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Eliot Isaacs, FBHI

Part One
When the relationship betwee n e lectri city
and magnetism was first discov ered, aspiring inventors so ught to ha rness the new
e lectro-magnetic force to provide an accu rate mea ns of timekeeping. They felt
instinctively th a t there had to be a system
by which e lectricity could be made to te ll
th e time ; and at abo ut the same tim e th at
so me ex perimenters were e mployed in
pe rfecting the electric te leg raph . ot he rs
were devoting an enormous amount of
e ne rgy to the problems of e lectrica l
tim e keeping.
At that period. a ll clocks were driven by
th e e nergy stored in a coil ed spring or a
ra ised weight. It seemed logica l. therefo re, to try to re place this energy with that
provided by a n electro-magnet , but ea rl y
a tte mpts in this di rection we re a ll hi ghl y
un successful. In point of fact. it was o nl y
th e tec hnology of the age th a t prohibited
successful res ults- the quality of cond uctors, insu lators, con tacts and. above all.
batte ries was far infe ri or to that which we
have no w come to expect. A s a matte r of
passing interest, befo re and after th e Seco nd War m a ny thousands of car dashboa rd clocks were made which functioned
o n the principle of e lectrica l winding . In
th ese. a very small mai nspring was
re wo und eve ry minute or so by a n
e lectro-m ag net co nnected to the car battery: a nd this ' re mo ntoire' principle has
a lso been app lied to man y ot he r successful
e lectric clocks .
The a mo unt of e lectro-m echa ni ca l
energy needed to repl ace eve n a sma ll
mainspring or weight is quite co nsiderable
a nd it was no t until a hi ghly in ve nti ve man,
Alexa nd e r Ba in . tackled th e probl e m
from a completely different standpo int
that a ny so rt of progress was made. As
a lready stat ed. at that tim e a ll clocks had a
spring or a weight which drove a train of
whee ls a nd th ese in turn drove a pendulum o r balance which reg ul ated the
tim e kee ping. Now th e amount of actu a l
e ne rgy nee ded to kee p a pendulum sw inging is ve ry small indeed and Bain reaso ned
that if he appli e d his electro-magnet to
impulsing the pendulum directly he stood
a much better chance of success. Thus he
built a clock which in effect work ed backwards. A heavy pe ndulum had as its bob a
large coil of wire which passed ove r a perma ne nt m agnet. At each swi ng of th e pendulum , a lig ht contact was closed which
permitted a curre nt to flow thro ug h th e
coil. energ ising it a nd causing an at trac ti ve
pull from th e fixed m agnet. The timin g of
th e con tact was a rranged such th at as lo ng
as power was available, th e pe ndulum
would kee p swingi ng in definitely. Once
this was accomplished, th e pe ndulum
cou ld be m <:~de by a simple gat he ring p <:~w l
and ratchet wheel to turn the clock whee l
train a nd regist e r the tim e in th e no rm a l
manner. He nce. for the first tim e, Bain
had produced a tim e kee pe r where th e
pe ndulum drove th e clock in stead of the

7he deer ric masTer clock - cxhihired liT rile

.\lidlallll' .\lode/ Cngine<'!'ill~ lc.rllihirirm.

othe r w<:~y about - often quoted in

horological circles as th e first case of the
' ta il wagging the clog'.
ln view of th e sma ll a mo unt of energy
req uired to keep th e pendulum swinging,
battery require ments were simp le . In fact.
Bain m<:~de use of an ea rth battery'. which
was nothin g mo re than plates of coppe r
a nd zinc buried in moist soi l a nd this, provided it was kep t watered. wo uld keep a
clock operating for years at a time wit hout
o ther attention. The Bain clock had a consid e rable amou nt of success. particularly


in rai lway s tations whe re reliabl e

timek eeping was essential - Bain 's Electric Te legraph Co mp any provided clocks
and other eq uipment for the railway lin es
wh ich were by then beginning to sweep
across the coun try.
Nevertheless . in spi te of its ingen uit y.
the Bain e lect rical clock had do ne nothin g
really to improve th e acc ur acy of
tim e keeping th e n avai lable. Although it
had materially increased re li ab ility a nd
reduced the need fo r pe riodi c maintenance. the clock performed no better than
a ny other we ll made clock of th e period;
and in ve ntors still struggled to improve
timekeeping performance by th e use of
electricity. The remontoire principl e in
whi ch a sma ll we ight or spring is co nstantly rese t a t freq ue nt int ervals co ntinu ed to tempt experime nters and fi na ll y
in 1895 Frank Hope-Jon es patented his
Synchronome principle. which in corporated bot h a he avy pendulum driving a
clock train a nd a sys tem of impul sing the
pendulum at ha lf-minute intervals. in fact.
the pendulum both activa ted th e clock a nd
received its impulse during a brief fract io n
of a second eve ry half minute; a t a ll othe r
times the pend ulum was swi ngi ng a lm ost
complete ly free ly. The method of impulsing th e pendul um was to release a heavy
hinged gravi ty arm ' and a llo w it to bear
against the pendu lum rod at th e co rrect
point of th e swi ng. Once the impulse had
taken place and the pendu lum had swu ng
safely o ut of the way. then an e lect romag ne t was used to restore the gravit y
a rm to its for m er position , ready for th e
next im p ulse. By its very nature. the gravity arm imparted a co nstant fo rce eac h
time it acted; and since the pe nd ulum was
at a ll other times almos t co mpl e te ly
detached from the rest of th e mec ha nism,
the clock showed a dra matic adva nce o n
th e acc uracy normally fo un d in mec han ical pend ulum clocks of th e same period.
Hope-Jones founded th e Synchronome
Co mpany to market thi s new in\'e ntion
a nd used his inge nuity to promote a feature of hi s clock whi ch was at that time
extre me ly nove l. The e lect rica l pulse used
to reset th e grav ity arm occurred at regular 30 second interva ls; th e same e lec tri ca l
pulse cou ld be used to drive a ny number of
remote e lectro- magn e tically operated
clock d ia ls which wo uld all thus ind icate
the same tim e . In ot he r words. he had
crea ted a master and slave' syste m . whi ch
wo ul d give the opport unit y for a ll th e
cl oc ks in. say. a large office bu ildin g o r
ra il way sta ti o n to keep in step with eac h
ot he r. It was quicly rea lised th a t th e greates t re li ab ility was achieved whe n a ll th e
slave dia ls we re co nn ected in se ri es with
eac h ot her- thus a ny spurious o r inte rmitte nt co ntacts wou ld affect a ll dia ls eq ua ll y.
Similarly. th e re would be no pro bl e ms
with vo ltage drop at the more remo te ly
situ a ted di a ls. Hav ing a ce ntra ll y sited
master clock also meant that it was easy to




FIRST m 1895 and FOREMOST ever since.

CORRECT PRINCIPLES count for much m
Electric Clocks : see that you get them and have
Accurate Time-keeping.
Perfect Synchronism.
Small Battery with long life.
Battery warning in ample time.
Greenwich Control or Checking by Wireless
with the "HOROPHONE."
The .%Casler Clock as illustrated will operate any
number of 'Dials, and drive or control



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32 -34,

Clerkenwell Road,
London, E.C.1.

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earlr ll<l\ '(' rti H'II/ ('1// for file s _,ncflriiiiOI/lC clock
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adjust all the dials in a large installation

simultaneousl y by withholding pulses to
~low the dials down. or introducing additional pulses to speed them up.
In the early years of the century. the
~ys t em filled a great need and the Synchro nome Company prospered accordingly. Their master and slave clocks
rapidly found their way all over the world.
until eventually there were few large
commercial organisations which did not
ow n a clock system by Synchronome or
one of the rival companies that quickly
followed in its wake. [Of these rivals. the
best known were the Pul-syn-etic system
by Gents of Leicester and the GEC
Magneta system . but there were many
others which had varying degrees of success.] Master and slave clock systems suffered quite a blow with the introduction of
the national electric grid which provided a
time-controlled .'iOHz mains supply to
a nywhere in the country and for small
installations the provision of a few synchronous electric cloch became the most
economical an~wer. For large buildings.
however. the master clock was still the


Reproduced"-'' CIJ/Irlt'S_\' of ill<'

favourite. as it enabled all the dials to be

reset if required from a central position
and the installation was not affected by
power cuts.
In recent times. the synchronous clock
has itself been supplanted by more sophisticated electronic timekeepers and the call
for master and slave clock systems of the
Synchronome pattern has diminished
rapidly. The Synchronome Company
itself ceased manufacture of the master
clock some years ago and concentrated on
the manufacture of security equipmen t
such as a fire and burglar alarms.
All of which brings me. in a rather
roundabout fashion, to the starting point
of this series. From what 1 have said so far,
it will be seen that the Synchronome clock
occupies a very important place in
horological history. At one time commonplace in every factory and office.
many hundreds of Synchronome master
and slave clocks have been ripped out and
sold for scrap or otherwise destroyed.
Some have been saved. to be eagerly
snapped up by collectors; and already at
auction sales Synchronome master clocks


in good condition have been seen to fetch

in excess of 500. And yet. the actual
manufacture of the master clock is surprisingly simple and well within the capacity
of the average home workshop. l nd eed. at
one period. the Synchronome Company
itself supplied sets of castings. parts and
instructions for amateur use. For what it is
worth. the very first clock I ever made was
a Synchronome master when I was about
fifteen years old and still at school. I possessed no lathe at the time. although 1 did
manage to sneak a few parts into the
school workshop. I chose to make this particular clock because it had only one wheel
and as that was a I 5 tooth ratchet wheel I
was able to cut it out with a fretsaw . My
clock worked- and continued to work for
a considerable period -and made me one
of the proudest lads in the kingdom at the
A short while ago, when I was thinking
no~talgically of my first effort at clockmaking. I realised what a splendid project
this would form for the present day model
engineer. Metal fabrication in both brass
and steel. hard and soft soldering. coil
winding. small turning. in fact lots of different processes , but none in large or
unmanageable quantities . In fact. apart
from the actual pendulum bob. all the
turning required can be carried out on the
tiniest of lathes.
So far. of course. I have been referring
to the master clock, which is basically a
pendulum controlled device for generating electrical pulses at half minute intervals. This unit itself will not record actual
time; for this it requires to be coupled to a
slave dial of the correct form. Most master
clocks have a slave dial incorporated in the
same case. although the units are in fact
independent and could be separated if
desired. At the time of writing. both Synchronome and Pul-"n-etic slaves are
a\ailable fairly free !) at reasonable prices
and many builders will no doubt be happy
to purchase slave di a l~ as required. However. the manufacture of a suitable slave is
not all that difficult. although it does
involve some wheel cutting. and I will
describe a suitable design in due course.
The Synchronome clock has always
been offered as a wall clock. most commonly with a one second pendulum.
although a few with 31., seconds pendulum
were manufactured at one period . There
appear to have been no attempts to mount
the movement in a free standing clock case
of the usual longcase or regulator pattern
- presumably these were not considered
stable enough for the accuracy involved.
Originally the clock was available in a
quite handsome glass fronted case with
mouldings and pediment in a choice of
woods. As tastes simplified and it became
evident that virtually all the clocks were
being installed in commercial type surroundings. the design was modernised and
the vast majority of clocks were supplied
in a very plain but well made oak case.
This design is quite simple and straightforward to make by anyone with a moderate amount of woodworking competence;
and for those the writer, feel ill at
ease with normal woodworking techniques. very passable results can be
achieved by using milling cutters and slitting saws in metal \\Orking style.


Eliot Isaacs, FBHI
Part Two
Before we leap into th e actual construction of our Synchronome style master
clock . it will be as well to look at a skeleton
o utlin e in o rder that we may become
fa mili ar with th e major components a nd
the principles on which th ey operate .
In the drawing, a heavy pendulum bob
(abo ut 14-16lb) is attached to the lower
e nd of th e pendu lum rod A which itself is
suspend ed from a no rmal typ e suspension
spring. The whole pendulum unit is very
substan ti al and capable of swinging un assisted for man y minutes. T he pendulum
has a pe riodic time of o ne second.
Part way down th e pendulum rod. a nd
fi rml y fix ed to it . is a pallet J. Be hind the
pendulum rod is an L-shaped lever C
which is known as the 'gravity arm and
this is made of heavy brass. For most of th e
time. the gravity arm is re tained in the
horizontal position show n by a la tch K . A
roller R pro jects from th e gravity arm so
th a t it just clears th e pall et J.
A sma ll boss just und er the pallet .J carries a very light ga th e rin g pawl B; a nd a t
each swing of th e pendulum this paw l
picks up a nd gath e rs' one too th of a count
wheel B'. This wheel has fifteen teeth and
hence will make o ne revolution in thirt y
seco nds. since th e pendulum swi ngs both
left and ri ght to adva nce th e wheel o ne
tooth. A trip- wire I) is fixed to the wheel
so th at it can trip th e latch K once at each
revo luti on.
Now consider what happens as the
wheel rot a tes. As th e trip wire reaches th e
correct position . it engages th e latch . The
pendulum swings from left to right turnin g
the whee l clockwise a nd re leases the latc h .
a llowing th e gravity a rm to fa ll . As it fa lls.
roller R bears o n the pallet J, thereby
using th e we ight of the gravi ty arm to push
th e pendulum furth e r to the right. givi ng it
a mai nta ining impul se ' to ke e p it swinging. After the pendulum has sw un g safely
out of the way. th e gravity arm fa lls sti ll
furth e r , until its lower arm ma kes a n e lectrical contact at X. T his compietes an e lectrical circuit causing th e electro -magn e t M
to attract its armature Eve ry sma rtly ; this
action causes the gravity a rm to reset.
ready for the next cycle. The sa me pulse of
current which passes through th e magnet
M is also used to drive one or more slave
clock dials.
From this seq ue nce of eve nts. it wi ll be
seen th a t the pendulum rece ives an
impulse of constant force. i.e. the weight
of the grav ity arm , a nd this is a ppli ed at
exactl y si milar inte rva ls always at th e
identical point of th e swin g of th e pendulum. This impulse is in fact arranged to
take place as th e pendulum passes through
the zero point of the sw ing (the ve rti ca l
centre lin e). si nce this causes minimum
disturbance. Apart from this . the on ly
other factor disturbing the pendulum is
the extreme ly li gh t loading imposed by the
gathe rin g pawl ; a nd in relation to the mass
of the pendulum bob this is so small as to
be ne gligible . Thus we have a pendulum







