Securing a sundial in summer squalls
August 15, 2013 - Kate Hebert
Regular visitors to the American Museum may have noticed something missing from our lawn over the past few months. New visitors may have been slightly puzzled by the empty stone plinth sitting in the middle of our lawn with nothing on top of it.
Earlier in the year, our sundial was sent away to Rob Powell for repair and restoration. The summer seemed the perfect time to return it to pride of place on its plinth in the centre of the lawn. When Rob arrived, the sun was shining and the curatorial team were cheered at the prospect of escaping their offices to spend some time in the sunshine.
Before starting to mount the sundial, Rob checked for magnetic North and made a reference mark on the pedestal.
He then made sure the arrow was securely fastened to the sundial sphere.
The old screws that had held the sundial in place had rusted into their holes. They needed some gentle persuasion with a drill before they could be removed to make space for the new fixings. As Rob drilled, dark clouds began to gather overhead.
What had started as a misty shower started to turn to more persistent and heavy rainfall. Nevertheless, spirits remained un-dampened and our Curator kept Rob dry with a Museum umbrella.
As the winds picked up, driving the rain horizontally across the lawn, we finished fixing the dial to its base and admired Rob’s hard work.
Even the camera got soaked during the installation of the sundial. Raindrops covered the lens as I tried to take a photograph of the finished thing.
The sundial has been re-gilded and new raised numerals added on the inside of the ring. Even on a gloomy rainy day, the restored sundial shines out against the dark conifers behind it. We can’t wait to see it sparkle in the sunshine – if we get any more this summer!
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