The Beall Clock Forum

General => What this forum is about => Topic started by: jrbeall on August 25, 2005, 01:47:56 PM

Title: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: jrbeall on August 25, 2005, 01:47:56 PM
From time to time, I get calls and Emails from other crazies who are building or wanting to build wood clocks.  I have started this forum so that we could share our triumphs and disasters and help each other find better ways to ruin our lives with this unfortunate obsession.  My hope is that a gratifying number of people will post here and that I will be able to learn some new stuff.  I have been fooling around with this hobby for a number of  years and have discovered some eternal truths that I am willing to share and I hope that some of you will do the same.

I will get some pictures in the gallery as soon as I figure out how to do it, and I will notify those of you I already know who are not currently institutionalized.  With any luck, we can all have some fun with this.
Title: Hello
Post by: JayRay_Hughes on September 02, 2005, 01:03:08 PM
Hello everybody, I have been waiting for somebody to post but it seems that I will be the first, other than jrbeall. I mean were do you start? What do you say? This is the first time I have ever posted on a Board. I would like to thank jrbeall for putting up this board. I feel this is an excellent place to have it. The NAWCC seems to have nothing on there boards and what better place to discuss and explore than with other woodworkers dealing with the same issues and challenges that wood brings.  

Last, I have no information on the grasshopper escapement. Basicly,  I have started to reverse engineer from what photos I have. My thought on this is the more understanding I have, the more walls are knocked down, and I am able to let my artistic side come out and dictate the design, not some blueprints.  
Title: happy to hear from you
Post by: J.R. Beall on September 02, 2005, 02:08:19 PM
Thanks for posting and congatulations on being the first.   I will try to get some grasshopper material up this weekend.  I have had to attend to some other importent business stuff lately and haven't been working on any clocks.
Title: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: JayRay_Hughes on September 02, 2005, 03:24:22 PM
WOW!!!! That was fast. I am stoked about this forum. I guess in my mind I am thinking about the power of 50 minds working together to get the results of 200. Not to mention that the originator has knowledge of the escapement in question.

Side note: I haven’t had any luck with the NAWCC as of yet on the monograph by Guy Aydlett.

