The End of the Clock Saga - Perhaps
For several years the reliability of the church clock has been suspect. The fact that it is now wound up by electricity, means that regular visits should not be necessary, and that good time-keeping is an integral part of modernisation. This has not happened as we expected it would, and the many trips up the forty steps to the clock room have not, until recently, cured the problem. The solution has at last been found, and we hope that the occasional visit, say once every month will ensure reasonable accuracy.
The above paragraph will no doubt satisfy many readers, but I offer the explanation of our problem to those interested, and the repairs necessary to correct it's timekeeping.
During the repairs to the fabric of the church five years or so ago, the clock face was also a candidate for attention, and perhaps a new winding system. For many years Philip Sheldrik climbed those steps every other day to wind up the ropes tied to the heavy weights driving the Going, and Striking mechanisms. If the clock gained a little he could put it right, and we would hardly notice his corrections. The experts in the Churches Conservation Trust suggested that the new clock face, and the Electric winding gear would ensure good time keeping, with not too much attention. Their only condition was that no alterations to the ancient mechanism were allowed, as this time piece is of the same vintage as that in King's College, and should not have it's integrity impugned.
The ropes were replaced by a large cog-wheel fixed by clamping it to the old wooden barrel, roughly in the centre, of both the "going" and "striking" systems. Over these two cogs passed the chains supporting new heavy weights, replacing those on the end of the old ropes. These weights drop some ten inches, turning the barrels round, and are then raised by the electric motors to their starting positions. All went well for several years, the time keeping was not that good, but sufficient for a village clock. At least the four trips a week stopped. The gears behind the clock face worked well, as did the night silencing, which is also operated up there. I say up there, because the clock and the clock face are on different floors, and a stout shaft driven by the clock conveys the turning motion to the hands All that sets the scene for the trouble. During the dry summer period the wooden barrel shrank, so that the cog-wheel became lose, and moved out of alignment with the driving chain. This would not be too serious with the going train, but the striking train turns very fast; indeed the weight does not get lifted by the motor when striking more than four blows. This speed, and a lose cog, which had moved sideways, caused the chains to jam round another part of the system, and moved the whole clock off it's cradle.
Sidney Hewitt and I managed to lift it back, and straighten out the chains, but other damage had occurred, particularly with that stout shaft leading up to the clock face. We tried many tricks to get the clock to go faster. Rod Clayton, an athletic young man went up the tower many times to correct the time. As he lives in Anglesey House he sees the clock every time he opens his back door, and has a special interest in good time-keeping.
Having all failed in our attempts, the expert was called in. Mr Colin Walton noticed that the weight of part of the clock was hanging on the shaft to the clock face, and that the gears on it were very tight. After lifting the frame up by packing under the base. an inspection was made behind the clock face. This is quite a hazardous business, as it involves climbing over the bell frames, which is too much for the elderly clock minders.
After minor adjustments, Colin was satisfied that all should be well. The tinkering I had done with extra weights on the pendulum was removed, and we have had an accurate time keeping for a whole week now. I hope all will continue to run smoothly, and that Rod will not be called upon to climb the steps too often.