New England Chapter No. 8 NAWCC


Sturbridge Host Hotel, Sturbridge Massachusetts

Photo Highlights by Bob Frishman

Meeting Highlights by Dave Deutermann

Workshop presenter
Richard Monaco
Workshop presenter
Tom McIntyre
Luncheon Speaker
Jonathan Snellenburg
Officers Row

Chapter Eight's Winter meeting was held February 10th at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge, MA. Mart tables were a bit sparse at 65+, but made up for it in quality.

We had two well-attended workshops, the first of which was presented by Richard Monaco, a 4th generation furniture maker from Brimfield, MA. Richard brought with him an exact duplicate of an original Simon Willard "coffin " clock case which he was commissioned to make by the owner of the antique original, plus a selection of the hand tools used in the construction. This case was to be as exact a copy as possible, including poor dovetailing layout and crude fastenings. Richard started by making dimensioned drawings of the various parts of the case assembly plus wood patterns of the pediment and block standoffs for the dial mounting board. In constructing such a case, Richard recommends, if possible, to get all the wood out of a single board, as this insures the same wood grain, same color and reaction to stain. This case lumber was resawn from 5/4" walnut, and featured a bookmatch grain pattern for the front case panel, as the case was too wide for a single board panel. The "coffin" carcase was built first, following the original dovetail pattern, and the resulting assembly was then rabbeted for the back panel. The standoff blocks for the dial support were then glued on per the pattern, followed by strengthening corner blocks throughout. Old-style hide glue was used exclusively. The pediment was then sawn to pattern and shaped to final profile using rasps and files. The finish stain was water-based aniline dye followed by final French polishing. The result was pure elegance. Richard then unveiled another coffin case, identical except in birchwood, with all the construction weaknesses corrected and built using modern machine tools where this made sense. Yellow carpenter's glue was used in this version. The case was then lacquered. Again an elegant case, dimensionally identical to the first yet very different in appearance, and much faster in the construction.

Our second presentation of the morning was courtesy of Chapter member Tom McIntyre, who took us through thee development of the Marine Chronometer, 1714-1942. Tom started with a broad-brush review of the longitude problem and the chronology of John Harrison's efforts to devise an accurate timepiece that would meet three key requirements, e.g. insensitivity to the power available to drive the regulator, insensitivity to temperature and the ability to survive a harsh environment. The design effort progressed from the enormous H1 apparatus in 1735 to the "almost pocketwatch" sized H4 in 1754, his finalist for the Board of Longitude prize. Still remaining were the problems of non-isochronism, the "middle temperature" error and the need for oil, which degraded rapidly on long sea voyages. France's Pierre le Roy had already devised the first bimetallic compensated balance in 1766, as well as a mercury/alcohol thermometer compensation scheme plus invented the first pivoted detent detached escapement. Unaware of this prior work, England's Thomas Earnshaw designed another spring detent detached escapement in 1780, followed rapidly by John Arnold's version in 1783. This escapement is not pivoted and thus eliminates the need for pivot oil. Arnold further devised a gold hairspring which solved the non-isochronos steel hairspring problem. Remaining throughout the 1800's was the middle temperature error, whereby correcting the upper and lower expected temperature extremes results in a significant error in the middle of the range. This was finally solved at the turn of the century by the French invention of Elinvar, a nickel-iron alloy that results in a hairspring and balance which are insensitive to temperature. Likewise the oil degradation problem was ultimately solved by the development if synthetic oils.

Adjoining for the luncheon following the workshops, the annual Chapter Eight business meeting was convened and a slate of candidates was presented to the membership for election to Council vacancies. There being no nominations from the floor, the slate candidates were elected by voice vote.

Our luncheon speaker was Jonathan Snellenburg, familiar to many as an appraiser on "Antiques Roadshow" and currently owner of a NYC gallery. Mr. Snellenburg's talk, titled "Science as Art: a social history of timekeeping" covered the gradual development of society's concepts of time and timekeeping from the first mechanical clocks and watches introduced in the 16th century as artistic jewelry to today's iron rule of timekeepers in regulating our very lives. Many 16th century portraits of important individuals prominently included the watch or clock, symbolizing the relentless passage of time. Worn as jewelry, they hinted at ultimate mortality and the allotment of a finite measure of time to our lives. Beginning in the 18th through the 19th centuries, there were four stages in the development of clocks and watches, first as observatories or observational devices, next as calculators in the astronomical sense, then as measuring devices and finally as life-regulating devices. As observatories, highly ornate dials emphasized the passage of day into night and the months were defined by moon phase. With improvements in gearing, subsidiary dials further demonstrated the inticacies of celestial events and calculated their time of occurrence. Eventually, with Huygen's adaptation of Galileo's pendulum to the clock, the resulting quantum jump in accuracy resulted in truly accurate and useful time measuring devices, and clock time superceded local solar time as the measure of a day. Finally with the development of portable and accurate timepieces, society has allowed the clock to regulate our lives. Mr Snellenburg's talk was accompanied by a slideshow of some beautiful clocks and watches, and was enjoyed by all.

