John MacArthur
Bio and Timeline

I apprenticed myself in 1965 for a term of eight thousand hours to the Master Clockmaker Joseph R. Bates, CMBHI, and worked in his shop in Newfane, Vermont. Toward the end of my apprenticeship I specialized in the restoration of regulators and marine chronometers, which share many aspects in the craft and science of precision horology. My focus of interest has always been on these historical timepieces which were so important in the development of astronomy and navigation. In 1970 I was certified as a Journeyman Clockmaker.

I completed my masterpiece, MacArthur's Precision Regulator No. 1, in 1984, and gave it to my father. Since then I have completed two more precision regulators, and taken first prize with each in the NAWCC National Clockmaker's Craft competition.

The mechanical regulator clock was made from about 1720 until the advent of high precision electric timekeeping, or about 1920. Today, they are found only in museums and collections. They are characterized by "high-numbered trains", or trains of wheels and pinions with extraordinarily high numbers of teeth and leaves respectively, as well as precision escapements. They also have pendulums that are compensated for expansion and contraction due to temperature changes. The best have jewelled bearings at each end of the two escapement arbors, and jewelled "pallets", the acting parts in the escapement.

My two most recent clocks each have all of the above refinements. They have the Graham, or "Dead-Beat" type of escapement, mercury-filled glass jar pendulum bobs for temperature compensation, ruby jewelled escapement bearings, and sapphire pallets. I made every part of each movement and pendulum, with the exception of the glass jars and the brass weight cables. This included cutting, polishing, and finishing all of the pinions and gears, making all the large and small screws, springs, etc, and cutting, drilling, and polishing the jewels. Each clock movement took approximately one thousand hours to make.


I attended Marlboro College for 2 yrs concurrent with my apprenticeship. After that, I worked for a time as a machinist for Omega Optical, a high vacuum lab in Vermont. I moved to Taos in the spring of 1970, where I ran a gas station and foreign car repair shop. I married my wife Pam in the fall of 1974. I roughnecked during the winters of '75 and '76. We built our house in 1976. I worked as surveyor's assistant and transit man for a couple of summers. I was a bouncer at Woody's bar, The Hideout, and the Boogeyman. I ran The Yankee Trader, a small antique and clock shop. I logged and hauled vigas during the late '70s. I worked during the early and mid '80s as machinist and assistant for Larry Bell. I started Johnny's Fabco, my current machining and metal fabrication business, in the late '80s. Somehow I find time to ride my 1966 Harley-Davidson, and sail/cruise my 1982 Cape Dory 30 sailboat.