New England Chapter No. 8 NAWCC

Sturbridge Host Hotel, Sturbridge, Mass.


by Brian Wilcox

Chapter President, Bob Merrill had returned from The NAWCC National Convention in Atlanta GA., with all the news and an armful of awards for Chapter Eight.

At the luncheon Bob Merrill presented Richard L. Ketchen with his Fellow Award and asked Calvin Morgan to stand and receive the Members` congratulations for his Fellow Award.Other Chapter Eight Awards were Norman Friedman, NAWCC Council Secretary who was awarded Star Fellow; .Adolph Amend was awarded Old timer of the year and Chapter Eight received a Presidential citation.

The Featured Luncheon Speaker was Dr. Steven Petrucelli.Steve arrived home from a visit to China at 3 A.M. and came straight to Sturbridge where he and his wife Karen set up their mart table and they were ready to do what they enjoy, talking and sharing their experience with fellow collectors. Steve's presentation was entitled "The Evolution of the American Banjo Clock" and with the aid of computerized slides confined his presentation to the Federal Period circa (1801 --1815).

The American Banjo Clock was invented by Simon Willard--originally called the "Improved Timepiece"--the name banjo was used later. Steve led us through the early days of Simon Willard and a well established network of artisans and craftsmen including: clockmakers,cabinet makers and painters as they created the improved timepiece. The early timepieces were oversized movements powered through a compound pulley, and supporting a cast lead weight with a characteristic ducks bill hook.,cast brass side arms and a curved brass pendulum tie down The basic clock case is a relatively simple structure and was made with native pine. Chestnut woods were used for the backs with imported mahogany for sides and front case.

Ninety five per of the surface area of the clock is dial and glass in the throat and the lower tablet.The glass tablets enabled the artists of the day to display their talents. The designs were varied .,The early tablets were geometric designs ,historical events,and Greek mythology . This made the product fashionable for the home and some public places,and at a price that was well below that of a tall case clock.

A mini exhibit had been set up in the mart by several Members who had brought Banjo clocks to the meeting for Steve to examine ,"Prepare the work surface before you begin your inspection "Steve advised us as he began his inspection -be patient -look at the dial--glassware can provide clues -is it a parts clock ? give it the finger nail test--tap your finger nail on the glass--earlier glass was much thinner and had more imperfections.".As we listened and watched
we became aware that Steve was sharing two generations of experience -his and his Grandfather's.

It was his grandfather's influence that started Steve into horology . Last summer Steve experienced a unique and satisfying experience .At an auction he acquired his Grandfather's "Favorite clock" -a Vienna regulator. He has been active in NAWCC since 1973.and a Director of The Adams Book Company in Cranbury, New Jersey.He is a BSEE, Ms and a PhD, a designer of scientific instruments, and is Co author with Kenneth A.Sposato of "American Banjo Clocks,"published by The Adams Book.There is a copy at the NAWCC Library ref # dc105pet1995 .

The morning workshop, Tools of the "Trade--Past and Present" was presented by Richard Ketchen. It might well have been called Richard's tools of the trade.When Richard began repairing clocks, he soon realized that the work was easier with specific tools which were costly--more costly than books that described them. So he borrowed the books and made the tools.The presentation was show and tell--with small tools past and present to talk about, and slides revealing the larger tools and Richard's workshop and a demonstration of the tools with participation from all who wished to try them.The workshop was well attended and received.

Richard Ketchen is a graduate of Wentworth Institute ,research machinist and design Engineer. He restored all the clocks in the Fogg Museum exhibit "The Art Of Time" involved in the Longitude Symposium at Harvard,Member Chapter Eight;a 1980 NAWCC Gold Medal winner and Fellow NAWCC.

The afternoon workshop presenter was "Arnie" Herbert.The workshop "Timing of watches and clocks--a computer aided system"This was a updated version of a presentation he gave for the Florida Regional in 1990, "How to use your personal computer for clock and watch repair."This is a tool that "Arnie" and his associate developed to check the timing of all mechanical timepieces.With the aid of his computer Arnie showed us how to take timing measurements ,display the beat interval, and how to set the beat,detects out of round escape wheels .The tool has an audio pickup and an electronic eye to observe the swing of the pendulum.and displays the results on your computer screen.

Arnie retired from IBM as a Technical Engineer and started repairing clocks and watches in 1979.He also restores antique music boxes and barometers and currently he is restoring a McClintock and Loomis electric street clock , the old Newport Savings Bank street clock .He has repaired an E.Howard large banjo No.1 regulator at the Calhoun mansion at Clemson University belonging to the past vice-president of the United States, John C. Calhoun. Arnie is a Member of New England Chapter 8,.One Green Mountain Timekeepers #109, and Carolina #17.,He runs a very busy clock and watch shop in Sunapee,New Hampshire.

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