Restoring the FBC Clock!
After 40+ years of New England weather the 4-faced clock at the First Baptist Church of Derry had stopped working for good. Ice, wind and sun had warped the the wooden numbers on all 4 clock faces so that the clock hands couldn’t move past them anymore. Many people in Derry had been blessed over the years by being able to tell the time as they passed the clock, and many others enjoyed the sound of its bells each hour. So the desire to fix the clock and “get Derry back on time” was strong – but doing the repair was costly and difficult.
The first problem was that there was no way to get the old clock faces down to fix them without a bucket loader – and they cost $2,000 to rent. Fortunately, the Church had begun a project to put vinyl siding over the outside of the sanctuary in the Fall of 2012. Keith Bandecchi, owner of MB3 Construction, advised us that he would be bringing in a bucket loader to do the siding around the bell tower. We asked him if he would use it to help us get the old clock faces down and he graciously agreed.
But – he didn’t want to get involved in taking them down himself. It’s not “fun” to be 70 feet up in the air in a small cage buffeted by the wind trying to pull four 50 lb., 6 foot round, ¾ inch thick pieces of plywood off of rusted bolts!
Thankfully our own Ron Gagnon agreed to go up with Keith and pull the old clock faces off and get them into the bucket loader. You’ll see a photo of Ron and Keith going up.
Once we got the clock faces down we were under time pressure; the bucket loader would only be on the property for a week so we had to get them fixed and put back up in that time. Remarkably all 4 pieces of the ¾” inch plywood backing were in good shape. They just needed a cleaning, some reinforcing and a few coats of paint. It was the Roman numerals marking the hours and the minute markers that had to be made and put on quickly. We weren’t sure what material to use. We didn’t want to use wood for fear it would warp and stop the hand mechanism again, but couldn’t think of anything else.
Enter Gordon Headley of Londonderry. In God’s provision Gordon and his family worshipped with us for only 3 months but he was there with the knowledge and ability when the church needed him. God provides! Gordon immediately said, “Haven’t you heard of plastic wood?”
Gordon not only bought the plastic wood, he also cut each and every piece – 48 hour markers, and 240 minute markers – and drilled screw holes in all of them for mounting.
(He’s pictured left standing with the repaired clock faces.)
With the clock faces in our church nursery several of us (Will McNamee, Dick Jurentkuff, Hank Gorski) got our screw guns out and attached the numbers and markers.
A friend of our church, and a lover of old clocks, Darrell Quinn (that’s his arm coming out of the clock face below) from Chester, helped rebuild the hands.
A week later our own Chet Steen went back up in the bucket loader with Keith and re-mounted the refurbished clock faces onto their bolts. Darrell Quinn reattached the hands – and the clock was working again praise God.