Tony Cameron's Model T

Model T by Tony Cameron
Tony:  "Hello Clayton,

Having completed my version of your Model T, I am inspired by you and your designs.  This is my second wooden gear clock,  my first one from Fine Woodworking about 20 years ago (which my first wife has).

I would think I am not the first to lose a clock to a wife.

The Model T was a delight to build.  The frame is from Tasmanian Myrtle, and the gears are from ply I made by laminating 1.6mm bending ply.  The bending ply has 3 laminations of Hoop Pine, so I laminated 6 pieces of ply and then veneered both sides with Queensland Walnut ( 20 laminations in 12mm ply should be stable).  The weight is lead poured in a metal pipe, which is in a sleeve of Queensland Walnut.

I finished the clock with 3 fine coats of Kunos Oil.

The Model T has been working constantly now for a month, and I am pleased by the kinetic sculpture’s accuracy.  It is lovely to come home and hear the ticking.

If you consider my woodworking ability satisfactory,  I would appreciate it if you would send me the link to ordering plans for your Radiance.  I am amazed at a how a one wheel, no gear clock can work. So am I stupid,  or perhaps I love the challenge it presents?

Clayton, the builders of your designs have the easy part,  you and your creations are amazing.

Many thanks,  Tony Cameron"

Clayton:  "Wow, Tony, those wheels look good enough to eat!  They look like chocolate.  Yes, 20 lams in 12mm is amazing.  My Baltic birch ply has only about half that many.

I joke about how inaccurate these clocks are - only because I don't want anyone getting stuck on the accruacy part - but they truly can be amazingly accurate, easily to one minute a day.

It's also nice to hear that you like her unusual song.  I love that 'ticking' sound that she makes, too.  So unusual, and very pleasant.

Your submission more than qualifies for your entry into the Masochist's Club.  Welcome, Tony, to that cadre of elite wooden clock builders that make up the Masochist's Club.  It is a pleasure to admit such a craftsman as a new member into this exclusive club.

Your Model T is a beauty.


Aloha.  Clayton"


Pendulum Waves

Pendulum Waves

Hypnotic video from Harvard Natural Sciences Lecture Demonstrations web page.

Here's the link to read about the physics involved:  Pendulum Waves Explanation



Simplicity by Steve Stoetzer

Simplicity by Steve Stoetzer
Steve writes:  "Hi Clayton,

Built a Simplicity clock per your plans. Clock runs well, but is several seconds fast/minute. I have tried adding weight to the bottom of the pendulum, but it does not make a significant difference. I was wondering if minimally reducing the diameter of the escape wheel would slow the clock down and wanted your advice in case it would be a move in the wrong direction. Attached are several pics of the clock in case you're interested. It was a very enjoyable project.

Thanks much for your help,

Clayton emails:  "Beautiful job, Steve. I especially like your turned weights. Very classy! You did a beautiful job throughout...and that may be part of your problem!

First of all, some mechanisms run fast of slow for the first few weeks. So I always recommend not doing anything for four to six weeks except enjoy the clock's beautiful song and not worry about the accuracy.

After that break in period, if it is still running too fast, you have some choices. The first would be to decrease your drive weight. I actually have the suggested drive weight WAAAYYY too high. The clock should run on about three pounds, but I suggest more because it is a beginners clock and I want everyone - no matter how bad their craftsmanship - to hear their clock run. It's also why I state that the drive weight for each clock will vary.

And this is where your great craftsmanship comes in - maybe because your techniques and accuracy and precision were so good, there's not enough internal friction to be overcome by the excess amount of drive weight - thus making your Simplicity run fast.

If that is not the problem then you'll need to increase the length of your pendulum shaft.

The third treatment you say you have already tried, and that's to add weight to the bob, thus making the apparent center of gravity for the pendulum a bit further away. And also absorbing some of that excess drive weight.

So start with; #1 waiting a while, then #2 reduced the drive weight.

You'll get her purring along just fine and she'll eventually be within a few minutes a day in accuracy.

Congratulations on your fine craftsmanship.

Aloha. Clayton"


Rabbit's Amazing Steampunk Marble Strike--A Video!

Rabbit's Steampunk Marble Strike

Clayton emails a request to Rabbit:  "Since your Marble Strike was featured on my blog on Halloween there has been a flurry of (well deserved) excitement over your beautiful machine. A couple of guys have asked if a video would soon be following.

Just thought I'd throw that out to you - personally, I'd love to see it in action, but no pressure either way.

Anyway, your Marble Strike is a totally striking machine (pun intended). Your work is always well beyond the capabilities of mere humans.