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system which is highly stable and capable

of high intrinsic accuracy , provided it is
rigidly mounted and supported.
ln the Synchronome clock , this fact is
. taken care of by the provision of a very
substantial pendulum suspension which,
together with the clock movement, is
mounted on a massive cast iron backplate.
This method of construction ensures that
any shrinkage or warping of the wooden
case , etc, is unable to affect the relative
positions of the pendulum and the
remainder of the movement . The iron

casting was a n ideal form of co nstruction

for use in production as it enabled a lot of
the separate minor components to be dispensed with and allowed the use of drilling
and machining jigs to cut down production
time. A single casting could be fastened to
the table of a planer or shaping machine ,
or perhaps even one of the new 'newfangled ' milling machines which were
beginning to appear in industry at this
time. and most of the major machining
operations could be completed in one or
two settings. Against this. there would be


1 OFF Mild Steel

the disadvantages inherent in the use of

cast iron - the material is brittle and can
chip or event fract ure if handled roughly
and , of course, a sma ll error near the end
of the machining operations could q uickly
render the whole casting scrap. as well as
wasting the time spent in previous operations .
Nevertheless, the choice of an iron casting. although unconve ntional by clockmakers' standards. proved to be a very
wise choice a nd contributed greatly to the
comm e rcial success of the Synchronome

clock. For this series , 1 have arranged with

one of our suppliers to provide a casting in
soft grey iron prepared from the drawings
taken from a model 'C5 ' master clock of
about 1920 vintage. and the samples I
have so far received have a beautifully
authentic appearance. It is of course possible to make a clock to this design without
the use of a cast backplate - many constructors , the writer included. have in the
past made perfectly successful models
using a fabricated backplate and in the
drawings 1 show a version that should
prove satisfactory. The main essentials are
flatness and rigidity - particularly with
regard to the part that supports the pendulum - and to achieve this 1 would be
tempted to use a combination of methods
such as riveting and brazing to achieve the
necessary strength. Without a great deal
of very painstaking effort . it is highly
unlikely that a fabrication can be made to
look exactly like the original casting. so for
those constructors who wish to produce a
reproduction of the clock which looks as
authentic as possible. the use of the
approved backplate casting is more or less
essential. From this point on in the series.!
will assume that a casting is being used
and. unless there are very marked differences in the treatment of a fabricated
backplate. I will make no further reference to the alternative methods of construction.
On receipt of the casting from the foundry , the first thing to be done is to run a
rule over it , not with a view to finding fault
but merely to check whether any of the
given dimensions might benefit from
slight modification. To some lessexperienced constructors, this might
appear to be heresy, but sand castings
should always be treated in a sympathetic
fashion , as by their very nature they cannot have the precision of injection mouldings or hot stampings . This is not the place
to launch into a dissertation on the greensand casting process , but one should be
aware of some of the discrepancies which
are likely to occur between the given
drawing and the final piece of iron -pattern errors , metal contraction , rapping
allowance , moulding flask alignment,
uneven cooling. these and many other
vagaries of the moulding and casting process can all lead to differences in the
finished castings. Indeed , it is a tribute to
the foundryman that iron castings are by
and large produced with the degree of
precision that reputable British foundries
are able to achieve . (A close look at some
of the 'bargain ' machine tools currently
being imported from Taiwan and the Far
East will serve to con firm this!)
Having said all that . I am happy to say
that the sample castings which I used in
preparing these notes were well within
reasonable tolerances. but even if there
had been any fairly serious departures
from the basic drawings, this need not
have given rise to too much wailing and
gnashing of teeth as this design is very
good-natured and none of the dimensions
are particularly critical. This is where the
amateur constructor has a distinct advantage over the production engineer- if we
were making two or more identical clocks ,
then we would want the parts to be interchangeable and any departures from the

given dimensions would not be permissible. As it is. with only one clock at a time
being made, an odd '/,s of an inch here,
perhaps even a quarter inch there , can
usually be accommodated by a slight alteration to the matching parts. all within
reason of course.
Returning, then , to our casting , we see
that on the rear face there are a number of
raised pads, eight in all. which serve to
keep the backplate from touching the
back of the case . In an ideal world . all
eight of these pads would touch a plane
surface simultaneously. but we will do well
to content ourselves with obtaining contact at three points only, provided that
they are three symmetrically disposed
points , e.g. the large top circular pad and
the two triangular side pads would be
ideal. Lay the casting on the best plane
surface you have available - a large surface plate , a piece of plate glass, a machine
table or, failing all else , a good wooden or
plastic table top , but do check this latter
with a straight edge in all directions. The
casting will probably rock slightly on the
plate and it will be necessary to file away
the high points until the desired pads bed
down evenly . Use an old file since there
will probably be some sand or other abrasive particles in the skin of the casting ; and
a file once used on rough cast iron will
never be of much use on any other material.
With the back bedded down satisfactorily , we can now turn the casting so that it is
front uppermost and machine or file the
three main rectangular bosses to the
heights shown on the drawing. I was able
to machine mine using a Westbury vertical
milling machine, but careful work with a
file will give perfectly adequate results.
Do take care if filing to keep the surfaces
flat and parallel to the baseplate , as any
errors here will make fitting of the pivot
plates very troublesome later on. Do not
worry unduly if the bosses will not clean
up to the exact dimensions shown , there is
plenty of room for adjustment in all directions and it is far better to concentrate on
achieving a truly flat and parallel surface
than to fuss about the exact height of each
boss . The thin raised magnet boss adjacent to the rectangular hole in the baseplate does not really need machining,
although on the example of the clock on
which most of this series is based, the top
surface of this block had been filed smooth
and polished, giving a very handsome
The two uppermost brackets which
form the pendulum trunnion are next to
receive attention. Even with a milling
machine available , the effort in setting the
casting up is hardly warranted and it will
be quite sufficient to clean both the upper
trunnion surfaces with a file. Try to keep
both surfaces square, parallel and the
same height, as any discrepancy here will
put a permanent set in the pendulum suspension spring. This , although not disastrous, is undesirable and is best avoided if
The remaining operations on the casting all involve drilling; and for those not
used to working in cast iron , a few words
of warning are probably advisable. Firstly,
cast iron must be drilled dry- any attempt
to use cutting lubricant of any sort will
29 7

result in the most fearful gooey mess. Secondly, cutting speeds must be kept very
low- at least half the speed normally used
for mild steel -and preferably even lower
than this. On my half-inch capacity drilling
machine I find that the lowest speed of
about 400 rpm is about right for most
drills larger than about "/,s" diameter and
for anything above about %" diameter. r
usually transfer to either the lathe or the
milling machine where l have slower back
gear speeds available. And , one final word
of warning, do remember that cast iron is a
brittle material , particularly in thin sections such as we have here. Therefore ,
when using a centre punch to mark hole
positions, treat the material gently and
where possible support the casting directly
underneath the punch.
In point of fact, not too many of the
holes should be drilled at this stage , as
most are best left until we are ready to fit
the mating parts . Those that can be drilled
now are the fixing screw holes to hold the
backplate into the wooden clock case.
These should go through the three pads
which have been 'bedded down ' and they
should be of suitable size to take No. 10 or
No . 8 round head wood screws - 3/,s"
diameter is about right. Next, we can drill
the four holes on the top of the pendulum
trunnion blocks. I pride myself that I can
usually scheme up some sort of machine
setting to deal with most operations, but in
this case 1 admitted defeat and put the
holes in using a portable electric drill .
Mine has a speed control trigger on it and
by keeping it half pressed I was able to
keep the drilling speed well down to suit
the cast iron. These holes are tapped 4 BA
for the pendulum suspension clamps.
Two quite important holes which can
also be drilled now are those for the electromagnet cores. Again a machine set up
is difficult , but in view of the importance
of accuracy here it is probably worthwhile
to take the trouble to get it right. My drilling machine has a table which can be
titled to any angle , together with a peg
which Jocks it exactly parallel to the vertical axis of the machine, so I did not have
too much trouble here. An alternative
would have been to pack the casting up on
the cross slide of the lathe to the correct
height and put the drill in the headstock
chuck. Failing either of these methods, the
electric drill would have had to suffice , but
care would have been needed to keep both
holes parallel both to each other and to the
base . A point here for the purists - the
magnet cores pull up into the holes against
a shoulder. Since the block on the casting
has a very slight taper to allow the 'draw'
in extracting the pattern from the mould
when casting, the holes should be slightly
counterbored or spot faced to allow the
magnet cores to sit down squarely. In
practice , a slight touch with a standard 5/,s"
twist drill at each end of both holes will
give a good seating to both the magnet
core and its fixing screw.
All of the other holes are best left for
the moment while we turn our attention to
the all important pendulum.
Castings in soft grey iron for the backplate and pendulum bob can be obtained
from : The College Engineering Supply , 8
The Pines, Finchfield , Wolverhampton ,
West Midlands WV3 9HD.


Part Three
The late Claud e Reeve , who was probably
the best kn own of amateur clockm akers,
used to recommend that the first part of
any new clock made should be the pendulum. As he rightly pointed o ut , once the
wheels and pinions had been cut and
planted, and th e escape ment fitt ed. there
was always a n overwh e lming temptatio n
to fit th e whole clock up on a temporary
basis to see if it wi ll run . If this in vo lved
making a temporary pendulum. th e results
were most unlike ly to be successful. since
any pendulum needs to be extremely well
made and rigidly supported if it is to perform properly, or even at all. We are
a lrea dy ha lfway there. since our nice rigid
backplate a lso incorporates the suspensio n bracket for the upper end of the pendu lum ; and this mo nth it wi ll pay us to
con tinue with the ma nufacture of the pendu lum itself.
Part of the secre t of th e success of th e
Synchronome clock has always been the
heavin ess a nd so lidity of the pendulum.
With a bob weighing so mew he re between
12 and 14 lb. suspended on a steel rod 5/16"
diameter, th e pe ndulum can store sufficient ene rgy to keep it swi nging for a long
period without impulse; and the mass is
sufficie nt to prevent it being affec ted by
small rand om disturbances. Over the
years, the original clocks were fitted with a
varie ty of pendulum bobs. th e most common be ing plain cast iron, although lead
filled brass cases were at one tim e employed and th e re was a period just after th e
First War when the bob was quite obvio usly th e steel nose of a sixteen pounder
shell !
As I stated in the first article in this
se ries. the pendulum bob is th e one ite m
that cannot be machined on th e smaller
lath e and I hope by the time that this
appears in print to have arranged with an
advertiser to provide a cast iron pendulum
bob of th e correct pattern with the necessa ry centre hole already machin ed. And
thi s leads us nicel y to a discussion of th e
fo rm that the pendulum rod itse lf should
take. We are committed to a steel rod 5f,s"
diameter as in th e original design ; and as
everyo ne is aware, steel does expand and
contract with changing temperature. This
will affect the timekeeping of the pendulum - an increase in temperature will
expa nd th e rod and slow the clock down.
Th e effect is not quite so bad as might be
supposed however since the pendulum
bob also ex pands. If we support the bob
from below, as shown , it will expand
upwards. and partially compensate for the
downward ex pansion of the rod. In practice, we find that a mild steel rod supporting a cast iron bob in this fashion will gain
or lose about two seconds in twenty-fo ur
hours fo r a temperature change of 5
degrees Centigrade. A lead bob will
improve on this performance slightly since
lead expands more than twice as much as
cast iron and we may well decide that this
performance is acceptable for normal
domestic or workshop use.

Eliot Isaacs, FBHI

But of course we ca n improve upon this
considerably by th e use of a better material for the pendulum rod. At about the
sa me time that Frank Hope-Jones was
perfecting th e Synchronome system, a Dr.
Gu ill aume was investigating th e temperature performance of a range of nickel-iron
alloys. particularly for use in timekeeping.
He came up with a whole seri es of alloys
having low temperature coefficients of
expansion or elasti city and which he
named 'Invar' and 'Eiinvar' respectively.
Synchronome were quick to adopt ln va r
pendulum rods and the firm offered their
clocks both with and without certificates
of performance for these rods . Fo r those
constructors who wish to take advantage
of the better performance offered by
nickel-steel rods, I have arra nged fo r a
supply of Invar type rods of the correct
di me nsions. At present, the name In va r is
a trade name owned by Telcon Metals
Ltd., who are on occasion abl e to supply
suitabl e rods. Since at th e las t enquiry Telcon insisted upon a minimum o rd er of
100 , th e pro blem was pl aced in th e hands
of a colleague in Sheffield who has organised a special me lt of an a ll oy kn own as
Nilo-C. which has a temperature coefficient of expansion at least as impressive as
that of th e best grade ln var.



