HUNTINGDON, Pa. (WTAJ) — The next step is complete in the restoration for the clock at the Huntingdon Presbyterian Church after it stopped working seven years ago.
Balzer Family Clock Works, a company from Maine that specializes in clock tower manufacturing and restoration, finished taking out the dials on Friday at the top of the tower including the hands and glass panes, and top piece of the clock’s mechanism.
They said they’re taking them back to their shop and restoring the dial with all new hands and glass.
The process, according to them, took nearly 12 hours with about 8 on Thursday and the rest on Friday. And that doesn’t include the 10-hour drive back and forth from Maine.
Rick, his wife Linda and son Chris have manufactured and restored clocks all across the world for colleges and movies.
“We did Stephen King movies,” Rick said. “Sapporo, Japan. The Japanese came over and had me build a piece. Bill Clinton requested a piece to be built for the University of Arkansas.”
But they said the Huntingdon clock is one of their toughest projects yet.
“It’s probably some of the worst dials we’ve ever had to remove,” Chris said. “And we’ve removed some pretty large ones before.”
“Pulling that top piece out was a nightmare,” Rick said. “It’s out of our reach, and it weighs a good 100 pounds. And there’s no way of holding onto it. Two of us have to be underneath this thing, and one of us is holding the hammer beating the tar out of it to knock it out. Once you get it out, it suddenly all drops down. So it’s scary as heck.”
And the dials aren’t much easier, according to Chris.
“They’re under a lot of pressure. And they were much heavier than we thought they would be,” Chris said. “Typically, those pieces are maybe 60, 70 pounds per section. And on this, they’re well over 100 pounds.”
Then came bringing them down the stairs and into their van. To cap it all off, a 10-hour drive back to their workshop in Maine.
The Balzers said it’s not all about the money anymore.
“We’re engineering this back the way it should be,” Rick said. “It’s going to look like it did when it was made originally.”
Rick and Linda said they can’t wait to see the community’s response to the new tower.
“You’ll get the response from the people that see this,” Rick said. “You’ll see that’s the reason, truly, the reason why we do this.”
After they wrapped things up on Friday around noon, workers from the borough started boarding up the holes in the tower with wood planks, which will stay there until the Balzers are done with the restoration.
The Balzers said they’ll be back in the fall with the new mechanism and all-new dials, including new glass panes and hands.
They said they’re already done with the mechanics of the renovated clock, which will be stationed at the ground floor instead of at the top like in the old clock. Rick said it will be perfect for tourists and field trips to be able to see how the clock mechanism works.