Scott's Guitar Blog: May 25, 2010

Steampunk Steam-Powered Banjo Clock

Just for fun over a weekend, I made this functional sculpture. It’s an 1890s Lyon and Healy 5-string banjo that I found at a craft fair for $10…severely broken, and simply not worth repairing. Trust me. Vintage instruments are sacred to me, but this was a lost cause! Taking off the head, I decided to fill it with copper tubing, valves, spigots, gauges and gears. A working steampunk clock! (Steampunk is a design genre which evokes the steam era tech in a modern world…think Jules Verne with a desktop computer, and what it would look like!) I finished it off with vintage watch faces for the 12 number indicators.

It is complete with a wind-up manual alarm on the neck. (The pressure gauge is always in the red, to encourage people to set off the alarm!) So, is it really steam-powered…of course not! It looks pretty cool however with the water feed appearing to come out of the wall like a real pipe. It also keeps perfect time! This now adorns the wall in the office of my guitar shop. Click the photos for bigger shots! Enjoy the video at the bottom, where you’ll see the alarm (and hear it).