If we decide to use one of these 's uper

rods'. a littl e thought will show that it
would now be wrong to support the bob
from below, as previously. Instead, we
must suppo rt th e bob from its centre point
as shown - now any ex pansion of th e bob
will take place both upwards and clownwards fro m th e support point . leaving th e
centre of gravity- and hence th e effective
length of th e pendulum- unchanged. This
pendulum wi ll improve te mperature
errors dramatically and is a vast improvement on th e firs t version described. It is
still not pe rfect ; the re are still uncompensated portions such as the suspensio n
spring, etc. and anyone seeking th e ultimate in timekeeping performance will do
we ll to read a lo t more on the subject, as
he wi ll find that at this stage he has come
within the realms of circular a nd
barometric errors also . Howeve r, in passing it is worth mentioning that for ma ny
years one of the most accurate pendulum
clocks used in ma ny observatories all over
th e world was th e Shortt free pendulum
clock, which is based on a free maste r
pendulum swinging in a vacuum cylinder
and synchronised to a standard Synchronome clock used as a slave .
Wh ere appearance is important , a lead
filled brass bob ca n loo k very handsom e





BOB EXPANDS _.......,___,_"'~'-"r-""-'





33 1






" II




2BA /











38" 38''
43 112 42'


1 OFF Mild Steel or Nilo
and this is fairly easy to make on a lathe of
about 3" centres and upwards. The shell of
the bob is a length of brass tube of about
18 or 16 gauge, and 2'/2' diameter. If a
fixed steady of this capacity is available ,
the tube can be supported in this while the
ends are trued up by facing. Otherwise ,
two tight fitting wooden discs should be
tapped into the tube and a length of
threaded rod (studding) passed through
the discs to support the tube between the
chuck and the tailstock while the ends are
turned true .
Two endcaps are made from "/,a" thick

brass discs with suitable steps turned on

them. At the same setting , the centre holes
are drilled and tapped and here there are
slight detail differences according to
whether a plain steel or Nilo rod is being
fitted. Finally, the central tube should be
machined to size and here again the two
versions vary slightly. For the plain version , a piece of standard tube may be
reamed out to 5/,s" inside diameter, or it
may be preferable to make this tube from
a piece of solid '/2' diameter brass rod, as
this is more easily machined. With the
Nilo rod version , we have to adopt this

course anyway , since there is a step in the _

bore of the tube. For a really accurate
pendulum , the tube should be a good sliding fit on the rod , without any perceptible
shake; and this does present a slight problem. This particular batch of Nilo rods.
although nominally 5/ts" diameter has been
surface ground to improve the finish. and
the rods have ended up at about 0.012"
below nominal diameter. Thus a 5/,s"
reamed hole in the centre tube will give a
fit that is too sloppy and I found myself
making a special D-bit half a thou
(0.0005") over the rod diameter to
achieve the sliding fit I was looking for.
Those who do not wish to go to these
lengths may be able to use an expanding
reamer, or failing all else , a letter N drill is
not too bad a fit.
Having reamed and threaded the centre
tube , we may now assemble the bob on a
trial basis and prepare it for filling. Obviously we need to remove the top cap of the
tube to fill it with molten lead and here it
will pay us to prepare a dummy disc to
place in the shell to keep the inner tube
truly central while the lead is poured. This
disc need be nothing fancy = an__Q)p wheel
blank or similar will do , but it must have
one or more largish cut-outs in it to allow
the lead to flow through. The filling is
easily carried out. Stand the tube upright
in a tray of sand to avoid accidents and
melt more than enough lead in an old iron
saucepan. I am fortunate enough to have a
plumber's lead pot and ladle left over from
the days when wiping PILCS W A cable
joints was part of my daily routine, but an
old soup ladle or even a disused table
spoon with a bent handle will suffice. Fill
the tube to within half an inch of the top
and then leave severely alone until cool
enough to handle. The lead will shrink
quite noticeably in the tube , but this is of
no consequence when th e cap is fitted.
When the tube has cooled , the top cap
may be screwed back in place and the
whole assembly returned to the lathe for
final turning and polishing. If the tube is in
first class condition , it will look well
polished to a mirror finish; otherwise a
fine grain left by 600 or 800 grit carborundum paper will be preferable. Whatever
the finish , a couple of coats of clear cellulose lacquer will keep the bob looking
good for many years. I use Canning's
'Ercalene' lacquer applied with a Humbrol spray gun, but most readers will have
their own favourite finishing techniques.
Now we must turn our attention to the
rod itself. Mild steel presents no problems ,
but Invar and Nilo are terrible materials to
machine and it therefore pays to keep any
machining to a minimum. Accordingly ,
after cutting the rod to length and filing or
turning the ends square, the top end of the
rod can be left 'as is' - it will be clamped
into the suspension spring block with a
grub screw. The lower end of the rod is
drilled and tapped 2 BA for a short length
of studding. I have found this to be an
easier task than trying to cut a thread on
the outside of the rod. Of course, strictly
speaking, the threaded studding should
also be of Nilo for minimum temperature
error, but any builders chasing this sort of
hair-splitting accuracy will probably have
their own ideas regarding this end of the
pendulum anyway!

1 OFF Cast Iron

49t16 FOR LEAD




-=--=--=--- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - -



3/s F~ LEAD


1 OFF Brass





1 OFF Brass
My normal tapping size for 2 BA in steel
is a No. 24 drill , but here it will pay to open
the hole size to (say) No . 22 to give the tap
a better chance. Bear in mind that
although the drill expands when hot the
Nilo does not , so do keep it cool!
The rating nut for either style of pendulum is straightforward and calls for little
comment. On precision regulator clocks ,
it is often the custom to fit rating nuts with
large diameter engraved micrometer type
dia ls, but this was not the case with the
Synchronome, neither is such sop histication rea ll y necessary. The rating nut on a
clock is rather like the adjustments on the
driving seat of a new car- for the first two
weeks, the proud new owner fidd les mad ly
with every control in sight, then he gets it
right and the adjustments are left completely untouched for remainder of the life
of the machine. Even so , it will be found
helpful to put at least one mark or line on
the rating nut to assist in the initial setting
Turning now to the upper end of the
pendulum. we can make the brass block
which fixes the suspension spring to the
pendulum rod. On many clocks such as the


1 OFF Brass
old fashioned grandfather, it was the customary practice to fit the spring into a slot
cut into the brass block. This is not a particu larly satisfactory method as it is very
difficult to cut a close fitting slot for a
0.005" thick spring and it will be found
much more satisfactory to make the block
from two pieces as shown . Start by setting
a piece of%" square brass rod to run true in
the 4-jaw chuck, or in a sp lit brass bush in

1 OFF Brass
the 3-jaw chuck, with about 1'/." protruding. Tum a lf," length to just under lf2'
diameter (i.e ., until the flats on the rod
just disappear) and at the same setting
drill ' %" for '/2' deep. Open out this hole
with a sma Uboring tool to a close fit on the
pend ulum rod; part off about 1" long. File
or mill away half of the square portion.

Continued on paRe 344


1 OFF Brass



Con rinued from page 333
ta kin g care to get the cut surface exactly
flat a nd o n th e ce ntre line. Obviously milling is by far th e best method he re. but for
those who have to resort to th e saw a nd
file. use the ha rd e ned tops of th e vice jaws

as a filling guid e to keep the surface tlat.

Now prepare th e filler bl ock from a
scrap of '/J' thick brass. File or machin e
one edge true and place this in th e angle of
th e spring block and cla mp in pl ace. Drill
through both pi eces 6 BA tapping size
(No. 43) and remove the cl amp. Open out
the holes in one piece to No. 32 a nd counte rsi nk ; tap th e o th er piece 6 BA . Fasten

togeth e r with 6 BA stee l screws with a

scrap of 0.005" shim between, after which
th e whole block can be filed up to size and
returned to the la the for machining to
length. As a matter of pride, use cut thread
screws for this a nd every other position on
th e clock - ro lled thread screws look
decidedly out of place on any clock or
instrument work.


Eliot Isaacs, FBHI

Part Four
The suspension spring on which th e pendulum hangs is made from a piece of
0.005" thick spring steeL '/2' wide . So me
clock builders seem to have difficulty in
obtaining this material , but failin g a suitab le suppl y from a clockmakers' ma teria l
deal e rs. a n ordinary feeler ga uge of th e
cor rect thickn ess is ideal materi a l - ca r
accesso ry shops sell these of co urse . but it
m ay not be ge nerall y known th at
e ngin eers too l suppl y house s stock feeler
strip in both 12" a nd 25 ft lengths in a ll of
the co mm o n thicknesses. The ac tu a l


This can be mad e from a piece of 'ls"

diameter brass rod if available , or alternativel y turn down a le ngt h of '/2' diameter
rod to size , leaving it a trifle too long to
start with. The chops themselves are made
fro m a piece of brass strip %" wide by "/'""
thick. with a '/";" hol e bored in each . For

H arde ned boilermakers will wa nt to

quench th e work in an acid pickle bath ,
but it is hard ly worth se ttin g up a special
bath for the amou nt of si lve r solderin g we
have in this clock. Plain water will do finejust let the work cool after soldering to a
dull black a nd th e n drop it into a jar of






spring we need looks deceptive ly simple,

but be warned ' In use. the sprin g fl exes
once each second . or 86400 times eve ry
twenty four hours and any faulty workmanship he re will be a certa in reci pe for
pre mature breakage; and with a 14 lb
pendulum on the e nd. the results cou ld be
quite spectac ular. The hol es in the spring
should be punched . not drilled - e ithe r
with a prope r punch and die mad e to suit.
or with a flat e nded punch used in conjunctio n wi th a block of lead or th e e nd of
a piece of close grained hardwood. After
fo rmin g th e ho les. check the spring carefu ll y thro ugh a strong glass to make sure
no tinv cracks have formed. For the sa me
reaso ~ , when polishing the spring finally .
make sure th a t the scratches left by the
polishin g medium run parallel to the
leng th of the strip, not crosswise.
In th e original clocks, the brass chops
that hold the top e nd of the suspension
spring were made fro m small castings. I
have found it just as easy to fabricat e these
parts - sma ll brass castings such as this
tend to be a bit rough. and consequ e ntl y
the pa tte rn s need to be considerably ove rsized if the results are to be acce ptable.
Make a start with the cylindrical portion.

A Ji'olll ie11 of!he clock , vi1h 1h e doo r o pen , sho11ing !11<:

plcue and 1he pendulu111 suspension.

the sa ke of squareness, it is worthwhile

setti ng th e strips in the 4-jaw chuck and
boring the holes truly in the lat he. The
ho le in o ne strip should be a good close fit
o n the '/,s" rod - th e other ho le ca n be
slightl y looser. The first stri p is then sil ver
sold e red to the '/,6" rod in th e correct position.
For those not accustomed to si lver so ldering small brass fittings , thi s piece provides an exce ll e nt e le me ntary exe rcise.
Use eit he r a powder flux mixed with water
in accordance with th e instructions, or one
of the new ready mixed flux es suc h as
Mattiflux ' which comes in tubes li ke
toothpaste . Countersink eac h side of the
hole in the strip ve ry slig htl y. th en a noint
a ll parts of the joint with the flux; bring the
whole job to a dull red bea t, a nd th e n (and
on ly then) touch the joint with th e end of a
piece of sil ve r sold er wire. For this sort of
jo b, I use the thinnest Easyflo No. 2 wire
ava ilable- about 0.5 mm diameter. If the
work is clean. properl y flu xed and hot
e no ugh, the meres t to uch with th e solder
wi ll flash right thro ugh the j o int and out
th e other side. Use th e barest minimum of
so ld er - this gives less to clea n up afterwa rds.


1/I O \ 'e !ll e lll

cold water to fin ally cool. Most of th e

burnt flux wi ll crack off wi th the shock of
cooling, but the remainder. together with
any surplus sil ver solder, is remove d by a
light mac hin ing operation in the lathe.
Hold by the cylindrical portion in the
3-jaw chuck and face the inside of the "M'
stri p to the finished thickn ess of %2.
Remove from th e lathe , cla mp the second
st rip in place a nd drill a nd tap both st rips
toget her for th e two spring clamp screws .
The job can th e n be replaced in the lathe,
and the second strip faced to thickness. At
the same sett ing, th e cylinder ca n be dri lled a nd reamed '/" for th e cross pin , after
wh ich it can be finished a ll over with files
and fine eme ry cloth.
T he steel cross pin is a simple turning
job from a piece of standard '!"" rod , eit her
mild steel or silver stt:el will do. The distance between the should ers should be
che cked to make sure that this corresponds with the distance between the
chee ks on th e backplate casting. The
who le pendulum suspen sio n can now be
assembled a nd fitted to th e pendulum rod
o n a trial basis. Whe n th e top block is
fitted to the uppe r end of the pendulum
rod, it is he ld in place with two 4 BA pin c h







1 OFF Brass

1 OFF Brass
1 OFF Spring Steel (0.005" thick)
screws - when we are finally happy with
the length of the rod and the fit , etc ., the
block may be removed from the rod a nd
the marks left by the screws ca n be
en larged with a round file to form a groove
round the rod in the right place- this will
make su re that the rod cannot pull out
from its suspension by accident.
The drawing of the two cl a mps that hold
the suspension cross pin to the casting is
se lf explanatory. The two lit tle washers
a re mad e 'Is'' long to correspond with the
thickness of the ends of th e cross p in and
the two 4 BA st ud s may be held in the
tapped holes in the casting with a dab of

ing would have bee n used origin a ll y. fabrication is not too difficult if it is carried
out systematically. As before. we start
wi th a cylindrical portion , '/,s'' diameter ;
this is left slightly overle ngth and drilled in
the lathe to a close fit on the pend ulum
rod. If a rea me r or O-bit of the correct size
is available , use this by all means , o r eve n a
small boring tool , but th e fit on the rod
need not be too exact as we will split the
component and fit a pinch scre w in due
The remaind er of the pallet can be
made from a piece of brass bar '/" thick x
%" wide. To ge t a good fi t on the cy lindri-

ca l part already made, we do best with a

mac hining opera tion in the lat he rather
than trying to file a groove in th e ri ght
pl ace. The se t up is quite simple a nd
requires two pieces of scrap brass to be
.faste ned to the work as shown. No rm a ll y,
in a case lik e thi s, one would be te mpted to
fasten the pieces together wi th soft solde r,
but as a nyo ne who has ever tried it will
confirm , th e slightes t suspicio n of soft so lder a nyw he re will effectively destroy a ny
chan ce of subseq ue ntl y making a satisfactory silve r so ld ered joint. However , in this

Conrinued on page 356



















li ] ~



No 30

1 OFF Brass


Loctite . Wing nuts of a reason ab le quality

seem fairly hard to get these days, but it is
best to fit some sort of finger operated
fastener here , even if it does look rather
Continuing with the pendulum , the nex t
item to be made in logical order is the
brass pallet which lives part way down the
pendulum rod. This is a very importa nt
component, which serves two distinct
functions: firstly , it accepts the weight of
the gravity arm at each half minute
impulse, and thereby keeps the pendulum
swingi ng; and secondl y, it carries the
gathering pawl which engages with the 15
tooth count wheel. Again , a lthough a cast-












DRILL HOLE ~ 7t11;








Coniinued from page 366
case , we can hold the work and the scrap
pieces very firmly together by clamping
them in the 4-jaw chuck, so all that is
necessa ry is a light temporary clamp to
position the three pieces- I used a dab of
clockmaker's shellac, which holds very
firmly in situations like this. Just warm the
parts slightly in a clean spirit lamp flame ,
then rub on a stick of the shellac and press
the parts firmly together while still warm
and sticky. Sealing wax will probably work
just as well , or two strips of double sided
adhesive tape give another alternative.
With the parts fixed together by the
cho~en method, fix the assembly in the
4-jaw chuck adjusting the jaws until the
centre brass bar runs centrally on the lathe
axis. Drill a '/,s" hole through the complete
assembly very carefully, having first
started with the usual Slocombe or centre
drill. Now when the parts are removed
from the chuck and separated, it will be
found that the centre bar has been divided
in two, with a perfectly cut groove in each
part. Smear the grooves with wet flux as
before , then place one piece on each side

of the '/,s" cylinder in the correct place.

