Cambridge clock chimes in time warp

VIV POSSELT AND JEREMY SMITH
Last updated 08:16 28/05/2014
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FIRST HOME: More than 100 years old, the Cambridge clock was first placed in a tower atop the post office - GPO - building.

cambridge clock
Jeremy Smith/Fairfax Nz
INSPECTION: Clock operator Jeff Masters takes a close look at the chiming mechanism in the town clock on Monday morning.

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Ask not for whom the bell tolls in Cambridge - with the town clock on the blink locals are either getting dozens of chimes or none at all.

The mechanism in the towering timepiece has been playing up for about four weeks leaving those relying on it to start their day scratching their heads and the clock's venerable caretakers scurrying for a solution.

The confused chronometer has been chiming nine times at 5.45am, then an ear-splitting 10 times at 6am - enough to have one leaping out of bed on the presumption half the day has disappeared.

Last Friday morning, the time warp continued, leaving 7am with no chimes at all.

Waipa District Council workers and voluntary clock operators Jeff Masters and Monty Mott have, between them, been hand winding the 105-year-old clock for the last 10 years. Each twice weekly wind requires 200 turns of a hand crank.

But despite the 300,000 turns they've put in between them, Masters said the chiming irregularity had been a perplexing mystery, one they put down to wear and tear.

While a replacement part was being specially made it was expected to take a couple of weeks with the timing and weight fault meaning the town's twin Father Times were unable to stop the clock chiming in the meantime.

But Masters and Mott saw it as a minor setback in the clock's century of service to the town and there was no chance of the clock reverting to a motorised mechanism on their watch, despite the odd hiccup and sweat required.

"It's machinery designed by a genius all those years ago," Mott said. "It's a bit like a gym membership," he added.

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- Waikato Times

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