© 2023 WVIK
Listen at 90.3 FM and 98.3 FM in the Quad Cities, 95.9 FM in Dubuque, or on the WVIK app!
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Davenport City Hall Clocks Will Be Restored

Davenport City Hall
Davenport City Hall

A self-taught craftsman from Ohio has been hired to restore the clock on Davenport City Hall. The city council has approved 50,000 dollars for the Tower Clock Company in South Charleston, Ohio.

Company owner Phil Wright is a third generation carpenter who got started working on large clocks nearly 40 years ago. And since then he's repaired, restored, and maintained hundreds of similar clocks.


"I met an old guy who was a steeplejack - he worked on clocks but he didn't know a whole lot about them. He'd re-set them and paint the hands and stuff like that. And he got my foot in the door, and I got interested in more the machining end of it and actually re-making pieces and doing preservations and all that. That's kind of the direction I took it rather than doing just the outside repair work."

Wright has a friend who travels with him to pick up and deliver these large clocks, and a son-in-law who stops by sometimes to help, but he does nearly all of the work himself.

"I've always been very mechanically inclined. When I was a kid it was more interesting for me to tear a toy apart to find out how it worked than it was to play with it. The machines that I work on are just crazy great - the engineering that went into making these things and the fact that they've lasted all these years and they just need some TLC from me. They'll never wear out and you just can't say that about too many other things."

He says the Davenport clock is called a Number Zero Special Striker, and made by the E. Howard company.

"It's a great design, it's really a great design, so it's a fun clock to restore and they're just beautiful when they're done. They're just works of art really. It's a great clock, and you see so many places where they've taken them out and it's just a shame that people still don't have them."

The Davenport clock hasn't been working for about 10 years now.

"Over the years it's had so many different people taking care of it. And then there's bad advice that was given out - you're never supposed to put oil on any of the wheels and pinions. They're supposed to run dry because they move so slow that there's no real friction. And the dirt out of the air will stick to that oil and just make a big mess out of them. So we're going to have a sign up there when I'm finished - we always hide the oil can when I'm done."

Wright says if he could start working on the Davenport clock right away and full-time, it would take up to five months to restore and put back on city hall. But he has to finish some other projects first, so he hopes to have Davenport's back up by Christmas.

He tries to save the original paint and parts, and also promises to replace any missing parts with original parts from the E. Howard company.

"Once you fix them you really don't have to do anything more to them for years and years. I've restored everything around me and other than lightning striking one or after 20 some years the hands need re-painting, and that, but you kind of work yourself out of a job in a way."

Phil Wright, owner of the Tower Clock Company in Ohio that's been hired to restore the clock on Davenport city hall.

One of his previous projects was restoring the clock on the Corps of Engineers Clock tower, on Arsenal Island.