The assembly should be bound together
for the soldering operation by thin iron
binding wire. Proper soft iron binding wire
is obtainable from various material dealers, but a very effective substitute can be
obtained from the local florist , who uses a
soft iron wire for flower arranging. Make
sure that all the parts are in their correct
relative positions, then heat up and apply
the merest touch of silver solder. Quench
and clean up the joints with file and emery
cloth and then cut away and file the locking lug to the correct size. Put in the slit ,
preferably by means of a slitting saw, but
with a fine hacksaw cut if you cannot
arrange for the slitting saw set up.
When the slit has been put in , the holes
for the pinch screw can be drilled and tapped and then opened out to clearance size
in one half only. The pallet may then be
clamped on to a scrap of 5/,s" diameter rod
a nd held in the lathe for machining the
radius on the end of the long arm. Take
care here -the silver soldering operation
will have softened the brass and a dig in
with the lathe tool will probably bend the
whole job out of recognition. If the brass
were not so soft. in fact . it would be poss-


ible to machine the radius of the roller

track at the same lathe setting; as it is, it is
safer to take no chances and put this in by
hand with a small half round file . Note that
the profile of this track is also radiused
about the centre of the pendulum rod.
This is a feature of the design and ensures
that if the pendulum (or the pallet) swings
out of its normal plane parallel to the
baseplate, the impulse roller still follows
exactly the same path and gives the correct
impulse to the pendulum.
The gathering jewel is held at the end of
a wire of silver steel about '/32" diameter.
Flatten about '/2' of the wire at one end and
bend this into a loop around a '/,s" diameter mandrel. The jewel itself may be made
from a short piece of '/,s" silver steel, carefully filed to half its diameter for a length
of about "/,s" and hardened by heating to
bright red and quenching in cold water.
Alternatively, proper sapphire jewels are
obtainable from some clock material suppliers who know them as 'visible Brocot
escapement jewels', but they are inclined
to be very expensive. Probably the best
idea is to get the clock working with a steel
' jewel ' and then replace it later on if
desired for the sake of appearance.


Eliot Isaacs, FBHI

Part Five
Various methods were at different times
used to attach the gat he ring jewel wire to
the impulse pa ll et. The method I have
selected is to my mind about the ne atest.
since it both supports the wire very freely
while at the sa me time giving a very simple
method of accurately adjusting the depth
of engagement of the jewe l with the teeth
on th e count wheel. The fixing is. in fact.
nothing more involved than a cheese
headed 5 BA screw with a slot cut into the
edge of the head for sli ghtl y more than
half the diameter. A smal l hol e is drilled
axially right through the screw, large
enough to clear the thickne ss of the wire
used for the jewel support. The slot is at

that the height of the gathering jewel can

be adjusted from the front of the clock
very minutely in this manner.
The next component to be made. if we
are to follow any sort of logica l sequence.
is the count wheel itself. As can be seen
from the drawings. this is by no means a
difficult wheel to cut and in fact can be cut
using hand tools alone if desired. This was
the way that I cut my very first clock wheel
when I was still at school - and it gave
perfectly adequate results. Since the
wheel is purely a ratchet and docs not have
to gear with any other wheel, the absolute
acc uracy of th e division is not quite so
important as in other clock wheels and we

</J 11:32
{ . -~......--<P 1fi6 JEWEL OR


~~ SLIT 1132

u l_:iJ


1 OFF Brass



1~"-__ __




1 OFF Jewel or Silver Steel

can therefore set the wheel out by drawing

a c ircl e of about eight or ten inches diamtcr on a sheet of thin card or stiff paper.
Divide the circumference of the circle into
15 parts by whatever method takes your
fancy - stepping arou nd the circle with
dividers and then adjusting the legs until
they span exactly one fifteenth of the circumference is one way that springs to
mind . Another is to use a protractor to set
out angles of 24 degrees fifteen times and
hope that the last o ne comes back to the
starting point. Whatever method is finally
chosen. join each point on the circumference to the centre . then lay the brass disc
which is to form the wheel exactly over the
centre of the circle and scribe the same
radial lines onto the brass. With the middle of the disc as centre, scribe a circle on
the brass to indicate the depth of each
tooth , then join the point of one tooth to
the root of the next as shown in the drawing. lt will be noticed that the front of each
to'Oth does not lie on the radial lines, but is
undercut by approximate ly 10 degrees.
The easiest way of ge tting this angle the
same on each tooth is to draw it in for one
tooth and produce the lin e towards the
centre. Draw a circle to touch this line.
Tangents drawn from this circle to each
remaining tooth point will then also be at
the correct angle.

right angles to the normal screwdriver slot

and this enables the right angled end of the
jewel wire to be feel into the slot and drop
into a horizontal position; if the sc rewdriver slot is approximately vertical , the
wire will be retained in position while still
having freedom to move up and down as
The screw is held in a tapped hole in the
impulse pallet in the position shown and it
will be necessary to counterborc the face
of the tapped hole very slightly so that the
underside of the screw head can have a flat
surface to bear against. To make the screw
a frictional fit in its hole . the shank is slit

1 OFF Brass ('/,." thick)



(viewed from rear)
w ith a fine piercing saw. This serves two
purposes - as well as making the screw
friction tight in its tapped hole, it allows
the exact position of the screw head slot to
be adjusted from the front of the pendulum by using a sma ll screwdriver in the
slot in the shank. When the screw and
jewel wire are assemb led. it will be found



With a fine metal cutti n g blade in the

piercing saw fra me , eac h to'<'>th ca n be cut
ou t as close to t he lin e as possible , after
whic h it ma y be brought exactly to size
with fine needle files.
Of co urse, there is nothing to stop anyone fro m cutting t hi s wheel using machine
me th ods if the y a re ava ilabl e. Probabl y
the eas iest met hod to use is a fine sl ittin g
saw mounted o n a m and re l in a vertical
millin g machine; the wheel blank can then
be he ld in a d ividi ng head a nd indexed
round o ne fifteenth of a turn after eac h
cut. Two cuts will be needed for eac h
tooth , one to cu t th e fro nt face of each,
fo llowed by a seco nd cut for the slop in g
rear face. Th e same set up can be improv ised on a lath e a nd in this respect a ha nd

it is used vertica ll y. with th e wo rk held o n

a woode n saw ta ble clamped to ove rhan g
the bench . Nat ura ll y in this met hod of use,
the saw tee th mu st po int downwards.
towards th e ha nd le of th e saw.
The final o perat ion o n th e wh ee l itself is
to make the co ll et on which th e wheel is
mount e d. T his is a simple t urnin g job b ut
care mu st be take n to make th e ste p on th e
co ll e t a ve ry close fi t in the ho le in th e
ce ntre of the whee l. Cross drill th e hol e in
the collet for a n 8 BA g rub screw , after
which the wh ee l may be rive ted to th e
co ll e t by the simpl e exped ie nt of placing
th e wheel on th e co lle t, th e end of a centre
punch he ld vertically in th e collet hol e a nd
giv in g it a hearty thump . T hi s will have the
e ffect of spreadin g th e me tal o f the collet

th e most co mpl ex . si nce it carries the be a rings fo r three se parate compo ne nts: th e
co unt wheel , th e co unt wheel click roll e r,
a nd th e grav ity a rm catch. The d es ign for
this particular pivot plate is differe n t to
that fo un d on man y Synchronomc clocks,
but it is the one that was used o n o ne of my
prototypes and I have adopted it becau se
it enables the actio n of the click roller to
be see n clea rl y. The mo re usua l design
adop ted by Synchronomc , althou g h of a
sli ghtl y more e lega nt shape, hid es t he click
ro ll e r comp lete ly. The plate sho uld be
marked out and saw n ca re full y to size,
using th e piercin g saw as previously. T he
three pivot hol es ma y be drilled usin g a
No . 55 or a %.'' dr ill and th e fixing hole for
a -1 B A screw may be put in at this stage




DRILL ~3132

1 OFF Brass

-~ DRILL 3164

5 OFF Brass

1 OFF Brass ('/,." thick)

1 OFF Silver Steel

d rawn division ci rcle will be quite good

e noug h for the job if a proper di vis ion
plate i ~ no t avai lable. St ran ge ly e nough,
for this particular wheel , a proper clockmakers ' wheel cu ttin g e ngin e is not particularly su itab le - th e teeth a re so large
a nd deep in re lat ion to the s ize of the
wheel that a cu tter with a very broad face
must be used ; a nd th is ca n tend to chatter
o r eve n break unless ve ry li ght cuts a rc
taken at eac h pass.
H av in g cut the tee th o n t he wheel by
which eve r me th od you prefe r, th e wheel
ca n now be 'c rossed o ut' , thi s being the
clockmake r' s term for th e ope rati on of

sufficie ntly to g rip th e wheel ti g htl y.

Now comes th e wheel a rbo r which is
turn ed fro m a piece of "l" i' stee l rod . Silver
stee l is usua ll y recomm e nd ed fo r this job,
particularly the free-cutting variety so ld
under th e specifica ti on KE A !08, but
o rdin a ry mi ld stee l will give quite a
res pectab le res ult if care is tak e n with the
pivots. T ry to keep th e pi vo ts a t e ach e nd
co nce ntri c with each o th e r - coll e ts in the
lat he a rc ideal fo r thi s so rt of work , but if
yo u ha ve to rely o n a 3-jaw chu ck th at is
fa irl y tired, it mi ght be as well to turn up a
split brass bush to hold th e a rb o r for pivot
turnin g. Polish the pivots as well as poss-

a lso. Offer the plate up to the pill a r on th e

top left co rn er of th e base plate a nd m a rk
the posi ti o n of th e 4 BA fixing sc rew. Drill
a nd tap this hol e in the casting , after which
the p late may be screwe d temporarily to
th e casting while two further holes of
approx imately'/!(;" di a mete r for th e ste ady
pins may be drilled in the pivot plate a nd
cas tin g. These pin s may be sta nd a rd tape r
clock pins, or the y may be turn e d sli g htl y
tape r fro m steel o r brass rod a nd tapped
into pl ace in th e pivot plate and filed flu sh.
Wh e n yo u are sa tisfi ed with th e fit o f the
plate, the p ivot hole positions ma y be
transfe rred to th e casting. The easiest way

cutting the spok es . T h e c r ossings o n this

ibl e u sin g a ve r y

fin e f il e f o ll o wed by

to do thi s is to turn up a drill bush f r om

wheel a re very simpl e, being formed by

two inte rsec tin g a rcs of circles ; drill a
small ho le in o ne corner of each crossing,
then re mo ve the waste with th e pi e rci ng
saw as before . For th ose not used to this
particular ope rat io n , it will be found th a t
best co ntrol ove r the saw is to be had when

e mery sticks a nd th e n use a pivot burnisher if yo u ha ve access to one . Experts

may wish to ha rd e n th e pivots if the y have
been made from silver steel , afte r whi ch
they will of course need repo lishing.
We are now ready to mak e the first of
th e three beari ng plates. Th e first one is

silve r steel sli g htl y lon ger than th e pilla r

on the casting a nd with a hol e through it
th e same size as th e drill used for th e pivot
holes in the plate. When the p late is
sc rewed firmly to t he casting , the drill


Continued on page 23


Continued jimn page 14
bush will be nipped betwee n the pla te a nd
the casting, and the pivot hole position can
be marked on the casting by drilling right
through . Wh e n all three holes ha ve bee n
marked on the casting in this way , th ey
may be opened out and tapped 4 BA for
the brass pivot bushes.
Five of these bushes will be needed , so
they might just as well all be made now.
They are a simple, if somewhat fiddl y jobjust short lengths of 4 BA brass studding
with a %.," or No . 55 drilled hole through
the length of each . Each bush will require
a brass lock nut- and purists will no doubt
wish to spot face the underside of th e cast-

ing where each locknut bea rs . At this stage

the count wheel can be assembled on its
arbor and tried in its pi vo t hol es. It should
spin freely and the end shake ca n be
adjusted by means of the threaded bush in
the casting. If the a rbor should be at all
stiff, identify the cause a nd rectify this
befo re proccding any further, as a stiff
bea ring here will und o ubtedly stop the
clock. The traditional m e thod used by
clockmakers to ease out tight bearings (s
to use a 5-sidcd taper broach, which is
really a crude form of taper reamer . These
are fairly cheap tools a nd well worth
investing in as they form a ve ry useful
addition to any model e ngineer 's tool kit .
Failing this. the offe ndin g hole or holes
can be enlarged slightly by using a larger


drill he ld in a pin vice. leaning one way or

th e o th e r to draw the hol e in a ny required
Now we can tre at ourselves to a bit of
pa rtial asse mbl y and try all the pieces so
far m ade . Screw the casting to a firm bit of
wall and ha ng the pendulum from it.
Assemble th e impulse pallet at the
a ppropri a te he ig ht on the pendulum rod
and adjust the gathering jewel until it just
engages with a tooth on the count wheel
each tim e th e pendulum swings to the left.
Using a gentle finger as a ratchet wheel
detent, it should be possible to ma ke the
wheel turn one tooth at each complete
swing of the pendu lum and this hopefully
will provide sufficient incentive to carry
on with eage r anticipation!


