Monday, May 23, 2016

Curiosity Killed Big Ben et al

Betsy McCall now sits safely on a shelf in an antique cabinet. She is the sole survivor of the many dolls I had as a child. You see, I loved my dolls, but I was curious as to how their arms and legs worked, and in an effort to satisfy my curiosity, I pulled them out to see what was going on inside. That’s when the rubber band either snapped or broke, and another doll joined the list of amputees. I have no idea why it wasn’t until Betsy that I figured out that this was not a good idea, but there she sits.

My dolls were not the only victims of my curiosity. There was also that Big Ben alarm clock that woke me every morning, the one with the brass key stuck in its back that had to be wound every night until it could be turned no more. The illuminated numbers that gathered light during the day and returned it at night as a subtle green glow were familiar, as was the tick tick tick from the inside.

The clock was quite reliable as long as I kept it wound and didn't tamper with it, but, again, I was curious. I wanted to know how it worked. What was happening inside that ivory colored metal case to so regularly keep the time of day and wake me when it was time for school?

I didn't hold any bad feelings for the clock, wasn't angry at being awakened from of a sweet dream, but I wanted to know what was hiding behind that shield. 

I had spent enough time with my father at his workbench so that I knew about screwdrivers and how they worked. I knew that the screws holding this clock together were Phillips screws and needed a Phillips screwdriver, so I went down to the basement and found one on his workbench.

Taking off the back was easy, just turn the few screws until they came out, then the back was off. From then on it was a matter of prying and pulling the various springs and bells and gears. Dissecting Big Ben to its basic parts took a while, so when I got all the parts separated, I put them in a shoe box, intending to put it all back together in the morning.

The next day I gathered the pieces and fit them together as well as I remembered their proximity to each other. I fit the gears together and made sure the clapper was adjacent to the bell. It all went well until I put the cover back on and noticed a few parts still in the shoebox.

At least Betsy McCall survived. I think there were a couple of other shoe boxes filled with stray alarm clock parts yet to come.

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