Sunday, February 10, 2019

In Memory of a Friend - A Simple Clock Repair

A simple, but priceless clock

A few months ago a very good friend of mine passed away from brain cancer. It was a very aggressive form of the disease and he passed away only a few weeks after his diagnosis. 

It was a very tragic time for all of us that knew him, and it struck very close to home for me personally. 

Shortly after the funeral, my friend's wife mentioned that she had "something" that she would like for me have to tinker with. When I finally came over to see what she had for me, I was presented with a fairly simple clock made from a slab of wood, minus its movement and its hands. 

To the casual observer, it wouldn't have seem like much, but it is the story attached to this clock that makes it valuable. 

The clock was made by my friend's grandfather as a present to him. I distinctly remember the stories my friend had told me about his grandfather and how proud he was of him.

His grandfather was very much a "old school" sort who had lived his life up in the logging and mining country of Northern Ontario. As a result there was very much of a "make do with what you have" mindset with him, and it showed that very much in how the clock was made.

So obviously it was critical to me personally to get this clock up and running again. 

Once I got the clock home, I took a quick assessment of it. 

One clock, in need of repair

First thing that struck me was it was built with very simple tools. For example, the cavity for the clock movement was basically created by drilling several small holes in the back of the slab until a cavity was carved out, as evidenced by the many drill marks in the bottom of the cavity.

Clock movement cavity - created by a drill
Flipping over the clock to look at the face of it, I immediately noticed another example of "making do with what you have".

A manufactured seven

It seemed that there wasn't a number 7 on hand, but an extra 4 and 5 were, so why not take a little of each and make a 7 out of it?

Once the inspection was complete, the repair began. As I mentioned earlier, the clock basically needed a new movement and hands to get it functioning again - which luckily I had a spare set on hand that would do perfectly, though you can purchase a set of hands and a movement fairly inexpensively at any craft supply store. 

Clock movement and hands

Initially I though it would be a simple matter of installing the clock movement into the cavity in the back of the clock and putting the hands on, but I immediately hit a snag, the clock movement was a little too wide and as a result the clock movement wouldn't seat fully into the back of the clock. 

A little too small

Now this posed a bit of a problem, I needed to make the hole bigger, but I also didn't want to destroy the character in how the clock was constructed. Normally the usual thing that I would have done was just take out my rotary tool and cut out the extra bit of wood I needed to get rid of, but that would have destroyed the hand built nature of the clock.

So, in keeping with the nature of the build, I removed the little bit of extra wood with a wood chisel in order to maintain that hand built quality to the piece.

Removing the excess wood with a chisel

With that little bit of wood trimmed away, the clock movement fitted perfectly.

A perfect fit

Next we installed the hands to the clock and immediately hit our next snag - the minute hand was a tad too long

A little too long

This is actually a fairly common occurrence whenever I try to repair a clock - in most cases a quick trim with the scissors remedies the situation.

Trimming the excess with scissors

A perfect fit

And with that the clock was repaired and ticking away

All fixed

As I now write this, the clock is hanging on the wall by my desk, serving as a timeless tribute to two men, my old friend and his grandfather.

I still think of my friend almost daily.  He passed way, way too soon. I encourage everyone to visit this site to learn more and perhaps help prevent others from suffering this fate.

Towards the end I was struck on how level headed he remained through out this journey, maintaining that sense of humor that he always had. To me that was the very definition of grace in the face of adversity.

Farewell Mike, until we meet again.

No comments:

Post a Comment