Eliot Isaacs, FBHI

Part Six
Before carryi ng on with further constructional details of o ur clock , I must apo logise to those readers who are experiencing
difficulty in obta inin g supp lies of su itab le
materials for thi s project. It had been my
intention to provide a list of suppli e rs to
acco mpany the first article , but in the rush
of preparing to meet the press date, this
list somehow got omitted from th e rest of
text . However, the list is appended at the
end of this article a nd hopefully constr uctors will now be ab le to obta in a ll the
awkward little items that seem to be causin g difficulty.
Last month, we were left with a complete pendulum and count wheel capable
of turnin g one tooth at each complete
swing of the pendulum . T o comp lete this

particular assemb ly we require a detent to

restrain the co unt wheel and prevent it
from turning backwards afte r each
impulse. The design of this detent is surprisingly impo rtant , since it must give a
minimum of drag to the count wheel while
at the sa me time providing positive location for each tooth gathered. The original
Synchronom e design achieved this by
using a pa rti a ll y counterbalanced glass roller about 3/,6" diameter. No doubt other
materials, such as steel or ' Perspex' could
be used for this roller, but g lass see ms well
suited to the task and it will probably pay
to go to the trouble of searchi ng out a
suitable method of making an authentic
glass ro ller. In my own case, after several
unsuccessful attemp ts to obtain a sma ll

piece of thick walled glass tubing , I finally

thought of using a piece of a b roken




1 OFF Silver Steel

1 OFF Glass & Silver Steel

4> 3132 PRESS

(J3i32 PRESS





thermometer, which was made from just

the right size of capilliary tubing. The most
difficult part of the job was cutting a
length of this mater ia l sufficie ntl y short
without splintering, but I finally achieved
this by drilling a hole in a piece of brass
plate of the same thi ckness ("/,"") as the
length of tube I required ; then after making a sma ll nick in the tube at th e right



1 OFF Carbon Steel (0.040" thick)
(Harden right out and polish
as indicated)

1 OFF Carbon Steel (0 .040" thick)
(Harden right out and polish
as indicated)


1 OFF Silver Steel

place with a triangular file , 1 was ab le to

place the tu be in the hole in th e plate a nd
snap the tube a t the file ma rk by bending it
sideways. The sa me piece of plate was a lso
used as a jig to ho ld th e short piece o f tube
upright whi le th e e nds were gro und flat
a nd polished using success ive grades of
carborundum paper.
The ro ller is mou nted on th e e nd of a

shou ld continue to swing for a considerab le period , a t leas t three or four minutes,
befo re the sw in g decreases sufficie ntl y for
th e ga thering jewe l to cease gat he rin g.
The final part to be fitted to this pivot
pla te is th e catch which is used to retain
the gravi ty arm in its norm al horizo nt al
position. This is quit e a delicate little component, made from stee l about 0.030" to

how it was arra nged in the earlier Synchronome mode ls. I t was soon discovered ,
however, that this did no t always provide a
re liable retaining act ion fo r the grav ity
a rm a nd so an ass istin g sp rin g was added
to make su re th e catch did not bounce out
of position. The o ri gin al spring was a fair ly
complex coil wound around the ca tch
spi ndl e; I have fo und it easier to depart









(Drawing by courtesy of Group Capt. P. Wil ls)
thin wire which idea ll y should ha ve a head
o n it li ke a dressmaker's pin. T hi s is no t
very easy to provide ; and it is even less
easy to bend the wire in exactly the right
place to let th e roller turn freely without
too much end shake and so it is probably
best to bend th e wire first, slide o n th e
roller a nd then flatten th e e nd of th e wire
by squeezing it ha rd in a pair of pliers.
A lte rn ati ve ly, a ' head ' can be formed o n
th e wire by solde rin g o n a tin y washer.
The detent spindle is a straigh tfo rward
turning job , very similar to that for the
ratc het wheel sp indle , and the pivots
sho uld be turn ed , polished a nd adj usted
until they fit very freely. The roll e r o n its
wire is then adjusted for position in the
sp indle until the roller just fa lls by its ow n
weight, partly co unterbalanced by th e
o th e r e nd of the wire.
Now , of co urse, when we try th e assembl y as before, the pendulum should turn
the cou nt wheel o ne tooth a t a time a nd it

0.040" thick. Carbon steel is suggested as

this catch should really be glass ha rd a nd
polished to keep wear a nd fricti o n to a
minimum , but case ha rd e ned mild steel
wou ld probabl y serve quite well. A suitab le so urce of stee l can of course be found
in old clock sprin gs, o r even an o ld
fashioned carbon stee l hacksaw blade .
The rath e r peculiar curved lever
mo unted on the spindle in front of th e
g ravi ty arm catch is for use with the automatic advance mecha nism - mo re det a ils
of th e operation later ; b ut in the mea ntime
this piece can be made to th e drawing from
the same material as the grav it y arm catch
a nd hardened a nd polished in the sa me
ma nn e r. The spindle m ay now be turn ed
to size and the gravity a rm ca tch and
adva nce lever pressed on in th e positions
shown .
The gravity arm catch , when mounted
o n its pivots will ha ng ve rticall y in the
correct position due to gravity; and this is


from this design and 1 use a straight wire

sp rin g fixed into the backplate and bearin g very lightl y on the catch. This is very
easil y adj usted and I do not fee l th a t this
departure from the original design is too
seno us.
And no w we can move on to th e gravity
a rm itse lf. Like a ll of the brass parts, in th e
o rig in al this was made from a casting a nd
there is so me ev ide nce to show th a t a
number of these castings were a little on
the sk impy side. T his meant th at these
were below the required weight and were
not always sufficie ntly heavy to keep a full
sized pendulum swingi ng in the necessa ry
a rc. When this occurred , th e recomme nd ed procedure was to add weight to
th e e nd of the ar m in the form of a sc rew
a nd o ne or mo re washers. We are ab le to
avo id this problem by making our gravit y
arm from 'Is'' thick brass plate to th e
dimensions shown in th e drawing. Start by
saw ing th e ar m roughly to outline (I fin d






1 OFF Silver Steel

1 OFF Brass ('/a" thick)
that a bandsaw is idea l for jobs such as
this) and then bring the work to the co rrect size by filin g. One of the tri ck iest parts
is the little rectangular hole nea r the end
which is to provide clearance for the
spri ng leaf to engage wi th the catch
a lready made. Th is is best formed by dril-


1 OFF Spring Steel (0.010" thick)

whee l colle t, but this is no t reall y essential.

its place being ta ken by the steps turned
on th e spind le. The spring leaf a lread y
refe rred to may be made from a piece of
0.010" spring steel. agai n eit he r clock
sp rin g or feeler ga uge stock would be suit ab le. T hi s sprin g leaf is he ld to the top


Baseplate cast ing and pendulum bob
T he Col lege En gineering Suppl y,
8 The Pin es,
Wolverhampton WV3 9HD

1 OFF Silver Steel

ling and then bringing to shape with

need le files.
Next , tackle the roller. Our design differs very slig htl y from the origin a l to ta ke
ca re of th e fact that we are not usin g a
cast ing. T he roller itse lf is turned from
silver stee l a nd it is not necessa ry to ha rde n this, a lthough a degree of polish on
the roller a nd its pivots will he lp th e clock
to run smoothly. T he cock to hold th e
o utboard e nd of the roll er is turn e d from
o ne piece of brass a nd th e n filed to shapeI found this easie r than trying to fabricate
it from two separate pieces, but there is
not hin g to prevent th is mode of a pproach
if yo u prefer it . When asse m bled , th e ro ller should spin free ly; and a drop of thin
oil on th e pivots sho uld not be forgotten.
The spi ndl e or a rbor fo r the gravity arm
resembles those a lre ady made and it
sho uld be turn ed to a press fit in the hole in
the ar m. The o rigin a l casting had a n
exte nded bush in this position , similar to a

"'lw" so that is j ust strike s the lower e nd of

the retaining catch , whil e the ot he r e nd is
ad justed so that it is just misses the catch .
The who le assembl y of wh ee l a nd tripping
vane sho uld be balanced so that it wi ll
come to res t in a ny posit ion. Now when
th e co un t whee l is turned o nce in eve ry
revo lution it w ill re lease the catch , a ll owing the grav it y ar m to fall. When this happens, the g rav ity a rm roller will rest o n th e
pend ulum impu lse pa ll et , givi ng it an
impulse to th e ri ght . We need not spend
too much time o n adjustments at present ,
as eve rything wil l have to be adjusted to fit
at th e sett ing up stage .

e dge of the gravit y arm wit h a LO BA

cheese head screw and th e shape of the
bend shou ld be ad justed so th a t th e free
e nd of the ar m protr ud es through th e hol e
in the gravity a rm with clearan ce a ll
Once this spring leaf has been fitted, th e
gravity a rm can be mounted on th e baseplate in a simil ar fashion to the ot he r spind les. This tim e, the pivot pla te is simple r,
having o nl y on e pivot ho le a nd t his is drilled a nd fitted to the casti ng exactl y as
before. The gravit y arm ca n be tried in
p lace to check for freedom a nd to test th e
locking action of the catch mec ha nism . If
the catch a ppea rs to be sa tisfactory, we
can turn o ur attent ion to the met hod of
re leasing it. A cross hole is show n o n the
cou nt wheel spindle and in this is fi tted a
tripping vane- this is nothing more than a
piece of %4" stee l wire, one end of which is
flattened by hammering. The flat te ned
e nd proj ects from the spi ndle by about

Nilo pendulum rod

Dr. T . Tre ffry.
9 Lawson Road ,
Sheffie ld
Magnet winding wire
Map lin E lectroni c Supplies Ltd .,
PO Box 3,
Ray le ig h.
Essex SS6 2BR (a nd branches)
Spring steel, silvet steel, contact rivets
K. R. Whi sto n Ltd .,
Ne w Mill s,
Stockpo rt SK12 4 PT
Gat hering jewel , hands, dial
Meadows & Passmore Ltd .,
Farningh a m Ro ad,
J a rvis Brook,
Crow borough,
East Sussex TN6 2JP
Brass sheet, rod , tube
] . Smith & Sons Ltd. ,
42 -54 St . Jo hn 's Square ,
London EC I (and branches)


Part Seven

There is still some more work to be

carried out on the gravity arm as it needs
to be fitted with a means of making an
electrical contact when it falls. but l suggest that we leave this for the time being
while we make a start on winding the
For some reason. coil winding. which
used to play such a common role in
model engineering. now seems to have
vanished almost completely from the
model engineer's repertoire. At one time.
every home workshop was fully kitted out
with coil winding equipment and a ll the
materials. such as wires. insulating tubes.
tapes and varnis hes were readily available from the various suppliers who
catered for o ur needs. Nowadays. with
the advent of the microchip. the old
fashioned electromagnet is not nearly in
such great demand as it was and it takes a
bit of sea rching to find th e various
materials we need for this stage of our
ma ster clock. Perh aps for this reason.
perhaps from sheer lack of experience.
several intending constructors of this
project to whom (have talked have asked
whether the coils will be available from
suppliers ready wound. So far. l have
made no attempt to find a supplier of
electromagnet co ils as I feel that this part
of the job is not only interesting and
instructive. but it is also very easy: and the
probable cost of putting out this part of
the wo rk would no doubt increase the
cost of the finished clock considerably.
For th e sake of our younger readers. I
shou ld perhaps explain that copper wire
for winding magnets and other inductors
used to co~ne i;; a variety of forms and
sizes. The cheapest and perhaps the most
commonly used on bells and buzzers was
bare copper. in sulated by winding round
it a layer of thin cotton thread . This was
known. natura ll y eno ugh. by the term
'single cotto n covered' or sec for short.
A superior version h ad two layers of cotton thread and was known as double
cotton covered. or DCC. Naturally. the
cotton covering took up some space and
so. where this was at a premium. a thin
si lk thread covering was used as this gave
higher insulation in a sma ll er space: the
varieties of this were known as sse and
DSC respectively. Finally. for inferior
work. the bare wire could be drawn
throu gh a bath of insulating varnish
which gave it a thin insulating coating
and th is was known as 'ename lled' winding wire. As the technology improved.
insulating enamels became more and
more reliable. Whereas they had once
been prone to cracking when the wire was
bent acutely. as in sm a ll diameter coils.
Oexibl e e namels were developed which
would stand any degree of bending.
Si mil arly. ename ls were developed which
we re resistant to high temperatures
a ll owing the use of much higher currents
in th e ;i re and thu s smalle~r coils could
be employed. Naturally enough. this
development phased out the use of textile

