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

I see the commemorative stone is still there - wonder whether it will be dug out and repatriated with the clock next year?

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Yet another update! We've put some serious hours in this week, building the clock in Birmingham (Millennium Point - access is free if you are anywhere near but read on to understand what you might

Another busy day but the end is in sight now. In fact I've left it running as a 'soak test' (albeit still a dry installation - they are planning to fill the pool tomorrow). I've overcome a few minor

Nope, not TT. On the matter of drinking, each day I've worked within that enclosure has been physically exhausting because of the heat and humidity - somewhere between a greenhouse and a sauna. Have

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Just a heads up: Some other creations by Emett (not the clock) will be featured on "The One Show" next Wednesday - probably to plug the upcoming exhibition in Birmingham.

Engineer.

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I see a new timepiece adorns the Vic Centre atrium - on the wall above entrance to Next. Not quite in the same league as Emett but at least it's keeping time.

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Speaking of the Viccy centre, I was in there the other week, went to go in the market from the ground floor, and there it was, gone! Couldn't even figure out where it had been. Thankfully it was still upstairs, but food and household all together now.

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In regard of the recent announcement that Pathe are putting their entire collection on-line on YouTube, there are several of their films featuring Emett and his creations.

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Update:

I shall be inspecting the main frame next week as it should be ready for painting. It has been embiggened by extending the legs (around 400mm) and several "missing" tubes have been fabricated and welded in place. The bearing arrangement for the cobweb wheel will be reverted to the original configuration (shaft fixed to frame and sintered brass bearings in the wheel). I'm still trying to get hold of a new geared motor to drive the wheel (the distributor is awaiting stock). I have a new shaft and coupling but need to source or make a suitable drive pulley.

I opened up the Top Feature drive assembly to find that due to wear on a steel turntable, two large circular brass trays had been grinding against each other. What I had thought was rust that fell out was in fact brass filings. Will need to tidy this up, at least to eradicate some razor-sharp edges. The turntable part needs a new plate fabricating and welding on. It all needs degreasing and some of the bearings will need renewing.

I have also got all the brass blocks that form bearings for the butterflies on the cobweb wheel. All the blocks need cleaning and several are badly worn - will have to decide whether to bore them out and press brass bushes in or just make new blocks. However, brass bar ain't cheap!

I'm also planning to fabricate the 12-spout water ring that went missing some decades ago. It will be a 22mm ring with 15mm spouts. The ring will be around 2ft diameter so I expect I'll need to do that in soft copper. I will also need some copper plate from which I can cut some "flowers" to solder to the ends of the spouts. Must look out for a scrap copper cylinder!

Engineer.

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Still not sure where the clock will go when it returns to Vic Centre but notice there's a suitable space between Monsoon and River Island. Sounds like a good place for a water feature!

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The restoration documented here for posterity.

Without this people who contributed to its restoration may be forgotten

Or those that may need to do research in future years for its history or maintenance would have no references.

I hope you will be documenting before and after photographically :)

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I've been photographing the parts I have worked on and I expect others have done the same. Tim from The Rowland Emett Society (who appeared briefly on The One Show on Wednesday last week) is doing the main documentation including a blog.

Just to address the occasional comment we see here in the vein of "it won't be coming back", I had a meeting yesterday with a senior manager of Intu to discuss the electrical and water requirements in readiness for the clock's return to the Vic Centre next year.

the engineer

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Update:

The main frame and the control box (the part that sits under the petals and houses motors, etc.) are now with the finishers, to be powder coated. The cobweb water wheel is there as well but we have reservations as to whether it can withstand any form of blasting to remove the old paint. For now we are just going to have it resprayed white and will strip it back to metal (probably with a gentle chemical strip) after the Birmingham event.

I stripped down the turntable that supports the Top Feature mobile (18 bearings and various brackets and shims). There is some wear on the turntable face but after consultation with a fabricator, we have decided to leave it as is for now (aside of deburring and degreasing). The cast parts red and green - reminded me of the original Meccano colours!

I have a pair of new 1-1/4" bore sintered brass main bearings for the wheel and the replacement motor is on order from the original manufacturer (Parvalux in Birmingham).

I've cleaned all the brass butterfly bearing blocks and need to decide how to address the wear that is evident in several of them. Some are so worn that the butterflies simply fell out - probably why three butterflies were missing.