A little more about me. As a truck driver, I have a lot of time to think. It is responsible for what my wife calls the truck driver gene. We don’t lie, just tell stories. Of course, something is outrageous enough to know that it’s a story. Just remember, something is true but as one of my favorite phrases goes. ”Know body knows, It’s a mystery.” I mean I am tempted to tell a story right now about a Super Trooper that pulled over 5 truckers and a four wheeler at once and then in the end got arrested by the CIA. Something is true but by the time I tell it again it will have change also.
Title: I'll be posting...
Post by: rabbit on September 20, 2005, 09:51:51 AM
I've built over 30 wooden clocks over the past few years, and I love to share what I've learned. This forum seems like a great idea; thanks for creating it!
I have a craze for the unusual, so I've built some pretty unique clocks. (My website shows only a few...) But most of what I've learned is applicable to any wooden machine.
I will post my experience with bearings, escape mechanisms (grasshopper and many others), wood/finishing, compound pendulums, and general techniques/tools, since these seem to be topics of current interest. I don't have a lot of time to sit at the computer and write - I'd rather be playing or working - but I will write and post what I can, when I can.
Thanks again for the forum. I've already learned and been inspired!
- rabbit
Title: Article on reproducing pre-H1 Harrison Clock by Andrew King
Post by: Helmut Reinhardt on November 09, 2005, 02:43:47 PM
In my searches for Grasshopper lore I found a well-illustrated article in the June 1999 issue of TRADITIONAL WOODWORKING, a UK mag, where Andrew King is shown building his 2d clock working from the original Harrison wood-wheeled clock and Harrison's own descriptions. It has useful graphs, fotos and diagrams on the Grasshopper and the going and striking trains and suspension cheek assembly.Quizzedby the reporter re what he might charge to make another one, he finally said 25,000 (and that is UK pounds sterling). I offer the reference in the hope it might inspire someone.
Title: Thank you
Post by: Reid Heilig on December 08, 2005, 02:33:06 PM
I can not tell you how happy I am that you created this Forum. I am a novice working on my first clock, a Silas Hoadley 8 hr.tall clock movement and as a woodworker with no metal working background I am having to venture into many new areas.  At least my wood is becoming very well seasoned. I guess I am a glutton for punishment but I am trying to do this as it was done in the late 18th century. If there are any metal workers who would consider doing some small jobs for us woodworkers such as cutting an escapement wheel or making some fly cutters for cutting pinion leaves, please let us know. Again this is an answer to my prayers. Thank you again! Reid
Title: Hello
Post by: dalphin1964 on March 31, 2006, 06:16:33 PM
I would like to say "Hello to all members" and thankyou JR Beall for a great forum.
I'm just finishing my second clock. "Thomas wooden clock" it's very basic but a start. My first was completed many years ago as a high school project, it never ran more than 2 minutes.
Title: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: Dave on May 11, 2006, 02:39:34 PM
Hi Everyone, may i say thanks for the new maths for the grasshopper esc from this site. I think i might have taken the information for granted and used the layout at the bottom of the article as a lazy mans way of doing things. I used the layout for a 2" dia scape wheel with 30 teeth and using the calculator, i multiplied all info by .9. on the drawing board i find that tangent lines no longer hold true, help, regards Dave
Title: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: joguilt09 on December 12, 2009, 11:34:58 PM
I like the new look. Sorry I couldnt respond to your emails, Ive been kinda busy ish galivanting around.
I did look at your portal and found it quite interesting, though couldnt work out how to use it - again I was a bit too busy to ask.
What happened to it?
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: IAF on January 02, 2010, 03:39:55 PM
I am a furniture and wooden objects conservator. The museum service I work for has one of John Harrison's precision pendulum-clocks in its collections. You can see pictures of it in the web gallery below:
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: Reid Heilig on January 03, 2010, 06:47:57 AM
This posting was a great eye opener for me. I really got a lot of info just from seeing both the movement and case posting. Is there a more detailed explanation with these fantastic pictures both for the movement and the case. Thank you very much for your sharing. Reid
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: IAF on January 03, 2010, 08:58:43 AM
No problem, Reid. I am project managing the display and interpretation of this clock for a new permanent display at Leeds City Museum, in Yorkshire, England. We are looking at it all being ready some time inb 2011. I wrote an article for the Furniture History Society, August 2009, it is on the web gallery below:

There is a little more about Harrison on this wikipedia link:

Jonathan Betts's little book, "Harrison" is very good, so is William Laycock's "The Lost Science of John "Longitude" Harrison" if you can manage to find a copy. The 1993 Harvard University Quest for Longitude conference postprints are also excellent; William Andrewes, editor.

Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: jrbeall on January 03, 2010, 10:47:39 AM

Thank you so much for your posting.  Ir is of great interest on this forum because of our extensive interest in Harrison and the Grass Hopper escapement.  I have built several such escapements and Harrison is one of my great heroes.  In the pictures of the movement, one can see the roller pinions for which he was also famous.  I can't imagine working in oak but he handled it beautifully.  Thanks again and please keep us informed of further work

Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: IAF on January 03, 2010, 12:39:53 PM
Hello Jr,
Will keep the forum posted. Where are you guys based, anyway, is it in the United Kingdom?

Ian Fraser
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: jrbeall on January 03, 2010, 06:40:30 PM

The members are from all over but most, I think. are in the US.  I am in Newark Ohio.

Happy New Year.

Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: Reid Heilig on January 04, 2010, 04:54:39 AM
Ian, I am in North Carolina. Reid
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: Sablatnic on January 04, 2010, 01:21:06 PM
I live in Denmark, about 50 km from Copenhagen. And I see, that I have to change my browser.
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: IAF on January 05, 2010, 09:34:23 AM
Well, if you are visiting the United Kingdom, there are a number of "Harrison" sites, National Maritime Museum (Royal Observatory), Brocklesby Park, various sites in north Lincolnshire (examples of joinery works), Nostell Priory, Guildhall in London (collection of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. Hope you can make it to Leeds. Presently the precision pendulum-clock is in storage, there is a little more conservation work to do, but mainly it is a matter of working up the project plan for the display and interpretation of this unique and highly significant object. Harrison's story just keeps rolling on into the future. The BBC has created a new project "A History of the World" in partnership with a lot of museums around the UK. The website goes live in a few days. There will be some TV programmes too. One of them will be about Harrison and this clock, filming this month, broadcast some time during 2010. My next article is for the Regional Furniture Society, just a short article, final draft sent to RFS editor follows:

