Friday, 18 November 2011

The clock is now at the workshop and has been given a preliminary clean. It took two days to remove the worst of the hardened grease and dirt, by softening it with mineral spirits and agitating it with toothbrushes. The cleaning work was done without dismantling the clock, and the purpose was simply to afford us a clear assessment of all of the components and the wear they have been subjected to.
Now that we can see things more clearly we are beginning to form a picture of the restoration history of the clock.
In a turret clock such as this, the movement of the big wheels is transferred one to another by little ones called pinions. These pinions take a lot of the stress during the operation of the clock and tend to wear out. It is quite clear that all six pinions in the Castle Rushen clock have been replaced at least once because they are of 18th/ 19th century design and, in fact, most look even more recent than that; they are of very poor quality, are poorly aligned, and are badly worn as a result. We intend to replace all six pinions with superior, bespoke cast iron leaf pinions that are more in keeping with the age of the clock.
There are a number of other matters to attend to that I shall describe in due course. Meanwhile, we have noticed that the escapement is set in a separate frame, dovetailed into the main frame. It can be removed whole without dismantling any of the movement. Such a feature would only be useful if the escapement had been changed in the past, lending weight to the theory that the Castle Rushen Clock dates from the 16th century and was originally regulated by a verge and foliot escapement.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The clock is lowered from the tower...

Tuesday 18th October, 2011

This is a view of the clock tower at Castle Rushen. The clock is crated, right
This is the courtyard of the castle keep, into which the clock was subsequently lowered

The clock is secured prior to its being lowered
Steady as she goes....

Phase one complete

Earlier this week we successfully removed the clock from Castle Rushen. The video below compresses two hours of work into a minute and a half. 

Monday, 17 October 2011

Glossary - in future posts I may refer to technical terms, so for your convenience here is a short list:

Arbor - an axle
Bush - a mounted bearing for an arbor
Case - here refers to the pine box enclosing the whole movement
Count wheel - controls the number of chimes
Crutch - the arbor for the pallets
Drum - the wooden drums around which the ropes are wound
Escapement - device consisting of a pendulum, escapement wheel and pallets, designed to release one tooth of the escapement wheel at a time and to impulse the pendulum.
Fly - the set of paddles that slow the speed of the striking train
Frame - in this instance, a timber structure upon which the movement is mounted
Going train - the primary timekeeping mechanism which also drives the clock face (referred to as the “watch” by E.L. Edwardes)
Great wheel - the large gear mounted on the barrel of the going train
Lantern pinion - in place of cog teeth, a set of rods set into the rims of a pair of disks, looking rather like a little lantern
Main wheel - the large gear mounted on the barrel of the striking train
Movement - the clock mechanism
Pallets - the lugs at the end of a rocking arm, controlled by the pendulum, that check the rotation of the escapement wheel
Pinion - a small driving gear
Spring - the metal strip at the neck of the pendulum
Striking train - controls and drives the chime
Striking arm - the iron rod that pulls the bell rope
Third wheel - the principal gear in the going train
Train - sets of wheels (gears). The Castle Rushen clock has two, referred to as the going train and the striking train
Verge & foliot - an early form of escapement employing a horizontal, weighted bar
Wheel - a gear wheel

The Age of the Clock

The main source of published commentary on the Castle Rushen clock is Ernest Edwardes’ article The Old Clock at Castle Rushen (Horological Journal, July 1956). Passing mention of the clock also appears in the Journal of the Manx Museum (Vol. 1, p. 100). A very brief note on the clock appears in a recent edition of the Horological Journal.
There would not appear to be any documentary evidence to support the assertion of any connection to Queen Elizabeth the First, nor to the year 1597. A painting in the Manx National Art Collection, Castle Rushen from the Market Place by Moses Griffith, dated 1774, shows the lozenge dial as today, with a sundial that was “perhaps removed when the dial was restored in the later part of the last century”.
View of Castle Rushen in ye Ille of Mann on the South-West Side, a drawing attributed to Charles Frederick and bearing the IA monogram of James, Duke of Atholl with the date 1736, also shows the lozenge clock face, again surmounted by a sundial.
Castle Rushen as it appears on the South East side, drawn by Daniel King c. 1650, corresponds quite closely in point of view to the 1736 drawing, but shows no sundial and no clock face.
None of the early drawings show the tower surmounted by a campanile.
An inventory of the household effects of the 7th Earl of Derby from 1651 suggests that the clock was in its current location at that time.
A turret clock such as this would originally have had a verge and foliot escapement. Many were converted to pendulum escapement as here, from the second half of the seventeenth century. The early clock would not have had a face, and it is tempting to associate the conversion of the escapement with the provision of a clock face sometime between 1650 and 1736. Close inspection of the methods of manufacture and the materials of construction reinforce the opinion of E.L. Edwardes, adopted by subsequent commentators that the clock was made in the 16th century for this location.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Here are three views of the clock taken in 1955 on behalf of the then Manx Museum and National Trust.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Preparations underway!

Greetings, and welcome to the first post to this new blog!

The staff at Manx National Heritage are currently preparing for the removal of the clock from the Castle to our workshops at the Manx Museum, ready for conservation work to begin. Subsequent posts will give a bit of background to the project and some information about the clock itself. We'll then be following the work from beginning to end with photographs, video and commentary. The project is expected to last until Christmas 2011.

Why not sign up for email alerts!