The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

John Wilding, FBHI

Updating some old designs and making them available to others

John Wilding's interest in clocks began in his schooldays after reading the section on horology in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Visits to the school clock (strictly out of bounds) which was a fine Thwaits and Reed striking movement responsible for the governing of the school's activities, and the reading of books, all stimulated his interest.

World War II claimed him for some five years, and after that he married and went into agricultural engineering. He used a lathe in that business and realized that with this tool he could make a clock. In those days, the early fifties, the only drawings and instructions for making clocks were to be found in the pages of Model Engineer where famous amateur clockmakers such as George Gentry, Claude Reeve and John Stevens wrote. So he started making clocks from their descriptions and later on he made his own contributions to the subject in both Model Engineer and the Horological Journal.

As a result of these articles the editor of the Horological Journal invited John to write a constructional serial for the Horological Journal describing how to make a simple 8-day weight driven movement without buying any ready made parts. This was to be the start of some thirty constructional serials all of which have been put in to book form.

This  first 8-day clock was quite a breakthrough for the Horological Journal, as very few professional clockmakers at that time had a lathe the size of the Myford ML7. They may have had an 8mm collet lathe, but most " High Street" repairers did little more than clean clocks. Major repairs were carried out by one of the parts manufacturers in Clerkenwell. If a clock needed a pair of pallets, the High Street shop would send the clock plates, the pallets, escape and third wheel up to the parts manufacturer, who would do the complete repair ready for the remainder of the movement to be assembled and then passed to the customer.

Also, at that time there was a great deal of secrecy in the trade. It was difficult for an amateur to find out how certain processes were carried out, and on one occasion when he went to purchase tools etc. from a retailer in Clerkenwell, John was asked if he were in the trade, and when he said "no", they refused to serve him. He wanted a mainspring winder but they wouldn't sell him one. He went home and borrowed Claude Reeve's winder and made his own!

John's circumstances altered at about this time and he sold his home in Sussex. The new property was not ready to move into, so he went to work in a London repair shop. This was a wonderful experience. The foreman was Ron Rose, and there was nothing he couldn't do regarding the repair of clocks. John learned an enormous amount there. When he left, he worked for a wheelcutter for a short period which was also a valuable and interesting experience.

Finally back in Sussex again he continued as a full-time clockmaker and writer, producing an average of one new clock each year. He also did repair work and it was from these clocks that he compiled the four volumes on the repair of antique clocks.

John has always been fascinated  by the inventions of other clockmakers, many of which have fallen by the wayside. When he reads about these in some of the early literature he makes them up and fits them into his clocks to give them a second chance! The Henry Ward full striking, which does not require a second wheel train, and the perpetual datework for a longcase clock movement with the usual date ring, both these he has made, and they are described in his book on the 8-day wall clock (updated) where they function perfectly.                                 

Recently John was told about the Aaron Dodd Crane "daisy wheel" motion work, and he found this fascinating and promptly fitted it to his egg timer clock, together with the MacDowall single pin escapement.  He is at present constructing the Woodward gearless clock.

Newcomers to clockmaking often imagine that a high precision  and expensive lathe is essential for this work but this is quite wrong. John has made many clocks on the small hobby lathes including all the wheelcutting. Manufacturers often loan their lathe to him knowing that  the publicity and the numerous photographs of their tool in the serial will benifit their sales.  

John Wilding's shop in Sussex, England

John was elected a fellow of the British Horological Institute in 1986 and was awarded the Institute's Barrett Silver Medal in 1998.

John’s books are published by RiteTime Publishing Ltd, 18 Woolmer Way, Bordon, Hants, UK GU35 9QF. A complete list of the books he has written follows the photo section below.

Here are some photos of John Wilding's clocks:

(Click photo for larger image.)