Congratulations on a magnificent creation."

 Rabbit kindly responds:  "thanks again for the undeserved praise. i feel famous, having made your blog!

unfortunately, my video skills are even worse than my photography... i should stick to woodwork. but, against my better judgement, i uploaded a pitiful movie, anyway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlJdfKYg6As&feature=youtu.be   (Note from Lisa:  this link takes you to the video shown above in the video player window)  it shows one cycle of the remontoire, and an hour strike (preceded by the 'fourth quarter' bell). the sound, the lighting, the focus - all poor!

i'll try again at some point.

best regards,

In addition, Rabbit explains how his extraordinary version of the Marble Strike works. He first asks the rhetorical question...


Well... it's rather complicated, but buy the same token, it is very simple...

Everything (the time train and two strike mechanisms) is powered by the 1" steel balls in the drive wheel. the weight of the balls in one side of the wheel provides all of the drive torque. It "rewinds" itself automatically.

The balls are pushed out at the bottom of their path. The mass of the ball on the off-ramp actuates a switch which starts the remontoire motor - a synchronous electric motor, mounted inside the base. The lower remontoire wheel picks the ball up, hands it off to the upper wheel, which deposits it in the on-ramp, to continue/repeat its journey. A cam on the remontoire drive wheel turns the motor off. (...two switches in series; one starts it, the other stops it.)
I must thank Steve Kretschmer for this inspiration.

The main drive wheel actually drives four separate gear trains - hours, minutes/hour strike, seconds, and escape. [this is a horribly inefficient way to drive a clock, but one of the design themes was, "make it as complicated as possible", and with the 'falling ball' remontoire, I could provide all the power it needs.] the drive wheel itself turns once every 15 minutes, so it actuates the quarter strike mechanism.

The minute train has its gear integral with the marble lift wheel, and is otherwise my own interpretation of Clayton Boyer's wonderful Marble Strike mechanism. The hour strike is Clayton's brilliance. His descriptions, and many other people's videos, have explained it better than I can.
The hour train is a "pointless" geartrain, consisting of several gears merely to translate the correct rotation to the place where I wanted the hour dial. The "hour hand" sits still, and the dial moves [the dial arrangement, and in fact a lot of the visual aspects, were inspired by Alain Saintangne's beautiful rendition of the Marble Strike.].

The escape train utilizes an appropriate ratio for the 1/2-seconds "shorty" pendulum - dictated by the "table clock" format.

It had to have a seconds hand, so a separate drive - a take-off from the escape train - does the trick.

The quarter strike is my own creation. It is a "passing strike" mechanism with two whistles and a bell - the proverbial "bells and whistles". A 4-tooth Geneva Wheel attached to the main drive wheel switches a 3-segment (6-lobe) cam every 15 minutes. the cam assembly either "makes" or "breaks" the fulcrum(s) to pivot arms which lift the (2) whistle bellows and/or the bell hammer. It toots the higher pitch whistle at the quarter hour, rings the bell at the half hour, toots the low whistle at :45, and does all three on the hour (followed by the Marble Strike hour count on the 'finely-tuned' wine glass gong).

'Simple as a mud fence, complicated as a watch'. I just love it."

Thank you Rabbit, for the video, the explanation, and for sharing your beautiful creation with all of us.


Solaris by Todd Holman

Solaris, replete with custom brass, by Todd Holman
Todd writes:  "Clayton,

I thank you for offering such amazing plans.  I have purchased and built your Solaris.

Solaris by Todd Holman, before brass finishing touches above
 I have been toying with either the Bird of Paradise (because I would like to do a grasshopper) or the Upsy or the Balance pendulum clock. When I saw the Attempt I knew that I must build it. So my question is: Do you offer a discount for more than one plan purchase. Perhaps three or four plans?

Thanks, Todd"

Clayton answers: "Oooo! Todd, I love the brasswork. Brass and wood just work so well together. Magnificent! You've really created a beautiful Solaris kinetic sculpture. Well done!

Yes, when six plans are purchased at the same time, I include one free plan with the order. Attempt, Celestial Mechanical Calendar Orrery, and Medieval Astronomical Calendar clock count as two. You can also choose the free plan you would like to get when you order six at one time.

Also, when three plans are ordered at the same time, I upgrade the postage to Priority Mail and only one shipping and handling charge applies for as many plans as you want to purchase at the same time - not shipping on all of the plans.

Glad to hear you enjoyed building your Solaris. I always love seeing the creativity of other woodworkers, and I post all the pix I get to my Flick'r link so the world can see them too. Thanks for the beautiful Solaris pix. You really did a beautiful job.

