Bird of Paradise by Dave Hock

Beautiful job by Dave Hock on his "Bird of Paradise" clock built from my plans.  Dave has built four of my designs.  Thanks for emailing me the picture, Dave.

Background Symphony

People who watch my YouTube clock videos often comment on the background noise.  "Sounds like you live in a zoo!" and "what IS all that racket in the background?"

Well, meet Mr. Racket right here.  One of the many Mr. Rackets, as a matter of fact.  No, I don't keep chickens on purpose, but if you've ever been to Kauai, you'll know that one of the many charming things about the island is all the brightly colored feral chickens that freely roam the island.

They're everywhere, they crow at all hours, and they like to have a bit role in my clock videos.  They're such hams!

Speaking of hams...we have those, too.  If I made clock videos at night, you'd hear squealing and oinking instead of crowing:

These are a group of feral piglets that were brave enough to visit our back door one Spring.  They weren't nearly as cute when they grew into 300 pound feral hogs, especially when they started standing up on their back legs and leaning on the screen wanting treats.

The menagerie is fine, but I prefer a quieter yard.


Letter from Clockster: Bushings and Brass Inserts

Builders wanting to "improve" upon my designs end up with clocks that do not run.  Here is the most common example:

Clock builder:  "I pressed 1/4" long brass tubes into the front and rear frames...."

My response:  NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is SUCH a common problem.  Guys think that they can "improve" upon my designs by putting bushings in their frames.  This is THE most common reason for a clock NOT running.  By putting in bushings the builder has decreased all of the 'wiggle room' that I designed into the clock to keep it running for decades.  A slight sag in the frame and the clock STOPS!  And what happens when your clock stops?  Your add more weight which sags the frame even further.
My Number Six has been running for almost nine years without a single problem - ever!  The brass tubes are great for spacers, but should not be used in the frame.  Why?  We'll take a common tube that I use a lot for spacers, the 5/32 brass tube that fits perfectly over a 1/8" rod.  The hole I design for that 1/8 arbor rod to run in the frame is 9/64 giving a tolerance of 0.016" 'wiggle room'. 
The 5/32 brass tube, on the other hand has an inside diameter of 0.128" for that same 0.125" (1/8") rod, giving us a tolerance of 0.003!!!!!!!!!!!! instead of 0.016".  This will ASSURE that your clock will eventually soon stop.  DO NOT USE BRASS INSERTS IN ARBOR HOLES, unless, of course, you like watching a stopped clock.

Clock builder continues:  "...for 0.187" dia, SS rods... and instead of spacers, just used more brass tubes over the rods and press fit the wheels, pinions, pallets, etc. on them.  Probably overkill, and the next one I build will use the same SS rods, but no "tube bearings" in the frames to see what happens."

My response:  I can pretty much tell you right now what will happen.  With the superior craftsmanship that you have put into the rest of your clock, it will run happily for many decades.

Letter: Using Materials Other Than Wood

Clockster John Brace asked: "Has anyone tried to make a clock from Perspex?"

I get a lot of questions about making these mechanisms out of materials other than wood.  Metals such as aluminum and brass, and various other materials like MDF perform nicely.  I even proved that low quality ply will work well when I used the rotten, termite infested, moldy ply from a fallen down chicken coop to make a clock.  I wanted to show that these mechanisms are very forgiving of the materials used.  That chicken-coop-clock looked really bad, but it ran.
I'm not familiar with Perspex.  Had to Google Perspex and found it is an acrylic sheet.  Some guys have already made my designs in acrylic and they all have reported that the internal friction of acrylic is very high.  This means a lot more drive weight was necessary to overcome the internal friction and drive the mechanism.  Excess drive weight always puts stress on the frame and arbors.


Unhappy Child

Not all of my designs get elevated into becoming a set of plans.  This one I originally called "Happy Child".  I thought it would be an easy design because all but one of the wheels are identical.  My idea was that all the wheels could be cut at the same time.  Unfortunately, there were too many wheels and too many arbors.  It turned into a builders nightmare... 


