West Dean do the Hipp-toggle


At West Dean College, once in a while we take the opportunity to pack away the historic clocks, let our hair down and have some good clean horological fun making new stuff.  New making is very much part of our wider philosophy – learning through doing – and what informs and prepares students for the restoration element of our work. 

Following a chance discovery of a copy of Practical Mechanics 1936, complete with blueprints and instructions of how to build a Hipp-toggle pendulum clock, we could not resist the challenge. 


Cover of Practical Mechanics magazine, October 1936

Student Francoise Collanges at the lathe











The hipp-toggle system is one of relative simplicity, or so we thought so attempted the project in a single day.  Well, relative simplicity is a relative thing, yet at the end of a frenetic day we had our clock ticking – complete with hand-made electro-magnetic coils, rather splendid (we feel) shellac lacquered, knurled brass terminals, pendulum bob and the like.  With a nod to modernity, the pendulum rod is of carbon fibre tube and the electrical circuit sports blue LEDs. 


Hand-made Ccils

Hipp Toggle clock in its prototype form


















So not to take ourselves all too seriously, we dressed for the day in proper kit, took regular breaks for tea and mandatory pipe smoking and workshop discussion was of the latest technological advances of the time – 1936.


The 'Hipp' Team


See the completed clock and find out more about how this project will help student bursary funds in a future post. 

The work of Matthias Hipp features in the excellent ‘Time Machines’ temporary exhibition at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford.

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5 Responses to West Dean do the Hipp-toggle

  1. William Henderson says:

    Yes, the Hipp-Toggle was a great little invention – it would be nice to see a video of your working clock. I have just built a Murday electric clock which also uses the Hipp-Toggle – take a look at it on http://youtu.be/-hfhYD6mXFU

  2. Greville Ferry says:

    Just discovered your site when searching on Hipps Toggle.
    I’m a 90 year old clockmaker and wondered if it was possible to download the article and blueprints from the Practical Mechanics mag?
    I would be most grateful is you can assist.
    Greville Ferry

  3. John Grant-Thomson says:

    Hi Folks,

    Ive enjoyed reading this article because my father made a hip-toggle pendulum clock in 1938 based on an article in Practical Mechanics, I have it and it has been working ever since but now not working reliably.

    I would love to get a copy of the original article, blue prints and or description if possible.
    Can you help me please?
    Kind regards

    • Steve Boote says:

      I too have a clock my father made to these plans in 1950.
      It still works but I too would love to obtain a copy of the original article and plans etc.
      Thanking you in anticipation.

      John Grant-Thomson it would be interesting to compare our clocks.
      my email address is steve(dot)boote(at)gmail(dot)com

      Regards Steve

      • John Grant-Thomson says:

        Dear Steve,
        I have only just returned to this site and seen your email response to my request for information on the clock in the 1936 practical mechanics magazine.
        I am sorry, you must think I ignored you!
        It would be interesting to compare clocks so I will take a photo of it and send it to you.
        Kind regards,

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