Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mystery mechanism: a spring-driven motor for...?

A spring-driven mystery mechanism
A friend spotted this unusual mechanism at an antique store and called to tell me about it. When the lever was flipped it started spinning away...but to what end? He couldn't tell. I asked some questions and it didn't seem quite right to be an automaton mechanism, clock, or anything else I could think of. Most mysterious was the lone word on the bottom that said "Battery". Curiosity prompted me to ask for some expert advice. I sent a few emails out. One of my expert contacts forwarded my question along to another person. This person, Glenn Grabinsky, provided an answer:

From Glenn's message:
I am 99% sure it is the bell striking mechanism from either a burglar or fire alram, probably circa 1890-1910. In the days when most places did not have real electrical service yet, these were the common way to go. They could be tripped by a solenoid which only needed drycell batteries for power. Then the heavy spring wind mechanisms took over for the bell clanging. There would have been a large bell with clappers which spun around inside, driven by one of the output shafts of this motor. There were no speed governors or regulators needed for these motors since the bell clappers themselves regulated the speed rotating around inside of the bell.

Well, I'm convince. Fascinating, ingenious, and educational! I love it.

My Thanks to Glenn and others for presenting and solving this mechanical mystery!


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1 Comments:

Blogger James Williams said...

Not convinced that this is correct. I have recently come across one of these and have it in my possession. Mine is not spring driven and seems to have been run by counter weights. It did appear to come from a bank but the output shafts spin very slowly as it is regulated just as this one is (look in the right hand side and you will see the bright brass regulator fan at the bottom of the unit. Mine also has the very limited markings of battery and a couple letters marking along the lever type switch that can't be seen in the picture (far side/bottom). Mine does have two counter facing arms that atach to the center shaft on either side. These rotate very slowly estimate 1 rpm or less.

June 15, 2013 at 6:36 PM  

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