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Claude Reeve Gravity Regulator

John Wilding update on Claude Reeve Gravity Regulator

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Peter Bell24/09/2009 09:00:22
291 forum posts
138 photos
Has anyone constructed the Claude Reeve Gravity Regulator, originally in ME 1960? Tried a few years ago and gave up after getting lost amongst the drawings!
Just bought the book updating it by John Wilding so going to try again
Peter Bell10/10/2009 20:26:28
291 forum posts
138 photos
Just had the front and back plates water jet cut after a friend converted the drawing into a dxf file. Really pleased as this has solved what I stalled on last time I tried to make this clock! I thought here my have been someone else out there who has made or attempted this interesting clock.
YouraT22/10/2009 22:57:24
31 forum posts
5 photos
Not tried that clock, but interested in your water cutting experiences - how accurately were the plates cut ?
Peter Bell23/10/2009 08:30:44
291 forum posts
138 photos

First time I have tried this technique but very pleased with the result. The cut edge looks like it has been sand blasted, it also has a slight edge underneath the cut. The plate edge only needs polishing with the odd blemish needing drawfiling first. Seems to be very accurate on sizes also where the holes have been cut.
As far as I am concerned it is 100% success after the previous try with the drawings failed. The main job that the cutters were doing was fancy shapes in coloured bricks and stone for a shopping centre.
David Heskin15/09/2010 07:13:40
5 forum posts
Water jet cutting of brass plate is a fascinating idea, but a few questions arise, if that's OK, please:
(1) - How would one go about finding a reliable and competent local (or even postal) outfit?
(2) - Is there a requirement to add a margin to the component profile, to allow for jet size?
(3) - Was it expensive?
KWIL15/09/2010 08:37:03
3219 forum posts
63 photos
Ther are a number of water jetters. I have used one in particular with great success. No, you do not leave a margin, the program used keeps the jet line in such a position that the finished component is to size. Accuracy, better than 0.005", no heat unlike laser cutting. 
Cost, not cheap, depends upon the size of course as time is the factor. Time depends upon complexity and thickness.
Excellent talk given by SCISS Ltd at Ascot ME Show  a couple of years ago.
Peter Bell16/09/2010 08:12:12
291 forum posts
138 photos

I have added a couple of pictures of the assembled frames. You should be able to judge the edge finish, a light filing or polish with wet and dry is all that is needed.
The finished dimentions are very good, far better than what I acheived on my first attempt (abandoned) with a piercing saw etc!
To find a water jet cutter I googled the title and narrowed the search within travelling distance.  I then phoned them up to see what the prices were, in some cases sending the DXF file but most seemed just work on an overall size and amterial.
 I just picked the one that sounded most friendly with the best price. When I got there it turned out that they specialised in stone cutting for shopping malls but they seemed to have experience in everything and the job only took a couple of days to join the queue.
It cost £11/ plate (I provided the brass) for the cutting so I was well pleased as the time saved was astronomical---at least at my rate of progress!
Hope this helps,
Regards Peter
David Heskin16/09/2010 09:05:41
5 forum posts
Many thanks to KWIL and Peter. Those plate edges certainly look better than an end mill could produce. Biggest problem with hand sawing is ensuring an edge perpendicular to the face; corrective filing, not to metion finishing, becomes a chore.
It's great to hear of specialists willing to do one-off jobs at a fair price.
Hmm, this idea has many possibilities.........
Richard Parsons16/09/2010 12:05:31
645 forum posts
33 photos
The heart of any clock is the escapement. The gravity escapement was invented by a lawyer Edmund Beckett, 1st Baron Grimthorpe, Q.C.. It was designed for the clock in St Stephan’s Tower (aka ‘Big Ben’ which is actually the name of the large bell). The movement was built by Dent. 

