I've been teaching myself CAD (Solidworks) and started designing the dial and
bezel with it, but then I realised I'm so much more confident with REAL 3D
stuff that a physical model might be better. This is my ten to one scale
welding wire model. I was so much happier out in my workshop physically
designing it by welding than I could have been on the computer. CAD
can never give you a good lifestyle, however useful it obviously is. Having
made all the important decisions, it didn't take long to transfer the
model to CAD. Also, an accurate physical model is a much more intuitive
aid for discussing the project with Graham, my highly skilled
electrician, with the
client, and with Gisleham Industries, the company who will fabricate
it. Mid way through the fabrication Mark, the welder said how
much he liked working from the model "drawings so often get
A month later, the frame has just arrived back from
being galvanised! We were all worried about how much the hot dip process
would distort the frame. Mark is a bit grumpy as the two halves matched so
perfectly before it went, but the two sides are less than 6mm out -
nothing that a bit of 'fitting' won't sort.
Another 6 weeks, its now April the 23rd and we are on
site. All the aluminium panels have been fitted and removed to
be powder coated. The frame had to be split in two again to be transported
to the site. I realise the galvanising had distorted it by much more than
I'd thought - nearly 50mm in places. I've since discovered that box
section distorts much worse because it has to be lowered into the
galvanising tank very slowly to allow the air out of the inside of the
section. So for quite a long time part of the frame is hot and the rest is
cold - and this is what causes the distortion.
the clock is finally all going together. It all feels very
unnatural. I'm used to a smaller scale when is easy to redesign things while
they are being made. On this large scale I had to design
everything at the start and then cope with the
technical problems as they crop up. Its just not possible to change
anything much. Also I instinctively prefer
finishes that improve with age, so why have I ended up trying to make all
this paint and vinyl lettering look so perfect? And who but an idiot would
attempt to build anything with such a large number of panels that all need
to be perfectly butt jointed together. (With a butt joint any slight
variations in the width of the gap between the sheets or variations
between the level of one sheet and the next are highly visible.) I've also run out of cash as the
fabrication took twice as many man hours as I'd guessed.
all this its very exciting. All the butt joins have rivetted together
remarkably well, a tribute to Mark, who welded the framework and cut and
drilled the panels before painting. Everything is so different from
looking at it on the screen in my CAD program, where I can multiply the
scale of anything at the touch of a button. Here its enormity presents new
challenges at every turn. The 25x25x3mm box section which I think of as
'rigid', becomes quite bendy on this scale. The 2mm thick aluminium
plate I also think of as rigid, dents if we tread anywhere
on the dial. Doing any task to the frame takes much longer than I'm used
to, simply because there's so much of it. If the weather hadn't been
perfect we would never have got it all together in 4 days in time for the
crane I'd booked the week before.
The crane arrived on Friday April 27th. As I feared, the driver couldn't
move it from into position from the place we had been working on it so we
had to roll it onto place along a narrow roadway. This photo shows a bad
moment when it grounded on the kerb.
Finally in place ready to lift! It looks so much bigger now its vertical.
The team that built it from left: Mark, Graham, Tim and Andy
And the inside looks exactly like my model. Now I see it supported by the
crane, the framework looks right, not over engineered as I had been
The finished effect. There's a fast road, just to the left of this photo,
and drivers keep hooting their horns, I guess to try and attract the
attention of the 'worker' on top. I'm amazed how large the clock looks.
Despite all my drawings I assumed that the vast scale of the building
would always dwarf it, but I was wrong.
After a few years Tobar went bust. The clock was removed in April 2015 and
now sits on the entrance to Diss business park, about 20 miles away.