The Engineer

Emett water clock

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Update:

I got to the Vic Centre around 5.30pm yesterday. Intu management and PR people were there around 6pm. BBC Radio Nottingham were covering it and I think Evening Post too. Apparently Central TV had said they'd be there but something else must have come up. We had to wait until 7pm for the public to leave before the Intu engineers could bring two cherry pickers to the area. Tim from the Emett Society set up a couple of video cameras upstairs on the balcony. Intu staff brought a stack of pallets and rolls of bubble wrap.

The Intu engineers started from the top, removing the three pendants from the "mobile", their support rods, the top spire, the four clock faces then the clock support tower. Meanwhile, I went down to the basement and stripped out the electrical control panel (the one that I had previously built) and the stereo system.

We removed all the petal operating rods (36 off). Tim from the Emett Society was numbering and tagging everything as we went, laying the parts out on pallets, ready to be bubble-wrapped. I stripped out the electrics from the clockwork control box while the Intu engineers started removing the petals.

One of the Intu engineers started to lift the floor slabs as we need to get to the bottom of the legs - just hope they aren't contreted in (we don't know yet). We managed to lift a couple - they are slate, about an inch thick. It was clear that water had got down through the grout, so I'm hoping the rest won't be too secure though will take my pickaxe tonight just in case.

Each petal was secured with a pin about 4" long and 3/8" diameter that had to be tapped out carefully - not much room to work between petals and several were quite tight so this was time consuming and noisy. The cut-off for "noisy" work was 10pm (noise travels up to the flats we hear), by which time they had managed to remove 18 petals (out of 36). We then switched to "quiet" tasks.

The Intu engineers removed the "orchestra players" then the mechanism for the top "mobile", followed by the next tower section (that was quite heavy). Then they removed some cover plates and the orchestra turntable. I removed the central ornate piece. We took the big water wheel off and layed it down in the basin. I took the bell off.

We carried the water wheel to a secret location (OK, it was an empty unit in the Centre). It only just fitted through several sets of double doors if held at an angle. Lastly, the water spout pipe was remove. It was now past midnight, and there was nothing else that could be done without making noise. I departed, leaving the Intu enginners to move the multitudinous parts (now on pallets) to the empty unit, and to put the cherry pickers away.

We'll carry on this evening - I reckon we should get done today but saying that, we haven't got to the bottom of the legs yet so that could sink a few hours.

Incidentally, the barrier didn't materialise so anyone visiting today can see what remains to be disassembled.

Finally, I chatted with a senior manager from Intu and she said it's definitely coming back and they have identified a space for it. There won't be seats around it, just some sort of glass barrier. Please ignore any rumours to the contrary. I wouldn't be getting so involved it there was any chance of losing the clock.

The Engineer

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I bet The Engineer has got his Kango hammer on that floor :)

Watch out for "vibration white finger"

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Update:

Yesterday's work started at 6.30pm. I used my pickaxe to lift the slate slabs from around the clock's legs. The Intu engineers started to dig into the concrete with a 110V SDS chisel but it was hard going. Another Intu engineer used a cherry picker to remove the remaining petals. There was one that simply wouldn't budge so it was left attached.

One of the contractors doing other work on the site pitched up with a bigger electric chisel so we had a go with that on the concrete. It was still not very fruitful - the concrete semed particularly hard. We then took five and browsed some original photos of the framework. It was evident that the legs had not only been concreted in but they must be around 11 or 12 inches shorter than original. As we have aspirations to restore as near as possible to original, I suggested there was little value in spending more effort chipping away at the concrete. At best we could have exposed a few inches and still would have to extend the legs. It was agreed that we would just slice the legs off with a cutter as near the floor as possible.

Before cutting the legs, we continued with the strip down by unbolting and lifting off the sunflower. That was quite heavy but we got it down in one piece. I pulled the remaining cables clear of the clockwork control box and we removed that from the frame. The Intu engineers cut all the legs while I recovered the cables from the plastic conduit.

Four of us lifted the frame out of the basin, towards the cupcake stall. At last it was all out! I finished off by pulling the cable tails up from the basement. We were done by around 10pm. So there we have it - the clock is out!

All of the parts are to be taken away on Thursday to the temporary location from where refurbishment work will be carried out by around eight to ten members of the Rowland Emett Society. We need to get it ready for display in Birmingham (by early May I think). It will need to be fully functional, including a rotating water wheel, albeit as a dry installation (don't worry, it'll get wet again when back in the Vic Centre).

I'll post again when we've started the restoration.

Engineer

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What a great job you are doing! Although I am several thousand miles away, I enjoy your updates on the clock, and look forward to seeing it restored to it's original splendor - complete with water driven "wheel". I well remember when the clock was first revealed at the Vic. Center, and have taken a number of American visitors to see it, explain its "workings" and watch it do its 15 minute magic! I look forward to seeing it in operation again - hopefully soon!

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Yesterday I took some of the parts to show other members of the Rowland Emett Society. Several of them are members of a pre-war Austin Seven club, so are well versed in applying skills to old mechanical things. I've said I will manage any electrical aspects and sort out the drive needed for the water wheel. The deadline is to have it up and running in Birmingham by 12th May, where it will live until September.

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YouTube: nine hours of work compressed to about a minute! I'm the one in the white hat (except for when it got too hot, in which case I'm the baldy man).

"

"

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Just found another video. This is Rowland Emett at the official opening, mini-curtains and all.

http://www.movietone.com/N_POPUP_Player.cfm?action=playVideo&assetno=105041

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Have been playing that MovieTone clip a lot, trying to estimate the rotational speed of the water wheel. This is because I need to decide how fast to make it run when I specify a new motor/gearbox/drive-shaft. I have a figure now but can someone else try to estimate rotational speed and see what they come up with? Answer as x seconds per rev or RPM. Of course we don't know whether MovieTone has been reliably copied via TeleCine, so speed could be a bit out anyway.

