Wooden clock completed after 20 years
He started the project 20 years ago, and put it aside for 17 years. Then, in 2000, Chuck Stoddard took the plans out of mothballs and finished building his all-wooden clock.
Trained as a clock and watch maker, Stoddard, and his late wife, Marian, moved to South Lake Tahoe from Concord, Calif., in 1959, where they opened Stoddard the Jeweler near Tahoe Keys Boulevard. After operating the shop for 25 years, he retired in 1984.
Shortly before closing the store he saw an advertisement on how to “build your own wooden clock” in a trade magazine. He sent for the plans, which included 10 pages of detailed instruction. The clock is all wood except the plexiglass dial, the 50-pound nylon fishing line used for suspension and the pure lead weight, which he made from melting down car batteries.
“I photocopied each of the gears, glued the pattern to birch wood and cut them out with a band saw. I used maple dowels for the axles and sanded and shaped the roughcut gears with an emery board to make them mesh properly.” Stoddard said.
He utilize the South Tahoe High School woodworking shop, doing most of the work at night.
“I had more than 100 hours in the project when along came Ham radio. I got my extra class Ham license and became active in the Tahoe Amateur Radio Association. I’m a past president of TARA and still keep in touch with four fellas in California on a daily basis,” Stoddard said.
When he decided to return to the clock, it took almost a year to finish. He etched Roman numerals free hand in the clock face with a jeweler’s screw driver, assembled all the parts and mounted the finished product on a stand. He now has more than 200 hours in construction time in building the clock, which has been operating for over a year.
“The clock keeps perfect time within one minute a day. The lead weight provides the power through a series of gears that drive the pendulum, which is the regulator. I wind it once a day, when the weight gets near the bottom,” Stoddard said.
He plans to eventually build a wooden case around the clock works.
“I’m proud to have finished building the clock and happy to show it to different groups. I bring the clock about half disassembled and lay the parts out on a table. During the talk I assemble the pieces, explain what I’m doing and get it up and running again,” Stoddard said.
Any group who would like to have Stoddard make a presentation and demonstrate his wooden clock may contact him at (530) 544-4248.
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