A very desirable WT C40B.

Gardiner Houlgate Lot 1070 is a C40B WT on sale at their live auction 21/22nd February 2019 at Corsham, Wilts. Near Chippenham and only ten miles from Georgian Bath.

Just one item, I believe, from the late Arthur Mitchell's extensive collection. I once had the unique pleasure of visiting his home. So that he could examine my recently acquired "False Pediment" Synchronome with his expert eye. That must have been over 30 years ago now but his collection was already truly remarkable. He was the author of several small books on master clocks.

 The Arthur Mitchell Collection | Gardiner Houlgate | The Bath Auction Rooms - The Specialist Auctioneers

I remember that Mr Mitchell once complained that one could no longer source master clocks from demolition workers. Perhaps for the price of a pint and a quick twist of the builder's shovel to fetch it down from the wall. The humour was not lost on me but Arthur was certainly collecting some lovely clocks long before the Internet [and later YouTube]  made them far more popular [and valuable.] Arthur must have been there quite literally "on the ground floor" as Britain's industrial heritage was demolished to make way for more traffic jams.

Arthur Mitchell was a quietly spoken gentleman and always generous with his accumulated knowledge. We exchanged correspondence and stacks of photocopies, books and even clocks for years afterwards. Even when I moved abroad we kept in touch. This was, of course, long before the Internet allowed instant messaging, with images, as we know it today.

 Gents Pulsynetic waiting train electric turret clock movement, 21" wide, 16" high, with pendulum

Note the matching "shoulders" of the sturdy mainframe of this more heavily built and much more powerful movement than the smaller C40A. It is surprisingly compact even compared with the smallest WT. Being only 4" wider but not much taller. A universal "turret clock" movement all thanks to the genius of Gent's designers. The weight is an unknown but the cast mainframe certainly does look much sturdier than the C40A.

The large wormwheel, almost hidden in this view, is designed to drive and control the hands of up to four large dials. The hefty pendulum bob looks much larger and heavier than the smaller and far more common C40A.

The suggested sale price is about 1/10 of the likely, winning bid, perhaps much more. This leaves only a fortnight from now to seek a bank loan. Don't forget to include the buyer's premium!😉

The black paint on the detail is quite unusual. Support for the bevel gears, for one dial vertically above the movement, looks completely original and is seen in other C40B WTs. There may well have been further dials leading off a crown/bevel wheel cluster mounted well above the movement. Allowing the WT to remain lower down and therefore, more accessible. This is all pure speculation but was common practice with weight driven, turret clock movements.

There may have been another dial, driven off to the left, directly from the wormwheel shaft. The lower pendulum rod is masking the view of what might well be a black finished, expansion link. There is no time setting dial, nor the small setting crank, but otherwise this WT seems remarkably complete when seen from this angle.

The new owner will have to factor in considerable and skilled restoration to tidy up the rust without causing serious damage through ignorance. Or lack of skill during disassembly. If you really think the answer is a can of WD40 then you probably shouldn't bid. I just wish I still lived just down the road. I'd love to see this fine WT in real life and photograph it for posterity. Hopefully before it disappears forever into another "black hole" private collection!


There is an ongoing discussion on WT model designation [letters C40A, B & C] in the comments below. I shall address this in a new post once the details are confirmed. Recognizing each larger model is certainly confusing. I have raised the issue repeatedly in past posts. Only the smallest C40A is most easily recognized though in two mainframe forms.

The model shown and described above has the matching shoulders and larger wormwheel of the larger models. But which? A new detail has been raised to confuse the issue. On the right of the mainframe there is a clear step in the casting. While the much larger C40C drops straight down to the cast foot without an obvious step.

Judging mainframe size from images is certainly not easy. Another point of confusion lies with the later chair-frame models using the parlance of weight driven movements. Though in the case of the WT the frame is stepped sideways rather than from front to back. L-shaped frame might be clearer than "stepped" frame. Since the model B does seem to have a step of its own. One not shared by the C40C.

However, a glance at the only example of a C40"C" on Clockdoc clearly shows a step on the right of the mainframe:

Each larger model in the WT series is supposed to drive larger dials than the last. This strongly suggests a change of scale is required. Scale brings stronger drive electromagnets, a larger drive wormwheel and heavier pendulum. These are the obvious "engine" details required to increase torque beyond that available from the smaller models. Some models of WT show much larger time setting dials and matching, larger bevel gears. Surely an obvious clue to the greater expectations in driven dial size?

Discussion of these details is not mere horological pedantry. The larger models are vitally necessary beyond a certain dial size or number of larger dials. A smaller model will be found wanting in driving and controlling the heavier hands of larger dials. Adverse weather will soon show with an under-powered WT. A row of birds will unbalance the hands. Ice and wind loads rise alarmingly with hand and dial size.

Larger dials [and their much larger hands] may well be installed much higher on highly exposed buildings. Small dials are quickly lost with distance. Rapidly shrinking into insignificance. This obviously includes the distance from the ground. Though no dial can be read directly edge on and will always be read at much greater distances. The hypotenuse of the triangle formed by the time service consumer's distance increases dramatically. More to follow once the auction WT disappears from the "front page" of my blog.

Click on any image for an enlargement.