For over 40 years I’ve had an intense interest in precision time. At very opportunity that was available to me, I studied the famous precision clocks of the past, in particular the electrically operated regulators of the late 19th Century into the mid 20th Century. I had over the years, the opportunity to own many of the most interesting and famous of these clocks including examples of Riefler, Leroy, Shortt, Fedchenko, Strasser, Hipp and Godman as well as many earlier clocks that could not be described as precision clocks but helped to form the basis upon which the later electric regulators were designed. Over a period of time, I formed some ideas of my own as to how I might build a number of different new experimental precision electric clocks utilizing different principals and I embarked on my project.
The first clock that I designed (Clock Q1) is a seconds beating regulator type using a Schuler type pendulum, magnetic impulsing and runs in a relatively high vacuum within a glass tank. This clock has been running for about seven years now and the performance is excellent. The second clock (Clock Q2) is a smaller than Q1 and is meant for a table top.
It is also seconds beating using a normal compound pendulum,cross spring suspension
and quartz pendulum bobs and rod. It has a form of constant force escapement and
was finished about a year ago. Although I didn't design this clock to be extremely
accurate, it appears to have a very good rate. The third clock (Clock Q3) is a tall
case double pendulum clock with some unusual features. The pendulums and pendulum
rods are made of fused quartz. Below each pendulum rod, I’ve mounted a vertical pointing
laser. The bottom of each rod has a very small target aperture, As the rod is passing
the exact center of its swing, the laser shoots a beam of light up the rod. The light
is picked off at the top where the movement is and converted to electrical impulses
which impulse the pendulums. The pendulums swing exactly 180 degrees out of phase.
The pendulums have been running for about 4 years now (11/14) and the clock is showing
an excellent and very stable rate. The dial movements are not yet finished but I
expect to have them done sometime in 2011. (Not finished yet 11/14 -
Q1 on its floating concrete block
Double pendulum clock Q3 is in a purpose made mahogany case fashioned after an early 19th Century Breguet case.
The picture on the left shows the form used to pour the concrete block in the recess
in the shop floor. On the right, you can see the holes in the shop floor ready for
the concrete blocks. The rear wall is a double reinforced concrete block wall to
precision clocks on.
When I built my workshop I wanted to have a very isolated platform
to mount my precision clock on. I wanted to be able to create as
vibration free a mounting as possible. I decided to build an isolation
platform that I could use to mount the clock on. I’d had a serious
interest in earthquakes for many years and have a number
of seismometers running to measure distant quakes. Having studied
the methods used to insulate buildings from earthquakes, I designed
a system to mount the clocks. It consisted of 1.5 ton concrete blocks
fitted in recesses in the concrete shop floor and resting on specially
designed insulators that dampen vibrations above 10 Hz .