The Beginners clock

by Brian Barrow






The tale of a timepiece. (if doesn’t chime or gong, it is not a clock)

Having built a weight driven clock many years ago I thought that a spring wound mechanical clock would be a nice relaxing change from my usual steam locomotives.  WRONG!! I downloaded a set of drawings from t'internet for a simple beginner’s clock. I now realise that the “simple” referred to the beginner not the clock.

The actual cutting of metal was not a real problem although it is frustrating to cut a 96 tooth wheel only to find that there is not enough space to cut the 96th tooth. Still. it did provide some scrap wheels to practice milling the curve slots ready for crossing out the wheels!


The first problem was getting the spring into the barrel - I had been warned that clock springs were evil, and I pass on this advice to anyone thinking of building a clock. The blood stains on my workshop floor remain as a reminder. The answer came from Mr Google in the form of a simple but rather crude spring winder (the crude referring to my workmanship)


Having got the beast to the testing stage, without dome, hands, etc I could get the clock to run overnight. Not the two days I had hoped for.  Joining a couple of forums on clock making I posted a request for suggestions to improve the running. If you know the reaction when you poke a stick in a wasps nest it will give you some idea of some of the reactions, a lot were helpful when relating to general clock work but as for the beginners clock!!!!!

Being on the point of giving up I decided to use the scientific approach, after all early clocks were made by the village blacksmith and would only run for several hundred years; a reasoned technical approach could surely improve on that.

I made several new parts based on clock theory and reassembled the clock, it would now only run for about one hour if I was lucky. I threw out the new parts put all the old parts back and sat back to admire my rather novel paperweight.


Gave it a full wind up(!) and went for a brew, 48 hours later IT WAS STILL TICKING.


Finish it off quickly start on a steam engine.


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