Perfecting The Elizabeth Tower Clock

Perfecting the Clock

The Great Elizabeth Tower Clock Proposal

Executive summery

The Great Westminster Clock is a cherished monument and perhaps the world's most special timepiece. Its 15 ton bell, "Big Ben", is a familiar chime. And its 660 pound pendulum swings back and forth every two seconds.

The Great Clock was designed to vary by roughly ('a second per week'). But it's design, wear and the weather all cause significant variation. As with most clocks, changes in pressure, temperature and humidity can cause the rate to drift by seconds every week. Basic design imperfections are also in need of adjustment. And proceedures to reduce wear over time can improve precision.

To compensate for these constant changes, the "Clock men" must "put a penny on" or "take a penny off" to alter the rate by about 4.6 tenths of a second per day. But constant resetting does not improve its long-term accuracy or precision. As of 2009, some of the old coins were replaced by a larger 5 Pound Coin. But resetting the clock remains a constant chore. The Great clock does not need these jerry-rigged additions.
It could run true - in all weather.

In 2016 I proposed a special restoration which would allow the clock to run accurately
--the perfection of Big Ben.

Presently only the clock tower has been restored. It's lavish stonework and bright guilding are a testiment to the skill and daring of craftsmen. But the precision of the clock remains a long standing restoration which will complete the antique mechanisim.

It is now possible for Changes in the weather to be offset by proper adjustments to the clock. These are exceedingly subtle in design. Yet they are in keeping with the clock's historic nature. They are designed to be "right" for the antique mechanism. They correct the (non compensating) elements.

Subtle changes in the basic adjustment will also permit correction of its basic design imperfections (things common to all cocks). These methods will properly correct the clock's imperfect design.

Additionally, improved treatment of wear processes can aleviate the ongoing changes to the rate.

Clock accuracy is both complex and subtle. But these subtleties are not available elsewhere. They could have been used centuries ago but, had not been found. They are simply right for the job.

The new precision adjustment would offer citizens and tourists something magical every second.

The Great Clock corrects for temperature. (although slowly) This could be improved to compensate for people coming and going which also affects temperature. People breathe. And humidity changes affect the going. The building could be climate controlled. Yet visitors would still make an impact. Footfalls and street traffic can also cause error. These can be partly alleviated by rubber flooring and smooth paving. Even the drive train of the clock has minor practical criteria which can improve precision.

However, one major need is to correct for atmospheric changes. Normally a clock's pendulum is isosyncronus, such that changes in the amplitude of swing cause no difference in timing. However, changes in the atmosphere disrupt that perfection. Air Pressure can be mechanically compensated.

The sister clock at trinity college in Cambridge has tested some pressure correction methods. But the tools are not historic to the clock. And there are issues of adjustment. So new methods were needed.

To correct 'Big Ben', I have developed unique methods which are familiar to the clock's historic place in time. Already sophisticated computers measure performance and are a great aid in monitoring accuracy. But a fine clock needs to compensate for the weather. In multiple ways. And the adjustments must permit highly accurate tuning.

A pennyweight is hardly sufficient to set the tempo. One might as well leave a pint on the pendulum, and it could be set more quickly - and more often.

The Clock is meticulously maintained and operated, but its fundamental tuning remains incomplete and imprecise. This is simply a whole seperate branch of horology. It's the study of imperfection. Everything a clock is not.

In my Career I have invented a number of superlative things valued in billions. So it is prudent to accept that I have also found the right methods for the Great Clock. I am happy to say that such adjustments to the clock would correct the going with exceeding precision. Physics is perfect. So the clock should be perfect.

It is an element of praise that we should make the effort. The quantum wave of our world will be a little more perfect. And the implementation will not change the historic nature of the clock mechanism. Such adjustments would be largely imperceptable.

One could argue that any change would be non historic. So why add pennies, an electric winder and a computer? These are already in use! Yet we want to maintain the original escapement design. And I can.

Horologists will argue over the great landscape of methods, but Elegant and subtle adjustments can be made which will keep the timing in line with modern clocks!

From Day to Sunny day, the clock will run accurately. It will be mechanically correct.

Even the procession of the Sun and moon cause gravity effects which alter the going by many milliseconds each day. These become visible in well-adjusted clocks when pressure and humidity are compensated. I have designed gravity corrections as well. They are available and extremely precise. This comes from a deep understanding of the equations, forms and functions of the mechanical processes. It is a special skill.

The corrections for the full suite of pressure, temperature, humidity (and gravity), will make the Great clock a miraculous image of hope in our time.

It seems the more technology we have, the more dangerous, dificult and unpredictable the world becomes.

My proposal to perfect Great Clock is just the opposite. It is engaging science and trade to make something better. Not just paint or rhetoric, but a marvelous fascination and a system that rings true for all to enjoy. It will be more than a beautiful clock. It will be a clock with something amazing inside.

Naturally, if I publish my techniques, they would be copied immediately. This paper already circumscribes and presents this opportunity. I am asking a large fee for the remarkable work. It will be a delight. And I ask only a fraction of its value to society.

