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CLOCK

centre C and resting against a stop D. Let E be a 4-leaved scape-wheel, the teeth of which as they come round rest against the bent pall GFL at G. The pall is prevented from flying too far back by a pin H, and kept up to position by a very delicate spring K. As soon as the pendulum rod, moving from left to right, has arrived at the position shown in the figure, the pall B will engage the arm FL, force it forwards, and by raising G will liberate the scape-wheel, a tooth of which, M, will thus close upon the heel N of the block A, and urge it forward. As soon, however, as N has arrived at G the tooth M will slip off the block A and rest on the pall G, and the impulse will cease. The pendulum is now perfectly free or “detached,” and can swing on unimpeded as far as it chooses. On its return from right to left, the pall B slips over the pall L without disturbing it, and the pendulum is still free to make an excursion towards the left. On its return journey from left to right the process is again repeated. Such an escapement operates once every 2 seconds. One made on a somewhat similar plan was applied to a clock by Robert-Houdin, about 1830, and afterwards by Mr Haswell, and another by Sir George Airy. But the principle was already an old one, as may be seen from fig. 14, which was the work of an anonymous maker in the 18th century. A consideration of this escapement will show that it is only the application of the detached chronometer escapement to a clock.

EB1911 - Clock - Fig. 13-14.—Free Escapement.jpg

Fig. 13.—Free Escapement. Fig. 14.—Free Escapement (old form).

Even detached escapements, however, are not perfect. In order that an escapement should be perfect, the impulse given to the pendulum should be always exactly the same. It may be asked why, if the time of oscillation of the pendulum be independent of the amplitude of the arc of vibration, and hence of the impulse, it is necessary that the impulse should be uniform. The answer is that the arc of vibration not being a true cycloid, as it should be if true isochronism is to be secured, but being the arc of a circle, any change of amplitude of vibration produces a change of time in the swing given by the formula 3/2(a² − b²) = loss in seconds per day, where a and b are the semi-arcs of vibration estimated in degrees. Thus 10’ increase of arc in a swing of 4°, that is to say, .1 in. increase of arc in a total arc of 2½ in., produces an error of about a second a day. Now cold weather, by making the oil thick and thus clogging the wheels, will easily produce such a change of arc; dust will also make a change even though the clock weight, acted on by gravity, still exerts a uniform pull. Besides, if the clock has work to do of a varying amount—as when the hands of a turret clock are acted on by a heavy wind pressure tending sometimes to retard them, sometimes to drive them on—then it is clear that the impulses given by the scape-wheel to the pendulum may be very unequal, and that the arc of vibration of the pendulum may thus be seriously affected and its isochronism disturbed.

To abolish errors arising from the changes in the force driving the escapement, what is known as the “remontoire” system was adopted. It first came into use for watches, which was perhaps natural, seeing that the driving force of a watch Remontoire.is not a uniform weight like that of a clock, but depends on springs, which are far less trustworthy. The idea of a remontoire is to disconnect the escapement from the clock train, and to give the escapement a driving power of its own, acting as directly as possible on the pallets without the intervention of a clock-train containing many wheels. The escapement is thus as it were made into a separate clock, which of course needs repeated winding, and this winding is effected by the clock-train. From this it results that variations in the force transmitted by the clock-train merely affect the speed at which the “rewinding” of the escapement is effected, but do not affect the force exerted by the driving power of the escapement.

There are several modes of carrying out this plan. The first of them is simply to provide the scape-wheel with a weight or spring of its own, which spring is wound up by the clock-train as often as it runs down. Contrivances of this kind areTrain remontoires. called train remontoires. In arranging such a remontoire it is obvious that the clock-train must be provided with a stop to prevent it from overwinding the scape-wheel weight or spring, and further, that there must be on the scape-wheel some sort of stud or other contrivance to release the clock-train as soon as the scape-wheel weight or spring has run down and needs rewinding. We believe the first maker of a large clock with a train remontoire was Thomas Reid of Edinburgh, who described his apparatus in his book on Horology (1819). The scape-wheel was driven by a small weight hung by a Huygens’s endless chain, of which one of the pulleys was fixed to the arbor, and the other rode upon the arbor, with the pinion attached to it, and the pinion was driven and the weight wound up by the wheel below (which we will call the third wheel), as follows. Assuming the scape-wheel to turn in a minute, its arbor has a notch cut half through it on opposite sides in two places near to each other; on the arbor of the wheel, which turns in ten minutes, suppose, there is another wheel with 20 spikes sticking out of its rim, but alternately in two different planes, so that one set of spikes can only pass through one of the notches in the scape-wheel arbor, and the other set only through the other. Whenever, then, the scape-wheel completes a half-turn, one spike is let go, and the third wheel is able to move, and with it the whole clock-train and the hands, until the next spike of the other set is stopped by the scape-wheel arbor; at the same time the pinion on that arbor is turned half round, winding up the remontoire weight, but without taking its pressure off the scape-wheel. Reid says that, so long as this apparatus was kept in good order, the clock went better than it did after it was removed in consequence of its getting out of order from the constant banging of the spikes against the arbor.

EB1911 - Clock - Fig. 15.—Gravity Train Remontoire.jpg
Fig. 15.—Gravity Train Remontoire.

A clock at the Royal Exchange, London, was made in 1844 on the same principle, except that, instead of the endless chain, an internal wheel was used, with the spikes set on it externally, which is one of the modes by which an occasional secondary motion may be given to a wheel without disturbing its primary and regular motion. The following is a more simple arrangement of a gravity train remontoire, much more frequently used in principle. Let E in fig. 15 be the scape-wheel turning in a minute, and e its pinion, which is driven by the wheel D having a pinion d driven by the wheel C, which we may suppose to turn in an hour. The arbors of the scape-wheel and hour-wheel are distinct, their pivots meeting in a bush fixed somewhere between the wheels. The pivots of the wheel D are set in the frame AP, which rides on the arbors of the hour-wheel and scape-wheel, or on another short arbor between them. The hour-wheel also drives another wheel G, which again drives the pinion f on the arbor which carries the two arms f A, f B; and on the same arbor is set a fly with a ratchet, like a common striking fly, and the numbers of the teeth are so arranged that the fly will turn once for each turn of the scape-wheel. The ends of the remontoire arms f A, f B are capable of alternately passing the notches cut half through the arbor of the scape-wheel, as those notches successively come into the proper position at the end of every half-minute; as soon as that happens the hour-wheel raises the movable wheel D and its frame through a small angle; but, nevertheless, that wheel keeps pressing on the scape-wheel as if it were not moving, the point of contact of the wheel C and the pinion d being the fulcrum or centre of motion of the lever A d P. It will be observed that the remontoire arms f A,