Eliot Isaacs, FBHI

covered wires which are now virtually
unobtainable. Consequently. although the
original Synch ronome clock had magnets
which were wound with sec wire. it is
most unlikely that present clay constructors will find a suitable source of supply
and we must content ourselves with using
an enamelled wire for our magnets.
Unfortunately. the cotton covering
used on wires was traditionally coloured.
usually a distinctive green colour: and so
modern brown enamelled wire is going to
look clecicledly out of keeping. However.
there is a self adhesive film. made by
Fablon and available at most DIY
stores.which has a green velvet like coating of near enough the correct colour a ncl
so in my prototype I used a layer of this
(known as Fablon Velour) to cover the
brown enamelled wire and from a

books on electricity and magnetism we

learn that electromagnet cores should be
made from Swedish or other pure soft
iron- the reason for this is that soft iron
has a low magnetic remanence and th erefore becomes completely non-magnetic
each time the current in the coil around it
is switched off. Nowadays. soft iron of
any form is virtually unobtainable and
we will have to content ourselves with
ordinary mild steel. l n fact. the effect on
our clock coils will be negligible as the
armature of our magnet is arranged so
that it cannot actually touch and therefore stick to the magnet core: and there is
a fa irly strong spring arranged to pull the
armature away from the core whenever
current ceases to now.
The two cores are turned therefore.
from a piece of 5JI6" diameter mild stee l







reasonable distance this is virtually

indistinguishable from the original.
The other change that has occurred in
winding wires in recent years is their
method of measurement. When l was
first looking for a suitable source of wire
for my own clock. I went to our local
motor rewinding company and in my
innocence asked for a small quantity of
28 swg (standard wire gauge) winding
wire. To my surprise. I was greeted with
blank looks and complete lack of
understanding. lt transpired that like
everything else. the wire industry has now
gone metric and what I really required
was 0.375 mm wire. For those who have
no other suitabl e source of supply. this
wire is in fact avai lable (listed both in
metric a nd swg sizes) from Map! in Electronic Supplies in either 50 gram or 250
gram reels. For our two coils we will need
a littl e less than two of the 50 gram reels.
so this is probably the most economical
amount to buy. The Maplin Electronics
catalogue incidentally is available from
all branches of W. H. Smith and is a
useful addition to any workshop
There are two identical coils. each with
an iron core. and these are linked by a
yoke (part of the baseplate casting) to
form what is in effect a horseshoe
magnet. If we read the traditional text

with a shou lder on each to fit in the holes

a lready drilled in the baseplate casting.
Tap the hole in the end of each core for
the locking screw. then try both the cores
in place in the casting to make sure that
they are parallel both to the base and to
each other: and also that the free ends
finish up exactly the same length as each
other. Now prepare two sets of end cheeks
for each core. The inner set is of thin
insulating material such as Tufnol' o r
'Paxol in '. whi le the outer set is of '116"
thick brass for both strength and
appearance. Both sets of cheeks shou ld
be bored to be a press fit on the steel core
and th e cheeks at the end of eac h core
nearest the yoke on the casting should
have a sma ll ho le. about 11i 6" diameter.
dril led right through. near the co re. to
a llow the start of the winding to be
threaded through . Before starting the
winding. each core should be wrapped
with about two layers of thin paper. m aking sure that this comes right up to each
cheek a nd that no bare metal is left
exposed. The paper may be held in place
with a little clear ad hesive or a strip of
thin adhes ive tape .
For the actual winding process. l suggest that the magnet core is held in the
lathe chuck by the free end. while the
other tapped end is supported by a
tail stock centre. Mount the reel of wire on



~1 ~:c~w~

4 OFF Brass (1/,6" thick)
& 4 OFF lt;~sulation Material

2 OFF Soft Iron or Mild Steel
a sp indle conveniently near to the la the.
and insulate th e first few inches of wire
with a piece of thin insulating sleeving. If
you have no stoc ks of this. a piece of the
cove ring from a thin flex will probably he
suitable. Pass thi s through th e hole in th e
end cheek from the inside. leaving abo ut
six inch es of wire free for th e connection
to be made later. Now holding the wire
firmly in the right hand. turn the lath e .
ma ndrel with left hand. guidi ng the wire .
o n eve nl y so th a t eac h turn is tight and
closely touching its neighbour. Carry on
until the first layer is completely filled
and the wire tries to overlap and sta rt a
second layer. At this point. put a brake on
the wire (a weight to hold the wire clown
to the lathe bed is probably favourite)
and cover th e first layer of wire with a
piece of thin paper. Tissue paper is quite

sati sfactory. or eve n better a piece of old

fas hioned ' hard ' toilet paper. It is this
interleaving which is the whole sec ret of
ne at coil winding- without it. it is almost
impossible to wi~1d tidy coils by hand. as
success ive layers try to burrow th eir way
back down into those previously wound.
So. before you start winding. pre pare a
large number of strip s of paper the same
width as the distance between the coil
cheeks and religiously interleave each
layer- do not be tempted to miss an odd
laye r here and there. it just is not worth
Continue in thi s way until ten layers
have been wound in all and fix th e last
two or three turns of the wire in the final
layer by tying with sewin g thread. I nsulate the last few inc hes of th e wire with
thin sleeving as before and then cover the


co mpleted coil by wrapping tightly with a

sto ut paper. making sure the sleeving is
ta ken well under this covering. Finish by
applying the self adhesive Fabian s heet
to give a decorative covering. Now make
a seco nd coi l in exactl y the same wa y as
the first.
Before going any furt her. it would be as
well to test th e coi ls. This is very easily
clone- a ll that is required is a single dry
cell. such as an HP2 or HP7 or simi lar.
Carefully scrape th e e namel from eac h
e nd of the winding wire (drawing the wire
through a strip of folded glasspaper is
probably the safest way) and touch the
e nd s to the terminals of the dry cell.
There s hould be a slight spark. and the
iron co re should become stro n gly
magnetic. s ufficient to pick up. say. a
hacksaw blade.


Eliot Isaacs, FBHI

Part Eight
Before we get going this month. a quick
apo logy for a small discrepancy which
occurred in the two drawings of the
impulse pallet. Two differing sets of
dimensions were shown in parts 4 and 5the May and June issues- for the position
of the jewel wire holding screw. In fact.
either set of dimensions will work and the
difference arose because I used dimensions from two different clocks. as well as
the original Synchronome drawings.
Also this month. I include a drawi~g
which some how escaped earlier. that for
the pendulum support clamp .




plastic sleeving. then tucked away neatly

between the two coils .
We can now turn our attention to the
armature. This is the strip of iron. or in
our case mild steeL which is attracted to
the magnet when it is energised and
which causes the gravity arm to be reset to
its rest position. The armature itself is a
simple filingjob from W'XW' mild steelthe only tricky part is the drilling of the
hole right through the edge of the material
to take the pivot. The hole is on ly l/t6"
diameter and being a full W' long it is very
easy for the drill either to wander off line.







<P 3t8

1 OFF Mild Steel (Ya" thick)


1 OFF Silver Steel



2 OFF Mild Steel (Y,s" thick)

Hopefull y. by now we will have successfully wound the two coils and they
can be mounted in position on the baseplate and held in p lace with a 4 BA screw
in each. For the sake of appearance.
make sure that the join in the covering
materia l is at the back of the coil and
therefore not seen. The two coils are connected in se ri es in such a fashion as to
produce a North pole at the free end of
one core and a South pole at the other.
Contrary to what might be expected. this
involves joining the two start ends
together. rather than the finish of one coil
to the end of the other. This is made clear
in the drawing: and for those who still do

not believe me. it is a very easy matter to

conn ect the two coils together in both
ways temporarily and see which gives the
best magnetic effect when energised. The
join should be made very conscientiously
by carefully glasspapering away the
ena mel coating on the wire. then twisting
the two bared ends together and so ldering the joint using an electric soldering
bit and resin cored flux. (On no account
should acid fluxes such as Bakers
Soldering Fluid ever be used for electrical
connections of any description.) The
finished joint should be trimmed to
about half an inch in length and protected by covering with a short length of

or worse stilL to break off in the hole. It

might ht> possible to mount the bar in the
lathe. but the work is quite long and
needs a swing of at least 4V4'' over the
lathe bed or in the gap. I managed to drill
mine in the drilling machine using plenty
of cutti ng fluid and withdrawing the drill
frequently to clear the swarf. With the
hole successfully drilled. the pivot pin
should be turned to a light press fit in the
hole and the pivots turned and polished
in the same fashion as all the others.
The pivot plate for the armature is an
exact replica of the one already fitted to
the gravity arm. but the positioning is just
a wee bit more critical. Begin by drilling


I' , I
- ~1

[ _


<P 114




rp1i16 -'-....



1 OFF Brass

1 OFF Brass
1 OFF Spring Steel (31 SWG)

the pivot hol e in the pivot plate and then

put a dummy single ended pivot in the
armature so that it bears in the pivot plate
to locate it during the next part of the
operation. Now hold the armature tightly
against the free ends oft he electromagnet.
but with a piece of thin packing in between. About 0.01 0" or a piece of thin card
is about right- this will give the correct
position for the armature to receive maximum pull. while sti ll allowing a little gap
to prevent it sticking to the pole faces
when the current is switched off. Adjust
the position of the armature slightly if
necessary to bring the bottom 8 BA
tapped hole into a horizontal line with
the lowest hole in the magnet yoke: these
holes are for the return spring which will
be fitted shortly. Now the pivot plate can
be placed over the dummy pivot in the
armature and the position for its fixing
screw marked out o n the pillar on the
casting. Finally. the hole for the rear pivot
can be marked in the casting just as
before and drilled and tapped 4 BA for
another of the brass bearing bushes
made previously. The correct spindle can
now be fitted to the armature and the
who le assembly tried out for freedom.
The armature sho uld swing freely and
when it is exactly parallel to both pole
faces there should of course be a 0.010"
The return spring is fairly stra ightforward. but it does involve the m anufacture
of the first of a number of capstan headed
screws. Since these all have identical
heads. it will pay us to make up a simple
drilling jig to put the holes in the right
place in the head . This need not be anything very complicated - just a simp le
block of mild steel with suitab ly positioned cross holes in it. together with a
hole to receive the screw he~ad. This particu lar screw has a captive rotating eyelet
fixed in its - I made mine from a long
dressmakers pin (the pin was long. not
the dress or it maker). but a piece of brass
win~ with a rivet head hammered on to it
would have served just as well. This rotating eyelet is a nice littl e refinement which
prevents the tension spring tangling up

when the screw is turned. Th e other end

of the spring fits into a little brass eye
formed on the end of an 8 BA screw fixed
into the tapped hole in the armature. The

spring itself is not too critical - mine

came from K. R. Whiston and is listed as
J?/16" longXVs" diame ter by 31 swg. tension. The hook on one end is too long. but
this is easily dea lt with.
If all is well. the armature action can
now be tried out under power. First. fix a
small piece of adhesive paper or tape to
the front of each magnet pole to prevent
the armature sticking. th en apply 3 volts
(two single cells in series) to the pair of
magnets . Using one finger as an armature
backstop. hold the armature within about
W' of the upper pole face. Now when the
current is switched on the armature
should hit the magnet with a decided
thump and release just as smartly when
the curre nt is switched off again. If all
seems to be in order. we can proceed to
finish off the lower end of the gravity arm
which it will be remembered was left until
the armature was in position. The shorter
limb of the gravity arm carries on it an
insulating block. which in turn holds a
previous metal electrical contact. On the
origina l clock the insulator was ebonite
but this is a rather rare material
nowadays. H owever. there are plenty of
suitable alternatives. such a Tufnol.
Perspex. nylon and countless others:
both Whistons and College Engineering
Conrinued on page ll4




1 OFF Ebonite

1 OFF Brass

3 OFF Brass



1 OFF Brass


Cominued.fiom page 119
always seem to have plenty of odd pieces
of insulation material in their lists . Make
a start by cutting a piece of the chosen
material to the correct thickness of %"
and slightly oversize in both length and
width (nominally 1?/s"X%2"). Clamp the
insulator to the rear of the gravity arm
and drill and tap for the two 8 BA countersunk screws which fasten the two pieces
together. Note that th e two screws are put
in from the re a r so that th ey a re not visible from the front of th e gravity arm . Fasten th e two together and th e n file th e
insulator until it is exactly the same size
and shape as the gravity arm to which it is
On th e edge of th e insulator is fixed a

contact strip made of 1lt 6" brass. This

again is held on with two 8 BA screws.
this time tapped into the in sulator. Note
that the brass strip is fixed towards the
rear of the insulator so that it cannot
touch the gravity arm. On the lower end
of the brass strip is fitted a precious metal
contact: on th e original this was always a
l/16" square of platinum. but in view of the
difficulty (and the expense!) of obtaini ng
this metal a suitable alternative can be
found in ordinary sterling silver. This
while not being quite so free from ox idation as platinum or gold. will give very
good results so long as there is not too
much free sulphur in the atmosphere.
Any jeweller. either amateur or professional. will usually be happy to part
with a tin y scrap of either silver sheet or
gold foil. but failing this Whistons have a
plentiful supply of silver headed copper
rivets which are very suitable. The other

half of the contact is made by a screw fitted into the upper end of th e armature
and so. before finally fitting the contact
material onto th e gravity arm. it will be
advisable to check its correct position
from the hole in the top end of the armature. Having marked the position of the
centre of the contact. the chosen contact
material can be either riveted or soft
so ldered into place on the brass strip . The
final job on the gravity arm is to drill and
tap an 8 BA hole in the top of the brass
con ta ct strip to take a binding screw for a
connecting wire.
The contact screw on the arma ture is a
straightforward turning job with the same
capstan head as we used before. The end
of the screw needs a precious meta l point
and this can be either a piece of silve r
wire about 11t6" diameter. or anotherofthe
rivets that was suggested for the gravity
arm contact.


