Elegant Pendulum Length Solution

Number Six by Dave Kettunen

Clock builder Dave had a brilliant idea for extending the pendulum on a clock that was running too fast. Not only is the idea brilliant, but in this case I think the overall look of the clock is improved.  Here's his email he sent with the picture of his Number Six:

Dear Clayton:
Well I finished the #6 and it's a joy to have the clock start up the minute I set the pallet to the escape wheel. You'll notice that I had to extend the pendulum shaft (by 4") because the clock wanted to run fast. Probably because I made the weight from a piece of 2 x 6" copper instead of 1 1/2 x 10 copper. Instead of making a new shaft, I designed a spacer to fit in the middle. I think it looks great. The clock is mostly cherry with 2 walnut gears and the pallet is in maple.

My response:  Really beautiful, Dave. Brilliant idea for extending the pendulum shaft (much like the idea on Model T and others). I will be recommending that trick to others with a clock that runs too fast - and yours came out superb. I think that really adds to the overall look of your Six.

Glad to hear she started right up for you, too. She's a very forgiving mechanism, and my own personal All Time Favorite. Mine has been running daily for almost nine years without a single problem. I am pretty sure yours will run as well. You did a quality job.

Congratulations! Every home needs a heartbeat, and now yours has one.
Aloha. Clayton


Simplicity Tutorial

My friend Adrian came across this excellent "Simplicity" tutorial made by Tom Yandle, aka Sailontampabay240 (his YouTube handle).  Thank you, Tom.  Great job on the clock and the video.


Sneak Preview

Soon to be available at www.lisaboyer.com:  "Toucan"

This clock was designed by me and built by my friend Jeff Hecht (who also contributed this great video...thanks, Jeff!).  "Toucan's" pendulum is driven by a transistor switched electromagnet in the base of the clock that works with and against a small magnet in the bottom of the lowest pendulum bob.


Two More Number Six Pix

Number Six by Clive Evans

Number Six by Rod Schlaak

Thanks for the emailed pictures, guys!  Beautiful work.  Woodworking plans available for the Number Six clock can be found at my website, www.lisaboyer.com

Letter to Clayton: Polishing Arbor Ends and a Half Hour Strike Variation on No. 6

Hello Clayton!
It just keeps gettin' better!

I've learned alot from the first Number 6 build.
On that one, I re adjusted the crutch and pulled and sanded the pinions a dozen times before finally finding scratched arbors, which were stoping the clock.

That made me feel like an idiot since, between the Genesis instructions and the tips on your web site, I must have read your warning about polishing the arbor ends about a thousand times.

None of that sillyness this time tho.
I just had to hang her up and try out her beat this pm.

I know, its waaay to early to be sending pix of this one, but, I just felt REALLY good about it when I hung the pendulum and she was ready, after only 3 seconds of crutch fiddling, for me to step back and enjoy!!!

Shes now into the 3rd hr of the sweeeetest beat Ive ever heard, and still no adjusting!!

Now Ill stop patting myself on the back before I bruise and applaud the master.

You have an unbelievable gift!!

As great as I feel to just be able to glue your plans to some lumber and TRY to follow your instructions, I cannot imagine having the capacity to create from nothing a work of art so perfect and functional AND develop a process by which a clumsy hack like myself may turn out a reasonably similar result!

My hat is off to you Sir.

I cannot seem to decide what direction to go from here.
You have given me entirely too many options to choose from.

Im pretty sure Im going to build the Attempt cabinet, but, still sorting thru the other choices.

Im still wanting to make a higher tone 1/2 hr strike.
Im thinking a simpler way, rather than off set detents, would maybe be to extend the cannon pinion arbor thru the back of the frame and just duplicate opposing 180 deg detents.
I guess the wire going to the strike hammer may need to be off set to clear the pendulum.
Ohwell, plenty to keep me bizzy while deciding details.

Ill send cabinet pix soon as I figure out what wood to use.

