This summer I’m going to Lakes of Fire with Gothee House! Lakes of Fire is one of the regional burns associated with the Burning Man Organization. This one takes place near the eastern side of Lake Michigan. Gothee House will have a camp there, providing finely brewed coffee and a gothic-industrial dance floor. We’ll have some events that start at certain times, so we decided it would be nice to have a clock that’s easy to see by our visitors.
I’ve always loved wooden clockwork devices, so I claimed the clock project from our rather lengthy list of things we need to do for Lakes of Fire. I’m attempting to make a wooden clock. So with sheets of birch plywood at hand and my scroll saw, I started with the escapement mechanism.
The escapement is the heart of a mechanical clock. In such a clock, you have some force that’s trying to turn the gears that move the clock’s hands, but you want that mechanism to move only at controlled intervals. The pendulum and escapement is a way of doing that. A pendulum swings with predictable periods. As it swings, the pendulum moves the escapement, releasing one tooth of the escapement gear at each end of its swing. Also as the tooth is released, it applies a little force to the pendulum, keeping it swinging. (No perpetual motion here!) Remember that something else, like a weight or a spring, is trying to turn the clock’s gears, including the escapement gear. The type of escapement I’m using is a deadbeat escapement.
This is my first project involving wooden gears and it’s definitely taking some practice to cut these things precisely enough. The picture at the top of this article shows the escapement mechanism that I just cut today. That one seems to work, though I’m sure it will need some fine-tuning. The next picture shows my first attempts (with a somewhat different design):