Tuesday

'WT' Videos

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This chapter was re-published over quite a period of time and clearly documents the amazing progress in domestic AV/computer/camera technology and online video hosting:


An experimental 50 second video taken out of doors with the video option of a Canon Ixus 860 digital still camera. Click on the arrowhead at bottom left of the video screen to set the video in motion. My apologies for the wind noise. Modern cameras usually have a wind-noise cut option.

The Hipp toggle can be seen near the bottom of the frame rattling freely back and forth across the V-block. Early in the video (at 7-8 secs) the toggle drops into the notch in the V-block, contact is made and the rocking armature rises to meet the large electromagnets. The roller on the tip of the armature catches in the hook of the pendulum giving it a good push.

Near the top of the frame the gathering pallet can be seen dragging the escape wheel round one tooth at a time. The hand resetting crank is attached to the same shaft and rotates with the escape wheel. There is a pause as the right angle lever is locked and the gathering pallet slides back and forth out of contact with the escape (or gathering) wheel. A short electrical impulse arrives from the master clock at the small relay electromagnet and the right angled lever is dropped. Allowing the gathering pallet to continue to draw the escape wheel round for another half minute.

Please allow the video to finish before moving on. There seems to be a software glitch when using some browsers if one attempts to move onto another page before the video is finished. The video should appear perfectly smooth in action but is subject to one's internet connection and computer speed and any parallel activities.

I found the You Tube video poor due to the heavy compression at this time. The size of the Google Video screen is much larger: It can even be adjusted to full screen with a click on the box at the bottom of the video screen. Unfortunately, due to the compression applied the Google Video still does not appear remotely as sharp as the original as I see it on my own monitor. Downloading the video is possible and may improve the video experience when played from your own hard drive.

BACK CLICK to return to the text.

Further close-up videos of my WT are available at Google Video. These were taken using a much earlier Sony digital still camera. I would like to replace these videos with some taken by the Canon but there is a remarkable amount of work required to achieve this satisfactorily:

The WT has to be lifted off its stand, carried through the house and taken outside where there is enough light for the video option to work at its best. Sunlight is very undesirable due to excessive contrast and heavy shadows devoid of detail. Yet conditions must be bright enough to give the video some sparkle and life. The WT is very heavy and a very awkward load unless the pendulum is detached. There is only one place in my garden where the background is not distracting and there is plenty of light and this up against a shed wall across the yard. That means at least three heavy loads with intervening steps to negotiate.

A heavy video tripod with pan and tilt head is also necessary for the camera to remain steady. The welded steel stand for the WT must have a very firm base or the WT rocks like mad when running. All unnecessary movement not only looks very silly but detracts from the sharpness of the video for technical reasons. (blurring around the edges of moving objects) The camera *and* the WT movement must both be absolutely level. The WT must be framed without other distracting objects in the background. The 20 Volts DC power supply is necessary for the drive electromagnets on the end of a very long extension lead. A 9 volt battery must be applied at reasonably precise intervals to trigger the relay electromagnet to release the waiting train action. With nothing to resist the WT's driving power everything moves far too freely. The hand setting crank has a nasty habit of flopping down an extra tooth at precisely the wrong moment right in the middle of a"take!"

The intervals between the various activities of the WT movement must be timed carefully by the amateur film maker. If only to limit the video to a reasonable length to avoid massive file sizes or viewer boredom. All this has to be managed simultaneously against the opposition from my long-suffering wife. She does not understand the drive to produce yet more videos of a humble clock.

Last but not least: One must remain absolutely quiet during filming. There must be no wind (at all) or the camera's built in microphone picks it up and reproduces a loud roar! Avoiding heavy breathing, sighs of frustration, crunching the gravel underfoot when starting the camera, triggering the WT's relay and switching the camera on and off without a cable release is an absolute nightmare! Neighbours, dogs, birds and farmers never seem to rest either.

