The 2008 Silver Swan Conservation Project - week 10
Day 46 - 3 November
For the next two weeks Miles Campbell, a student from West Dean College, will be assisting Matthew and Karen in assembling the Silver Swan mechanism.
Today, he and Karen will reassemble the 18th century frame within the 20th century one. They will also photograph the 18th century frame in the 'bathtub', within which it would originally have been supported. The 'bathtub' was abandoned after the 1970s restoration, so few people now remember seeing it this way.
Miles will then start the task of primarily fitting the reflective backing plates in brass.
Matthew will complete the rebuilding of the neck structure allowing it to be fitted to the frame tomorrow.
Day 47 - 4 November
Today we welcome Chris Jackson, who is filming the project for the BBC Inside Out programme.
Yesterday was a very busy day, as reassembly of the Swan began. However, it was a day when everything clicked and started to come together, with much progress made.
Matthew assembled the Swan’s neck and was delighted that all the cams and delicate chains are fully functional after their cleaning. In buoyant mood he then began work on putting back together the ‘waterworks’ mechanism, which was also completed.
Miles and Karen had a ‘storming’ day of their own in fully reassembling the 18th Century frame.
Today is a bit of a melting pot, with photography and documentation of the reassembly continuing. Karen will record the old ‘spare parts’ which were kept in storage from earlier conservation work.
Day 48 - 5 November
Yesterday the main movement was reassembled and along with this the neck was attached.
Today Karen will continue labelling the reserve collection of objects associated with the Swan, that has built up over the years from parts that have been replaced or mended.
Miles is continuing work on the reflective backing sheets, making sure they are filed to fit perfectly.
While the reassembly process is taking place all the documentation needs to be checked. During the dissembling of the Swan more and more information was gathered and so it may be that some of the information will need developing further for future use.
Matthew will insert the Cam and Levers back into the correct position and rebuild the fish track.
Day 49 - 6 November
Yesterday Matthew concentrated on assembling the Cam so that it works properly. He also welcomed Richard Higgins, another established clockmaker. He has confirmed Matthew’s conclusion that the 'bath tub' was a very significant part of the Silver Swan originally, just as important as the neck structure. He repeated a theory that has already been considered, that the tub, which held the mechanism, did actually float, surrounded by water, in a much bigger structure, possibly what is referred to as the 'font' in early descriptions of the Swan. There is clearly more research to do on this structure as it is raising more questions than answers at present.
Today Miles will continue to work on shaping and filing the reflective backing plates to a perfect fit while Karen is persisting with the documentation of the reserve collection of Swan pieces.
Matthew will fit the fish mechanism today along with the 7 fish.
Day 50 - 7 November
The automaton has been fully dismantled and the ugly duckling is now in the process of being returned to a beautiful Swan. While the start of the reassembly began brilliantly a technical discovery was uncovered yesterday which relates to the previous dismantling project in the 1970s when the track which determines the movement of the head and neck, was redesigned. This means that we cannot correct the jerky movement of the head. It is also causing the cam to strain on the levers. While it will not hold up the reassembly at this stage, it has been decided that we should, at some time in the near future, correct this.
It is intended to replace the metal rope with gut line, which would have originally been used. However, due to the time required to manufacture this, a temporary measure will be taken in the form of a synthetic material. This is preferable to the metal rope which is fraying and causing abrasions on the surface of the barrel. The gut line will be fitted at a later date.
Matthew will fit the fish mechanism today along with the 7 fish. They will be assembled as they were originally, where four will move forward as three move back, so they will appear to be much more active than before.
For a full BBC INside Out film of the Silver Swan please click on the following link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/england/realmedia/insideout/northeast/090114_io_north_east_swan?size=16x9&bgc=C0C0C0&nbram=1&bbram=1&nbwm=1&bbwm=1
To be kept informed about The Bowes Museum please click here