8-DAY WEIGHT DRIVEN WALL CLOCK—The first clock in John's "How to Make.." series some 30 years ago. It's simple design made it very popular, and the book has been through seven editions and many reprints. This clock led many a craftsman into an interest in clock making.
SCROLL TYPE SKELETON CLOCK—This elegant clock has one-at-the-hour striking. Instructions in John's book show a Myford 7 lathe in the setups, but this clock could be built on a Unimat 3 or Sherline lathe as well. The clock is fitted with maintaining work and runs for eight days on a winding.
CONGREVE ROLLING BALL CLOCK—This clock has always captivated the mechanically minded. The captive ball endlessly traversing the table from one end to the other has a mesmeric effect on those watching. It used to be a popular clock to place in the window of a clock or jewelry shop as it always attracts an audience. It is not a particularly accurate keeper of time, but is fun to build and to watch.
GALILEO'S ESCAPEMENT CLOCK—The photo here shows an early version. John has since updated his plans to include two motion work gears outside the frame together wih an hour hand and dial so it can indicate time. The mainspring runs only four hours, but it can also be converted to weight drive with autowinding.
BATTERY DRIVEN ELECTRIC CLOCK—This clock is based on the "Ever Ready electrically propelled clocks" which were manufactured at the beginning of the 1900's. A unique feature is the motion of the pendulum which swings backwards and forwards instead of side-to-side. The operation is based on the principle of the Scotts "notched tooth" which is similar to the "Hipp" system well know to amateur clockmakers.
16TH CENTURY STYLE CLOCK—Designed to be constructed on a small benchtop lathe, this clock is an easy project for beginners. The clock employs the verge escapement and has a single hour hand. It runs for 30 hours on a winding. To get full running time, the clock must be mounted at least six feet above the floor to allow enough room for the weights to descend.
"CASTLE" CLOCK—This is an 8-day weight driven wall clock designed for a shelf bracket. The movement is exposed to view. The movement is fitted with maintaining work and "one at the hour" striking. This again was designed to be built on a modern, small benchtop lathe.
SCISSORS CLOCK—This is a most unusual and spectacular clock with its contra oscillating compound pendulums. The bobs of the pendulums take the form of scissor handles as do the hands and winding key. The clock runs for a week on one winding and the interesting pendulum action is a great visual attraction. This can also be built on a small benchtop lathe.
WOODEN CLOCK—The plans for this wooden clock were originally supplied with a band saw sold by the Burgess Power Tool Co., which is no longer in business. The clock is made entirely from 3/8" plywood and wood dowel. John has included a grasshopper escapement, which is ideal for a wooden clock, together with an automatic winding system.
TAVERN OR "ACT OF PARLIAMENT" CLOCK—This type of large wall clock is often seen in churches, village halls, schools, etc. It should maintain accuracy within five seconds a week and runs eight days on one winding.
ENGLISH DIAL CLOCK WITH DATEWORK—These clocks were produced in large numbers right up to the 20th century. Their quality fusee movements together with the easily read dial made them both practical and efficient. This one is fitted with maintaining work and optional datework.
WEIGHT DRIVEN 8-DAY WALL CLOCK—This is an updated version of John's original 8-day wall clock. (See first photo.) This one includes some improvements to the wooden case and the addition of a seconds hand.
M.E. JUBILEE CLOCK—This clock was originally designed by E. T. Westbury and published as a serial in Model Engineer in 1958. John sorted out a couple of problems with the original design in his improved version. The clock is similar in appearance to the "master" type of clock with a one seconds pendulum and uses the Scotts notched tooth principle of pendulum propulsion. The drive to the hands is also taken from thenotched tooth count wheel. Using a 4.5 volt DC power supply, the clock is accurate to within a few seconds a week.
CRYSTAL WHEEL SKELETON CLOCK—Horologists will recognize this clock as a close copy of the famous flint glass wheel clocks made by Edwards of Stourbridge. The clock is mounted on a wooden box containing the barrel. The designer obviously thought that the barrel was not aesthetically pleasing and hid it in the box so as not to spoil the appearance of the flint glass centered wheels. The clock and box together stand 22 inches high and is quite impressive. The crystal wheel centers are engraved with a sunburst pattern which, together with the elegant scroll frames, make it a most attractive clock.
A "LARGE WHEEL" SKELETON CLOCK—This clock features simplicity of design in the inverted "Y" frames together with the large main wheel. A further interesting note is the equal size of both the third and escape wheels. This balances the upper part of the clock. It is driven by a mainspring in a "gong" barrel and has optional stopwork.
WEIGHT DRIVEN TOWER CLOCK MOVEMENT—Many find it a challenge to build a clock that drives hands exposed to the weather. This relatively large movement is capable of driving a single exposed dial up to 2 feet in diameter, yet John built it all on a small Myford 7 lathe. The upper photo shows the tower atop John's shop. The lower photo shows the mechanism itself.
WEIGHT DRIVEN BRASS ALARM CLOCK—John designed this clock as a beginner's project. It is a wall hung clock with a 30 hour duration. The escapement is the semi circulus or strob as used by Richard of Wallingford in the St. Albans clock. This escapement employs a double escape wheel, each with radial pins in its periphery and it is used in conjunction with a foliot as the oscillator. The movement movement was designed for a single hand, but a minute hand was added to the design due to popular demand.
3/4 SECOND PENDULUM ELECTRIC CLOCK—Designed to be suitable for a complete beginner to both clock making and using a lathe, this clock was serialized in Model Engineer.
LARGE BALANCE WHEEL ELECTRIC CLOCK—This clock is based on the Murday-Reason battery clock manufactured in Brighton at the beginning of the last century. John made several modifications including a balance staff in ball races and a simplified mechanical arrangement for the drive of the hands. The oscillation of the large balance wheel is spectacular in its action. The clock employs the "hipp" toggle principle to maintain the swings of the balance and runs off a 3-volt battery.
18th CENTURY 30 HOUR WEIGHT DRIVEN ALARM CLOCK—The posted movement has the two trains one behind the other. Nothing more exotic than a Myford ML 7 lathe and a 3/8" drill press were used to make this clock. The movement is fitted with a hanging ring and spurs and can be mounted on a wall or it can be cased as shown.
WEIGHT DRIVEN EGG TIMER—This is a new project by John, and details have not yet been released.
DRUM WATER CLOCK—The drum itself is made from perspex sections in order to show the action of the water inside. Three different methods of utilizing the rotation of the drum to indicate the time are given in the text. The clock requires winding daily, and this is carried out by gripping the winding knobs at each end of the center spindle and turning them, causing the drum to climb up the two cords from which it is suspended.

