Friday, August 21, 2009

Creative Patterns

We found this pattern maker, who had the good idea to use a vintage cuckoo clock pendulum (of the type typically used on pendulums in the '70s and '80s) to neat effect.

Check out a NEW shield Black Forest Clock:

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inverted Pendulum

We know what a pendulum is. It's a great device for producing regular periods, which is especially useful in mechanical clocks, when you want to break down fast power into smaller intervals (like seconds).

Galileo Galilei discovered it around 1602 and Christiaan Huygens was the first to use it in a clock for accurate escapement in 1656.

But what if you turned it upside down? It's easy to do by hand. Take a long rod and balance it on the palm of your hand. In order to keep it up, it requires finite adjustments by your hand. A little to the left... right... forward... Don't let it fall!

Your brain accepts input from your eyes and feel of the weight on your hand to see which way the rod begins to fall, and tells your arm and hand to adjust as necessary to keep the bottom of the rod under the top... keeping it balanced. It's not that difficult to do for someone as intelligent as ourselves.

Could that control be synthesized? Imagine the possibility...

...or, just look it up on YouTube...

From Wikipedia, "An inverted pendulum is a pendulum which has its mass above its pivot point. It is often implemented with the pivot point mounted on a cart that can move horizontally and may be called a cart and pole. Whereas a normal pendulum is stable when hanging downwards, an inverted pendulum is inherently unstable, and must be actively balanced in order to remain upright, either by applying a torque at the pivot point or by moving the pivot point horizontally as part of a feedback system."

Check out this pendulum clock:

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Changing the suspension spring on an "Americana" anniversary clock

This short tutorial will give you some help changing the suspension spring on our popular "Americana" Anniversary clock. If your suspension spring is broken, replacing it is a relatively simple fix.

The first step is to make sure you have the parts and tools you need. You'll need the clock, a pair of pliers, and the replacement suspension spring. The suspension spring actually looks like a little brass ribbon.

notice that there are two ends with a pin, or a plastic perpendicular piece sticking out that is closer to one end than to the other.

There are two square ends with pins sticking out of the sides.

Carefully take the glass dome off and set it aside. Take a look at the back of the clock.

Using just your fingers, pull the black plastic hand-setting knob straight off. This is only friction fit, and should not be too difficult to pull off. Please make sure you pull it straight back, and not to one side or the other.

Also, pull the battery door off and remove the battery.

Once you have the battery cover removed, carefully pull the rest of the back off of the clock. You can grasp the cover at the sides - one side in the battery compartment, and on the opposite side - so that you are pulling to separate the back at the TOP of the clock.

Once you have the top of the back piece separated, you should be able to easily slide the back piece up and off of the clock, exposing the movement.

In this picture (below), you can see how the replacement suspension spring fits into place. It is likely that you will see the remains of the broken one in your clock.

Remove the broken piece by lifting the top of the spring (brass ribbon) out of its cradle.

Now it's time to install the new suspension spring. Lay it out so that you can identify the top part properly. As pictured here (below) the top of the spring is on the left. The end on the right side of this picture will hook into the pendulum below.

Turn the clock over so you see the bottom of the clock.

Using the pliers, carefully loosen (but do not completely remove) the two smaller nuts at the sides.

This will allow you to remove the top of the pendulum (carousel) so that you can hook the bottom part of the suspension spring to the top of the pendulum.

The square piece of the suspension spring should fit in the slot of the hook on the pendulum. If it is too difficult to slide it in, you may completely remove the nuts at the bottom and completely separate the clock from its base. This step is optional, but may be easier to maneuver.

See below how the bottom end of the suspension spring hooks into the pendulum.

Thread the top end of the suspension spring through the hole at the top of the carousel.

Hook the top end of the suspension spring to the cradle at the top of the clock (where you removed the broken piece.

IMPORTANT: The plastic pin that sticks out perpendicularly to the brass ribbon on the spring should be TO THE LEFT of the star wheel on the movement.

Now you can either reattach or tighten the base by tightening the nuts on the bottom of the clock.

Make sure the round bottom of the pendulum falls into the large brass piece in the center of the base.

Tighten the nuts at the bottom, but be sure not to tighten them too tightly so that they crack the porcelain.

Before you replace the back piece, test your work. Set up the clock so that the pendulum hangs suspended a few millimeters above the base. Is there enough clearance? Do you need to loosen the center brass piece in the base to allow the pendulum enough room?

Once you replace the battery, you should see the star wheel twitching. Double check that the pin on the suspension spring is TO THE LEFT of that star wheel. As that pin comes in contact with the lever next to the star wheel, the star wheel should come free and push the pin back - turning the pendulum.

Once you see that everything works properly, you can replace the back cover. Be sure to slide it down, into the grooves below first... and then snap it back at the top.

Be sure the pin on the suspension spring is out of your way (pointing towards the clock) as you do this.

Once you replace the battery cover and the dome you should be finished! Congratulations!

A word for the future: You only want to give the pendulum the gentlest of pushes to get it started. These suspension springs break from over-twisting. As long as the pendulum isn't spun a great amount, your suspension spring should last a long time. Your pendulum isn't supposed to spin very fast - just a gentle swing back and forth.