John and James Harrison, joiners of Barrow-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire

The August 2009 issue of the Furniture History Society newsletter gave details of a John “Longitude” Harrison (1693-1776) precision pendulum-clock of 1727 at Leeds Museums and Galleries. The article also placed the clock in the context of Harrison’s quest for precision timekeeping as the practical solution to determining longitude at sea.

There are a number of significant points about the clock at Leeds. Of the three precision pendulum-clocks it is the one in the most original condition. It is also one of the clocks on which Harrison continued his experiments with temperature compensation via the grid-iron pendulum. His own notes state that he removed the grid-iron from No. 2 (the Leeds clock) when he sold it, and that he continued the experimental work on No. 3, the precision pendulum-clock he kept for the rest of his life and the one that he used to test all his later clocks against.

The predominant, not-to-say accurate, but incomplete perception of Harrison is of a self-taught clockmaker and scientist, and Dava Sobel’s bestseller, Longitude, achieved remarkable success in raising awareness of his extraordinary achievements in this respect: a man of humble birth who taught himself clockmaking, and used his scientific and engineering intellect and determination to solve the most intractable problem of the 18th century. Harrison’s harnessing of the fourth dimension, time, to link points on the three dimensional globe, demonstrates an early foray into the waters of space-time. Ships’ chronometers revolutionised navigation and map-making, and were still being used for determining longitude until the advent of the Global Positioning System, a system which nevertheless retains precision timekeepers at its heart to calculate distances to triangulate a position.

New Yorker columnist Malcolm Gladwell’s recent, fascinating book Outliers, aims to shed light on why some people can achieve extraordinary success. Gladwell’s premise is that, in trying to understand these “outliers”, too much emphasis has been placed on the individual: “we’ve been looking at the tall trees, and I think we should have been looking at the forest.” Applied to John Harrison his brilliance and extraordinary success cannot be denied, but was he really the lone genius he was made out to be in Longitude?

In order to properly understand his achievements much more needs to be known about his formative years. What indisputably has received less attention is the fact that he and his younger brother James Harrison (1704-1766), with whom he worked in partnership for a time, were very fine joiners, and that several examples of their non-clock works are still in existence. Their father, Henry Harrison, was after all a carpenter who had very likely been the estate carpenter at Nostell Priory, the country house of the Winn family, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire. It is therefore probable that Henry trained his lads to be the fine craftsmen they became.
The use of wood for the movements of John’s early clocks is, in some senses, incidental. Put simply, wood was their starting point and wood was the material that John and James knew well. However, John Harrison had an inventive and lateral-thinking mind and if, say, carbon fibre and high-density nylon had been available it is quite possible that he would also have been experimenting with these to see if they could help bring him closer to his goal!

Fortunately John and James Harrison’s early working life will be the subject of some more comprehensive articles and publications from Andrew King, who has been researching John and James and their early work, clocks and joinery. An RFS Journal article is planned, as is a book, both of which should greatly help with understanding their early influences. Further, there will be a BBC documentary on Harrison and the clock at Leeds, to be broadcast sometime in 2010 and a BBC website project, “A History of the World”, which will be online from January 2010, also has a feature on this unique clock.

Text ends.

When the BBC History of the World website goes live I will let the forum know via a posting, it will be soon though.

Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: rus on January 07, 2010, 07:13:42 PM
Hello Ian,
Thank you for posting the informative gallery.  Most of us have only seen diagrams and those things we create, but to see photos of a true Harrison grasshopper is simply wonderful.  To see it for real and handle it .... well I'm just jealous.  I had a similar experience when I dismantled an early 18th century brass works and saw the  maker's scribe marks on the insides of the plates.  The clockmaker was speaking to me from 300 years past.

