirly by Robert Hains

Whirly by Robert Hains

Whirly by Robert Hains
Whirly has several design options included in the plan:  wall mounted, weight driven, spring driven or tabletop as shown.  See her now at our website:  Whirly Kinetic Sculpture

10/5/14

Simplicity by Rodney Kueffer

 Here is some unique builder creativity that you simply have to see...

Simplicity Variation by Rodney Kueffer

Simplicity Variation by Rodney Kueffer

Simplicity Variation by Rodney Kueffer

Simplicity Variation by Rodney Kueffer

Simplicity Variation by Rodney Kueffer

Simplicity Variation by Rodney Kueffer
Rodney Kueffer's unique box clock frame surrounds the Simplicity Mechanism.  Beautiful work!

9/3/14

John Scheele's Marble Strike and Westminster Chime

Marble Strike and Westminster Chime by John Scheele
Hi Clayton,

First off, I would like to thank you for your beautiful designs and my new re-found hobby. When I was reading your book the beginning was so much like my story when I was a kid. I took apart everything mechanical including clocks which fascinated me the most. At eight, I saved up some some money and bought a plastic cuckoo clock at the local small town department store. Put it together and it barely worked. My dad sprayed some silicone on the gears and poof, they all melted. Go figure, it was never meant to work anyway. Still obsessed, I built a grandmother clock at age fourteen. Fast forward to fifty, I found your cool plans....enough of my story.

Anyways, I am just finishing up your marble strike with some variations of course ;-). One of my variations is a completely separate Westminster marble chiming movement. I designed it in the spirit of your marble strike so they would look good side by side and drive my family even more nuts on the hour.  (BTW my wife keeps commenting that our house is going to become like Dr Emmett Brown's house in the first Back to the Future movie) How cool would that be?

Thanks again for your wonderful body of works (pun intended).

John Scheele
Marble Strike by John Scheele





Aloha John, with your interpretation of the Marble Strike, and this beautiful Westminster chime addition, you have created not one, but two mechanical marvels ~ and then got them to work in concert!  Your work is spectacular and it's truly wonderful to see such a beautiful example of your artistic and creative genius.  I was also particularly pleased to see how you incorporated so many of the Marble Strike design elements into your Westminster chime build.

Thanks for sending these pictures and video link of your magnificent achievement.  Aloha.  Clayton
Marble Strike by John Scheele

Marble Strike by John Scheele

Marble Strike by John Scheele

Marble Strike detail by John Scheele


Westminster Chime by John Scheele

Westminster Chime by John Scheele

Westminster Chime by John Scheele

Marble Strike and Westminster Chime by John Scheele
To see even more detail of John's Marble Strike and Westminster Chime, visit our web site.  On the Marble Strike page, click on the link to our Marble Strike Flickr pool.

7/30/14

Constant Force Springs


Hello.  I am very interested in your rolling ball clock.  
What is used as the drive spring?   Is it simply a normal clock winding spring?  All the clocks I have built so far are weight driven but this looks like nothing I have seen before.

Kind regards. 

Dean


Aloha Dean, you are quite correct.  As you look through my designs you will not see a single motor driven clock or sculpture.  I have always preferred gravity as my source of power.  I have eschewed both motors and springs until fairly recently.  

The reason is clock springs tend to be quite powerful when first wound, and then get progressively less and less powerful as they wind down.  Instead of using a fusee to regulate a spring's decreasing power, I've opted for rocks, and gravity to drive my mechanisms.

However, I have had wonderfully good luck with a new kind of spring called a "constant force" spring.  As its name implies, it gives a constant force throughout its entire length.  
Steampunk Impulse Engine

Many escapements are sensitive to changes in the force applied to them.  For example the verge and foliot escapement is intensely sensitive to changes in force applied, so I could not use a spring to run any such escapement.  The Wee Willie was the first clock to have a constant force spring as its power.  The Wee Willie has a verge and foliot escapement and would not work efficiently with a normal clock spring, but operates beautifully with a constant force spring.

Then I created the Epicyclic with a constant force spring, then a version of my HO design, and recently the rolling ball clock, "Celebration" and now the Steampunk Impulse Engine all run on various constant force springs. 

But actually my first constant force mechanism was my Zinnia kinetic sculpture.  I created that design about five years ago (but only recently released it to my site), and it has been running wonderfully all this time on my living room wall.


Zinnia
I have a few more designs, both clocks and kinetic sculpture, in progress right now that use these wonderful constant force springs.  The springs are easily available in a variety of foot pounds of force to power these mechanisms.

Maybe someday I will get around to using a motor in one of my designs, but for now gravity and these wonderful constant force springs seem the way to go.  

Enjoy!  Clayton

7/22/14

Steampunk Impulse Engine Kinetic Sculpture

Dr. Boyer's Singularly Glorious Steampunk Impulse Engine Kinetic Sculpture
Do you remember when you were a kid, and every year dreaming that you would find a steam engine under the Christmas tree...and the disappointment because it was never there?

Well, here you go! This Steampunk Impulse Engine is not really powered by steam, nor even those difficult-to-find dilithium crystals many of the newer impulse engines use in their plasma conduits. This engine is powered by a constant force spring and will give a glorious kinetic show for about twenty minutes on a wind.

Here it is in motion:


The Steampunk Impulse Engine is designed to look like an old-tyme industrial steam engine. This wonderful and easy to build kinetic sculpture is designed as a tabletop mechanism, but because it sits flush along the back, it can also be mounted on a shelf, or to the wall by using brackets.

Woodworking plans available in paper or dxf format at our website, www.lisaboyer.com