Tooth Surface Finish

SwingTime Teeth
Spray lacquer is the only thing I'll use on teeth, and even at that I try to avoid getting too much into the tooth surfaces.  I spray from the center of the wheel out and try to avoid the tooth surfaces. 

We did some testing on the Weird Gears Shark Bait.  It is a hand operated kinetic sculpture.  We tested without any finish, with finish sprayed from the center, and then with finish sprayed into the tooth surfaces.  The last was a bad idea.  Finish on the tooth surfaces greatly increased internal friction.  It takes up space and also fluffs up the wood making for excessive internal friction.

It is best to avoid any finish on the tooth surfaces, but if you must, use spray lacquer lightly.  It dries hard, but still, on humid days it is subject to moisture in the air that will make it tacky.

Conclusion: finish on the tooth surfaces is just not worth it.


Adjusting the Flags of the Wee Willie Clock

A builder needed help adjusting the flags of the Wee Willie clock.  He sent the above picture and question to Clayton and here is Clayton's response:

Thanks for sending the picture, Frank.  Helps a lot.

It looks like you simply need, in one of the ways listed below, to alter the distance between the pins and your flags by a tiny bit.  

You want just enough clearance from the time the one pin leaves the flag to the moment that its opposing pin contacts the other flag.  Apparently you can't get that clearance with the way the pins are set into the escape wheel (crown wheel), or because the center wheel arbor pivot hole is too far back, or because the crown wheel is too far forward, or because the flags are just a hair too long.

Here are some options to try;

1) The simplest route, if you have the room, it to simply move the center arbor forward a bit.  That will relocate the verge pivot hole so that you may have room to allow the flags more freedom.  You'll  need to slightly adjust the loop up at the top, too.

2) You can measure the distance from the end of the escape pin to the end of the flag, divide by two and shorten each flag at the sander.   

3) Instead of shortening the flags you could opt to push the escape pins into the escape wheel just a hair, but if your pins already all at the same height it would probably be the best course to simply shorten the flags.

4) You could also simply bend the existing flags into a bowed, or "C" shape.  One flag bowed one way and the other bowed the other.  Bending them in such a manner would shorten them but still allow you to avoid sanding to shorten the straight flags you have right now. 

So there are four possibilities.  Personally, I think I'd first move the arbor forward and if that didn't work, try bowing the flags.  By bending them out, and then back in again you automatically shorten them so that the escape pins can be alternatively released and caught.

One of those options should get your Wee Willie swinging happily.

Keep me posted.  



Zinnia Run Time Question

Dear Clayton,  I have 2 questions:   

1.  Is it necessary to have a full wind for successful long run time? 2.  Is balancing wheels critical for proper operation ?Thanks for any info.    Don

Aloha Don, 

 Answer to question 1) The length of the run time depends on a number of things, but the main factor in determining run time is the number of  winds of the spring.  The Neg'ator springs I recommend will give a run time of about 40 minutes.  Other constant force springs may be used, however their length is usually much shorter (for example; 22" or 560mm versus 106" or 2690mm) and will give a proportionally shorter run time.  (using these spring examples means a difference between an 8 minute of run time and the 40 minutes).

We have also found that the Zinnia run time can be dramatically increased by eliminating the grease from the bearings.  For our light duty kinetic sculpture purposes the grease inside the bearings actually increases the internal friction and can cause shortened run times.

 By soaking the bearings overnight in mineral spirits and washing out the grease we've been able to double (in some cases) the run time of the Zinnia.  

 I do recommend adding a drop of clock or light oil back into the bearings...but I think this may be mainly superstition as there is probably still sufficient lubrication for our purposes. 

Answer to question 2) The wheels of the Zinnia are first balanced and then unbalanced with the unbalancing weights that are attached behind the wheels.  Recommending that the wheels be balanced first allows me to specify in the Zinnia plans which arms are the best for the placement of the imbalancing weights. 

Balancing is not particularly critical as the unbalancing weights can be placed on different arms to get the sculpture to run.  However, I build my plans primarily for the beginner, and I must make sure that if my instructions are followed the chances of success are going to be good. 

Experienced builders could (possibly) disregard my instructions and still make the sculpture work...so..."critical"...no, but recommended. Enjoy! 