The Engineer

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Water works for Vic Centre:

We are looking at how we can minimise the requirements for circulation and sanitisation of the water when the clock comes home (for information, Birmingham will be a dry installation). The old setup included a couple of large reservoir tanks in the basement - we are considering an arrangement without a tank that uses one or two swimming pool pumps (resistant to the Chlorine or Bromine-based chemicals that are required to kill bacteria).

The Engineer.

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We plan to rebuild/install the clock in Millennium Point, Birmingham on 01/02-Jun. I'm meeting others in Hut E over this weekend to check that all parts are present and to understand whether we have any further refurb work to do in the final week before Birmingham. Did I mention a Parvalux geared motor that I awaited for the cobweb wheel drive? Well I have that now and have amended the control wiring to accommodate it. I also got access to a lathe and turned a few parts I need for the drive arrangement.

Meanwhile, I have had another meeting recently at Vic Centre in regard of the re-installation there next year and now have an architects plan showing location. They need to incorporate services for the clock in their plans for M&E (mechanical and electrical) as tenders will be going out soon. I've taken on board the design of suitable water works. We plan to make the pool 4.5m diameter and the water to be around 220mm deep. That equates to 3500 litres that needs to be circulated and sanitised.

Engineer.

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No, I wasn't there on 22nd - it was 20th (Tuesday) when I had a meeting on-site. We were looking at drawings but we were sitting in the area where the clock is going to go. Not sure whether intu have let the media know of the new location yet so I'd better not say where it is in case anything changes. All I can say is that it is not where it was and obviously it is somewhere that has 7m of headroom (probably needs 7.5m now that the clock has grown).

I spent all of yesterday working on the clock - mostly at Hut E. I took all the parts back that I worked on (motors, gearboxes, electrical control panel, turntable, etc.) The frame is coming back from the painters this week so I'm going back down Wed/Thu to do the partial re-assembly (can't assemble fully as we need to move it from there to Millennium Point). The painted parts look great in the original colour (a shade of green that was used for Spitfire cockpits apparently - maybe Emett got a job lot of war suplus). I haven't seen the petals or clock faces yet but all of the other bright bits (copper, brass, silver, etc.) were laid out on black groundsheets and were looking good. It's going to be impressive when reassembled - I'm expecting people to ask whether it's the same clock when they next see it.

Engineer

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Yet another update!

We've put some serious hours in this week, building the clock in Birmingham (Millennium Point - access is free if you are anywhere near but read on to understand what you might see!)

MONDAY 02-JUNE

We moved most of the parts from Hut E to Millennium Point. Even in its dismantled state, some sections are heavy and awkward, especially the main frame, the control box, the cobweb water wheel and the sunflower.

A drive shaft for the Top Feature (the three pendants) wouldn't fit back into the control box so I had to use emery and files to sort that out. There was a bigger setback on the main frame - the new 1-1/4 inch diameter shaft for the cobweb wheel had been left in-situ when the frame went to the hot zinc sprayer (a process that can be used instead of traditional galvanizing). I spent quite some time in the rain with the frame on a trailer with emery tape trying to remove the excess zinc. There was also a new stub shaft that needed similar treatment. I didn't get this finished before the frame was due to go to the paint shop for powder coating, but remembered to use some masking tape.

At Millennium Point the access into the atrium was through a standard double door. The frame was clearly not going to fit through easily and in the end it took around six of us to lift and tilt it to get it through. We parked it in the desired position and next fetched the control box through. This is the box that I had re-populated with motors and gearboxes so it was quite heavy now (we reckon around 200kg). There was no way we could lift this from the floor to a height of around 1.5m to sit on the frame.

The guys at MP had a hydraulic platform that would get it up to about 1m so they wheeled that through. As they started pumping it up, a pool of hydraulic oil started to form on the floor. At that point I would have stopped on the grounds of safety, but they carried on to the full height. then two of them stood on the platform, one either side of the control box, and lifted it the last 500mm. A couple of large bolts (1" Whit) were inserted to keep it in place.

TUESDAY 03-JUNE

The next bit was the sunflower - this definitely needed mechanical handling so the MP guys deployed their spider hoist. This is like a cherry picker but it has four large legs to give it stability (not really a spider then!). They hoisted the sunflower into position (after one of the straps slipped suddenly causing it to drop and list - at least it was clear of the ground at that point).