Letter from Clockster: Genesis

"Hello Clayton,

My name is Ron Locke. I am a wood puzzle box designer/builder. I have a copy of the Genesis clock plans that was published in the ScrollSaw magazine. I looked over the plans several times before I decided to build the clock. Being a puzzle box builder, I don’t have any plywood, even baltic birch. I decided to build the clock with Maple gears and Purpleheart hands, frame and covers.

I finished building the working gear clock and as promised have enclosed a couple of pictures. I built the clock for my sons birthday. He lives in Chicago. In order to ship it to him, I had to cut the pendulum in half and give him a way to put it back together, so in the picture , you will see a connector in the middle of the pendulum rod. I wrapped each gear individually with bubble wrap and put all the spacers and washers in a separate bag. I also sent him a copy of the building instructions so that he could reassemble the clock when he received it.

Well he assembled it and adjusted it and it is now working just fine. It was a fun project. My son and his girlfriend are both scientist at the Argonne National Lab. I think that they would both enjoy the Copernican Planetary Orrery or Ferguson’s Mechanical Paradox Orrery.

Which of these two is the easier to build? I think that it would make a great Christmas present."

Ron, great job on your Genesis. Good idea on the pendulum shaft, too. Bet your son had a great time putting it together! Of the two you mention, Ferguson is the easiest...but both are cool! Thanks for the pix. Aloha. Clayton

P.S. "Genesis" is on the cover of the current issue of Scrollsaw Magazine, and plans are included in the magazine.


Letter from Clockster: Number Six Options

Hello Clayton,
SHE'S ALIVE!!!  I still have a lot of work to do yet, but its nice to
see her pulse.
My wife would like me to build your cabinet for the 6.  Does your cabinet and chime package include an assembly diagram for the double weights like Bob used?
Aloha Roger,
It is still always exciting to me to hear of yet another clock being put into beat.  My purpose has always been to spread the joy that I found in making these wonderful mechanisms, and yours is a wonderful example, BUT I still get that same joy back when I get to see the pix and read the stories.
Congratulations.  As I mentioned, Number Six is my own personal All Time Favorite design, and because of that I made the other plan with all the options - and there are LOTs of options.
There are two cases described, but many variations of those cases from extremely simple - like just pull your Six off the wall and set it here - to what you see in Bob's video with the dual weight top (which also has TWO options!), to the addition of dial rings, enlarged hands (three varieties), hourly strike mechanism (options bell above or tube below!), etc. etc.
I think that plan is close to 40 pages!  Okay, I just went and checked, the Tall Case plan is 38 pages of options for your Six (did I go overboard?  I think not!  The Six is worth it!)
Just a little story...my Six has been running flawlessly daily for almost nine years - which reminds me, a fellow from Tokyo sent me pix of his Six that survived the 9.0.  Just blew off her pendulum.  When he rehung the pend she started right back up!

Anyway, we have some friends visiting from the mainland and I moved my giant exercise ball off of the chair in my office so one could sit while I bragged about all the other clocks in the room.  Next morning I came out and my Six had stopped!  It has NEVER stopped!  WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BE WRONG!!!  Maybe it finally needing a cleaning?  Maybe a bug crawled between the pinion and a
wheel (that happened in my BOP.  A lady bug got trapped and stopped the clock.  I backed it up and the LB flew away).  All these things running through my mind!  Then I saw what had happened...the ball...as the weight dropped, the ball pushed the weight up against the wall and stopped the clock.
That's right, the Six can survive a 9.0 earthquake, but not an exercise ball!
Congratulations on your beauty.  I know you'll love yours as much as I do mine.  You did a wonderful job on your Six.
Enjoy.  Aloha, Clayton
PS.  The Number Six that survived the Tokyo earthquake, as well as other Clocksters' Number Six builds, can be seen here:  Flickr Number Six Pool

Finally...Clayton Tocks!

This is the first post of Clayton's new blog! We'll be posting letters, questions, photos and other clocky stuff here soon. Stay tuned!