Iron Ring Clock

Iron Ring Clock

The Iron Ring Clock is a clock of unusual design created by four Mechanical Engineering students at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The clock was designed and built as a thesis project by Patrick Burton, Braden Kurczak, Michael Paddags, and Peter Whitred. It won the 2nd prize for Manufacturing at the 2003 [
] . The clock was simultaneously put into commission and donated to McMaster University in September 2003. The term iron ring as used here refers to a ceremonial ring worn by many Canadian engineers, and does not specifically refer to a ring made of iron.

The clock was designed in large part in a four month period at the end of 2002, with some features which were originally intended for an outdoor installation. The clock keeps time through the use of a synchronous alternating current motor, which regulates its speed based on the frequency of the electricity that it is fed. The top and bottom halves of the ring can rotate independently, with the top half of the ring displaying the hours, and the bottom half the minutes. The minute ring moves constantly, while the hour ring increments once an hour through the use of a Geneva drive mechanism. (The mechanism used in the clock differs slightly from the one shown in the graphic as it has only 4 spokes.) The rings are driven through a gearbox which was designed and partly manufactured by the group. The two ring sections are made of forged stainless steel, with machined surfaces, and facets cut using a robotic six-axis water jet cutter. The central shield, which is the university coat of arms, is made of hand-crafted stained glass. The design of the clock was completed entirely with computer-aided design software, and CNC tools were used for components where the most precision was required. Although the clock was donated to McMaster University on completion, it is maintained by members of the team that built it.

To minimise costs, the team with help from technicians manufactured as many components as possible in an on-campus machine shop. The total cost of the clock was approximately $20,000 CAD, which was raised through donations, with donors listed on a nearby plaque.

The team believes that the iron ring made for the project, with a diameter slightly greater than 1 metre, is the largest in the world.


While it is quite well known on campus, [cite news|url=|title=75 people, places and things|author=Julia Thomson|date=2005-10-28|work=McMaster Daily News|publisher=McMaster University Office of Public Relations] 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 break downs; in 2006/2007, the clock stopped for three months due to motor problems. 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 than other gearbox components and will likely have to be replaced before 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.


*cite news|url=|title=A Brief History of Mac Time|author=Peter Van Harten|work=The Hamilton Spectator|date=2003-03-01
*cite news|url=|title=Engineering prank earns passing grade|author=Peter Van Harten|work=The Hamilton Spectator|date=2003-09-06
*cite news|title=Time piece becomes legacy|author=Torstar News Service|work=Toronto Metro|date=September 8, 2003

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Iron Ring — The Iron Ring is a symbolic ring worn by many Canadian engineers. Obtaining the ring is an optional endeavour – the ring is not a prerequisite for practicing professional engineering in Canada.The Ring is given as part of The Ritual of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Clock — For other uses, see Clock (disambiguation). Timepiece redirects here. For the Kenny Rogers album, see Timepiece (album). Platform clock at King s Cross railway station, London …   Wikipedia

  • Iron Flag — Album par Wu Tang Clan Sortie 18 décembre 2001 Enregistrement 2001 Genre Rap East Coast, Rap hardcore Producteur …   Wikipédia en Français

  • clock — clock1 /klok/, n. 1. an instrument for measuring and recording time, esp. by mechanical means, usually with hands or changing numbers to indicate the hour and minute: not designed to be worn or carried about. 2. See time clock. 3. a meter or… …   Universalium

  • ring — ring1 ringless, adj. ringlike, adj. /ring/, n., v., ringed, ringing. n. 1. a typically circular band of metal or other durable material, esp. one of gold or other precious metal, often set with gems, for wearing on the finger as an ornament, a… …   Universalium

  • Clock Tower, Palace of Westminster — The Clock Tower is the world s largest four faced, chiming clock. The structure is situated at the north eastern end of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. It is often colloquially referred to as Big Ben, which is actually the… …   Wikipedia

  • Cuckoo clock — Cuckoo clock, a so called Jagdstück (Hunt piece), Black Forest, ca. 1900, Deutsches Uhrenmuseum, Inv. 2006 013 A cuckoo clock is a clock, typically pendulum regulated, that strikes the hours with a sound like a common cuckoo s call and typically… …   Wikipedia

  • Lantern clock — A lantern clock is a type of antique weight driven wall clock, shaped like a lantern. They were the first type of clock widely used in private homes.cite book last=Milham first=Willis I. title=Time and Timekeepers date=1945 publisher=MacMillan… …   Wikipedia

  • Bull Ring, Birmingham — infobox shopping mall shopping mall name = Bullring caption = The interior of the Bullring location = Birmingham, England coordinates = coord|52|28|39.72|N|1|53|39.04|W|type:landmark|display=inline,title opening date = September 4, 2003 developer …   Wikipedia

  • St Martin in the Bull Ring — Parish church name=St. Martin in the Bull Ring, Birmingham caption=St. Martin in the Bull Ring. dedication=Saint Martin denomination=Church of England tradition=Low Church parish=Birmingham, St Martin diocese=Birmingham province=Canterbury rector …   Wikipedia