Time takes toll on town clock

LAUNCESTON'S town clock will stop chiming for two weeks from February 3 when an $8000 upgrade of its automatic winder is undertaken.

An automatic winding system was installed in the clock in 1968 to eliminate the arduous winding process.

The replacement system has been provided by UK firm Gillett and Johnston, who built the clock in 1906.

Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten said a number of cables and lever arms would be repaired while the clock was stopped for the installation, and the hammer mechanisms and belfry would be cleaned.

``The clock is now more than 100 years old, and understandably it is sometimes necessary to replace parts which have succumbed to wear and old age,'' he said.

Launceston City Council building services co-ordinator Warren Prewer said it used to take 82 turns on the crank handle for each of the three mechanisms to wind the clock before its switch to automatic.

``It had to be wound every 30 hours, so that's 246 turns every day, seven days a week, 52 weeks each year,'' Mr Prewer said.

``Plus, it was 106 steps up the tower that someone had to do every day, and 106 steps down again.

``The current automatic winder box only sits in front of the mechanism, and doesn't interact with it in any way other than to wind it.

``The clock mechanism itself is totally true and original, which apparently makes it one of the few in the world that remain that way,'' he said.

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