Ball Clock II ~ Housekeeping

by Jon Long Sr on March 25, 2017

March was pretty much taken up with fixing some things that I had been putting off for a while.

I knew it would require a fair amount of disassembly to get to the areas that needed attention and then the arduous task of cleaning and putting it all back together.

I wasn’t satisfied with a couple of the parts that I had made early on in the project and wanted to replace them.

It is like anything else you do where after getting familiar with processes and developing a technique, it then becomes easier to see how they can be better and gaining the skill to do it.

My silver soldering has gotten better after two years of working on the clock along with realizing that a different approach to an issue will producing a better product.

I needed to drill and tap some holes for the next stage and couldn’t do it with parts in the way.

This also gave me the opportunity to correct some issues that had reared their ugly head every now and then.

I’m not an engineer or purport to be one.  So many of the things I do on this clock are from theory and then verifying it works by making the pieces.

Now and then I discover a situation that I had not planned on.

Things like a ball stopping on the track say maybe once every other Tuesday.  Trying to figure out why that happens can be perplexing.

Maybe a part that worked fine in the beginning, but was bent from other work and is now causing an issue.

Anyway, a number of things were waiting to be addressed and it was a good opportunity to address them.

The photos show how far I had to disassemble the clock to get to the section that needed the holes.

Taking it apart and re-assembly, which that ability was planned from the beginning, then making the changes, took me the better part of March.

The upside here is the photos will give you a chance to see a little deeper into the clock and maybe if you have been following the blog, answer a question or two.

Regardless, the project is now better for the time spent and changes made.

Now it is time to get those 12 o’clock balls released so they get out of the way of the 1 o’clock arrival.



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Ball Clock II ~ Hour Ball Selector Drive

by Jon Long Sr on February 21, 2017

For the last couple of months I have been operating the Hour Ball Selector by hand to test it.

The time has come to power the main shaft of the selector.  These are the things to be considered for the drive:

  • The rotation of the shaft has to be triggered by an hour ball when it drops into the upper rack of the selector mechanism.
  • The clutch for the shaft has to make one complete revolution and then disengage.
  • It clutch has to be in sync with the main screw lift which turns at 1 RPM so the release of the hour ball can coincide with the alignment of the clutch.
  • The clutch shaft has to be aligned with the main selector shaft which is not perpendicular with the base.
  • The clutch has to maintain a home position when disengaged.
  • Power for this must come from the main drive, yet not slow it down.

To begin I used the same thickness of brass plates and spacers that matched the main drive.  

The gears were brass from Boston Gear to match the others.  The biggest issue was matching the size, pitch and ratios of the gears so that it could be mounted in line with the selector shaft and still mesh with the main gears.

Ball bearing we installed on all shafts to reduce wear and friction.

A clutch had to be made that would engage the upper shaft going to the selector with the lower drive.

An index was ground on the upper clutch and a spring driven roller arm was made to keep it in home position.

The alignment was a bit tricky so I used a small universal joint to make the connection.  There still was slight binding in the shaft so a slip coupling was made to allow a small shift and flexibility in the alignment of the two shafts.

All in all there are 10 ball bearings in the mechanism.

When a ball comes down from the lift on the hour, it trips a lever that allows the clutch to engage.

The clutch then makes one complete revolution until the trip level pushes the clutch pawl out of the lower drive.  

It stays in that position because of the homing arm.

One of the biggest challenges was to get the clutch pawl just right where it would stay engaged with the right pressure, but still release at the end of the cycle.

At first there was a tendency for the pawl to cam out of the lower drive and disengage while part of the way through the cycle.

I am tempted to make these parts out of steel to cut down on wear.

Right now, I need to keep moving ahead to the next challenge.

There should be time for some cleanup later.

Well at least I hope so.


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Ball Clock II ~ Hour Striker Rebuild

January 7, 2017

Not everything will go as planned in life and none truer right now than this project.  Back from Christmas vacation and back at it. My original design for the hour striker was pretty simple.  The weight of a ball would cock the hammer and a cam would release it at an interval to provide a […]

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Ball Clock II ~ Hour Ball Selector-5

October 20, 2016

The Ball Selector needed to return to its home position at the end of the cycle. I chose to use weights rather than springs for this because springs will increase tension when expanded and weights are a constant force. The main shaft of the selector mechanism makes a full revolution during the process.  The Ball […]

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Ball Clock II ~ Hour Ball Selector-4

October 18, 2016

After some testing it became apparent that an Index Plate was necessary to hold the selector arm in place once it has been extended. It was important that the Index Plate was in line with the position of the balls in the upper & lower track.  This is so the vertical piece on the selector […]

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Ball Clock II ~ Hour Ball Selector-3

September 11, 2016

Some progress since the last post, albeit slow.   The supports for the selector assemble have been installed complete with bearings upper and lower.  The trick was to get the angle right as the selector has to follow the slope of the magazine.  (Photo-1) Because I’m using a jig to work on this assemble, it […]

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Ball Clock II ~ Hour Ball Selector-2

August 28, 2016

Now that I have the jig to hold the Hour Ball Magazine, I am able to see how things fit. There are a number if parts that had/have to be made for the selector mechanism.  The first was the slides that will cam out to separate the proper number of balls to release to the […]

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Ball Clock II ~ Hour Ball Selector

August 20, 2016

The hour balls appear to be moving through the striker mechanism smoothly now. It is time to focus on the section that will select and release the proper number of balls to the striker. Back in February I talked about the hour Magazine and its eventual function.  That was to act as a counter for […]

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Ball Clock II ~ Hour Lever – Phase II

June 20, 2016

Now that the balls are transitioning through the hour lever, the next things to do are provide an exit path for the balls and to harness the power from the lever. Since there was already a track that went by the lower level of the travel of the hour lever,  (Ok that was  a weird […]

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Ball Clock II ~ Hour Lever – Phase I

March 13, 2016

  Now that I have balls accumulating in the Hour Striker Magazine, I can work to route them to a mechanism for the hour strike. The challenge here was to get the maximum power from the lever to eventually operate a hammer for the large bell on top.  A little CAD work helped figure out how […]

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