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During my livesteam I answered questions about the Maillardet Automaton pen project and go over some of my history over the past 8 years coming up with solutions to the important issues still to be addressed in preserving the machine for future generations. With effort and some skilled and dedicated people we can insure that the amazing Maillardet Automaton can be run for centuries to come. Enjoy!
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By Fran

14 thoughts on “Maillardet automaton: more to be done”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Chris Robinson says:

    Watchmaker here… 200 yo baleen oil would be almost useless. It would have well and truly turned into a solid triglyceride block by now. Mainsprings should never be greased (except for an atoms thick layer to prevent corrosion) and are usually oiled, also a very minimal amount. Grease causes the leaves to stick together, affecting operation.

    I'm guessing that lubrication was added over the years/centuries, also adding to the sludge. The main problem is that once it's over oiled and turned to a semi-solid, it picks up enough dirt to become a grinding pasted, and that's where most of the wear starts to happen. I'd suggest it is going to need the work of a craftsman to repair pivots and bearings. The most wear would be in the arbours for the main springs. I'm more worried about that than the perceived sticking problems of the springs. I've seen clocks that have not been serviced for a very long time. Quite often the caretaker of the timepiece will just keep adding oil to keep it running, which just adds to the sludge over time. It will keep the movement running, but be sure that damage is being done by the included dust and dirt.

    We didn't get to see the springs on the automaton, but I'm betting they were the clock springs of their day. Some 8 day clocks had very long springs, and some of the larger clocks had very long and thick springs. If so, then it may be possible to order new springs off the shelf. There are even 400 day (anniversary) clock springs still available. All you need is the anchor type (loop, hook etc probably loop in this application) The length of the spring (that is its run-time) the width of the spring and the thickness of the material (that's the power of the spring).

    After your last video I went out and bought a brush pen and have been working on learning how to use it effectively. I might design a watch dial based on Breguet numerals made with the brush pen.

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Mat Billings says:

    That machine is cool as frig! 🙂

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Mark Eichin says:

    Ah, the mechanical hazard you warn about is a "fusee chain" (sorry I'd never heard the word before – which made it a little tricky to search for, though it's apparently common in watchmaking.) TIL, thanks.

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Alan Walker says:

    Hi Fran, I worked at the Franklin from 1973 to 1976 as a museum technician in charge building and maintaining the exhibits. It was one of the most fulfilling jobs in my career. I can remember walking past this in one of the dark hallways and only saw it work once. Completely fascinating! I asked about it several times to the powers in charge but no one really knew anything. Seeing your video brought back some great memories and what a thrill it must have been to actually work on solving the stylus issue. Great videos.

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars RB says:

    Great idea with putting a teflon tip on the follower. Making common wear & tear components easy to repair or replace should be priority #1, but I'm very lazy. lol

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Iain Macpherson says:

    really interesting!

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Ryan Drew says:

    that automaton is creepy and amazing at the same time

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars bigjd2k says:

    There must have been a “recording machine” originally to generate the cams from movement of the pen. There’s just no way they could have been designed otherwise. Wonder if there’s any info on how it was done?

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Oliver Hale says:

    To have a duplicate that could be demonstrated to people would be amazing. I do hope this happens one day.

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jason Udall says:

    Your previous was about if z axis pen moves?
    If there is subtle z move rather than gross z"penup pendown" move then the answers there….no programmed move no output move
    Also …how was the paper held flat. And how flat…if you have the paper " up and down " ripples then this would come out in the output…
    Any sign of constraint in z would show an intended z axis motion…

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars CARL iCON says:

    was just skimming thru the wiki on this thing & it says when this was on tour in the early 1800s, they billed it as "Maillardet's unrivalled mechanical and musical automata". It had music too? Are you kidding me?

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Robert Browne says:

    If you haven't already you may want to open a dialogue with Brittany Cox in the U.K. She might have some insights into the eccentricities of specific mechanisms that she's seen over the years.

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Sascha Broich says:

    If it weren't extremely expensive a working replica would be the best idea.

  14. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars TiagoTiago says:

    Could the automaton be 3d scanned, and that model used as reference to model duplicate parts, and use that to 3d print a working replica?

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