As gentle as clock work

It will chime. It will strike
Apr. 22, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

Gently as clock work, Gene Volk climbed the scaffold beside First Citizens Bank in downtown Forest City last Thursday to continue the town clock project.

 Once on the scaffold's platform, Volk carefully unwrapped the four clock faces — one at a time — and even more so gently placed the clock faces in their respective places.

The task was tedious and slow. 

"I've been doing this a long time, but I am very careful," Volk said.

Volk, a volunteer clock repairman from the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, (NAWCC) North Carolina Chapter 126 in Hendersonville, had all the faces back on the clock and by late Thursday afternoon everything was in place.

"It's striking on the hour every hour," Shonda Bright said Monday morning from inside the bank building. "It sounds great."

Tom Walker, of Forest City, also a member of NAWCC, was on scene last week as the clock returned to its home. He has been working with the volunteers since the repair project was approved by Town Council.

Also joining Volk for the final stages of the clock repair were Rick Strickland and Will McWhorter. 

Strickland and McWhorter placed the clock's tubes on Wednesday while Volk was inside the bank building making sure all the wires were how they were supposed to be.

Volk discovered Electric Time of Medfield, Mass., had re-wired part of the internals differently than the former Master Clock and setting the times correctly took longer than Volk expected.

"But once we got that fixed it's working," Volk said.

Every quarter hour, the 1901 O.B. McClintock clock chimes Cathedral Peak Westminer; every half hour, Reveille Peak Wellington; three quarters of the hour, Whittington and on the hour, Westminster.

"I'm just happy its back in operation," Walker said."It means so much to the Town of Forest City. It is certainly a great thing and we had a lot of great volunteers to get it working again." 

The clock is up and running for the first time in three years. Town officials and Volk suspect a storm that came through Forest City three years ago damaged the clock that was built by O.B. McClintock in Minneapolis, Minn. 

The non-functional clock caught the attention of townspeople at various times during the years.

After talking with Walker and the volunteers from NAWCC, town officials gave them the okay to repair the clock.

The cost to the town was for the parts. Labor was all volunteer. 

Restoration and repair of the clock began in early March. 

 A makeshift clock repair shop was set up in the town's Public Works Department building off East Main Street where volunteers gathered weekly to paint, stain or polish the clock's faces and externals. 

Volk commended the Town of Forest City for its support and said small towns love their clocks. 

The original clock was built with copper and steel with leaded and stained glass accents and gilding on the clock faces, Robin Lattimore wrote regarding the history of Forest City.

When Volk was in Forest City a month ago, he commented, "It will chime. It will strike."

And it is so.