A church faced a £50,000 bill to fix its historic clock. Two guys did it with two cans of WD-40.
It’s hard to imagine an era when we couldn’t tell the time by checking our smartphone or wristwatch. But before a watch was even a thing, cities had bell towers that would bong every hour, on the hour, so the town’s folk knew the time.
During the Industrial Revolution, things became more technologically advanced, and clock towers popped up in public places so nobody was late to work.
Twelve years ago, at 12:02, the clock in the central tower at Grimsby Minster in eastern England stopped working. The church dates back to the 12th century and the central tower was added in 1365.
A group of experts that worked on the restoration of London's Big Ben came out to the church and said that it would require scaffolding to get the old clock back in order and the cost would be somewhere between £40,000 ($53,250) and £50,000 ($66,600).
The church feared it would have to throw a massive fundraiser to get enough money to fix its historic clock. However, two guys that work on the church’s bells had a different idea. Rick Haywood, 47, and Jay Foley, 15, were performing routine maintenance on the bells when they decided to give the clock a look.
“We did not think we could do any more damage,” Haywood told The Sun. “We found various dead pigeons gumming up the bearings. Some of the bearings were very dry.”
Foley believes that the clock stopped running because of its age and the fact that its gears were “very dry” and “were not in the right alignment.”
The company working on Big Ben's restoration quoted \u00a350k to repair Grimsby Minster's clock which had been broken for 12 years. The local cheesemaker and a student cleaned out the dead pigeons, bought a can of WD-40 and a tub of grease and managed to fix it themselves.pic.twitter.com/CtemLy3HnB— Ant Stephen\udb40\udc67 (@Ant Stephen\udb40\udc67) 1645784538
“The minutes, hours, and seconds all have separate sections, which were out of order,” Foley added. “We got the dead pigeons out and it slowly ticked along after we greased it and cleaned it out.”
“We gave it grease and WD-40 and managed to get it running,” Haywood said.
The difference in cost to the church was miraculous. It could have spent tens of thousands of pounds to get the clock running, but all it cost was £6 for two cans of WD-40, and the labor charges for Haywood and Foley.
The workers say the clock runs about two minutes slow because it took a little time to get everything aligned after they looked at their smartphones. The pair are proud of their work and glad they could save the minster a few quid.
“The church had one or two engineers from big clock companies and they were starting at £40-50,000 to get it running again. We saved them at least £40,000 so I am hoping for a meal invite,” Haywood said.
The church’s warden couldn't be more pleased with the duo’s fine work. “It’s amazing because you would not believe how much hassle you get when a church clock is not working,” he said.
I don’t think there’s anything in the Bible about always asking for a second opinion after getting a quote. But it’s sure to be a lesson taught at Grimsby Minster for the foreseeable future.
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