Before we did much more, Tim remembered what I had mentioned earlier (and then forgotten) that there was a large brass-coloured ring that had to go on before the sunflower. Luckily we hadn't started bolting the sunflower down and it was still strapped to the hoist so we lifted it and slipped the brass ring over the frame. The ring is where the lower ends of the petal rods attach.

Then they hoisted the orchestra turntable into the sunflower but it wouldn't sit straight - it was left to sort out later. Next came the lower tower, still using the spider hoist. The brass dome had previously been re-fitted inside the tower.

As a general note, the fixings for various parts took some sorting out - there were metric screws and nuts mixed up with imperial stuff (Whitworth and BSF if anyone is old enough to remember) and a few missing presumed lost.

Tim spent a couple of hours (at least) with emery tape on that new shaft. Still the new bearings would not fit.

We sorted the turntable by loosening all bearings and removing one - it then dropped into place so we refitted and tightened the bearings. Tim and the others started fitting petals and petal rods while I took on the emery duties until the bearings were a snug fit. I then fitted the bearings to the cobweb wheel. I knew that the bearings were going to be too loose a fit so I had prepared some strips of shim to wrap between the bearings and the wheel hub (I wanted something smooth so I used Guinness cans). If anyone is interested, your average aluminium beer can is 0.1mm thick. I used five layers to increase the bearing diameter by 1mm.

Two of the other guys assembled the four clock faces onto the upper tower, ready to fit as one unit, albeit a bit heavy (see later).

We put the cobweb wheel onto the frame and one of the guys started fitting a few dozen small flower trims and checking the butterfly bearing blocks for adjustment. The wheel balance was quite bad so we attached a lump of lead that had been on the wheel originally, which improved things. We are still one or two butterflies missing (there will be 19 in total).

It got late - don't know where all the hours went - clearly we needed another day.

WEDNESDAY 04-JUNE

This was the longest day for me - I left home at 0700hrs, got back at 0100hrs this morning.

The next section to fit was the upper turntable that is sandwiched between two brass plates (think these were Indian table tops in a previous incarnation). This supports a white tubular steel ring that in turn supports the three radial arms that are collectively called the Top Feature.

Now for the tricky bit. The joint between the lower and upper towers is an overlapping tube. This is so that the upper turntable can turn without any fixed parts being in the way. We carefully positioned the upper tower (with four clock faces attached) to the side of the spider hoist which now had a basket fitted. We lashed the tower to a couple of scaffold tubes that were lashed to the basket. We raised the tower around a metre off the floor and it appeared quite stable. However, the H&S guy wasn't happy (understandable) because this was not using the equipment as intended, even if we thought it was safe. We un-lashed the tower from the hoist and wondered what Plan B should be (we didn't have a Plan B for any part of the operation).

It looked for a while as if we would need to get a crane involved but that meant further delay. A complication was that the overall height of the clock is 7.5m and the ceiling was 8m high.

It was decided that the only way forward to make more progress on the day was to separate the clock faces from the upper tower and hoist the five pieces one at a time inside the spider basket. A bit of a pain, given that two of the guys had spent a couple of hours assembling these the previous day. However, we concluded that this was the way to go.

The tower went up first and was man-handled over the side of the basket and onto the tube of the lower tower. At this point the MP guys (operating and riding in the basket) said that the upper tower tube hadn't gone over the lower tower tube properly and now it was jammed. It must have been some over-spray of paint (note to self - always make sure bits fit together after coating with anything). They couldn't get it on further and they couldn't let it go in case it fell off. A bit "Catch 22". After some head-scratching we located a length of timber, which they slid through the upper tower and used as a lever to swivel it. A bit of to-ing and fro-ing and MP guys said it had dropped fully into place. Phew!

When each clock face is fitted, the hands have to be synchronised, This was done by slackening a small screw in each one then moving the now disconnected hands. Not too difficult at ground level - a bit more tricky at 7m off the ground from a basket that is swaying around a bit. We coached the MP guys at ground level on how to do this adjustment but at the third clock face, they encountered a difficulty in meshing the bevel gears. It seemed someone else needed to go up there to give it a coat of looking at - I was volunteered, being the engineer. I did what I could though one gear still wasn't meshing as well as the other three. I wondered whether the faces were all in the correct sides.

