The Santa Barbara Courthouse Tower Clock Project

In June 2010 Chapter 190 members, led by Mostyn Gale, began disassembly of the Santa Barbara Courthouse tower clock as the first step in a complete restoration of the clock and of the space that houses the clock. When work began, the clock had broken parts, the strike works had never been assembled and the space that was occupied by the clock was used as storage.

As with most clock overhauls, every part of this clock had to be touched. The motion works were perhaps the most challenging part of the project, but also needing work were the dial hands, the bushings of the 2nd and 3rd time train wheels, a very worn chain sprocket was replaced with a newly machined one, the escapement, (a complex assembly) needed significant work on the spokes, the gravity arms required polishing, the motor and limit switch for the power wind were replaced, a new suspension spring was put in, leading-off rods were replaced, the electrical conduit for the motor power was moved to the inside of the frame. All this was accomplished along with the normal cleaning and polishing that go along with any overhaul.

The clock was officially returned to service at 4:00 PM GMT on 31 December, 2010 during a small but celebrated ceremony. The clock gallery, which will contain exhibits on the history of timekeeping and of Santa Barbara, will officially open to the public on March 31, 2011.

For the full story on the restoration of the clock by Chapter 190 members, please see the articles in the following Chapter 190 newsletters:

Chrono Times July 2010
Chrono Times August 2010
Chrono Times September 2010
Chrono Times October 2010
Chrono Times January 2011

For more information on the full Santa Barbara Courthouse Clock Tower project, please visit the official site of the project:

Bisno Schall Gallery
Santa Barbara Courthouse Clock Room


The 2010 Annual Chapter 190 Mart

Our third annual mart was held on Sunday, April 18, 2010. Click here to see photos from the event.


The First Annual Chapter 190 Mart

On Sunday, May 18, 2008, Chapter 190 held its first 'Mini-Mart' in the hanger of the Commemerative Air Force Museum in Camarillo. The event was a sell-out with 62 vendor tables sold. Buyers were lined up before the opening and stayed until the very end. Admission to the Mart included admission to the museum and the opportunity to view many World War II airplanes and artifacts.

The line waiting for the Mart to open.

Before the Mart - setting up.

After the opening.

The Lux Clock display.


The Santa Paula Clock Tower Project

The tower clock in the Odd Fellows Hall in Santa Paula is powered by a Seth Thomas Model 15 tower clock movement. This movement drives 4 dials and a bell. Chapter 190 has accepted the challenge of bringing this old clock back to life for the people of Santa Paula to enjoy.

Odd Fellows Hall - Santa Paula, CA

One of the clock faces and the bell

The Seth Thomas Model 15 movement

The transmission that transfers movement to the four dials

Group gets Santa Paula's historic clock ticking again

By Lisa McKinnon
Ventura County Star
Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ask not for whom the bell tolls. Instead, ask: Is it on time?

Until recently, the answer to that question in relation to the antique clock atop the historic Odd Fellows Lodge in Santa Paula was a resounding "no."

"It hadn't struck for quite a few years, and some of the hands had stopped moving," said Northridge resident Ken McWilliams, who teaches clock repair at Ventura College. Given that each of the clock's four faces told a different time, "you could walk around the block and go through several time zones," he added.

Enter McWilliams and fellow members of the newly formed Ventura County chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. This summer, they mounted an all-volunteer effort to get the 1905 Seth Thomas clock running — and chiming — again.

First order of business: clean off the pile of rusty grease that was literally gunking up the works.

"We split up the parts and worked on them individually at home, then met back at the clock tower to put it all back together again," said Mike Schmidt of Oxnard, president of the Ventura County chapter of the NAWCC and a member of chapters 75 and 52 in the San Fernando Valley and the Central Coast, respectively.

Helping to divvy up the work were Richard Henderson of Ojai, a 28-year member of the association; Bill Robinson of Ventura, who photo-documented the project; and retired Santa Paula fire chief-turned-attorney and clock fancier Paul Skeels, who ended up joining the Odd Fellows in the course of the project.

The workings of the historic Seth Thomas clock in Santa Paula were recently repaired by several clock aficionados, who plan to make periodic adjustments, including resetting the hands when standard time resumes Nov. 4.

At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the men will again gather at the lodge at 868 E. Main St. to give a public presentation about the clock, its history and their efforts to bring it back to near-mint condition.

They could have celebrated the feat in the summer, when the bulk of the restoration was completed. "But the Odd Fellows building doesn't have air conditioning, and it was just too darn hot in July," McWilliams said with a laugh.

Besides, the clock has since needed the occasional tweak.

"A couple of weeks ago, someone pointed out that the face on the Main Street side had fallen about an hour behind," Skeels said. "So we went up there and discovered we needed to make another adjustment in the linkage between the dials and the clock itself."

Making such adjustments is no easy matter. The clock is inside the bronze-colored tower that is clearly visible from the street but accessible only by climbing through a hatch in the roof. Further, the clock is at the top of the tower, enclosed in a wooden cabinet surrounded by a rudimentary plywood walkway that is reached via an aluminum ladder. The space is a tight fit for two people, let alone five clock re-assemblers holding an assortment of irreplaceable parts in their hands.

Mounted on what looks like a metal work table that still bears its original, forest-green paint job and a plaque commemorating its birthplace as the Seth Thomas Clock Co. of Thomaston, Conn., the clock is topped with a rotor assembly. Radiating out from the rotor are four metal shafts that move the gears that in turn move the hands on the clock faces, which feature painted-on numerals. A spare wooden hand hangs from a nail inside the tower.

That Santa Paula still has a community clock is something of a miracle, Schmidt said. Many such clock towers have been torn down or replaced by clocks with modernized works that require little or no maintenance.

"It's our intention to keep maintaining the clock, to go there periodically to make adjustments," Schmidt added. One such occasion will be when clocks "fall back" to standard time Nov. 4.

The Santa Paula clock did undergo some modernization in 1952, when its pendulum was replaced by an electric motor. For its most recent refurbishment, a replacement motor was donated by its manufacturer, Bodine Electric Co. of Chicago. A $500 donation by the Santa Paula Historical Society, which uses a sketch of the clock tower as its logo, paid for electrical work that was necessary to complete the project.

Fixing the bell — or, more specifically, its striking mechanism — was the last item on the group's to-do list.

Made in 1903 by the Buckeye Bell Foundry of Cincinnati, the bell may originally have been hung inside the tower judging by some of the hardware in the rafters, Schmidt said. It now hangs outside over the tower door and is connected to the clock via what Skeels laughingly called a "Rube Goldberg-like series of cables and levers" that cause a hammer to drop against the bell's outer surface. "It isn't ideal, but it's greatly improved," Skeels said.

Nor are the results overly loud.

"My office is about two blocks away, and I can't hear the clock's chimes from there," Skeels added. "Maybe that's a good thing for our neighbors."


Chapter 190 Sponsored Basic Pocket Watch Repair Field Suitcase Class
May 4-7, 2007


Chapter 190 Members at the Greater Los Angeles Regional (GLAR)
February 2-3, 2007

Gary Girod

Mike Schmidt

The GLAR Mart