Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Peculiar Clock


It Is a Simple and Accurate Timepiece, and Is Run by Alcohol.

There is in this city a clock that for simplicity and accuracy surpasses the historic one of Benjamin Franklin. It is the property of Gerhard Eckhardt, 1242 South Fourth street, and was constructed on a plan designed by one of his assistants, Robert Saloch.

The framework is shaped like an elongated horseshoe, about 2½ feet in height, and from its center hangs a wheel 4½ inches in diameter and an inch wide. This wheel is inclosed by glass so as to be airtight. Along its inner circumference are 16 small partitions, connected with each other by means of a puncture the size of a pinhole.

The wheel turns on an axle 6 inches long, about which is coiled the thread by which the wheel is suspended. Now, if the 16 partitions were empty, there would be nothing to prevent the thread about the axle uncoiling and the wheel falling down. As a counter force, therefore, eight of the partitions are filled with alcohol, and when the thread begins to unwind the alcohol on one side is higher than on the other.

Consequently the force of gravity acts to prevent the string from untwisting further. It is here that the pinholes come in, for, as the alcohol slowly oozes through them in order to seek the proper level, the thread unwinds a little more, the one side is again raised slightly, and so the thread by scarcely perceptible stops slowly descends.

On the scale figured out in this instrument it takes just 12 hours for the wheel to descend the distance of two feet. It can then be easily wound up again by twisting back the thread upon the axle. To mark the exact time of the day there is constructed on one side of the frame a straight dial with divisions as close as five minutes. A single hand, balanced upon the axle of the descending wheel, points the time upon the scale.

Mr. Saloch told a reporter that he had been at work on this ingenious device during the whole of the summer. He had tried all sorts of substances, water, oil, etc., but had found none so serviceable as alcohol. There is, of course, no very great merit to the clock as it is now, except as a show piece.

By slightly complicating matters, however, adding four wheels and enlarging the axle of the wheel Mr. Saloch says that the clock can run from three to ten years with a descent of only about a foot and a half during that time. — St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

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