An artist's impression of the About Time Ball Clock.The seven volunteers, with a mix of engineering and design backgrounds, have been quietly tinkering away on their ''citizen science'' project at a warehouse space on Reyburn House Lane. Now they are inviting the public in to see the model which took eight years to plan and build.
It has four main rails: one labelled with seconds, two with minutes and one with hours. Thirty-five 115mm diameter balls speed around the large structure, which is 6 metres long, 4m wide and 2.5m tall.
The top rail receives a ball from a ratcheted electronic motor every 15 seconds, dumping it onto the rail below every minute, while the other balls disperse. Every 10 minutes, one of the ''minute'' balls drops onto the 10-minute rail below, while every hour, one of those balls becomes an hour marker.
Confused? Imagine trying to build it, complete with a washing machine motor and series of cogs that must deliver balls at precisely the right moment so the clock will continue to run on time.
The clock also includes a section designed to teach people the basics of physics, including a small lifting version of Te Matau A Pohe Bridge and a pedalling metal man who needs a name, Mr Romer said.
Plans to build the real deal are well underway. Mr Romer did not want to say how much the real clock may cost to build but said there were some "very positive" funding options. Whangarei District Council had previously granted seed funding to the project and approved a site on the grassed area beside Clapham's Clock Museum. The remaining funding would likely come from community sources.
"We've had to do a lot of design work," Mr Romer said. "Clapham's is quite an architectural feature so we didn't want to just stick a box outside."
Along with Mr Romer, the project is the work of Graham Brice, Reg Shaw, Warren Thomas, Henk Oosterbroek, Phil Collins and Te Warahi Hetaraka.
The ball clock model will be in action on Saturday from 10 am until 1 pm at 53 Reyburn House Lane.