Chapter 12: Everything ElseMay & June, 2006
This chapter covers everything else! Making the mounting bracket, final polishing and assembly, installing the weight line, and final installation of the completed clock.
I didn't take many pictures of the mounting bracket itself, but you can see it in the picture at the bottom of this page. In this final chapter, I strayed somewhat more than usual from the details outlined in the book. Partly out of laziness, and partly from a simple difference in design aesthetic I suppose. In any case, the mounting bracket is a small shelf that holds the clock up, and and hangs on the wall like a painting. It has cutouts for the pendulum and weight line. Interestingly, the clock is actually bolted to the bracket - if you look closely in some of the photos you can see the bolts extending from the shelf into the lower pillars. I hadn't expected this, but it seemed like a good idea, especially considering that we live in earthquake country. I redesigned the hangers slightly - they are vertical thick strips of brass that are screwed to the back side of the mounting bracket. Mine are held on by three screws each (instead of two as in the book), and designed to be held by large mirror hanging hooks instead of simple screws or nails. I thought it was unlikely that I'd actually be able to hang it with both sides in a stud, and wanted to make sure it would be mounted securely. I left the bracket unstained, since I thought the brass would look better with light wood than the dark stain in the book, and finished it with a nice wipe-on polyurethane. I also bought a large glass dome to cover it instead of making a square plastic cover as the book suggested.
Next up was the final sanding and polishing. I'd put it off for as long as I could, but I finally needed to sand and polish the plates. It was a pain, and took many hours. And even afterwards, they are still covered with small scratches. I think they look quite good, though, even if they don't have the flawless mirror finish that perhaps they should. They were sanded with 400 grit sandpaper, and then 600 grit. Finally, they were rubbed with polish to remove the 600 grit scratches. The book said to use a polish called Rubin-Brite, which appeared to be available from a museum supply house I found (clearly, it's good stuff!). However, it seems that the product has been discontinued. So, I used Brasso from the local hardware store. It worked surprisingly well! All of my prior metal polishing experience (which is not inconsiderable) has been with using mechanical buffing wheels of various sizes, and hard waxy buffing compounds of a variety of compositions. I was pleased and interested to see how amazingly well a liquid abrasive polish can work to remove minute scratches and give a mirror polish. I plan to use this technique more in the future - although it's a little more work than mechanical polishing, it lacks many of the problems (clogging of the buffing wheel, the almost-finished piece getting ripped out of your hands and thrown across the room, etc).
A few of the other pieces of the clock got a quick sand and polish as well, but the plates were most of the work. The majority of other pieces had already been finished and dipped in lacquer. The gears only needed to be cleaned and installed. I did clean them, though perhaps not as well as I should have. I was in a bit of a hurry to finish at this point - you can see in some of the photographs that the wheels and arbors appear distinctly dirtier than, say, the plates. I'm still very pleased with the result.
Finally, the clock was ready to be assembled! Here's a picture of me assembling the clock, prior to oiling it, bolting it to the bracket, and hanging it on the wall. I found those nice thin cotton gloves at the same museum supply house that claimed to carry Rubin-Brite, and they did a good job of keeping my fingerprints from marring the finish without being too warm.
And here is the final product, after nearly two years of work. The finished clock was installed on July 2nd, 2006. It's been running for a couple of days now, and while the pendulum motion seems a bit weak to my eye, it shows no sign of stopping. I am absolutely thrilled. I was very pleased to see that the offset great wheel tooth didn't prevent the clock from running. The great wheel has successfully made several complete revolutions. The clock keeps approximate time - it seems to run somewhat slow, even with the pendulum length adjusted to be as short as possible. I can only imagine that either the pendulum or suspension spring were made a bit too long. I'll probably continue to tinker with it - likely shortening the pendulum rod by an inch or so will fix it. Then it will be interesting to see how accurately it can be adjusted, although without a second hand it's somewhat difficult to measure the error.