Mr Beall, if you're reading this, is there a way to move Ian's entry elsewhere on the forum because many of the crew may miss it where it is. It was just by dumb luck that I found it.

 thanks again from Minneapolis MN
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: Paul on January 09, 2010, 01:58:11 PM
I just ran across a video of one of these clocks the other day.  The gallery that Ian posted was amazing.  It is great to see all the individual pieces.  Here is a link to part 1 of the video:


Paul in Indianapolis, IN
Title: response to rus
Post by: IAF on January 10, 2010, 01:53:45 PM
Hi rus, glad you liked the pictures. Just to advise, the grasshopper you see is a replacement, but based of course on known examples of Harrison's grasshopper escapements. The clock had been converted to an anchor escapement at some stage, but the evidence was clear that it had a grasshopper originally. The decision was made to re-instate the grasshopper, and we, i.e. staff at Leeds Museums and Galleries are very grateful for the assistance and guidance of Andrew King with regard to the assessments and treatments to the movement. Harrison's notes say that he removed the grid-iron from No. 2 when he sold it, and the evidence that it was there, again, was clear. The grid-iron and its suspension are a unit, and the recess where the suspension was, is identical to the other precision pendulum-clocks. The decision was made to not re-instate a grid-iron pendulum, the idea being that we wanted the clock to be as close as possible to when Harrison sold it. It is highly likely that he fitted the brass plate we see now from which to hang a conventional pendulum. Further analysis is planned, and I will keep this forum updated.

I still have to pinch myself sometimes that I have a Harrison clock under my care, especially coming as I do, from the Queen's Dominion of Canada. I would never have thought it, even though I have plenty of important and valuable items under my care. It is my sincerest wish that the display and interpretation of this unique piece of British history does it, and Harrison's legacy, justice. I put it in the top ten items in the Leeds collections (which are huge) of art, archaeology, social history, natural history, science and industry, etc. no question. My work base is at Temple Newsam House, a very old and very interesting country house museum. The website is

Please have a look, I think it is pretty good, I hope you think so too.
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: IAF on January 16, 2010, 12:21:56 AM
The BBC's A History of the World website is now up and running. The Harrison precision pendulum-clock No. 2 is included in the Leeds menu

Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: Troy Hendricks on August 08, 2013, 11:52:53 PM
    I'm new member of this forum, Welcome all of you. I have interest in Watches.
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: richardwherry on January 21, 2015, 01:17:29 AM
Hello, I would like to attempt to build a wooden clock, could you suggest something for a novice like me. What plan do you recommend for my first clock?
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: Reid Heilig on January 21, 2015, 07:34:10 AM
My advice is to buy a set of George Bruno's plans for reproducing an authentic 1800s wooden works clock. He is 92 and might not be round long but he has been a super mentor to many people wanting to learn how to build a wooden works clock.  His son has a site called Torrington Clock Works I believe.  He sells his father's clock plans.  The plans are unbelievably detailed and usually run about 60 8.5 x 11 inch pages.  They contain all kinds of info on how to construct and are the perfect first step in learning how to build a clock.  If you can find the plans that Mark Tovar did of the Jesse Emory 8 day time and strike tall clock you will have your second step up the ladder.  I have many sets of such plans for reproduction wooden and brass works for tall clocks but ALL are copy righted so I can not supply copies!  I have reproduced some of these old clocks and would be willing to talk to anyone who might be interested in building one.  Email me and I will send you my phone number.  Maybe I can be of help! Reid Heilig in Gastoni, NC 
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: Reid Heilig on January 21, 2015, 09:20:19 AM
Richard, if you want to get an idea of some of the parts to be made and some of my home designed and built simple machines to make these type clocks go to my and look over the albums on making these wooden wheel clock parts.  Reid
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: natasa33 on January 25, 2016, 04:01:07 AM
That is really very nice of you
Title: Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
Post by: Reid Heilig on January 26, 2016, 05:21:40 PM
I will be happy to help you if you decide to build one of George Bruno's wooden wheel clocks.  The best one to start on is the Silias Hoadley 30 hour pull up tall clock works with time ans strike plus second hand. Just email me directly at [email protected]