Aloha. Clayton"


Toucan by Jim Reed

Toucan by Jim Reed
Jim emails, "Hi Dr. Boyer,

Here is my Toucan clock - works great and keeps good time. Had a lot of fun making it.

Jim Reed,  California"

Clayton: "Well done, Jim! Your Toucan is a beauty. It's always nice to hear that the builder had a great time making their project.  Yes, the Toucan is probably the best timekeeper I have in my line-up, AND it never needs winding!

Thanks for the pix, Jim. Great job.

Aloha. Clayton"


Solaris by Ted Ceelen

Solaris by Ted Ceelen

Ted writes: "Dear Clayton,

I have just finished my 1 1\2 scale version of the Solaris. The clock is running well on 15 pounds with a 400gram bob. I left the pendulum length the same as well as all the gear ratios. I did not change the thickness of the frame members or the gears so the depth of the clock is the same as in the original, it looks lean. The clock has its weight in the center so no counterweight.

Because the wind pulley diameter the weight drops about 9 inches per hour so I need to hang this clock high!, Also winding this thing is a great excercise.

 I had a great time building this version. Thanks again for all your help.

Ted Ceelen"

Clayton answers: "Wow! a 1.5 upscaled Solaris! That's BIG! She's a big clock anyway. I can picture yours in my head, and she's absolutely massive!

Congratulations, you did your upscaling the right way. You should have a fine clock for years to come...just don't park a cat, the grandchild, or your foot under that weight!!! They are known to fail at that large amount of weight. I hope you also beefed up the clicks (?). If not, one way to do that now is to cut a large rubber band, then wrap and tie the rubber band around the clicks. That way all three of the clicks are in constant contact with the click gear. Can't be too safe when we are talking about a 15 pound weight.

This is why I ask for pix. I love seeing what other clocksters have in mind. I had a fellow in Tokyo downsize his Number Six by 50%. it came out beautifully and even survived the big quake they had last year. He said the quake blew off the pendulum and the exact time of the temblor was recorded on the Number Six's face. He just hung the pendulum back on and she started right up again. I love those stories!!!

Congratulations on your Extreme Build!

Aloha. Clayton"


Balance by Derek Hugger

Balance by Derek Hugger
Derek writes, "Hi Clayton,

I thought I'd pass along an image of my 2nd completed Boyer clock.  This one has a bit of a fun story behind it.

After seeing the Bird of Paradise clock that I built, my girlfriend, Katie, asked me if I'd build a clock for her someday. I pretty much left it at "we'll see," reminding her that the Bird of Paradise took me from January until June to complete. One day in early August, I was looking at your web page, and Katie peeked over my shoulder. She loved the roman numerals in Modern Times, but also liked the pendulum in Balance. She told me if I ever wanted to build one of those for her, she wouldn't say no. I began to think: Katie's birthday is in November... would I be able to crank out a whole clock in 1/3 the time it took me to build my first one, as well as keep it a secret from her in my 980 sq ft condo with minimal closet space, where my "shop" is the floor in my hallway?

What the hell, I'd give it a shot. I bought the plans and got to work. Everything was going smoothly until Labor Day. I told Katie I wouldn't be able to see her that day because I had to go home and work. She felt bad that I was working on what was supposed to be my day off, so she lovingly decided to make me dinner and surprise me by showing up with it unannounced. When she walked in the door, I was cutting wood on the bandsaw. Oops, busted!

 'Why would you lie to me? I thought you needed to work!' she said to me with complete and utter disappointment in her eyes.

 'Well... umm...' I had nothing, how could I possibly come up with an excuse that wouldn't get me in trouble, and that would keep my plan a secret? I figured I only had one option: I told her the truth. To my surprise (and relief), her mood instantly changed. "Well I guess I can't be mad at you then," she said. And thankfully, though she knew what I was doing, she decided she wanted to keep everything else about it a surprise until her birthday; she didn't want to see the progress I had made nor know which clock I had picked out for her. This made me happy.

A little over a month later (today), I finished the clock. All I have to do now is figure out the best way to give it to her :)


Clayton answers:  "Derek, that's a really great story. I always love getting a history back from my builders on how their build went. This story is especially wonderful. I showed it to my wife Lisa, and after she had finished reading it, she had an answer to your last sentence where you said - "All I have to do now is figure out the best way to give it to her :)"

Lisa said "Give it to her with an engagement ring."

It really does sound like you have a keeper there.  Thanks again for the great story. You did a beautiful job on your Balance. She's gonna LOVE it!

Aloha. Clayton"