Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bryant's Electric Ghost lends life to old clocks

Kennebec Journal's Morning Sentinel had a great article on one of Maine's unsung heroes of invention, Jim Bryant, a clock repairman who has a remarkable device credited to his ingenuity!
Time keeper
By MATTHEW STONE, Staff Writer

Staff Photo by Andy Molloy
TIME PIECE: Jim Bryant, of Wayne, inspects the movement within the self-winding clock hanging at Hartford Fire Station in Augusta Sunday. The whistle atop Hartford has been silent recently, the clock repairman said, due to a faulty spring in the 1925 time piece that normally strikes at 12:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. “It’s the heartbeat for the whistle,” Bryant said of the spring.

WAYNE -- Many people go to work each day like clockwork. For Jim Bryant, that clockwork is his job.
The Wayne clockmaker has now been perfecting his craft for 50 years and has contracts to maintain grandfather and tower clocks, public and private, throughout Maine. In Augusta, he maintains clocks at Hartford Fire Station and Lithgow Public Library. Bryant also tends to clocks at Richmond's United Methodist Church, Hallowell's Old South Congregational Church and on the campus of Hebron Academy.

Bryant's work has spanned as far as Belgium, where he built a clock in a castle south of Brussels in the 1970s. Closer to home, he is currently working on six-foot dials for the town clock of Norway.

With each clock he works on, the self-termed "clock custodian" said he sees his role as preserving a bit of history.

"I'm trying to be conservative and keep these old pendulum clocks running the way they were designed to run originally," he said.
Maintaining clocks for historical preservation is not about the clocks' improvement, Bryant said.

"There are people who work on these that shouldn't because they do more damage than good," Bryant said. "There are others that do a superb job, but they make a Cadillac out of a Chevrolet and they charge you for the price of a Mercedes."

Among the Wayne clockmaker's contributions to the field is an automatic winding system for tower clocks that preserves a clock's original winding system but eliminates the need for regular manual winding. Bryant calls his invention the "Bryant Electric Ghost."

"It can be quite a chore to once a week go up in the tower and crank up the weight. It requires a little bit of sweating to keep these rascals wound," he said of a winding system's half-ton weights. "The auto-winding works very well."

Bryant invented the winding system more than 30 years ago while attempting to determine how to return Monmouth's tower clock to working order. The system he installed on the Monmouth clock is intact to this day, he said.
Now retired, Bryant devotes himself to clockwork and his "hurdy-gurdy man" entertainment act.

As clocks are passed down to younger generations, Bryant said, he hopes the spirit of preservation remains, and that his automatic winding system can play a role.

"In many cases, older gentlemen pass away and a younger generation doesn't really care and they don't know how to do it, and that's where auto-winding can come in," he said. "And hopefully they don't just up and destroy the old clock."
Please click to read full article here: [Source]
There's another article about Jim Bryant here on the Sun Journal site, from when he revived Livermore Falls' 100-year-old clocktower back in January. To see some great photos of the event, you'll need to look at the PDF version of the front page that day.


Hinsley Ford said...

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Michelle said...

Hi Hinsley! Great to have you on board, glad you like the blog. :)