Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Santa Barbara's old courthouse is getting a refurbished clock, complete with parts that hadn't been uncrated since 1929.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

The 1929 Seth Thomas clock inside the courthouse’s bell tower. An expert involved in its restoration fixed what needed fixing. But certain gears were oddly pristine: "It was like the day they rolled out of the factory," he said. "They still had their finish. There was no wear on their teeth."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

A mural depicting both Santa Barbara's history and the history of measuring time lines the wall of the mini-museum featuring Seth Thomas Tower Clock Model 18 No. 2744.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Rodney Baker, left, a courthouse docent, engineer Mostyn Gale and inventor Bryan Mumford listen as the new bells sound.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

The mini-museum's mural, by local artist Ed Lister, depicts the history of measuring time.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

The 1929 Seth Thomas is an assembly of golden gears clicking away in an upright, forest-green iron frame, connected by metal rods to the four huge dials outside.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

The courthouse's new bells -- hammers poised nearby -- are clapper-less, fiberglass-coated foam masterpieces painted with the patina of age. Real bells would have cost $250,000 each and required costly structural changes.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

Rodney Baker, left, a docent at the courthouse, checks his atomic clock as the new bells sound. Mostyn Gale, right, is an electrical engineer who had become so fascinated by the courthouse clock that "as kind of a lark" he got permission to maintain it.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

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New bells give Santa Barbara courthouse a ring of authenticity

Volunteers restoring the grand old clock at the city landmark made some surprising discoveries en route to replacing a tinkle with a peal.

Read the story by Steve Chawkins.

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