 Aloha.  Clayton


New! Elfino Kinetic Sculpture

Introducing Elfino!

Elfino Kinetic Sculpture

Clayton's description from our website:
This is Elfino, an excellent introduction into the wonderful world of kinetic sculptures and a delight to watch. Elfino is a simple-to-build spring driven wall mounted sculpture with a long yet variable run time. The Elfino can be configured to gently sway at the speed you see in the video below. This configuration will give about an hour run time. Alternatively, the Elfino can be configured to run more slowly giving it a significantly longer run time.


New! Balancing Bubbles Kinetic Sculpture

Balancing Bubbles is a delightful electromagnetically impulsed kinetic sculpture. It doesn't just spin. It will rock awhile and spin a bit and then completely change directions and begin rocking and spinning the opposite way. The anticipation is such fun. Like the bowler or golfer using their body to help guide their ball, in the video below you may find your "body English" trying to assist the bubble over the top.  More details at our website, www.lisaboyer.com

Stay tuned because more new plans will be posted in the next few days.  I tell you, Clayton has been busy!


New! Woodworker's Hygrometer

New at www.lisaboyer.com!  Have you ever wondered how the ambient humidity is affecting your wooden clock or kinetic sculpture? This beautiful sculpture is the answer. The Woodworker's Hygrometer will tell you at a glance in a most beautiful way.

Stay tuned, as we have a couple more plans nearly ready for release on our website.  Clayton has been busy!


How to Make a Wooden Bearing Pack

Some of my designs use phenolic tube for making a simple and easy to align bearing pack allowing for very free moving arbors and pendulums. 

Phenolic tube is easily available and inexpensive in the U.S., but I have recently found that this may not be the case for some other countries.

The following suggestion came from fellow builder Adrian Iredale in Australia – a country with apparently a copious phenolic scarcity.

If your country also is suffering from a dearth of phenolic tubes, or even if you live in a phenolic abundant country and would just like to try your hand at building a wooden bearing pack, here are the instructions and pictures on;

How to Make a Wooden Bearing Pack
to fit 3/8”OD, 3/16”ID, 1/8thickness bearings.  Metric equivalents may be substituted.

I didn't take a picture of this, but the first step is to cut the 1/2” (12mm) dowel to the correct length as described in the plans and then chuck the dowel into a hand drill.  Get the drill spinning and mark the center with a pencil - or find some other way to find the exact center of the dowel.

1)      This picture shows the Jig holding the dowel.  To make this Jig, using your drill press, drill a perfectly vertical hole in a large block of wood to hold a 1/2” (12mm) wood dowel. Then insert a 1/2” dowel of the correct length for your bearing pack into the vertical Jig and center drill the dowel with a 3/8” (10mm) brad point drill bit 1/8” (3mm) deep. 

2)      Flip the 1/2” dowel over 180* and drill the other end the same way.
3)      Then center drill through from both ends with a 1/4” (6mm) metal twist drill.  The metal twist drill will center itself better in the center depression that was left by the original 3/8" brad point.  Note that drilling the dowel from both ends halfway through will better center the 1/4” hole than drilling all the way through from only one side.
4)      Your wooden bearing pack is now ready to load in the bearings.
5)      Bearings are pressed into place at both ends.
6)      The 3/16” (5mm) brass rod may need some reduction in its diameter to fit easily into some bearings.  I used 220 sandpaper on a 3/16” brass rod that was chucked and spinning in the drill press.  Test frequently for a good bearing fit.

7)      Then the sanded-to-fit 3/16” rod was polished with buffing compound inside a folded leather strop.

Note that all drill bits are not created equally.  In picture 2 you will see that I am using my now famous and inexpensively priced “Wobble Point” Vermont American brad point drill bit.  That is because I want the bearing to be a press fit into the wood, and this bit cuts a tight 3/8” hole, whereas my expensive Lee Valley brad point bits all tend to cut holes that are a bit oversized which would create a hole into which the bearing may fit too loosely.

Wood dowels are also not created equally.  To be sure that I find a well fitting 1/2" dowel I would first drill a 1/2" hole in a piece of scrap ply and take the scrap to the hardware store.  With this procedure I am sure that I will find a nice round, straight, snug-fitting dowel that fits the hole correctly.