Issues and lifetime wear

While it is quite well known on campus, the Iron Ring Clock is not always recognized as a clock. The most common criticism of the clock is that it is counterintuitive to read. (It must be read straight on, with the number on the top ring denoting the hour and the number on the bottom ring denoting the minute. If there is no number directly under the hour indicator, the minute must be inferred from the nearest two numbers.) As the rings move slowly, the clock has been mistaken for a static display. It has shown the wrong time in the past, due to events such as power outages or breakdowns; in 2006/2007, the clock stopped for three months due to motor bearing failure. In 2007, an uninterruptible power supply was installed to eliminate the problem with power outages. However, in the absence of such events the motor and mechanism have shown themselves to be quite accurate.

The clock has also had issues with mechanical wear; the use of steel bearings to support and position the rings has led to grooves being worn into the rings themselves, as the bearings are hardened steel and the rings are not. Some of these bearings have been replaced, as it becomes necessary; the group is considering future solutions to this problem. Other portions of the gear train are mounted on bronze bearings; these are expected to have a shorter wear life and will likely have to be replaced sooner than other gearbox components.

The Geneva wheel, made of aluminum for ease of manufacture, has also experienced some wear and will eventually need to be remade.



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