DeVan Family History and Genealogy

Ashtabula Man Loves Challenge

Ashtabula Star Beacon, November 11, 1991

ASHTABULA - A tall grandfather clock, carefully crafted from wood, stands in the living room of an adventurer who never stops challenging himself.

For Years, Bill Weeks of Ashtabula, wanted to build a grandfather clock completely made of wood, just to see if he could do it. He got plans for making the clock, didn't get around to building it, and then misplaced the plans.

Last year, he saw clock plans in a magazine and got them again. He began work on the clock, which turned out to be a five-month test of patience. Weeks worked anywhere from two to eight hours some days on the clock.

He made three or four sets of wooden gears from the paper templates before he realized the template measurements were one-eighth of an inch off. After adjusting the templates and giving the gears the right measurements, Weeks continued working on the clock.

Just when he thought he was done, more problems came up. The clock would run for an hour and quit. Weeks said he had to open the clock and find out where the gear got stuck. He marked the spot with chalk, then sanded down the problem area on the gear.

The gears would get stuck because they didn't mesh perfectly. After one gear was fixed, the clock would run again for another two or three hours and get stuck again. "I wouldn't build another one for nothing" Weeks said. Not even an offer of $500 could convince him to make another clock.

The entire clock is made of wood except for the 24-pound pendulum that keeps it running. The clock is held together with wooden pegs and glue. Weeks even made the wooden designs that decorate the clock and the wooden key used for winding the clock.

Weeks is no stranger to woodworking, a hobby he's had for 20 years. He's crafted a globe stand, bookstand, rocking chair, and other furniture pieces for his home. He had to stop making furniture because he has no more room for it.

Woodworking is only one of Weeks' hobbies, and also one of the safest. He has an ocean captain's license and a pilots license and has traveled extensively. Other hobbies include ham radio, photography, black velvet painting, and cutting semi-precious stones.

Weeks has been to Tahiti, Europe, Hong Kong, and Red China, among other places. He went on an African safari, but didn't shoot anything--with a gun, that is. "I couldn't kill a chicken," the animal lover said.

When he was young, Weeks wanted to travel and spend only two weeks of each year at home. Now he's getting his wish. After returning from Borneo recently, he's already planning his ninth trip to Hong Kong and China for the spring.

A veteran pilot of WWII, Weeks has also worked as a flight instructor and an air traffic controller. He wanted to be in last year's Guld War, but the recruiting office told him he was too old. So he finds his adventure elsewhere, traveling.

Weeks likes to live life to the fullest, a philosophy he's often demonstrated. He learned to fly in one day and flew a helicopter by only reading the manual.

He's gone scuba diving, taken a picture of President Eisenhower, and talked with headhunters in Borneo.

With so many stories to tell, people ask why he doesn't write a book. He tells them, "I'm a doer."

The grandfather clock Weeks made ticks rhythmically, almost contentedly. He says he's done almost everything he wanted to do in life--he, too, is content. However, there's still a taste for adventure in him. "There are places I haven't been...yet," Weeks said.