interior massive Ben: why the world’s most famous clock will quickly lose its bong

Inside Big Ben: why the world’s most famous clock will soon lose its bong

London is quickly going to lose one in all its maximum familiar sounds whilst the worldwell-known bigBen falls silent for maintenance. The “bonging” chimes which have marked the passing of time for Londoners considering that 1859 will fall silent for months beginning in 2017 as part of a threeyr £29m conservation assignment.

Of path, “huge Ben” is the nickname of the superb Bell and the bell itself isn’t always in horrific shapeeven though it does have a huge crack in it. The bell weighs nearly 14 tonnes and it cracked in 1859 whilstit changed into first bonged with a hammer that changed into way too heavy. The crack was in no wayrepaired. as an alternative the bell was circled one eighth of a flip and a lighter (200kg) hammer changed into installed. The cracked bell has a function sound which we have all grown to love, so maybe pleasantgo away it on my own.
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Hugh Hunt, The communique
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London is soon going to lose one in every of its most familiar sounds when the arenafamous big Ben falls silent for maintenance. The “bonging” chimes that have marked the passing of time for Londoners on account that 1859 will fall silent for months beginning in 2017 as part of a 3yr £29m conservationassignment.

Of route, “big Ben” is the nickname of the super Bell and the bell itself is not in terrible formalthough itdoes have a big crack in it. The bell weighs nearly 14 tonnes and it cracked in 1859 whilst it turned into first bonged with a hammer that was manner too heavy. The crack became by no means repaired. instead the bell became circled one eighth of a flip and a lighter (200kg) hammer was set up. The cracked bell has afunction sound which we have all grown to love, so perhaps exceptional depart it on my own.

instead, it is the Elizabeth Tower (1859) and the clock mechanism (1854), designed by means of Denison and ethereal, that need interest.

Any constructing or device desires normal maintenance – we paint our doors and windows after theyneed it and we repair or update our automobiles quite automatically. it’s miles convenient to pick a daywhile we’re out of the house to color the doors, or whilst we don’t want the car to repair the brakes.however a clock just doesn’t stopparticularly no longer a clock as iconic as the awesome Clock at thePalace of Westminster.

maintenance to the tower are lengthy past due. there’s corrosion harm to the solid iron roof and to the belfry structure which keeps the bells in area. there’s water damage to the masonry and condensationtroubles could be addressed, too. There are plumbing and electrical works to be finished for a boost to beinstalled in one of the air flow shafts, bathroom centers and the best of low-strength lights.

wonder of engineering

The clock mechanism itself is incredible. In its 162-12 months records it has simplest had one majorbreakdown. In 1976 the velocity regulator for the chimes broke and the mechanism sped as much asdestruction. The ensuing damage took months to repair.
The weights that drive the clock are, just like the bells and hammers, unimaginably massive. The “forcetrain” that continues the pendulum swinging and that turns the hands is pushed through a weight ofapproximately 100kg. two other weights that ring the bells are every over a tonne. If any of these weights falls out of manage (as in the 1976 incident), they may do a whole lot of harm.

The pendulum suspension spring is especially vital because it holds up the huge pendulum bob which weighs 321kg. The swinging pendulum releases the “escapement” every seconds which then turns the palmsat the clock’s four faces. if you look very carefully, you will see that the minute hand doesn’t circulatesmoothly however it sits still most of the time, handiest transferring on each tick by way of 1.5cm.
The pendulum swings backward and forward 21,600 times a day. That’s nearly 8m instances a yr, bending the pendulum spring. like several metallic, it has the capability to suffer from fatigue. The pendulum needs to be lifted out of the clock so that the spring can be carefully inspected.

The clock derives its wonderful accuracy in element from the temperature repayment that’s constructedinto the construction of the pendulum. This became yet any other of John Harrison’s genius thoughts (youpossibly recognise him from longitude reputation). He came up with the answer of the usage of metals of differing temperature expansion coefficient so that the pendulum doesn’t alternate in length because thetemperature changes with the seasons.

in the Westminster clock, the pendulum shaft is fabricated from concentric tubes of metal and zinc. A similarconstruction is defined for the clock in Trinity university Cambridge and close to perfect temperaturerepayment may be done. but zinc is a ductile metal and the tube deforms with time beneath the heavy load of the 321kg pendulum bob. This “creeping” will reason the temperature reimbursement to jam up and grow to be much less powerful.

So preventing the clock will also be an excellent opportunity to dismantle the pendulum absolutely andto test that the zinc tube is sliding freely. This in itself is a few days’ paintings.

What makes it tick

but the absolutely smart little bit of this clock is the escapement. All clocks have one – it’s what makes the clock tick, quite literally. Denison developed his new gravity escapement in particular for the Westminster clock. It decouples the driving force of the falling weight from the periodic force that keeps the movement of the pendulum. To this present day, the pleasant tower clocks in England use the gravity escapementleading to superb accuracy – better even than that of your quartz crystal wrist watch.

In Denison’s gravity escapement, the “tick” is the effect of the “legs” of the escapement colliding with hardened metal seats. every collision causes microscopic harm which, accumulated over thousands and thousands of collisions according to year, reasons put on and tear affecting the accuracy of the clock. it’s miles not possible to look at the escapement without stopping the clock. part of the renovationproposed at some stage in this stoppage is a thorough overhaul of the escapement and the alternativeworkings of the clock.

The Westminster clock is a notable icon for London and for England. For more than one hundred fifty years it has reminded us of each hour, tirelessly. That’s what i really like about clocks – they seem to hold onwith out a fuss. but once in a while even the maximum well-known of clocks want a bit of soft loving care. After this era of pampering, “massive Ben” ought to be set for every other one hundred or so years of problemfree going for walks.

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