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Old 07-25-2017, 12:02 AM   #1
xoxoxoBruce
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July 25th, 2017, Steam Clock

A badass steam clock in Canada. I never pictured Westminster Chimes as badass before.
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Not far from Vancouver’s waterfront, in the historic Gastown neighborhood, stands one of the city’s major crowd-drawer—a steam-powered clock. The 16-foot-tall clock displays the time on four faces, and every quarter hour it plays the Westminster chimes on four whistles with steam shooting out of the top just like in a locomotive.
By 1977 the regeneration of Gastown was largely complete, but it still didn’t have a focal point—something to draw people in. So local merchants and property owners banded together and raised $58,000 for Saunders to build the antique-looking clock. The steam theme was chosen as a reference to the industrial past of the area, where steam pipes once ran underground powering machinery. The Gastown Steam Clock became only the second steam-powered clock ever constructed.

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The world’s first steam clock was built by an Englishman named John Inshaw in 1859 to draw customers to his newly acquired public house in Ladywood, Birmingham. John Inshaw, who had previously built steam-powered machinery for the railway and shipping industries, devised a clock where steam from a small boiler condensed into droplets of water and fell on a plate at regular intervals. Somehow, the plate then drove the mechanism. The clock was installed above the door, and the pub became known as the Steam Clock Tavern. Inshaw’s establishment did such a roaring trade that the tavern eventually became a music hall in the early 1880s.

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Raymond Saunders’s clock in Gastown works differently, and it isn’t actually powered by steam; it’s powered by gravity. The clock consists a number of steel balls that descend by weight, driving a chain that moves the hands of the clock. The small steam engine at the base drives the chain lift delivering the balls to the top of the chain drive. The steam engine is also responsible for the whistles and, of course, the escaping steam.
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Old 07-25-2017, 12:23 AM   #2
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We've been there!
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Old 07-25-2017, 06:53 AM   #3
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Many years back I stayed with a friend in BC who worked nights in Gastown. I'd go with him, and for my own safety the bar he was a bouncer at decided I could just hang in the coat check, out of reach of rowdy customers. I saw the steam clock once or twice but never checked it out closely because missing the light-rail train back to his apartment after his shift meant a 4-hour wait through the only down time that transport system took on a daily basis...otherwise the SkyTrain, that was its name, ran every 15 minutes just like the clock "chimes".
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Old 07-25-2017, 11:23 AM   #4
Diaphone Jim
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A neat idea, but I couldn't find in the link what is essential to a Westminster chime clock story. So here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Pf9YluAU64
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Old 07-25-2017, 12:28 PM   #5
xoxoxoBruce
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There are a ton of videos showing the clock playing the four tone Westminster tune everyone should be familiar with, followed by one long toot and the number of short toots equal to the hour. However none show what it does on the 15 minute intervals in between the hours.
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Old 07-25-2017, 03:04 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
However none show what it does on the 15 minute intervals in between the hours.
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...and every quarter hour it plays the Westminster chimes on four whistles with steam shooting out of the top just like in a locomotive.
I'd say it looks and sounds just like the first eight toots.
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Old 07-25-2017, 05:45 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce
the four tone Westminster tune everyone should be familiar with
My parents told me that was a famous song that went, "NOW is THE time, to SAY good-NIGHT. ALL lit-TLE girls, must GO to BED." And then we'd count the eight chimes, and then I had to go to bed. And I don't remember that clock chiming at any other time, ever, though surely it must have done so.
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Old 07-25-2017, 06:15 PM   #8
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It kind of amazes me that people used to like to get an entire little tune to them played every hour. But that's what you would want, if you didn't have any other way of telling time.
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Old 07-25-2017, 08:07 PM   #9
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and all y'all know how I misread the title....
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Old 07-25-2017, 10:01 PM   #10
xoxoxoBruce
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Originally Posted by Gravdigr View Post
I'd say it looks and sounds just like the first eight toots.
Well you're wrong steam breath the first eight sounds are not toots they're from tuned whistles. The hourly report is toots from the center tooter.
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