Zybach: a mechanical clock

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Project by Derek Hugger posted 06-01-2016 11:49 PM 19064 views 14 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Zybach is a simple weight driven wooden gear clock. Its circular forms are reminiscent of crop circles, giving the clock its name. It’s named after Frank Zybach, inventor of the center pivot irrigation system, which revolutionized farming in the mid 1900s.

This is a piece that took far longer than expected to complete. I expected that after building more complicated mechanisms like those in my Colibri sculpture, designing components for a clock like Zybach would be quick and easy. I was wrong! Although a majority of the design was trouble-free to create, I went though three completely unique iterations of escapement design before I finally had something that worked well. Creating Zybach turned out to be a humbling experience for me. It reminded me that things are not always as simple as they may appear to be. Even a seemingly simple mechanism can take a surprising amount of effort to get right.

That said, Zybach is finished, fully functional, and if you would like to build one yourself, you can purchase the woodworking plans at my website:

For a free set of sample plans for Zybach, click here.

And last but not least, here’s a video of Zybach running:


12 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile


5475 posts in 3331 days

#1 posted 06-02-2016 11:07 AM

Your work is amazing

View mikeacg's profile


2089 posts in 2400 days

#2 posted 06-02-2016 12:27 PM

I love your work but as much as I wanted to buy the plans for Colibri, was totally intimidated by it. I’m thinking Zybach may be a good place for me to start with to work up my courage for your beautiful hummingbird project! Thanks for sharing Derek!
Somehow the name seems so appropriate! I know you named it after Mr. Zybach but it reminded me of xylotomy (which is pronounced with the same “zy” sound), which is defined as:

The microscopic structure of the wood of a plant or group of plants.
The preparation and microscopic study of sections of wood.

Xylo- (Greek) being a preface for wood. I designed a wooden kit-car body some 40 years ago which I called the Xylot. Brings back some great memories…

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl,

View BrentB's profile


120 posts in 2089 days

#3 posted 06-02-2016 01:42 PM

Derek…I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life. I just viewed the videos of every project on your website and I was completely blown away, especially after watching Colibri. It was humbling.

-- Brent, Johnson County Texas......Resawing is like a box of chocolates, ya never know what you're gonna get.

View Ivan's profile


17148 posts in 4210 days

#4 posted 06-02-2016 02:17 PM

Mind blowing! Every wall would love it. Beautiful elements and contrast of colours.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1110 posts in 5150 days

#5 posted 06-02-2016 02:17 PM

Nice work . . . Did you include an adjustment to the escapement rocker arm to tune the pallets on the escape wheel?

-- Max the "night janitor" at

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4209 days

#6 posted 06-02-2016 02:25 PM

As an engineer, I love works of art like this and I would love to have the time to build some things like this clock. You did a beautiful job on this project.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Derek Hugger's profile

Derek Hugger

48 posts in 3301 days

#7 posted 06-02-2016 02:28 PM

Thanks everyone! Charles, yes, the pallet assembly is adjustable.

View PaulDoug's profile


2659 posts in 3046 days

#8 posted 06-02-2016 03:36 PM

That is awesome as all you projects are.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View fatandy2003's profile


262 posts in 3586 days

#9 posted 06-02-2016 07:05 PM

Beautiful! This is on my list. Great craftsmanship!

-- -- Andy, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of liberty must undergo the fatigues of supporting it” - Thomas Paine

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4490 days

#10 posted 06-02-2016 11:42 PM

Absolutely amazing clock! I definitely couldn’t have one in my house, because I’d just watch it all day, and not get anything done!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View becikeja's profile


1189 posts in 4156 days

#11 posted 06-03-2016 12:49 AM

this is awesome.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View InsideTheBox's profile


125 posts in 3017 days

#12 posted 06-03-2016 04:11 AM

Beautiful, amazing! I have made one of your clocks, it was a delight to work with and sculptural conversation piece on the wall.

-- There's no such thing as a mistake; only a quick change of plans.

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