|This tower clock is very unusual in the fact that it's provenance is
known. I had pulled it from it's original location from the tower of the former Bell &
Howell factory building located at 1801 N. Larchmont, Chicago, Illinois in April 2006. The
structure was converted a few years ago to a condominium complex. The tower's mechanism
was derelict and the owners wanted the tower dials to correctly tell the time. However,
they were not interested in the upkeep and expense that would be involved in maintaining
the original movement, dial linkages and motion works. I offered my services to get the
appropriate firms to refurbish the four 10 foot dials, create dial lighting, and replace
the hands and electrify the dials with a modern controller from the Verdin Company. Of
course the original clock mechanism and any other parts of the linkages and motion works
were mine to salvage. The fact that this was a rare example of an American-made
tower clock equipped with a gravity escapement made this prospect most attractive.
is nothing subtle about this movement. It was designed to deliver a great deal of power.
Not only did it have to drive four very large dials, but the way the dials were connected
required a larger than normal power input. The tower has a 24,000 gallon wooden tank occupying nearly all it's room. Therefor,
the clock was located in one corner of the tower; one floor below. From this corner the
linkages were sent upward to the next floor then split right and left; each going to the
closest dial and then branching to the next one over. A much less efficient design that
involved more gearing and lengths of drive tubing than would be encountered in a
conventional four dial design with the movement located at the center of the tower and
dials. The motion works traversed 12" thick walls to drive the hands. Pendulum bob
weighs 200 lb. The weight set is 207 lb. fully loaded with 40 lb. of removable trim
weights. It has 3 feet of travel giving 4 hours of running time between windings. The
running of the escapement and, of course, the action of the electric winding are both very
visual as well as audible! See and hear on the video player.
The pictures shown are of the movement after degreasing and cleaning - but no other
restoration whatsoever. It is in remarkable as-found condition and can be attributed to
the fact that it was enclosed in it's own small, water-tight (and pigeon-proof)
room, of masonry construction. It even had it's own radiator to keep it heated in the
winter! The last two photos gives one a feel for the size of this movement.