Monday, 25 January 2016

New Face!

Looking back, it certainly has been a long time since my last posting on this blog! However, the project is still live. In point of fact, last week saw the installation of the restored clock face on the clock tower wall by a local team of abseilers from the Venture Centre, here on the island.

The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the clock face doesn't look all that old and, of course, it's not. It dates only from the 1980's, and this is the second time it has been restored. Castle Rushen overlooks the sea and the clock face is high on the wall facing the prevailing wind, so it's hardly surprising the original face was lost hundreds of years ago.
In the photographs you can clearly see the dedication 'Eliz. Reg. 1597'.  Now, although we've no documentary evidence that Elizabeth the First gave the clock to the castle, we do know, at least, that the clock, in its original form, is from around that date (through carbon dating). It's as well to remember that the clock didn't have a face at all until around 1700, by which time it was already at least 100 years old. But it is likely that the clock face we now enjoy is a copy of a copy of a copy etc..

The redecoration of the face was handsomely done by Paul Cowley at JCK Ltd., Ballasalla.

Friday, 1 August 2014

The clock goes back!

Today, at long last, we were able to return the medieval clock to the tower at Castle Rushen. At the moment it is ticking away for a few days for us to judge whether adjustments may be required. We will connect the striking train next week.
The lift up the outside of the castle keep went well, with no mishaps, even though the electric winch gave out leaving Colin, Chris and Seb to pull it up manually..... Seb isn't even a full-time member of staff, being a placement student on his way to St Andrew's University to study Ancient History and Archaeology, so thanks to him for pulling at the opportune moment!

The clock being installed in it's travelling crate

Tying the crate to a wire hawser...

Arrival at base camp, Castle Rushen

Seb and Geoff looking relieved with the clock at the top of the keep


When the clock is completely assembled I shall post some pictures of it in situ.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Carbon dating results now in

Last year a license was granted for the removal of two samples of timber from the clock-frame, for carbon dating. As many of you will know, carbon dating is an analytical technique that uses the measured content of C14, a naturally occurring isotope of carbon, to estimate the age, post mortem, of once living material.
The samples were taken from the underside of the clock frame, more specifically from the mortises of the two main upright frame members. These uprights would appear to be amongst the oldest parts of the frame; one of them bears the scars left by the early, foliot escapement, as I mentioned before in my post of 28th February 2012.
The C14 results are very interesting. The more recent of the two uprights is assigned a date of 1577 plus or minus twenty two years. This is entirely consistent with the legendary donation of the clock by Queen Elizabeth the First, for which, otherwise, no documentary evidence has been found. Further work in the Manx National Archive might be called for.... The other upright is assigned a date of 1421 +/- 22 years, which indicates that this is re-cycled timber. Plus
รงa change....

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Removing the main and great wheels

The great wheel and main wheel are mounted on arbors slotted through wooden drums around which the ropes are wound. As you can see from the photographs, each is made in two sections, one fitting inside the other. The drum arbors terminate in squared-off pins onto which the winding handle fits; there is a click(ratchet) to allow the drum to be wound up without turning the clock or striking mechanisms backward.

Castle Rushen Clock, main wheel, Sinister pivot; note new pinion

The pivot dismantled: note the turned section in the jaws of the pivot

Castle Rushen Clock: the main wheel removed. The polythene sheet is there to help maintain the correct level of humidity

Castle Rushen Clock main wheel and arbor separated, showing the click mechanism
 The pivots, clicks and wheels are very heavily encrusted with dirty, sticky, congealed grease, as well as modern paint. This needs to be removed and is best done with the components detached. When the cleaning has been completed the wheels and arbors will be reinstated. There is negligible wear in the pivots, which are 19th or 20th century; the photographs show how previous restorers turned down the arbors on a lathe to create smooth surfaces to fit in the remodelled pivots.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Extracting rusted fixings from the escapement frame

These photographas show one of the oak escapement frame uprights (late 17th century), with the original fixings extracted for conservation. The fixing will be re-instated in due course...

Friday, 25 May 2012

Work on the escapement frame

The clock viewed from behind, showing the escapement frame
This frame was fitted in the late 17th century. It supports the escapement mechanism.
The escapement frame detached
The special jig is designed to draw the fixing out of the timber without the use of excessive force.
Specially made jig for removing the original fixings, prior to their conservation and reinstatement

Next phase of repair now underway

We have nearly completed the replacement of the defective, modern pinions, and this has freed me to turn my attention to the escapement.
When the clock escapement was converted from the original verge and foliot mechanism to the current, pendulum regulated one, the new escapement mechanism was assembled in a separate, upright frame that sits behind the clock. The mechanism is fixed to the frame by means of iron pins driven through the timber. Over time these have rusted and have split the wood.
Having taken the decision to to restore the clock to working order and return it to the castle, we have to accept that further corrosion is inevitable. To minimise this we are removing the iron fixings, cleaning them and reinstating them.