Cheers, Roger
Clayton's Response:  Aloha Roger,
My hat wouldn't fit, and I bumped my head, on both sides, going through the doorway this morning! 
Wow, fast build this time. Seems like you just gave the first Number Six to your father-in-law a couple days ago. And this one is showing all the signs of becoming a real beauty, too. I see you have opted for the double weight drop top and the hourly strike. I think your idea of running a second strike mechanism out the back of your Six to strike the half hour is brilliant.
It is always exciting to hear of a new mechanism put into beat. Thanks for the pix, and thanks for all the kind words about my designs.


Before Clocks There Were...

A year or two before I made my first wooden clock, I worked my way back into woodworking by making wooden bowls and boxes.  I made this little vase/pot for my wife for Valentine's Day one year.  It's only a few inches tall, as are these items:

My wife loves these (she made the Fimo clay housefly to go on one of my son's art projects, but it lighted on this box one day and never left).  I guess my designs got a little silly because I got bored with boxes.  I needed wood that MOVED.  I started making clocks and moving sculptures shortly thereafter and haven't made a box since...well...except for maybe this one:

Heh heh...cracks me up every time.


Radiance by Leonel Leite

This picture was sent to me by Leonel Leite, who did a beautiful job on "Radiance," one of my more difficult designs.  Thank you for sending me the picture, Leonel.  She's a beauty.

"Radiance" is a one-wheel clock, and as far as I know, the only one-wheel clock design in the world.  She was featured in the February 2009 edition of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) journal, along with an article I wrote about designing it.  The "tweaking" stage of this clock can be challenging, thus its inclusion in the Masochist's Corner section of my clock plan site.

Leonel also sent me this wonderful picture of his "Radiance" alongside his build of one of my easiest plans, "Simplicity."

Hey Leonel--your walls are starting to look like mine!  Time to move to a bigger house...


True Confessions from an Experienced Clockster, Part One

Bob has come up with some great tips and some confessions of his blunders and how he fixed them in this great email.  My responses are in red.

Hi Clayton,

I liked your blog. I'll have to check in from time to time. I think the stick on numbers might do the trick. I do like the wood burned ones as well so maybe I'll have to practice. Aloha Bob, you are right about the numbers on the Genesis. I knew my artistic abilities were not up to the task of hand lettering them on the wheels, so I made 'shields' with the numbers, just like on my Horologium. I think that they look better on the Horologium, too. I do make the numbers available in dxf format if guys want to CNC their numbers into their wheels. Wood burning looks great, but then you are back to that artistic limitation that I possess. A professional did the wood burning that you see in those pix.

I learned something from your blog. I built Balance with solid wheels (laminated) and I think I committed the sin you spoke of in the blog. I think I sleeved the wheels.....and did I mention she is having trouble staying running? I'll work on fixing that situation.  On the blog post of 3/30, I was referring only to the folly of adding bushings to the frame. I have been guilty of the same lapse in judgment. In my early clocks I added a few brass bushings. Those are the clocks that now take the most maintenance. Since it is metal on metal, some lubrication is required a couple times a year, and lubrication takes up dust which means the clock has to be cleaned often - and I don't like cleaning clocks. I like designing and building them! My Six, without bushings, has been running faithfully daily for almost nine years without a single problem and never a cleaning. My bushed clocks, however, are constantly needing something.

Balance by Clayton Boyer

True Confessions from an Experienced Clockster, Part Two

Part Two of Bob's email today.  Bob built the Genesis clock, but he shares some excellent tips applicable to all designs.  My responses are in red.

Bob continues:  The only problem I had with Genesis per the plan was with the 4' dowel it called for. Locally, I find 3' but not 4'. I made a 3/8" square rod (walnut) and rounded the corners on the router table. I further rounded the top to fit into the pallet but left the bottom squarish to fit into the bob. It all looks great. I suspect the builder on your blog, aside from the shipping issue, probably couldn't locate 4' dowel.Look closely at the pendulums of some of the Genesis shown on my Flickr' link on my mainpage. You will see how some ingenious woodworkers solved that problem. They have added a link in the middle of the pendulum's shaft so that it can be made in two parts, and then press-fit together.

