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Project Update: January 2022

A Clock for the Railway's Extension

Various peripheral items need to be sourced for use at our future stations required for the railway’s extension. For example, we already have in store an original signal box desk, lever frames, signals, Electric Train Tablet instruments, and platform lanterns. 

I am thinking a clock with railway provenance would cost a lot to buy, but I was given this ordinary office/schoolroom clock about 50 years ago.  It had been languishing in a garage on a cricket field amongst all the tools, rollers and mowers, with a missing pendulum, a badly faded face and parts of the case broken.  On the plus side, the clock has a fusee movement that provides for good timekeeping.  During the last half-century, the fusee cord had also parted - fortunately without causing collateral damage.

The mechanism has been repaired and overhauled by Don Newnham, and following some more minor repairs to the case and the fitting of a new face, the railway now has a working clock that looks the part.

Fig 1 - Repaired mechanism with new pendulum.

Fig 2 - The refurbished clock.

No Veneer in 'ere

Following previous articles in the News series "Progress with Tablet Instruments (Part 5)", the railway has received three donations of mahogany wood with which to make and repair equipment. 

One of our Tyer’s No.6 Tablet Instruments came without the wooden case enclosing the indicator panel.  Thanks to these donations, a new case has now been made.  It might have been possible to copy the original Tyer’s design, but experience of repairing these cases suggests that the design is not well suited to a life on Exmoor.  The main problem is the arched top is constructed of about 15 segments of mahogany glued together and encased within veneer on both their outer and inner face.  If any of these glued joints fails, then the case loses some structural integrity.  To make matters worse, the original glue used in the factory appears to be water-soluble and any damp quickly finds the weak spots.  A proper repair requires all the veneer to be removed and a time-consuming and expensive rebuild.

More minor issues are:

  • The veneer bent over the top of the arch becomes brittle with time, often splitting and becoming detached from the wood underneath;
  • The beading holding the front glass in place is very thin; difficult to remove intact and replace;
  • The front ‘A frame’ is very weak at its apex, and on several of the L&BR instruments, has split at this point;  and
  • The arched top also necessitates any plates fixed to the case front (to identify the section) also to be curved, adding cost and difficulty.

The replacement design seeks to address all of the above, but it has to be admitted that the overall result is a lot less elegant.

Fig 3 Front & Fig 4 Rear views of the replacement indicator panel case.


Malcolm Kitchen


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