Be sure to reference THIS POST on the proper setup of this fine clock.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Corpus Clock

Dubbed the strangest clock in the world, it features a giant grasshopper and has 60 slits cut into its face which light up to show the time.
Its creator John Taylor said he "wanted to make timekeeping interesting".


That's pretty much NCI's mantra - "Making timekeeping interesting." In addition to our own clocks, it's great to find extravagant works of horological art being produced throughout the world.

This one is pretty fascinating. Although it has LED lights and an electric winding motor, it is otherwise all mechanical with a grasshopper escapement.

By the way, our new cuckoo clock catalog should be finished printing by Friday. Make sure we have your favorite clock or jewelry or gift store on file so that they will receive our new catalog.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Clock History

The James Burke television series of the '70s, Connections still remains immensely popular. He had a real knack for telling the history of change.

In this episode Burke is talking about the history of the clock, and how it relates to the development of the computer as well as mechanized production and the development of the U.S. as an industrial power.

He starts here by explaining early Arabic theories in astronomy and astrology, as well as European contemporaries' need for hourly prayer in the Dark Ages. Burke takes us through history, pointing out the need for an accurate clock and the rise of Christiann Huygens's important invention: the pendulum clock.

By the end of the first segment here, Burke introduces the verge and foliott - the exact escapement found in our "Rock Clock" which was in use in the Black Forest in Germany in 1640. In the second segment listed here he talkes about a fusee mechanism and goes on to show other mechanical marvels like our cuckoo clocks - or our "Rottenburg", for example.

The entire episode is available on YouTube in segments. I would highly reccommend checking the entire series out of your local library or favorite video store.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Unpack your Black Forest Clock, or Cuckoo Clock

Here are a few words on unpacking your new Black Forest clock. The pictures below are of a Rombach und Haas "Dumpling Eater," but the instructions can also be applied to unpacking almost any Black Forest clock - including Cuckoo Clocks!

North Coast Imports, Inc. is proud to use recycled and/or renewable materials in packaging. Enjoy the old-world charm as you unpack your new clock. These cherished pieces are lovingly packed by the careful clock makers in the Black Forest in Germany.

After carefully cutting the tape and opening the top of the box (find the top by paying attention to which way the lettering is facing on the ends of the box) lift the cardboard flap to reveal your exciting new timepiece.

Using two hands, carefully lift the top of the clock out first and sliding the clock upward and out of the cardboard surrounding the bottom of the clock.

The Dumpling Eater figure may have a plastic bag rubber-banded around. Carefully remove the rubber band and bag being careful not to disturb the delicate figure's moving arm.

There may be another rubber band around the figure itself. Use great care to remove this band.

Remove the back of the clock. You will have to push aside the metal latch and pry the door open (from the top) with a pen or screwdriver. It should come open easily.

Once the back is removed take a moment to admire the fine craftsmanship of the mechanical movement inside. This solid brass and steel mechanism is made according to hundreds of years of practice and modifications.

During shipment the pendulum leader (circled in red) may have jostled to the side. You should be able to easily push this leader back so that it falls through the slot - see following picture.

On the back of the clock you can remove the paper which deadens the sound of the gong during shipment. This paper may have already been knocked loose and might be floating around in the back of the case. It is not a problem. The paper does not protect the clock from any damage - it only keeps the clock silent during shipment.

Pictured above you can see a bag that bundles the chains together. Again, this bag does not protect the clock from damage. If this bag has fallen loose in the box no harm has come to your clock. Now is the time during unpacking when you can untwist the wire from around the bag. For now, let the chains hang free without the bag, but leave the wire threaded through the chain links.

The untwisted but still-threaded wire will allow you to handle the clock more easily before you hang it.

Now would be a good time to hang the clock. If the clock is an 8-day (as the dumpling eater is) you should find a stud and anchor a good-sized screw in at an angle. Hang the clock so that it hangs flat against the wall. In order to get a full run out of your chains you should hang the clock high enough so that the chains are just barely touching the floor. If you don't have room to let the chains hang all the way down it won't hurt the clock but you may find yourself winding the clock more often. Here is a good article on how to hang your weight-driven clock.

Clock packaging uses every millimeter of space. Be sure not to throw anything away because it might contain something important! This also points out why it is imperative to always double-box clocks for shipment. There is not enough soft packaging in the factory box to withstand domestic shipping.

Unwrap the pendulum.

Find the weights.

Once you have the clock securely hung you can remove the wire threaded through the chains. This wire was threaded through the chains to keep them from falling back into the clock and jamming the movement.

You will probably have to remove labels and tags that are hanging below to allow for a free swing of the pendulum.

Hang the weights on the BRASS HOOKS.

Hang the pendulum on the pendulum leader that falls through the slot.

This article was meant to give you a pictorial introduction to unpacking your clock only. Be sure to pay close attention to the instructions that came with the clock for other aspects of owning a mechanical clock. You can also frequently check this site for updates and helpful articles for the continued care of your timepiece.


Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,