* * *

The hotel is located opposite Old Sturbridge Village on Route 20

From Massachusetts, take the Mass Pike (1-90) west to exit 9 to Rte 20 west through the lights to the Host Hotel on the right.
From Connecticut and New York, take 1-84 east to Rte 20 west in Sturbridge, through the lights to the Host Hotel on the right.
From Rhode Island, take Rte 146 north to Rte 20 west in Sturbridge, through the lights to the Host Hotel on the right.

Those desiring overnight lodging should contact the hotel directly at 1-800-582-3232 or 508-347-7393.

Registrations before February 3, 2001 are $18.
Registrations received after February 3, 2000 and "walk-ins" will be $25.
As always, registration includes your luncheon and is required for participation in any of the meeting activities.

7:30 AM Registration name tags available for those members who preregistered.
Registration table open for "walk-ins".
8:00 AM Mart area open for setup by table holders.
8:30 AM Mart opens.
Master craftsman and fourth-generation woodworker Richard Monaco will describe and demonstrate how he has made accurate reproductions of coffin-case clocks. Richard has a workshop in Brimfield where he reproduces period antiques and restores antique furniture, and he has much to tell us about early wood working techniques and restoration. While he does not have an original coffin case clock to show us, (one can be seen across the street at the Sturbridge Village clock gallery), he will bring examples of his reproductions.
Chapter member Tom McIntyre will take us from John Harrison to the model 21 Hamilton, providing details on the construction and innovations of these amazingly accurate timepieces. Members are invited to bring chronometers to the workshop, especially any with special features, like middle-temperature error correction, for examination and evaluation.
noon Lunch
Luncheon Speaker:
We are honored to have Jonathan Snellenburg as our main speaker. Many of us have seen him on TV as an appraiser on "Antiques Roadshow" and during the many years that he was with Christie's in New York. He now has a gallery in one of the historic Carnegie Hall studios in NYC where he sells antique timepieces and decorative objects. His lecture will illustrate how artisans of Europe's scientific renaissance transformed watches and clocks into mechanical jewels and automated sculpture, not only changing society's perception of time, but making those early mechanical marvels into icons of a new "Age of Reason".
3:00 PM Mart closes, security ends.

Election of chapter officers
This meeting is the occasion for our biannual election of Chapter Eight volunteer officers. The following slate of candidates will be submitted for your approval. Voice nominations will be solicited from the floor, and the vote will follow immediately preceding the luncheon.

President - Bob Frishman
Past President - Larry Chelmow
1st VP and Program Ch'mn - Dave Deutermann
Treasurer - Wayne Paskerian
Director - Harold Lincoln
Director - Frank Menez
Director - Joe Brown
Director - Dick Hauck
2nd VP and Mart Chairman - John Tuckwood
Secretary - Dick Trepp

Officers whose terms remain unexpired are Joe Delaney and John LeLievre.

President's Message - Larry Chelmow
Our February meeting is the annual Business Meeting for Chapter Eight. Please plan to join us for lunch and participate in the election of officers and review the status of the Chapter. If you want to run for office, now is the opportunity. Our concerns remain keeping our membership numbers up and expenses down. You can all help by bringing in new members and keeping old members. Chapter Eight will continue to maintain its meeting format with its Mart, quality Workshops and fine luncheon presentations.

As of this meeting, my term as President is over. I am pleased to have been able to serve you and hope to be able to continue serving the Chapter. I would like to thank you all for your comments over the four years I have served as 1st VP and President and for making this a great experience. As always, please feel free to call me with any comments or criticisms. (781) 828-1626

Return to Ch 8's Home Page.

The right to download and store or output the articles in Price-Less Ads is granted to users for their personal use only. Any other reproduction, by any means - mechanical or electronic - without the express written permission of Price-Less Ads is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2001 Price-Less Ads TM. All rights reserved.

Send comments on this web site to Ron Price