Only when the video is captured can it be checked indoors on the computer screen. Even when a half-decent video has been captured it has to be trimmed carefully with computer software. Then successfully stored and uploaded to the online host. Even adding on-screen text is not easy when occasional dyslexia rears its ugly head. e.g. Canon has only one "n" in the middle? Since when? It's not easy being a one man band at the cutting edge of video blogging. ;-)'

There are now two videos on You Tube of the same WT movement:


And a closer view:


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The WT shown is later in date than my own having plating on the brass parts instead of clear lacquer. It also has the later cloth-wrapped and resin coated electromagnets. No doubt these details were introduced by Gents to obtain greater cosmetic longevity and improve resistance to damp. There may also have been an attempt to update the appearance as time passed to match customer's expectations. However beautiful, lacquered brass may have been seen as rather old fashioned in the industrial context of most timekeeping installations.

Very few WT's would ever have been seen by the owner or the general public. The WT was simply a reliable mechanism for driving public clock hands. Not the work of horological art which modern collectors admire for its grace and form. Later WT movements were painted pale grey to match the racks and cabinets housing industrial electrical installations and telephony. Which is even further from the delightful greeny-blue paint seen here. Or the much earlier black paint and deep lacquered brass.

Here's my latest attempt to capture my WT with my digital still camera posted on YouTube.
I recommend the "high quality" viewing option for a much crisper picture and one which even stands "full screen" viewing. YouTube used to be much fuzzier than Google Video but has greatly improved its video quality lately:




BACK CLICK from the video to return to the text.



Here my distant Gent's Pulsynetic master clock is connected to reset the Waiting Train mechanism. My past attempts to film the WT involved a 9 Volt battery to reset the WT and required rather more hands than most of us are normally supplied with. For this "hand-held" video I used my heavy video tripod as a "steadycam" stabiliser having become bored with the rather static view from a fixed tripod. The mass of the video tripod certainly stabilised the camera but it was so heavy I was struggling to support it with both hands! I hung an old sheet behind the WT to hide the untidy background mess of my workshop.


A new and better video using the Lumix TZ7 in AVCHD video mode mounted on my iron plumbing fittings "Steadycam". Taken in bright daylight as previous attempts using work lights and florescent tubes produced poor results. Double clicking on the video screen will take you direct to YouTube where the video screen can be seen in the correct format,  enlarged or even watched full screen in 720P HD. (optional) Closing the YouTube web page will automatically return you here.

Note that I have now made and fitted replicas of the Hipp Toggle damper and the time setting pointer which were both missing from my movement. If you have computer speakers or are directly connected to an audio system you can hear the sound of the WT in action. The Toggle damper certainly quietens the usual noisy rattle. It also avoids the toggle ever swinging so violently that it lodges in the Hipp V-block (accidentally) on the pendulum return swing.  The simple rubber tube fitted to the end of the brass arm damps the sound and movement of the Hipp toggle at very low cost. It provides very long life, perfect reliability and completely avoids mechanical complexity. Typical of all the touches of mechanical genius associated with the remarkable simplicity of the WT.   

The time setting dial and pointer were used to check the time showing on the (usually invisible) hands outside the tower or building in which the WT was installed. This facility was also very useful for resetting the hands to British Summer or Winter Time (or its equivalent at the time)  in spring and autumn.

It must be remembered that obtaining an accurate time signal was not easy in the past. Nor were accurate watches everyday wear for the working classes who were in charge of most public clocks. With luck the controlling master clock would have a slave dial situated near the WT movement. This would allow the WT itself to be set accurately to time after stoppages, repairs or maintenance. Mechanical clocks may have had time setting dials but could not enjoy the benefits of a an accurate slave dial unless the building also housed a master clock impulse system.

Before the arrival of national, universal time many clocks were set by a local sundial. Hopefully using a set of tables called the Equation of Time. Naturally this often led to considerable inaccuracy where the local timekeeping standard was an medieval piece of clockwork without temperature compensation. Not to mention the variations across the country due to longitude.

The railways finally forced universally accurate timekeeping on most nations. Failure to have accurate timekeeping would mean that a train might have left the station before a vital connecting service from a major city had arrived. Such problems produced commercial pressure to conform to a national time standard.

Another WT video has come up on YouTube: March 2012: A C40B if I'm not mistaken. It has the typical arched top to the mainframe and is scaled up to a slightly larger size. The rest of the movement follows typical WT practice.

It is a shame the video is not of better quality with a "quieter" background to help bring out the detail.
Click on any image for an enlargement. Back click to return to the post.

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