Eliot Isaacs, FBHI
Part Nine
able to use the same shank as a standard
knurling wheel holder.
The parts to be knurled are all locknuts
- three for the stop screws, one for the
return spring and two slightly larger for
the electrical binding posts. All are
straightforward. although care must be
taken when knurling as a single wheel
like this does put quite a lot of sideways

There are now very few items remaining

to complete our clock - all are simple
turning jobs, but I have left them all
together until this particular stage
because they all involve knurling. If we
examine a variety of products made by
the old time clock and instrument
makers we cannot fail to notice that
where finger grips are required for lock
nus, etc. Instead of the modern cross or
diamond pattern knurl with which we are
familiar, the makers invariably used a
straight knurl. Moreover, the knurling
was nearly always CONVEX, i.e., it was
formed with a concave knurling wheel. If
we want our clock to look really authentic, we must make all the locknuts and
terminal screws to this pattern, the only
difficulty being that concave straight
knurling wheels are rare items these days.
I certainly had no luck when I tried to
obtain one and in desperation I was
driven to make my own . In fact, once I
had worked out a suitable method, it proved surprisingly easy and the hardest part
of the job turned out to be cutting a suitable carbon steel disc on which to form
the teeth. Once I had a disc of the right
size. in this case about 3/4" diameter by 3/16"
thick. it was mounted on shank held in
the lathe tool post so that it could rotate
horizontally without shake. It was then
hob bed. just like a worm wheeL only in
this case the hob was an ordinary 4 BA
plug tap held in the lathe chuck and supported by a hollow tailstock centre. By
feeding the disc up to the slowly rotating
tap, nicely formed concave teeth were
soon cut on the edge of the disc and as
soon as they were to the full depth I was

pressure on both the work and the lathe

bearings. The final items in this group are
a pair of insulating bu shes and washers
to isolate the binding posts from the
baseplate casting.
We have now reached the exciting
stage where all the main components of
our clock have been made and we can try
a first assembly under power. Make a






2 OFF Brass




_ _t j .

2 OFF Tufnol

4 OFF Tufnol





cp 5116 ---c-..+.,---'-,----1r--

5 OFF Brass


3 OFF Brass



.r N



Mild Steel



C/J 1116


start by assembling the component parts

of the gravity arm. The little roller should
turn perfectly freely on its pivots and the
resilient leaf spring should protrude
through the exact centre of the rectangular slot and be able to move freely
up and down without touching any part
of the slot. A short length of very flexible
in sulated wire should be fixed to the top
of the gravity arm contact strip, using an
8 BA brass screw and washer - either a
round head or cheese head screw is suitable for this position. but it must be brass
to prevent a faulty contact due to corrosion. A very suitable flexible wire is these
days to be found on a variety of cheap Far
Eastern electronic equipment- a disused
miniature earplug type headphone provided me with more than enough wire for
a couple of dozen clocks.

pads are each gummed on to a brass

backing piece which has a V16" stalk
pressed into the hole in the end of the
stop screw. Obviously these pads are
fixed in the stop screws after they have
been threaded into their respective pillars
(not forgetting to put on the knurled locknut first!) and there is no real objection to
holding them in place with a little Loctite
if your press fit is not al l that it should be.
Alternatively, for a de-luxe job. the stalks
can be threaded about 10 BA and
screwed into tapped holes in the end of
each stop screw. The stop pillars themselves can now be fitted to the backplate
and locked in place with a 4 BA nut: and
agai n a lock washer will prevent the pillar
working loose from vibration.
The contact screw fitted to the top of
the armature is identical to the three stop

I ------

-~--- - ,



(Drawing by courtesy of Group Captain P. B. Wills)

Next to receive attention are the

various screws and pillars which were
shown in the drawings last month . The
two main terminal binding posts are fitted to the backplate with insulating
bushes in the casting and an insulating
washer on eac h side so that the terminal
itself is completely insul ated from the
backpl ate and the whole assembly is
locked into position with a 4 BA brass nut
on the back. It is good practice to fit a
locking washer of some description between the nut and the rear insulating
washer: this allows for possible shrinkage
of the insulation and prevents the terminal working loose. There are three
other holes in the backplate. each 4 BA
clearance: these are for three stop pillars.
Two are at the same level on the plate and
restrict the movement of the armature in
either direction. the third is a little higher
up and prevents the gravity arm from
being thrown too far when it is restored
by the armature. Each of these pillars carries a stop screw and in the original these
screws were fitted with thick felt pads to
minimise the noise of operation. The

screws. but here. instead of a felt pad. the

end of the screws carries a precious metal
contact. I fitted mine with a short piece of
'II6" diameter silver wire. but another of
the silver headed contact rivets will be
perfectly suitable. Next fix the armature
in its pivots and check that it moves freely
and also that the contact screw lines up
with its partner on the gravity arm. The
return spring is fitted to the lower end of
the armature as previously described and
at this stage all of the stop screws should
be fully retracted to allow both armature
and gravity arm to have maximum
The count wheel is next fitted in place.
together with its glass roller back stop
and the gravity ar m catch assemb ly. The
tripping vane on the wheel arbor is fixed
so that its tip is on the sa me radial line as
the tip of one of the wheel teeth. Place the
gravity arm in its rest position with the
resilient leaf spring resting on the ledge of
the gravity arm catch. Now turn the count
wheel until the tripping vane is not quite
touching the free e nd of the catch and
then adjust the position of the glass back138

stop roller so that it retains the count

wheel in this position.
Finally. assemble the pendulum rod
and bob in position on the backplate and
adjust the position of the impulse pallet
on the rod so that it is parallel to the backplate and it just clears th e impulse roller
on the gravity arm when the pendulum
swings from side to side. The height of
this pallet is quite critical - if it actually
touches the roller at each swing the friction will be enough to stop the clock
working whi le too great a gap will give a
serious loss of impulse. I adjusted mine
until there was about 0.005" of clearance.
Finally adjust the position of the pendulum suspension trunnion backwards
or forwards until the pallet is exactly in
line with the roller and the gathering
jewel is similarly in line with the count
wheel teeth. Lock the pendulum trunnion clamps in this position. With the
pendulum hanging centrally and stationary. check the position of the gathering
jewel - it should be just to the left of the
tail of gravity arm catch. If it is not then
move the pendulum suspension to the
left or right until this position is achieved.
In extreme cases it may be found that
there is not sufficient movement availab le at the suspension and it will be
necessary to adjust the actual length of
the gathering jewel wire. When satisfied.
lock the pendulum suspension and
adjust the height of the gathering jewel by
means of the screw in the impulse pallet
until it just catches a tooth of the count
wheel when the pendulum swings to the
left and will 'gather' a tooth on the return
swing to the right. Keep the depth of
engagement as low as is safely possible
since this minimises friction on the
return swing.
Take the pendulum through a complete cycle of fifteen swings by hand and
check what happens when the tripping
vane contacts the gravity arm catch. As
the pendulum swing to the right it
should release the catch allowing the
gravity arm to drop. As it drops. the roller
should fall on the curved impulse face of
the pallet and travel down this face as th e
pendulum moves further to the right. If
all seems in order. the wiring can now be
tackled and as will be seen from the
diagram this is remarkably simp le. One
end of the pair of coil wires is connected
to the lower binding post. while the other
coil end is 'grounded' to the frame by con necting it to an 8 BA screw fitted in the
tapped hole in the lower end of the armature. It will be seen that this hole is in line
with the pole face of the lower magnet
coil and if we adjust the length of this
screw so that when fitted it protrudes
through th e a rm a ture by about 0.010" it
will act as an 'anti-stick' device by preventing the armature from contacting the
pole face. The other end of the wiring circuit is equa lly simple and consists solely
of the flexible wire connection previously
referred to between the gravity arm contact strip and the upper binding post. If a
3 volt battery is now connected to the two
binding posts it will be seen that this
voltage will be applied to the co il s every
time the gravity arm contact touches the
contact screw in the armature.
Continued on page 136


Continued from page 138
At this stage then we can make our
initial adjustments and here a set of feeler
gauges or the equivalent is very helpful.
First set the gravity arm on its catch and
hold the armature to the left: adjust the
position of the left hand armature stop
until the gap between the armature and
pole face is 0.010". At this same position
adjust the position of the contact screw in
the armature until the contact gap is
0.072". Now release the armature and
adjust the right hand armature stop screw
until the contact gap is 0.2 12". It might be
thought that the contact gap should be
zero with the armature in the left ha nd
position, but the gap of 0.072" is
deliberately included so that the gravity
arm moves the last part of its travel under
its own momentum giving a clean break
at the contact points.
Once again lead the pendulum by
hand and watch the action carefully. This
time when the gravity arm catch is
tripped the arm falls. but now as the pendulum moves further to the right. there
comes a point when the contacts touch.
As soon as this happens the armature
should be attracted to the magnet very
sharply and throw the gravity arm smartly
back on to its catch. To prevent it being
thrown too far. the gravity a rm stop screw

is adjusted in its pillar so the resilient

spring in the gravity arm cannot quite
touch the upper edge of the slot in the
catch. All being in order. set the pendulum swinging and watch events carefully. Hopefully each time the tripping
va ne comes round to the top the gravity
arm will fa ll impulsing the pendulum
sufficiently to make up for the loss of arc
during the previous thirty seconds; as the
pendulum swings to the right. the gravity
arm will co ntact the armature which then
rapidly resets the gravity arm with the
characteristic 'kerr-thump' which is
music to the ears of any Synchronome
All being well the movement can be left
running while the remaining loose ends
are tackled. al though the action is sofascinating to watch that it is most unlikely
th at much serious work will be done for
the next few days! There is nothing to prevent enthusiasts from playing around
with the contact settings a little and also
with the tension of the armature return
spring as by means of a little fine tuning it
is possible to reduce the noise level
slightly. This. it mu st be stressed. is a matter for each indi vidual builder to investigate as no hard and fast rules can be
given which will allow for the inevitable
va riations which creep into any hand
made mechanism.

There is always the possibility, discussed earlier in the series. that the
weight of the gravity arm is not quite
enough to keep the pendulum bob swinging continuously. This, of course. is a
function of both the weight of the gravity
arm and the weight of the pendulum bob
and if you are unfortunate enough to
have a combination which will not keep
going with the settings recommended
above, then extra weight will be needed at
the end of the gravity arm . Very little
additional weight is likely to be required
since the length of the arm multiplies the
effective force at the impulse roller.
Before you go mad and start drilling
holes all over the gravity arm in an
attempt to get a non-runner going. try the
effect of a few small steel washers held on
the left hand end of the gravity arm with
self adhesive tape. If these are effective.
gradually reduce the number until the
clock will just keep running. Having proved the point. the washers can then be
replaced by a permanent screw. with a
large head if necessary. of about the same
weight. If the weight is too heavy. then it is
quite likely that the armature will be unable to replace the gravity arm smartly
enough and extra voltage will be needed
on the coils to achieve the desired effect:
so do not be too eager to increase the
weight of the gra vity arm unnecessarily.


Eliot Isaacs, FBHI
Part Ten
If your clock has been running under its
own steam since last month you will now
be ready to tackle the final part of the
master clock itself. the advance and
retard mechanism. At first examination.
this seems to be a fairly crude and rather
unsophisticated device and it is only
when we start to dig a little deeper into the
history that we begin to understand the
reasoning behind the design.
Firstly. we must recognise the fact that
a master clock such as this would often be
required to impulse a great number of
secondary dials. sometimes widely
spread over a large building or group of
bui ldings: and in the event of a failure.
either mechanical or electrical. the physical effort required to restore each dial to
the correct time could be quite considerable. However. since the dials were all
coupled together electrically. it was quite
feasible to correct timekeeping errors by
sending extra impulses around the circuit
to advance all of the dials. or to withold
impulses to slow them down . To assist
this process. all of the secondary dials.
including that in the master clock case
itself. were connected in series. This gave
instant indication of any electrical faults
since a faulty connection giving rise to an
open circuit at any point would affect all
of the dials equally and the dial in the
master clock case would indicate the
same incorrect time as all of the remaining dials.
In these days of course we would think
nothing of providing two switches. one to
disconnect the dial circuit from the master clock coil enabling impulses to be

withe ld and one to connect the dial circuit directly to th e battery enabling
additional impulses to be transmitted at
will- the drawing should make this clear
- and anyone who is making this clock
purely as a functional device may well
choose to incorporate a system such as
thi s. When th e clock was first being
developed at the turn of the century. electrical switches and contacts were far less
reliable than the y are today: one has onl y
to examine old textbooks and other illustrations of early electrical equipment to
see the lengths to which designers would
go in an attempt to achieve reliability.
Frank Hope-Jones. the inventor of the
Synchronome system . was no exception
and he was always most insistent that the
number of contacts in his clock systems
was kept to an absolute minimum.
Although he was regarded by many of his
detractors as a very stubborn individual.
he maintained throughout his whole career that the master clock and impulse dial
system should contain no more than one
pair of contacts. that on the gravity arm
and armature.
Consequently. to provide variation in
the number of impulses sent to the dial
circuit. he resorted to purely mechanical
means and. after several false starts. he
finally settled on the system used in the
present master clock. This is basically
very simple and consists of a lever which
can be moved to any one of three
positions. Attached to the lever is a vertical rod. so shaped at its upper end that it
can contact the gathering jewel wire on
the impulse pallet. With this rod in its






lowest position it does not touch the

jewel wire and the clock functions normally. With the rod raised a small
amount, it lifts the gathering jewel clear
of the count wheel and the pendulum will
continue to swing without turning the
count wheel: this prevents impulses
being given either to the dial circuit or the
pendulum itself and eventually the pendulum will come to rest unless it is assisted by hand.
If the rod is ra ised still further it lifts the
jewel wire until the jewel can contact the
accelerator catch which. it will be remembered. is coupled to the gravity arm catch.
When this happens. the gravity arm is
tripped at each other swing of the pendulum. giving an impulse to the dial circuit every two seconds. Thus. if it is
required to advance all of the dials by one
hour. as at the commencement of British
SummerTime. then the lever is moved to
the 'A' position for exactly eight minutes
-at the end of this time the dials will have
received 120 additional impulses. To
retard the dia ls by a large amount such as
this is not so satisfactory as it is unlikely
that the pendulum will continue to swing
without impulse for so long as an hour
and it will be necessary to assist it by
hand. In practice. it is just as easy to let
the pendulum come to rest completely
and restart it one hour later. Small
variations of less than half a minute.
which may be required when setting the
clock to correspond exactly with a time
signal. are best achieved by turning the
cou ntwheel forwards or backwards by
hand a suitable number of teeth. The
necessary dexterity for this is very quickly
achieved and this enables the clock to be
adju sted very precisely.
The components required for the
advance and re tard mechanism are very
few and the one that will give the most
trouble to constructors is probably the
engraved brass plate: anyone in real difficulties in this respect is invited to write
to me care of the Editor as I can arrange
to engrave small quantities of these plates
if required. The vertical rod referred to
above is in fact no more than a length of
VJz" steel wire- piano wire or silver steel
are both quite suitable and the rat her
peculiar bend near the top end is
included purely to provide a degree of
fexibility when adjusting the wire to the
correct position. Purists may care to note
that the brass indicator plate on these
clocks usually carried a small seria l letter
and number right at the lower end and it
is possible to date clocks approximately
by this means. One of the prototypes
from which this series was prepared. for
example. bears the serial 'C5' in this
Strictly speaking. that is the e nd of the
con struction of our master clock
mechanism. but there are. as always.
some details to attend to. Firstly. there is