General note: It was clear that most of the fixing holes of the various sections had been drilled individually and approximately so where for instance one part with six holes fixed to another, there was probably only one orientation when all six holes lined up - not insurmountable but it does slow things down.

With four clock faces on, we fitted the box lid (the box that houses the bevel gears) with spire attached. I could then relax that my calculated height (7.5m overall) was correct and that there was around 500mm clearance to the ceiling.

We lowered the basket a couple of metres and fitted the three radial arms, together with the three pendants. Again paint on threads slowed us down. It'll be easier next time around at Nottingham!

Somewhere among all this we fitted the vertical drive shafts for the "going" (drives the clock faces) and for the upper turntable (the Top Feature).

Followers here will recall that one job I had left over two years ago was to power the cobweb wheel electrically (i.e. not to rely on water). The new geared motor that we procured recently lined up OK with the cobweb wheel (bearing in mind that this was the first time I could check that). One of the guys assisted me with cutting, filing, drilling, tapping, etc.to assemble a drive shaft arrangement that had mostly been in my head up to this point. I noticed that the new stub shaft isn't quite horizontal and may need to tweak that with a length of steam pipe if it impedes proper functioning.

At last I started doing the electrical wiring. There were the six motors to connect up and the "mech plate" that has all the micro-switches and is really the heart of the clock. There was also a mains distribution box where I had to connect some multicore cables.

Others sorted out the orchestra floor and the orchestra "players". before fitting the last few petals.

Tim noticed that one of the clock faces was showing a different time from the other three. When I turned the drive shaft, only three were moving so somehow the fourth had become disconnected. Problem is that to fix that means accessing the bevel gears at 7m off the ground and the MP guys had removed the spider hoist by this time.

Two of the guys fitted the water spout (though this is a dry installation) - as the frame had been raised, this pipe doesn't reach the floor now - we will fix it for Nottingham.

The MP chippies arrived with a blue plinth they had built to stop visitor getting too close to the clock. I was getting tired so I sat on the plinth to connect up the other ends of the multicore cables to my newish (2012) control panel.

I wired up the stereo system and Tim sorted the speakers. I connected the bell and the incoming mains cable before announced that it was time to switch on the power.

I switched the power on and nothing happened. except there was a slight buzzing noise in the control box. That was a small motor that drives the clock faces. I flicked a switch and then there was a louder buzz - the new geared motor for the cobweb wheel was now running (the new drive shaft was not on at this juncture). However, it quickly became evident that overall functionality wasn't too good.

In summary:

The bell worked.

The audio system worked.

The cobweb wheel should be OK when the shaft is connected.

The petals wouldn't move - a combination of drive belt that seemed too long (though it had worked before) and tightness in the petal bearings and actuating rods.

The orchestra did nothing - not even a buzz from its motor - looks more of an electrical issue.

The Top Feature did not start to rotate. I used some tall step ladders to reach one of the pendants and gave it a push - it managed about one revolution before coming to a halt again. This is the one that bothers me most as the fix means accessing the upper turntable to see what's occurring.

The clock drive was presumed to be running OK ( you'd have to watch for a few minutes to see any movement).

It was getting late and obvious that we wouldn't sort it all out on this day. Even if all of the parts had worked, there would still be the need to set up the synchronisation of the clock drive system (in the control box) with the clock faces (and that is after I've read my notes to refresh myself as to how it's done).

I did want to check out my new cobweb wheel drive shaft so as a parting shot, I fixed the shaft in place and switch on again - the cobweb wheel spun like a good 'un though the end of the shaft needs trimming as it's too close to the spinning wheel. At least I could go to bed last night (OK, early this morning) content that something worked.

So, in conclusion, we need to go back again and we plan to do that on Tuesday. Here's my to do list:

Find out why the Top Feature / upper turntable is not rotating.

Find out why the Orchestra motor is not running.

Fit a new vee belt to the petal drive and hope that fixes it.

If we have any means of high level access, look at the bevel gears between the clock faces.

Trim the new drive shaft and align the new stub shaft if necessary.

Take plenty of liquids - I've just had two long days of dehydration!

BTW, if you want pictures, check out the Rowland Emett Society website.

The Engineer.

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