History of the Storm Glass Barometer

So you want to know the history behind the storm glass barometer. How does it work? Read on to learn more!

A storm glass barometer is a device used to measure atmospheric pressure. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe popularized the storm glass barometer using principles established by Evangelista Torricelli. Torricelli is credited as the actual inventor of the barometer, but it should be noted that he invented the mercury barometer. Goethe, who might have understood the dangers associated with handling and working with mercury, decided water was a safer alternative that worked just as well.

How does the storm glass barometer work?

The storm glass has a sealed body and a long spout. The long, narrow spout is connected to the sealed body below the intended water level, and extends to rise above the intended water level at the top. When the sealed body is filled halfway with water, air pressure is trapped within the body and is held constant.

The spout, however, is open to the outside air pressure, which is always changing. When the air pressure is low, the air inside the sealed body is heavier and pushes water up the spout – as a result, the water level in the spout rises above the water level in the sealed body. On the other hand, when the air pressure is high, the outside air is heavier and the water level in the spout will be pushed down – as a result, the water level in the spout drops below the water level in the sealed body.

So what does this mean? Well, low air pressure is less stable and often leads atmospheric instability causing “stormy” or rainy weather. High pressure creates a “dome” of stable air and can be associated with clear, calm weather. When water moves up the spout, this signals the onset of rainy or stormy weather with the coming of less stable air. Barometers even have the ability to indicate the onset of potentially severe weather – watch for a rapidly rising water level.

How accurate are storm glass barometers?

Storm glass barometers are very sensitive and will indicate changes in atmospheric pressure almost immediately.  In fact, storm glass barometers are sensitive enough to register the slight air pressure difference between the attic and basement of a three-story house. Developed in the mid 1600’s, it is quite amazing that barometers are still widely used as means of reliable weather forecasting today. In fact, a barometer can even be as accurate, if not more so, than your local news station weatherman or certified meteorologist.

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Klockit’s Beginnings

Klockit’s beginnings start back in 1970 as a small mail order business.  The company was actually called The Geneva Co. that sold all kinds of consumer products, not clocks.  The first catalog that was sent out only acquired one or two orders and was then considered a failure.  The founders of Klockit had been living in Germany for 3 years near the Black Forest, which is famous for its cuckoo clocks.  So clocks had become a new idea for a business.  The founder had also worked for an automobile clockmaker, so the business of clock components came easily.

Initially Klockit did not sell kits, but only clock components to build clocks.  The company sold components, clock motors, hands, pendulum movements, dials and numerals.  The very first Klockit catalog was a very small catalog of 7 or 8 pages.  It was mimeographed, a process that works by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper, and stapled together.  The first “color” catalog was actually just printed on different colored paper.  Yellow paper on one page, then pink on the next page.  The catalog proof was created using an old Remington Rand typewriter and if there was a mistake, it had to be erased and then typed over again.  Photographs were glued onto the pages.

Klockit first advertised in Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Handyman and American Handyman. The first ads were three or four line ads in the classified sections.  After receiving 180 responses from the ad, the founders knew that Klockit would be a success.

Klockit’s first office was in Williams Bay, Wisconsin on the second floor of a bank.  The first distribution building was also in Williams Bay.  Lake Geneva was later considered the location of the office because the city name sounded nicer and could be related to Geneva, Switzerland which is famous for their clocks and watches.

Quartz technology came in during the late 1970s and then in the 1980s, Klockit decided to start a joint venture in making quartz movements in town and started another company called Quartex.  And so Klockit became not only a distribution business, but a manufacturing business.  Klockit eventually evolved into adding kits in the 1980s.

Good distribution, mail order and marketing and prices have always been Klockit’s objective.  Klockit’s first customers were those that wanted to make extra income by building and then selling their clocks.  A lot of people had become successful as small entrepreneurs with Klockit.  Schools were also one of Klockit’s major buyers as several thousand children learned how to build smaller desk clocks, mantel clocks, wall clocks and even grandfather clocks.  With Klockit, people build heirlooms.  With a kit or plan from Klockit, people can be proud of what they make and if receiving a clock made from Klockit components, they will always remember the folks that gave it to them.