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Weight & Pit

The area I am standing on used to be an open pit that went down four or five feet into the light-house's eight-foot thick foundation. At that time, the pit had a safety rail around it.

This 77 pound weight was connected by a cable that ran the height of the light-house and connected to a device (the clockwork mechanism) in the lens room at the top. During the hours the lens was in operation each night (sunset to sunrise) the weight would descend into the pit I just showed you. It acted like the weight in a grandfather clock. The cable would unwind from a drum in the clockwork mechanism and, as it turned the gears connected to the lens, the entire lens made one complete revolution every four minutes. The lens was so well designed, and the machinist who built it were so skilled, it only took a 77 pound weight to turn it!

Every four hours we had to wind the mechanism to pull the weight back up so it could make another trip down. I'll tell you more about this process later when we get to the top.

In the morning, as a part of our end of operation procedures, we had to support the weight to take the load off the clockwork mechanism. These were valuable, precision devices and we had to ensure their dependable operation by taking care of them every day. The Light-house Board prescribed exact procedures for the maintenance of the clockwork mechanism:

Daily - Every morning dusted and wiped off.
Weekly - Every eight days the rollers were removed, their axles wiped, and a small quantity of watchmakers oil poured into them.
Annually - In July, the revolving machinery had to be taken apart by the keeper, to be thoroughly cleaned.