Silver Swan

The Silver Swan at Bowes Museum near Barnard Castle, County Durham is an amazing creation. It was made in 1773.

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It is a ‘musical automaton’ made from silver and its motion is controlled by three clocks which are wound up by hand.

Here is a moving model of the Silver Swan made from card and simple hobby materials.

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Head raised

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Head lowered

The model raises and lowers its head as a handle is turned.

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The real Silver Swan bends down to the water and catches a fish.

That is what I wanted my swan to do so I used some tiny magnets attached to the beak and to the fish. It works quite well.

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How does it work?

There is a handle called a ‘crank’ which is turned by hand.
This turns an axle.
The axle turns a wheel by a pulley system using an elastic band.
The wheel is attached to a card lever which pushes then pulls on the neck of the swan making it move forward and back

Click this picture to see a short video

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Here is a fantastic Silver Swan made by Simone in year 4/5 at Dunn Street Primary School in Jarrow.


Isn’t it amazing!
The 3d body design is really good!

Very well done Simone.

The next step is to add a clockwork mechanism just like in the real thing so that you have to wind it up in order to make it work automatically.

The Silver Swan at Bowes museum is amazing and well worth a visit.

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