1 OFF Brass

1 OFF Brass (Y,s" Thick)









1'9.: .;;





ct> 1132




1 OFF EACH Brass

ct> 111"6

1 OFF Steel (%z" Dia.)


1 OFF Brass (Y,s" Thick)
the matter of a suitable power supply.
These days we tend to think of mains
powered transformer-rectifier units. or
trickle charged secondary cells for any
stationary apparatus such as this. but
such sophistication is really quite
uncalled for. The master clock consumes
a very small amount of power at each
impulse and there is such a (relatively)
long recovery time between impulses that
dry cells are more than capable of supplying the clock for long periods of time.
The main trouble. of course. is that the
traditional dry cells fitted with screw terminals are not readily available from
most electrical suppliers. However.
Messrs Ever Ready still do make single
dry cells of a suitable type and these




1 OFF Mild Steel

1 OFF Mild Steel


appear in their lists as 'Flag" cells. which

is a throwback to the days when cells of
this pattern used to have a large Union
Jack printed on the sleeve. Messrs
Maplin list these cells in their current
catalogue. the only drawback being the
expense- well over 4.00 at the last check.
When I was making my clock for this
series. I jibbed at this sort of cost. but I
was determined to have batteries that
were in keeping with the rest of the clock.
Therefore. I decided to use modern batteries which were readily avai lable. and
to conceal them in an outer shell of vintage style. The outer cases were readily
made from thin plywood. covered with
black paper; and the tops were fitted with
positive terminal and negative wire in

traditional style. with a layer of black

sealing wax to give the authentic finish.
Inside. there are two flexible wires which
are soldered to the terminals of standard
U2 type cells. now recently renumbered
as R20B. An alternative source for good
sized single cells is to break open a standard 6 volt lantern battery (PJ 996 or
HP992)- this gives four large cells which
should last a couple of years or more.
The recommended voltage to drive this
clock is 3 volts (i.e .. two single cells) which
is usually enough to drive the master plus
one secondary dial. Each additional dial
will require one more cell to cater for the
extra load. A feature of the design which
may not be readily noticed is that the
pendulum cannot come to rest with the
contacts permanently closed; this makes
it impossible for the clock to discharge
completely a partly worn out battery. with
the attendant problems of corrosion. etc .
that this would entail. Another interesting feature is that the circuit itself can be
arranged to give an early warning of an
expiring battery. In normal circumstances. with a fresh battery. the impulse is
very brief. as the gravity arm is returned
to its catch very smartly. When the battery begins to wear. the return action is
much slower since the battery has not
sufficient power to attract the armature.
When this occurs. on the return swing of
the pendulum the impulse pallet assists
the gravity arm to rise by pressing
upwards on the roller. enabling the
weakened battery to complete the job.
This. of course. gives rise to a greatly
prolonged impulse which can be put to
use by connecting a warning lamp in
se ries with the dial circuit. When the
impulse is prolonged. the lamp will flash
noticeably each half minute and draw
attention to the fact that the battery needs
replacing. The same effect was also
obtained by connecting a single stroke
bell. suitably adjusted. in the circuit but

_8_2_ _ __



[ August ,

1<) 20.




Reliability and


in the source of current are essential for

securing the successful operation of electric
time circuits.



possess these qualities in an unsurpassed

For 25 years these cells have successfully


met the demand for a dependable source

of current for










/llu:strated Brochure and Catalogue

on application to


Co., Ltd.,





CITY 6400.

Reproducrion of a 1920 advenisemenr for dry cells.

Battery failure warning /ighr.

this proved to be too irritating for general

use. The illustration shows a warning
lamp that was originally supplied by the
Synchronome company for use with their
clock systems and it is interesting to note
that the obsession with good contacts was
carried to the accessories- the terminals
on this lamp are of the spring loaded
variety. which cannot work loose with
As stated earlier in the series. the
inductance of the circuit will cause a
small spark at the contacts each time they
break. If the contacts are of precious
metal as suggested. this will not give rise
to many problems, particularly as the
design deliberately increases the contact
pressure as well as giving a slight wiping


action each time the contacts operate.

This causes any oxide film on the contact
surfaces to be broken up and allows the
contacts to function for a long time
without attention. However, should any
trouble of this nature occur. the
traditional solution is to connect a
capacitor and a resistor in series across
the contacts to act as a spark suppressor.
Again Messrs Maplins list a composite
unit ofO.lJ.1F in series with 100 ohms (list
no. YR90X) which makes a very neat job.
The same unit will help to reduce the
small amount of television interference
which sometimes may occur at each
impulse. although in most cases the
impulse is so short that it is rarely noticeable on the screen.


Eliot Isaacs, FBHI
Part Eleven
Like many model engineers. I tend to dislike woodwork. I find that wood . even
good quality h a rdwood. is a most intractable material with a mind of its own a nd
it tends to split and splinter at th e most
inconvenient moments. The little amount
of woodwork I do indulge in is ac hieved
by ignoring th is tende ncy: I trea t th e
wood just like alum inium and machine it
with the same tools and at the same
speeds that I would use for the metaL
However. when it co mes to an art icl e as
impo rtant as a clock case. I concede
defeat and for th e case of my electric master clock I was quite happ y to pass th e job
to a friend whose cab inet making
abilities were vastly superior to my
The origin al Synchronome m aste r
clocks were housed in rather elegant
ca ses. usua ll y of mahoga ny and with
quite o rn ate decorative mouldings. As
the cloc ks continued in p rod uction well
into the new century. tastes became con siderab ly simpl er and a much pl a iner
case became standard. usually in oak.
For my own clock. I have settled on a
comp ro mi se. midway between the two
styles. When I was discu ssing th e style
with my cabinet making friend. I was
fairly insistent that no plywood should be
incorporated. as I felt that thi s would be
out of keeping with the pe ri od. but
beyond th at I was fairl y read y to accept
hi s adv ice. It transpired that he had in
stock a fa ir amo unt of su itabl y sized
mahogany and he sugges ted that this
would make a m ore handsome look ing
case than oak. I re ad il y agreed to this and
left him to decide on suitable moul dings
for the top a nd bottom wh ich he felt
would be in keeping with the materiaL
The resu ltant case has far exceeded my
expectations and. whil e it is not an exact
copy of a Synchronome origina L it is perfect ly in keeping with the overa ll design
a nd period a nd for this reaso n I have no
hesitation in giving th e drawings for this
version . The various joints. although
so und , are a ll fa irl y simple and a lth o ugh
in m y version they were made with the
a iel of a uni versa ! woodworking m ac hine.
the model engineer sh o uld h ave no
difficulty in adap tin g m il ling equipment
to ha ve th e same effect. In this respect I
might add that I have in th e past
produced very passable h ardwood

mouldings with a cutter fi led up from

ordinary mild steel and rotated at high

speed in my Fobco '12'' drilling m ac hin e

with a suit able fence clamped to th e tabl e.
:::- _N






---=- r-I



1 OFF Brass





.. I

Mahogany or Oak
FINISH: French polish or cellulose lacquer


If you decide to adopt thi s procedure. do

be carefu l - cutters rotating at this sort of
speed can cut finge rs ju~'r a s easil y as
wood 1
Assuming that yo u ha ve managed to
construct. (or h ave had con structed) a
suitable case. then mounting th e m aster
cl oc k in it is ve ry straightfo~ward. First.
mark a vertica l centre line on the backboard and position the cast tron



1 - - -r - - -


















1--- -








Mahogany or Oak (%"thick)

baseplate centrally on this so that th e top

surface of the pe ndulum trunnion is
approximately I 1,1," from th e in s ide top
surface of th e case. Mount the baseplate
temporaril y in thi s positi o n using one
small woodscrew thro ugh th e upper hol e
in the ba sepla te. Hang the pe ndulum in
place and check that th e re is eno ugh
roo m for it to swing freely and a lso to get
the fingers in be nea th the pendulum bob
to reach the ra ting nut '>~<hen necessa ry. At
th e sa me tim e. th e re s hould be enough
room a t the top e nd to e nab le th e wiT1g
nuts to be slackened for remo va l of the
pendulum . If space is a little tight th e n
you will have to se ttl e on a compromise
position . When you are finally sat isfi ed
with the positi o n re mo ve the pendulum
and fix the basep late casting pe rmanently in position on the bac kboard
using three I" X No. 10 round head
Before the clock can be regarded as
complete some attention mu st be paid to
th e fi nal finishin g of its varius compone nt parts. The bac kplate cas tin g in th e
o riginal clocks. had either a matt black o r
black crackle cellulose fini s h - a finish
which was much in vogue for in strument
work some years ago. but which see m s to
have fa llen into disfavour more recently.
Unless you have access to the ge nuin e
process (usually involving a staving
oven) it is best to settle for th e matt black
ename l and! find that two coats of a matt
black aerosol car enamel are perfectly
adeq uate. N a turall y. th e castin g s ho uld
be cl ea n and free of any ru st or grease for
the enamel to cover and stay in pl ace. The
sa me treatment ca n be given to the
pendu lum bob if you h ave used a n iron
ca sting fo r this.
The brass parts were traditionally
'straight grain ed' and thi s effect is best
achieved b y rubbing them face down on a
nat board covered with a suit ab le grade
of carborundum paper. I us e o rdinary
me lamine covered chipboard for thi s
(sold in various width s for s he lvin g) and I
fix 'wet or dry' carborundum paper to the
surface with one o f th e mod ern spra y on
adhesives - Scotch 3M ~p ra y p hoto
mount is ve ry suit able . Abrasive paper
with 400 grit gives a good well defined
grain a nd~care~ mu s t b ~ taken to kee p the
brass component mo ving in a pe rfect ly
st raight line para llel to its longer side- a
ruler or other fe nce clamped to th e e m e ry
board is ve ry he lpful in thi s res pect. The
gravity arm is quite difficult to dea l with
since the grain needs to chan ge direc tion
so that it it is para llel to each a rm .
Th e count wheel should rea lly be
finished with a circular grain which ma y
be achieved by ho lding an emery sti c k
against both faces whi le th e wheel is
rotating in th e la th e; howe ve r. if yo u have
mad e a nice job o f the wheeL th e n a
mirror polish a ll over will be perfectly
exc usab le. Thi s again is achieved by the
use of emerv covered boards. but in th is
case the fin ~ ! fini sh is put on with a very
fine grit paper (ROO grit or croc us paper)
fol lowed by rubbing on a similar board
covered wit h felt or nannel and c harged
with metal poli s h. Brasso or s imilar is
ideaL b u t an even q u icker polish is
obtainab le with 'Autosol'- this is sold by
car accessory deal e rs in tub es. rath e r like




I ll~,.


too thp as te and. although it is quite
ex pe nsive. it is ve ry eco no mi ca l in use.
The o th e r brass parts a re a ll fini s hed in
sim il ar mann er. e ith er stra ight grained o r
poli shed as appro pri a te. ~ ~
To protect cleaned brass from tarnish ing. instrument work such as thi s was
trad itionally a lways lacquered us ing an
ora nge coloured lacq uer made from
s he llac. Lacquering in this mann e r was
(and is) quite an art and it needs a fair
degree of experience to achieve good
res ult s. Th e lacqu er must be of very high
quality. as mu st th e brush used to apply
it. a nd the work nee d s to be wa rm ed to
exactly the ri g ht tempe rature to ca use the
lacqu er to n ow freely. In view of these difficultie s. suppli ers now offer so-ca lled
co ld' lacquers which are much eas ier to
ap pl y and the va ri ety so ld as 'Gold
Lacquer' has the right so rt of orange tint.
Other lacqu e rs and varnishes s uch as
Canning's 'E rca le ne o r 'Frigilene' are
easily applied with a spray gun and give
exce llent long las ting res ults. but th ey do
lack the authentic golden-orange colour.
One or two corresponde~1tS have
ex pressed difficult] in ob tain ing supp lies
of th e thin s lee ving fo r insulating the
ends of their co ib. In m y loca l garden
shop (it i~ s carc~ l y la rge enough to
qualify for th e name of garden centre) I
rec e ntly purchased a reel o f thin iron
ty ing wire. covered with a green plastic
co at ing. Thi s coating is eas il y pulled off
in quit e long lengths. giving a ve ry u seful
plastic sleeve of about 1/zmm bore. just
right in both colour and si ze for insulatin~g our coil ends; and the iro n wire le ft
after stripping is ideal for tyin g things
toge th e r when si lve r soldering or
Anct'that then ju st about completes our
Sy nchronom e patte rn electric mas ter
cl oc k. There remain s. of course. the
necessa ry impul se dial or dial s on which
to regi ste r th e ac tual tim e: and after a
sho rtbreak I s hall with the Editor's permi ss ion. describe th e construction of an
a uth e nti c impul se dial base d o n the
original Sy nchro nom e pattern a nd capable o f driving a dial of up to about 15"
diameter. One dial of about 7" di a m ete r
was. o f co urse. always fitted in th e case of
th e ma ster cl oc k and man y constructors
will no doubt feel that th e ir clock is
incomplete without this d ial.
Fin a lly. m y thank s are d ue to the TannSynchronome Company for th eir kind ness in a llowing me to publi s h this series
and to Mr. John Plai ste r and Group
Capt. P. Wills. MBHI. for th e ir va luabl e
ass ista nce and encouragement.