Before the year winds to an end, we want to give a very special shout-out to Eudora machinist Wayne Neis who fixed the Courthouse clock!
When the 117-year-old clock stopped working on Aug. 17, our Buildings and Maintenance Director Jimmy Wilkins did not think it would ever get fixed because the parts no longer existed. By chance, Wilkins was connected to Capt. Jason Grems, of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, who owns a welding shop. Grems looked it over and decided the project was probably “out of his league,” so he then reached out to his longtime friend Neis to see if he could help. Neis was able to create a bronze gear that worked! He not only created one, but two gears along with a template. The hope is each gear will last for at least 100 years. Wilkins put in the new gear and the clock started ticking again on Nov. 28.
Wilkins said, “The steps that he had to go through to even re-establish the original size and exact parameters of the old gears are mind-boggling.”
Grems described Neis as brilliant. “There was a lot of math that went into figuring out the part. They’re not just teeth that are cut. They are cut at a certain depth, a certain pitch and a certain dent. It had to be very precise.”
Neis was worried that the tool he used to create the gears wouldn’t last to make one – let alone two. Luckily, it did. He did the work voluntarily and said he was happy to help. He said he loves history and he enjoyed getting a tour of the Courthouse clocktower today (Dec. 28). “I like to keep history alive,” he said.
Grems said, “It’s pretty neat. We’re good for 200 years. The project kind of reminded me of ‘Back to the Future.’”