Books by John Wilding

How to Make an 8-day Weight Driven Wall Clock (Original Edition) (63 pages, 122 illustrations)

The Construction of an Elegant Scroll Type Skeleton Clock (64 pages, over 150 illustrations)

The Construction of a Congreve Rolling Ball Clock (80 pages,  over 140 illustrations)

How to Make Galileo’s Escapement Clock (44 pages, over 100 illustrations)

How to Make a Battery Driven Electric Clock (57 pages, over 145 illustrations)

How to Make a 16th Century Style Clock (68 pages, over 220 illustrations)

Machining and Constructing a “Castle Clock” (70 pages, over 250 illustrations)

How to Construct a Scissors Clock (76 pages, over 240 illustrations)

The Construction of a Wooden Clock (34 pages, 67 illustrations, 6 full-size drawings)

The Construction of a Tavern or Act of Parliament Clock (54 pages, 140 illustrations)

The Construction of an English Dial Clock with Datework (64 pages, over 185 illustrations)

How to Make a Weight Driven 8-day Wall Clock (Updated Edition) (83 pages, over 300 illustrations)

The Construction of the M. E. Jubilee Clock (49 pages, over 120 illustrations)

The Construction of a Crystal Wheel Skeleton Clock (92 pages, over 230 illustrations, full-size drawings)

The Construction of a “Large Wheel” Skeleton Clock (64 pages, 137 drawings and photos)

The Construction of a Small Weight Driven Tower Clock Movement (68 pages, numerous drawings and photos)

The Construction of a Weight Driven Brass Alarm Clock (52 pages, over 160 photos and drawings)

3/4 Second Pendulum Electric Clock (74 pages, over 300 illustrations)

The Construction of an English Regulator (100 pages, over 350 illustrations)

The Construction of a Large Balance Wheel Electric Clock (36 pages, over 104 illustrations)

How to Make a Replica of an 18th Century 30-hour Weight Driven Alarm Clock (74 pages, over 160 illustrations)

Clock Repairing Manuals, Vol. 1 (117 pgs), Vol. 2 (123 pgs), Vol. 3 (91 pgs) and Vol. 4 (104 pgs)

Tools for the Clockmaker and Repairer (144 pages, over 250 illustrations)

Horological Miscellanies (65 pages, fully illustrated)

Hints and Tips for Clockmakers and Repairers (96 pages, over 240 illustrations)

Using the Small Lathe and its Special Applications for Clock Making and Repairing (72 pages, over 235 illustrations)

Notes on Tower Clocks—Their Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (112 pages, fully illustrated)

How to Make a Weight Driven Egg Timer (NEW)

The Construction of a Drum Water Clock (Available soon)


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Publishers of John Wilding's books and other publications on clockmaking.

18 Woolmer Way, Bordon, Hants, GU35 9QF, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1420 487747, Fax: +44 (0) 1420 474647

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