Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The beginning of the electric clock

The idea of a standard time, to be communicated from a center by electricity, was suggested to C. D. Warner of Ansonia, in 1882. Observing the power of a telegraph sounder, it occurred to him that this power could be used to move a clock, and he soon afterward constructed an electric clock, moving once in a second. The conception was original with Mr. Warner, but he afterward mated his idea with a French clock movement based on the same principle.
His first use of the principle was in the window of his own store. He hung a clock there which was connected electrically with the regulator in the room behind. The attention of Thomas Wallace & Sons, of Ansonia, being called to the invention, they offered to put up wires for a circuit, and buy clocks to connect with it, if Mr. Warner would furnish them and agree to keep them running. He purchased French movements and connected them with a circuit extending to the factory of Wallace & Sons, and to the residences of the members of the firm.
About this time Mr. Warner discovered that a clock moving once a minute, by electricity, had been invented by Vitalis Himmer, a watchmaker in New York City. Mr. Warner adopted the idea of a minute movement, and he and Mr. Himmer became connected with a company that was formed to turn their idea to practical use. The Time Telegraph company was organized in 1883. It bought up all the patents bearing upon the new invention that could be found, and gave Mr. Warner an exclusive license for Ansonia and Derby. He withdrew from the company, but under their license began setting up wire circuits in Ansonia and Birmingham. The plant thus established developed into a large business, and Mr. Warner while carrying it on secured some important patents, including an electric gauge for testing the strength of currents.
The attention of Waterbury men had in the meantime been directed to the new invention, and in 1886 George M. Chapman, in his own behalf and as the representative of John W. Hill and George E. Judd, procured a license from Mr. Warner to use his patents, and organized the Electric Time company. The stockholders were J. W. Hill, G. M. Chapman, C. S. Chapman, F. N. Perry and E. D. Welton. But in January, 1887, the Standard Electric Time company was organized, controlling the patents of C. D. Warner for the United States. This new organization bought out Mr. Warner's business in Ansonia and also the Electric Time company of Waterbury. The main office was in Waterbury, but a general manager's office was established in New Haven, as well as a manufactory of electric clocks, switch-boards, etc. In 1891, New Haven being regarded as the most advantageous field, the main office was also transferred to that city.
In June, 1894, however, the stock of the company passed into the hands of Waterbury men, and the office was again established here. The entire plant was also removed to this city, where it has been enlarged in various directions. Less attention is given than at first to the developing of city systems, but the establishment of isolated plants with which all the clocks in a large concern shall be connected has grown to be an important feature of the business. For example, the new offices of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad company in New Haven are furnished with sixty clocks, and all of these are connected with a central regulator.
In 1892 the company began manufacturing a self-winding clock, wound by two cells of battery. They have also introduced electric tower clocks, in which a pendulum and heavy weights are dispensed with, and accurate time secured for the several dials through connection with a regulator below. One of these tower clocks was placed in the tower of the Arlington mills, Lawrence, Mass., in July, 1892, another in the station of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad. The battery by which a tower clock is propelled has to be charged not oftener than once in two years.
At the annual meeting of the Standard Electric Time company, January, 1895, Henry L. Wade was elected president and George E. Judd treasurer. Leroy Upson was made secretary and general manager, and Charles D. Warner mechanical superintendent.

United States Patent No. 363,440

The 1880's saw rapid advancement and intense competition in the field of electrical horology. Many new companies fell by the wayside after making a promising start. Looking backward, it is apparent that the secondary clock movement developed by Charles Warner more than any other single factor assured the ultimate success of the business he founded and named The Standard Electric Time Company. Here, in Warner's own words, excerpted from United States Patent No. 363,440, dated May 24, 1887, are described the key features of his invention:
"This arrangement of these parts is essential in various particulars. Thus it is to be noticed that by using a second wheel like the propelling-wheel, but reversing its teeth, I am enabled to construct a simple and efficient stop upon the armature arm and arrange it so that it will not bear upon or engage the stop-wheel until until such wheel has arrived at the point where it is desired to have it stopped-- that is, the motion of the stop on the armature-arm is such that it enters the space in front of a tooth at the same proportionate rate of speed that the tooth advances, but without bearing upon the tooth, and so comes full in front of the next tooth, to positively and with certainty arrest the wheel when such next tooth comes in contact therewith. So, also, this stop serves to limit the downward movement of the armature-arm, and obviates a special stop for this purpose.
"The use of the gravity pawl on the armature-arm (as distinguished from a spring actuated pawl) is important, in that it serves to prevent the advancement of the time indicating hands when the line containing such clocks is affected by lightning discharges-- that is, such a discharge is very quick and sudden in its effect on the clock-magnets, causing the armatures to respond with a sharp snap-like blow, which, however, is not too quick to advance the clock when it is impelled by a spring actuated pawl or similar device. In the present structure the armature pawl is caused to drop in front of a tooth by gravity. It is also given a wide space in which to swing at its upper end, but prevented from turning over on its pivot by the bent end of the arm. When a sudden and short impulse, such as a lightning discharge, is sent over the line containing this mechanism, the pawl of the armature-arm will be thrown out from the impelling-wheel and up against the bent end of the arm, and, as the permitted swing of the pawl is much greater than the short play of the armature, the armature will return to its normal position before the pawl can fall back upon its wheel, so as to engage an advance tooth, the result being that no advancement of the hands will be caused from such effects. When the clocks are driven by the central or main office current, such current will be maintained so as to permit the impelling pawl to fall back and in front of a new tooth on the impelling-wheel."

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