An old armature clock maker a friend of mine built one to his own design. It worked poorly. Research unearthed a comment or critisms that most small Gravity Escapements were too heavy. The ‘scape arms must be light. I eventually built a pair for him out of metal recovered from alloy drinks cans. These were annealed using slimy soap from the bathroom soap dish as an indicator. Smear the stuff on and heat gently all over when the soap goes black and starts to burn stop!  Cool and wash. The legs were cut over size and were formed over a wooden former by knocking the edges to get ‘form strength’ (just like a forming up a boiler back head). Lightening holes drilled and their edges formed over into a trumpet shape with the ball of a ball peine hammer bopped with a mallet. The next task is pure patience.  I seem to remember hours of scraping and filling -with a no 6 cut file- and rubbing on fine grade paper stuck to birch faced ply, until the legs were exactly the same weight. This has to be done with great care as drinks cans are very thin and even a 6 cut file is quite coarse by comparison. Draw filing is the order of the day. This took many evenings.  The clock worked well so the remarks about lightness were right.

Good Luck with the clock

Peter Bell16/09/2010 13:31:51
291 forum posts
138 photos

Thanks for the advice Richard, never heard that before but  I will send you the drawings over as you seem to have the hang of getting it right
Been to see big Ben twice now, really awesome to be in the bell tower when it strikes the hour, we were lucky it was 12.00 oclock so got the full performance.
Regards  Peter
Richard Parsons16/09/2010 16:59:04
645 forum posts
33 photos

Bill’s clock was much smaller than Claude’s device. Looking at the picture on the internet I understand why you needed a better method of cutting the plates.  Old Claude did seem to love his piercing saw or power fretsaw.

The problem is which one of the several varieties/flavours of Gravity Escapement did old Claude use? You can only see a bit of it here. Since it is an advert I make the ‘usual disclaimer’. Was it a Grimthorp -often wrongly called the Denison- type? Here or an Arnfield ( , the 6 armed Thwaites type (  Finally how about this one ( Sorry I cannot create the links

Success is to keep the whole thing light by comparison with the rest of ‘Going Train’

Richard Parsons19/09/2010 13:49:48
645 forum posts
33 photos

I was recently evicting some Hungarian language books from my (English) section of my library and I came across a book I had totally forgotten about. It is called ‘Clock & Watch Escapements’ by W.J. Gazeley published by Robert Hale – London.  It has an ISBN which is 0-7090-4738-X. You could probably borrow it from your local Public Library.

I now know where I read the comments about lightness.  Gazeley, who devotes a whole chapter to the various forms of Gravity Escapement, shows a Grimthorp 2X3 legged escapement with ‘balance’ or ‘trimming’ weights on it. The reason for low weight is inertia. The pendulum is disconnected from the going train and receives its impulse from the clocks power source indirectly from the gravity arms as they return to their midpoint position. 

I have had another look at the photo of Reeves’s clock. It looks as if he has separated the pendulum part from the ‘scape’ its self. I suppose this was so that people could see the ‘scape without the problem of having the pendulum in the middle of the clock.  That may give problems getting the thing on an even 'beat'

Gravity escapements are not often used as ‘regulators’ because of the weight problem. The dead beat is easier to make.

Clive Steer08/07/2011 10:26:55
23 forum posts
Hi Guys
Just read you thread on the gravity escapement and thought that you might like to know that there is a Gillett and Bland turret clock with a rare 15 leg gravity escapement, that can be viewed, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The clock, which a colleage and I recently refurbished and re-installed is in what used to be the Tunbridge Wells West station but has now been converted into a restaraunt called Smith and Western. The west station is near the Pantiles and next to the Sainbury supermarket that was built in the goods yard. For those with satnav the post code is TN2 5QL and best to call them on 01892 550 750 to check if it's OK to see the clock. Access to the clock room in the tower is easy by a spiral staircase. I'm sure they would appreciate the gesture if you had refreshments or a lunch. Close by is the Spa Valley railway for those interested in the heavier forms of engineering.

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