British Tourism is 250 Billion per year. And there are at least 10 major monuments. Lets say business and social travel, is 90% of tourism. That estimates Big Ben to be a hefty 2.5 Billion per year institution. The value of the clock will simply double. Though a judicious estimate gives about 4% perceptible improvement. That is, happily, a 100 Million (Per Year) value. This is certain.

A second estimate: (using

U.K. "travel and leisure" is 89.6bn GBP/yr (3.9Million jobs)
74% of that is "travel and tourism" (business spending 26%)

13.7bn "Inbound" and 34bn GBP "domestic"
(24.2 GBP domestic day trips, 9.8bn GBP overnight)

And "inbound London spending" 6.2bn (visiting about 6 major monuments and Big Ben being "one of the most recognizable sights in London".)

(outbound travel expenditures 13.7bn GBP)

From this we can estimate that the Elizabeth Tower Clock receives about a billion dollars "inbound" (London) tourism each year. And a smaller fraction of the 34bn GBP domestic tourism. Tourist pages list between 15 and 40 sights in London. Averaging say 27.5 monuments over the 34bn domestic travel gives an additional 1.2 billion. So here we are looking at a scant 2.2bn GBP (clock power) rather than the previous 2.5bn. One can estimate the curb appeal increase of the "perfect clock" factor. The only one of its kind. The clock is well done. But now "well done squared".

The value to tourism is clear. But what about the value of the improvements? While we still face the catch-22 problem of "explaining" work without casting it to the wind; Such work could be predicted to represent a 1/Pi^2 function. About 10% of the population will be crazy for the new super accurate adjustment. Either "Got to see it." or "Extra psyched to visit." (says the inventor/expert in science museum exibits) But how much extra? This remains a question of the number of "attractive components".

The Great Clock has many attractive elements. It's a nice location, a pretty building, Even guilded!, it is much used, and sentimental. It was even recently refirbished! And it's big! So how many is that? About 7 features. Its about par for a nice running clock. But it does not compete with modern clocks or 'perfect the past'. Item Number 8. But it could. We could add an extra 1/7th. (Of 2.2 Billion/yr). Interested yet?
Thats 314 Million GBP per year.

Saddly the likley estimate is perhaps only 1/Pi^2 of 2.2 Billion. (instead of 1/7th more excitment factor) Or about 223Million/yr in cash flow to London Tourisim. Just by adding another superlative. Oh how we love fine things.

Swimming in cash. Where to put it all.

For now I must leave it to leaders and enthusiasts to contemplate the precise methods of tuning. They are very subtle. They require just the right science, applied the right way. One needs a special familiarity with math, physics, horology. Hopefully decision makers will honor this sincere request. It is a wonderful humanitarian effort. It will be a comfort even to conteplate. Truly, Noblesse meets Obligue. The results will be beautiful.

I can guarantee the clock will easily multiply attendance, bolster education and enhance tourism. But that's not really the point. The enjoyable thing about fine clocks is knowing they work just right. And that's priceless.

Timothy Sheridan

Notes on nay sayers:

I have all but explained the work here. But even the best clock people might doubt the certainty of this effort. I can assure that the physics is unassailable. There are already Harrison clocks which operate within a second every hundred days. The Great clock should be tuned to a similar degree of quality. But how can the client know I will deliver what I claim, in the way that I claim? I hope my other work helps to answer that conundrum. My finding the age of the Shroud of Turin* or inventing safer smoking should light the way.

The Artistic Side:
When the Franklin Institute hired me to create a feature Robot for their atrium in 2000, they were promised an 8 degree of freedom robot with 6 sonar channels and two arms which would mimic visitors arm positions, in six weeks. I don't think they expected it to be done. But it was on time and on budget. And two days early. There were 50 pages of code, 12 songs, twin 3D sonar systems, all custom electronics, dual processors and lively internal lighting for panache'. I simply had the key knowledge to do it. The Great Clock project is much the same. The Physics is unassailable.

I hope that such works are reassuring. I will admit the Robot project was 40 days dawn to dusk, impossibly laborious and virtually un-repeatable. But the clock will have maintenance and crafts support to assist in some aspects. My principle roll is engineering and implementation. But my care for the great clock will be on spec, in character and will work superbly.

Notes on the "Short Synchronome Clock:

The Great Clock has a natural rival in the Shortt Clock. * It is virtually perfect and the most accurate mechanical pendulum clock because it suspends a 'free' pendulum in a vacuum and propels it by a second 'sympathetic' pendulum which only is optically coupled and controlled to pulse the drive pendulum every 30 swings (only if needed). This mechanism is accurate to 200 Micro-Seconds (1/5 millisecond) per day. (about 1/40th of the influence of the Sun and Moon on the clock) Other mechanical clocks have also achieved similar high accuracy with careful design. *
The Great clock at Westminster has some excellent advantages in its massive pendulum and custom gravity escapement. So it's expected results will be very close.

As a business person, I propose things which are a benefit to patrons. And I look forward to this very special public work.