Inside the San Jose Clock Tower and the 1908 Clock Works

Click on a small image to view a larger one:
Tower exterior (1) Tower exterior (2) Tower exterior (3)
Exterior of the building and its clock tower: This historic 1892 building served as San Jose's post office from 1892 to 1933. Now it is home for the San Jose Museum of Art. The tower displays clock faces on the north, south and west sides, but is blank on the east side.
ladder up clock weight pendulum clock works (1)
First, up a steep ladder
There is a staircase (right) after the first landing.
Clock historian Gibson Anderson observing the 500 lb time driving weight Cast iron pendulum bob
at end of 14-foot rod
Clock mechanism
clock works (2) clock works (3) clock works (4)
Drive rods to the three faces   Hour and minute hand gears
clock works (5) Left: escapement mechanism
Right: A clock winder left
a note one cold morning.
clock winder's note
bell (1) bell (2) bell (3)
The McNeely Bell: Tower bells are meant to be placed high in a belfry, as was the original bell (destroyed in 1906). The bell now is a level below the clock faces next to the clock works. While it sounds quite loud within the tower it cannot be heard outside the building. An effort is underway to restore the tower belfry.
Information and Commentary on the 1908 Nels Johnson Century Clock - by Dorian Clair, April 2006
When he finished his installation inside the partially restored San Jose clock tower [in 1908], someone asked Nels Johnson how accurate his clock was. Johnson began to wind the double three-legged gravity escapement with temperature-compensated pendulum, and when he finished, he turned to the man and replied, “Sir, it is accurate to within 4 seconds a month.” “Is that good?” the man asked. Johnson set his century clock in motion. “If you want something better,” he said, “you should talk to God.”

      John Mitchell in the San Jose Mercury News, August 18, 2010
Copyright © 2006, 2010 Bob Shomler
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