Phil Coleman's Web Site

Watchmakers Regulator - Picture Gallery.

A fine English style regulator was designed by Alan Timmins and described in a long and detailed series in the British Horological Journal commencing in March 1981. I am constructing this clock, and as I make the various bits and pieces I will place pictures on this page so that you can check my progress.

Timmins' design is very robust and simple and along traditional lines with the aim of being friction free and as accurate as possible within the limits of the amateur clockmaker. I have made a few alterations, just to be different!

This regulator has George Graham's dead-beat escapement with Vulliamy pallets and of course a one second pendulum. Like most regulators it has three dials, a full diameter dial showing minutes and two smaller dials, the top one showing seconds and the bottom one showing hours. I will be using an Invar pendulum rod.

I have included the following features:

bullet Titanium escape wheel. This innovation has been used by Richard Stephen in his Vienna Regulator and his "Ferris Wheel Clock". I think it is an excellent use of modern materials. I think that the main advantage of this material is that it is much stronger than brass and therefore the tips of the teeth can be made finer. I am skeptical of the idea that the lower inertia is of benefit.
bullet Ball bearings throughout. Most of the pivots have stainless steel ball bearings, except for the front bearing of the hour arbor and the minute arbor. Spinning the escape wheel by the fingers will keep the wheel spinning for over a minute, when it is not engaging with the third wheel! The ball bearings are 2mm bore and 5mm outside diameter and are very cheap, even in stainless steel.
bullet Reduced drop of driving weights to make the overall height of the case as small as practical. This will be done by reducing the diameter of the barrel and by an increased number of teeth on the great wheel as well. A smaller barrel has meant that I can delete the jockey pulley.
bullet Assymetrical crutch. This simplifies setting up and allows a simpler method of adjustment of the beat.

The clock will be wall mounted in a compact case. I plan to make the overall inside height of the case about 1250mm (50") so that it takes up only a small amount of space. The traditional "grandfather" style of case is much too large for most modern houses and looks out of place. A friend of mine (Brian Root) is building an identical clock so we are able to share some of the work and get better deals on the purchase of materials.

Progress to date (September 2006): The movement is now generally complete and it is running under its own power. I haven't started the motion work, the dials or the case. Those are next to come. Quite a bit of finishing of the brasswork is necessary and I'll do that during final assembly. Brian Root cut the teeth on all the wheels and pinions for both our clocks.

plate assembly Making the escape wheel from titanium was a challenge. This metal work-hardens, and my first effort was a failure.

Fly-cutting is not a nice way to do it but it is the only option for me and after the initial failure I managed to get a good result with the second attempt.

The workpiece and the cutting tool need to be held very rigidly and you will need a heavy machine to do this type of work. I used a 150mm rotary table mounted with the spindle horizontal, with a separate steady to support the work on a mandrel. I used a vertical milling machine. The final finishing of the tips of the teeth was done by grinding.

The movement runs with about 1.5 kg of weight.

The assymetric crutch, combined with a pendulum suspension point about 130mm above the level of the escape arbor is what allows such a low weight to be used. The pendulum swing is very small, about 30mm total.

For shaping and finishing the pallets I adapted a method described on the BHI web site: British Horological Institute - Dead Beat Pallets

Pallet Grinding in Lathe The second picture shows how I ground and polished the faces of the pallet nibs on the lathe using a jig.

Abrasive paper is glued onto the face of the steel bar using spray-on contact cement. If the paper is applied before the glue has dried, it can be peeled off easily and replaced with a different grade.

Escape wheel and pallet assembly The next picture shows the trial assembly of the partly finished escape wheel and the pallets.

One thing that you don't realise until you try it is just how critical is the layout of the dead-beat escapement. The slightest error in the spacing of the pallets or in the distance between the escape arbor and the pallet arbor will jam the escapement. It takes quite a while to set it up correctly!

Look up the BHI web site also for a nice gadget for polishing the heads of screws: British Horological Institute - Frog Tool


Clock Face

The matt finish in the centre of the dial plate was done by using very coarse abrasive cloth, about 80 grit, and making 90 degree swirl patterns using my thumb. There are many hundreds of these (it took me about half an hour) and if done in a random pattern will look quite acceptable. The dial plate is finished with clear lacquer. The silvered brass chapter ring and minute and hour rings are finished with micro-crystalline wax. The case is cedar. I had the engraving done professionally.

Last updated: May 2014

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