A Swiss clock made of tim­ber.

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Contents -

FOR AS LONG as he can re­mem­ber, reader Eric Kal­tenbacher’s fa­ther, Hel­mut, had talked about build­ing a Swiss clock fea­tured in the Au­gust 1964 is­sue of Pop­u­lar Me­chan­ics.

A trained wood pat­tern­maker and builder, Hel­mut had bought tools for the project over the years, but never got around to com­plet­ing it. Around De­cem­ber, Eric took mat­ters into his own hands and de­cided to build the clock him­self. He hoped to fin­ish in time to present the gift to Hel­mut on Fa­ther’s Day. ‘I went into it de­ter­mined to fin­ish,’ he said of the in­tri­cate project. ‘I wasn’t sure if it was go­ing to be enough time or not, but I set that as a goal.’

Eric, an elec­tri­cal- and op­ti­cal en­gi­neer, had a pho­to­copy of the old ar­ti­cle when he be­gan to build, but he found the hand-drawn di­a­grams of in­di­vid­ual pieces dif­fi­cult to vi­su­alise as a fin­ished prod­uct. ‘I de­cided that I was go­ing to draw it up in CAD first, so I could ac­tu­ally play with the di­men­sions and fig­ure ev­ery­thing out,’ Eric said. ‘That way I could make sure that I built the clock once, in­stead of build­ing it a few times to get the num­bers right.’

De­spite his best ef­forts, Eric found that some of the di­men­sions were still slightly off when he tried to build – it took him four to six tries to make the drive shaft pieces. Then he had to put the clock to­gether, a 40-hour process that took ‘pa­tient assem­bly, test­ing, dis­as­sem­bly, and re­fine­ment’.

Eric was able to fin­ish the project in about six months – just in time to give it to Hel­mut, now 81, for Fa­ther’s Day. ‘He def­i­nitely teared up a bit,’ Kal­tenbacher said. ‘He knew how much work went into it.’

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