Simplicity by Ken Schade, and Tips on Getting Your Clock to Run

Ken Schade writes: "Dear Clayton Boyer,

I purchased your "Simplicity" plans a few months ago and after finally getting my wife to let me buy a scroll saw, I have finished the plans as you have them. And let me tell you it was so much fun building it, I can't wait to surprise my wife with it...once I can get it to work right. I was hoping you could give me some advice on where my problem might be. Every time I start my clock, it will run for about 3 minutes before the bob/pendulum stops moving. I have sanded all my gears to 400 grit or better. When I blow on the gears they spin just fine without any sign of binding, but as soon as everything is put together it just doesn't seem to work. I was hoping that you'd be able to tell me where to start my trouble shooting.

Thank you so much for your help and I look forward to purchasing your "Toucan" plans. I love all of your designs and I know my wife will too once I show her your site. Still want to surprise her.

Thank you for you time, Ken Schade"

My reply to Ken: Aloha Ken, you have successfully entered the "Tweaking Stage" of wooden clock making. That's the stage where everything looks like it should run, but doesn't.

You state that you have built the Simplicity as drawn and not made any "improvements" to my design (always the first question I need to ask when a clock doesn't run), and you have read over my FAQ's on Depthing (Congratulations!!! Yay!), so those two biggies are out of the way.

Because she runs for three minutes and stops, it is obvious that the problem you describe is being created by too much internal friction and that friction is not being overcome by the drive weight.

You could try increasing the drive weight a bit, but because Simplicity is a beginner's clock, the amount of drive wieght I recommend in the plans is way more than she should actually take to run anyway (mine runs on just a bit less than three pounds).

Another good place to look for your internal friction is where the crutch pin enters the pendulum shaft. That crutch pin MUST move freely but not be sloppy.

The correct setting between the crutch pin and pendulum is if you can just barely slip the corner of a dollar bill in between the two of them. Any more than that and the impulse will not be transmitted to the pendulum, any less and the friction between the pin and pendulum will not allow the impulse to be transmitted.

You also read in my FAQ's about not getting any finish on the tooth surfaces of the wheels and pinions? Finish takes up space between the teeth, and some finishes never dry and are thus sticky, increasing friction dramatically.

Also, be sure that your frame is glued solidly between the Shelf and Back Frame piece so there is no 'tweaking' of the frame when the drive weight is added. If your wheels run freely without the drive weight, and then don't run freely when the drive weight is added, a weak frame is causing the arbors to bind.

I'm sure after you've checked out those places that your Simplicity will spring to life and begin singing her beautiful song.

And I have to get this sage saying in here somewhere... Someone once said, "The sense of accomplishment you experience when it begins to tick is directly proportional to the amount of frustration you had to overcome to get it there." And that's why there is a Masochist's Corner. Some guys just can't seem to get enough frustration.


Ken responds: "Thank you once again for all the help you have given me in the construction of your "Simplicity" Clock. I have attached a picture of the clock. I know it's not going to be one to really stand out from anything else you've ever seen. As I've built this out of all Baltic birch plywood. But I have to say, it's not bad considering I don't have any educational history in wood working. Everything I've built I've learned by experience or from youtube videos. I love new challenges and I would have to say this project has been one of my favorites.

Ken Schade"

Simplicity by Ken Schade

Aloha Ken, thanks so much for the picture. I really never get tired of seeing pictures of the mechanisms that other clocksters bring into being. You know how some people in hospital nurseries fawn over babies - some as ugly as dirt? The fawners see something different in those kids than normal people who don't need actually medication.

I'm kidding, of course, but the feeling is the same for me. These are my offspring, and I still get a thrill seeing pictures of new little ones being brought into being. My 'wallet' is absolutely bulging with my 'kids' photos. http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisaboyer/sets/72157622224676987/ Fortunately, yours is not as ugly as dirt. It is actually quite a nice clock that will sing her sweet song to you for decades, and you did a great job building her... I say that without even taking my full complement of medication.

It's always nice to hear that you enjoyed building her and that she taught you some new woodworking techniques.

Your Simplicity looks just like mine, and she will always hold a special place in my heart.

You did her proud. Congratulations.