If it helps, there are 18 water catchers and there's a section around 1:36 where over half a revolution can be observed.

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The rest of the parts were transported to a secret location yesterday. I went there in the evening to meet the group and start to divvi up who will do what. I brought the control panel, the mechanical plate (with the clockwork on it), two of the motors and a gearbox back with me.

There is a gearbox (worm and wheel type) that drives the petals with a bung on the side that says "oil level". This wouldn't have been accessible in-situ. Thought I'd better check the level....... are you ahead of me?.........dry as a bone. Luckily it only runs for around seven seconds eight times an hour so I think it's OK. I also need to swap a couple of bearings on the con-rod and do a bit of de-gunking.

The main task for me is to sort out that missing motor/gearbox/shaft/pulley. Before I can spec. the parts, we need to sort out the shaft for the main cobweb water wheel. It is clear now that the housing with two bearings in plummer blocks is not original so we have to cut that off and weld a tube on instead then decide whether it ought to have plain sleeve bearings or maybe needle roller bearings. Once that's sorted I'll have a better idea of the relative distance from drive shaft to wheel shaft. That determines the size of the drive pulley, which then determines the speed of the drive shaft. The motor gearbox is available in a range of different speeds. I've figured that the wheel needs to turn at around 5RPM.

That's all for now,

Engineer

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Thanks, look forward to seeing the new clock :)

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Update:

Was at the Time Fountain bunker yesterday from 11:45am to around 6:30pm. I stripped out the rest of the bits from the control box (mainly the mechanism that lifts the petals). The box assembly is almost ready to go to the soda blasters.

I built a wooden rim for the big cobweb water wheel, to minimise damage to its water catchers when it is in transit (one or two had gotten bent during its move from Nottingham). I curved three lengths of CLS by cutting deep slots at 50mm pitch, then cut 18 off 200mm noggins to go between the rim and the wheel. It was a bit tricky to assemble this on my own but I got there in the end.

I removed 33 petal pivot pins for fettling (some need the ends trueing up where accidentally mushroomed). There are three that I couldn't shift - will have to go back with better tools - problem is that there's not a lot of space between the petal carriers "stirrups" so I can't get a drift in. I'm thinking of making a puller-type tool.

I brought the Orchestra motor gearbox home - there is evidence of grease/oil leakage and some of the bolts are loose. I need to clean it up and maybe use a bit of threadlock.

The three pendants from the Top Feature "mobile" are back from the soda blasters and looking shiny and silver-like (one of the guys reckons they might be cadmium plated).

Engineer.

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Thanks for the updates. It is fascinating reading of the work which is going into this, For most of the public it will be a case if "It went and it came back again" with no clue of all the work going on behind the scenes. I try to imagine which parts you are referring to, as if I am watching you.

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What darkazana said - but it also gives us some insight into Emett and his skills too!

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Any detailed pictures of the parts would be interesting, they probably wont be seen again for a while.

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post-4168-0-16910300-1393454014_thumb.jp

Here's the wheel with its wooden rim.

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See blog at http://rowlandemett.blogspot.co.uk/

plenty of commentary and great photos

Check out the Rowland Emett Society website (www.rowlandemett.com)

Also there's a Facebook page run by Enigma1st

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The clock is now noticeable by its absence. First time that space has been empty since Vic Centre was built.

clock-1.jpg

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could have at least drawn a clock face on it....it'de be right twice a day.

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Update

I've been at Hut E all day. I needed to figure out the shaft and bearing arrangement for the cobweb wheel (that's what we're calling the big water wheel now because it was meant to look like a cobweb). You might have noticed that the wheel was supported by a box just behind it, within which were two bearings. Anyone mechanically minded could tell you that this was bad design as the two bearings were too close to each other. Turns out that Emett didn't build it like that - it got changed sometime in the last 40 years. We want to get it back to original so that bearing box will be cut off. Looking today, I dug paint away to reveal brass sleeve type bearings in the wheel itself so the original shaft was stationary and fixed to the frame. We'll try to reinstate this.

The frame is back from the soda blasters. I haven't seen it yet but am told that blasting has revealed the locations where the missing pipes were welded on. The frame is now with a metal fabrication specialist who is going to add the missing parts and extend the legs by around a foot (300mm to any young readers). By my reckoning there are 25 parts missing from the frame.

Still with the cobweb wheel, one of the team has taken the butterflies away for cleaning and restoration (like renewing any missing "jewels"). I removed all other attachments from the wheel today (flowers, frogs, butterfly bearing blocks and those 18 plastic cups). It is now ready for blasting. I noted a couple of welds that need fixing.

On to the "sunflower" - this is the central assembly that held all the petals. Each petal is fixed to the sunflower by what I've called "stirrups". Each of these has a steel pin on which its petal swivels up and down. Did I mention previously that the Intu engineers struggled to get many of these pins out? Their efforts unfortunately necessitated hammering, which knocked stirrups out of alignment. I had recovered 33 pins but there were three that were well and truly wedged. Today I used a home-made "puller" to get these last three pins out. I then used a two foot crowbar, a ruler and trusty eyeballs to tweak the stirrups left/right, up/down and to get them horizontal.

Several of the copper tips on the sunflower were bent (don't know whether that was historical or done during dismantling or transport) so I spent some time straightening them.

That's all for now.

Engineer

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I've not been intu Vic centre since we took the clock away.

Has there been any official notice of where it will go when it comes back?

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