I thought I'd pass on a couple of crazy glue solutions. The 1/4" drill bit I have doesn't quite match up with the 1/4" rod that I buy. It makes the stationary arbors like on Genesis or Balance too loose. I have found that if I rub CA glue in the arbor hole and let it dry, it adds just enough extra thickness to make the arbor go in tight.This is a great tip. I have always recommended using spit - which expands the hole to the correct size for a press fit on the arbor. Water works too...for the sissies. Probably other glues would do the same but just have to dry longer. That technique has worked for loose arbor caps as well. Yes, you can spit on those too, but I like your CA idea, and it is probably better for most builders. The second "aha" moment was born out of laziness. On two separate clocks in adjusting the pallets I have sanded off a tad too much. Rather than cut another pallet, it works well flatten the offending area and then add a small rectangle of wood with CA glue and then reshape as needed. Genesis got that treatment as I did a careless job doing the adjustment and was faced with starting over.

As long as I am owning up to "screwups" there is a mistake that I made several times before I learned better. Your pendulums hang on a dowel with a groove. At first I thought that if a little groove was good, a deeper one was better. As it turns out, that just causes extra friction and causes clocks to stop. I have replaced a few of the hanger dowels which had too deep grooves and on Inclination actually filled the huge trough with epoxy. With so little friction needed to stop these mechanisms it is easy to run into problems and sometimes that involves learning what not to do.Now that's one I've never heard of. Thanks for 'fessing up. Stories like this really help me help other guys. Having the clock stop because of an excessively deep pendulum pivot rod groove would never have occurred to me.

I noticed that on Genesis you advised not finishing the wheels. I do finish mine but have a solution to keeping the teeth clean. I know you and Adrian, and no doubt others prefer to cut the wheels on the bandsaw so this wouldn't work. I prefer to cut wheels on the scroll saw which leaves the waste intact. I put the wheel back in the waste piece for spraying, plug up the arbor hole with a q-tip and spray away....finished wheels, clean teeth.I LOVE this tip! This one is a forehead slapper. Tips like this make me think "Why didn't I think of it!?!?" Brilliant idea, Bob! This is a "Must Share!" idea.

I loved the pictures of the roosters. I have listened to them a lot on your videos. I printed out the pages for Wee Willie last night. I think I'll cut a wheel or two after church.


Thanks for sharing this excellent information, Bob.


Number Six by Roger Bivins

From builder Roger Bivins:  "Hi Clayton, heres a pic of my finished 6.
Today's the birthday party for my father in law so she will be gone soon.
I've gotten my wheels cut for the next one.
Can't wait till my cabinet package arrives!!"
Lucky father-in-law!  Roger liked the Number Six so well that he's building another with the tall case option.  Number Six is one of my most popular designs.  Mine has been ticking away in my office for nine years now.  Beautiful job, Roger.  I look forward to seeing more of your work!


A Novel Use for "Simplicity" Clock Plans

From Dutton Webb:  "Hello Dr. Boyer. I bought the "Simplicity" design from you over the summer...I never did complete the clock, but I wanted to show you what I did do with the gear templates. :]

I used a 1:64 ratio on my robot for the SA BEST robotics competition. Without your clocks, I wouldn't have had the inspiration as well as the templates to construct the efficient robot that I did. I took first place and recieved a 50,000 dollar scholarship to St. Mary's University. Thank you!
Here is our team picture: www.sabest.org second pic down. I am holding the trophy and you can see the gears cut from a white plastic. We are going to state competition in 4 weeks.
And later that year, I created a set of planetary gears for Dutton:

"Everyone was absolutely astounded by the ring gear drive system! I never had one problem with this complication as a drive system. Inside the wheels you can see small rings of pvc pipe that act as ball bearings. Got the Founders Award again this year for best design."

Clayton:  Aloha Dutton, I get a ton of really great emails, but this one has to be in the top five! I love it! Great Job.
Congratulations on your win, and especially on your application of your own very special ingenuity in the creation of your robot. That took a tremendous amount of creativity and tenacity to fabricate your winning beast (believe me, I know). Good For You!
Thank you for this vicarious thrill, and congratulations and best of luck in your future.
If you have any more of these dynamite excursions into excellence, please keep me informed.  Congratulations.
Aloha. Clayton