Lego Clock: tick #1

Several weeks ago, my eldest son’s school topic was time.  Excellent I thought – the concepts of how we mark time seem to be very hard to explain to children. In previous topics we’ve been able to use Lego bricks, to help explain concepts such as multiplication. “Would we be able to use Lego to help explain time?” I wondered.

This was the start of a small obsession that has culminated in building a Lego clock-like mechanism.  To explain clock-like I decided early on to have a few rules.

  • This was a Lego clock, not a clock made out of Lego. So only Lego pieces, and do things the Lego way.
  • It doesn’t matter that the brick colours aren’t co-ordinated. As a ‘Master Builder,’ you use what you have available.
  • I wasn’t worried about have 1 week between windings, or having to accurately match a modern clock. So long as it was approximately correct, and could keep going for a few minutes.

I have always had a fascination with time pieces, especially older mechanical clocks – we have a long case clock ourselves. Figures from history such as John Harrison are an inspiration.  Other inspirations to this design are two notable websites. Firstly Paul Sariel’s tutorial on Lego Gearing   – how I wish I’d found this when I was 7!

Secondly, to  Ben Van de Wall’s superb YouTube channel – from which I’ve attempted to replicate this escapement. The work on display there is extremely impressive. I believe that this is the most critical and important aspect of any such time piece.

To the clock!

Let’s just head to the video, shall we?

What next?

I admit I don’t really want to modify or change the design – it’s workable and it has proven an interesting exercise. Plus I don’t want to get too obsessed!

The plan, however,  is to share more details of its construction – especially to promote STEM and interested amongst children to get into engineering and the history of science and technology. What’s of most interest to know?  Would like to show how the time gear train works – but with a motor attached so it’s not going to be long video!