Wow!  Look at that!"

I'm wildly gesturing at the TV from my station on the living room couch.  Wendy, startled from my excitement, pops her head up and starts seriously scanning out the window for some unknown threat to her domain.  Beth casually glances up from the magazine she's halfheartedly browsing through.

"You missed it!"  I exclaim in disbelief as I reach for the remote to rewind the DVR.  I hit play and we watch it again.  Jamie Oliver is sitting somewhere in the yard of his seemingly endless English estate, hunched over a cobblestone fire pit.  He's roasting a big chunk of meat. But that's not important. "Look what he's using!  The rotisserie is a wind up thing."  I'm in awe.  I am a hopeless gadget freak, and this ... This is amazing!  A big box that can be wound up like a clock or music box, then you stick a meat spit in one end and "Presto", a wind up rotisserie.  No cords, plugs, batteries.  Ingenious!  There is an elegance there that I can't let go of.  "That's cool."  Even Beth is impressed.

That, was several months ago.  The idea has since been floating around in my head, bubbling up once in a while.  Mr. Oliver picked his prize up in an antique store.  Given his resources and lifestyle, that's not a likely option for me.  So, while I had not forgotten about this wonder, it had eventually taken on a "hey, that would be neat" quality to be pursued at some future date.  But then, after working on the wood oven and it's surroundings, the idea came back.  We had talked about a fire pit close to the oven.  Time to start thinking on this again.  'Thinking' meaning 'Let's Google it and see what pops up'.  But what to search on?  'Wind Up Spit Thingy?' 'Wind Up Rotisserie?'  After a few searches, I began to realize I was not alone out there.  Several on-line forums had been talking about the idea when the show had first aired (I was watching old reruns).  Finally, someone mentioned a web site (SpitJack.com) of where to look.  I looked.  There it was.  At the time, there were even two models!  I also learned a bit more about this device.  It is called a Clock Jack.  They were popular with hunters in Europe and America back in the day and can also be used in front of a fireplace.  Real antiques can run into the thousands, but these are reproductions.  I bit the bullet and ordered one.
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When it came I was impressed.  This sucker is heavy, a little more than a foot tall.  Looking it over, you begin to realize how our modern expectations of goods have declined.  This is not something pressed out of a factory by the thousands.  The quality of this thing is amazing.  It is sturdy and well built.  While not a polished finish, it is well done with hand painted gold trim.  The fittings and sockets for the crank and spit are solid brass, not cheap chromed steel.  There are two spit sockets and it comes with two spits for double duty cooking.  On the far end, a separate stand is provided with several slots to hold the business end of the spit. 

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The sockets themselves are cleverly gimbled so that the end of the spit can be dropped down at an angle to get object of roasting closer to the coals without undoing the spit itself.  Inside the box, a collection of gears and springs are neatly aligned, ready to go.  And the bell.  Yes, there is a bell to warn you when to rewind as the crank/spring is running down.  A lot of thought (and production time) has gone into this.  To say the least, I was pleased.

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So, off I went to piece together a quick fire pit.  I lit up some chunk charcoal to get ready.  In the mean time, I had a small pork roast prepared with some pear glaze that we cooked up earlier.  I pre-cooked the roast about an hour in the oven just to speed things up a bit.  I had also found the last of the squash blossoms that morning, so I picked some and stuffed them with some sausage.

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Then off to the fire with my loaded spit.  I spread the coals, installed the spit, and cranked up the rotisserie.  And there it was!  All that temptation, anticipation, thought, googling, and now ....  it was merrily spinning around!  I grabbed a chair and a beer and sat back listening to the gear box whirring away.


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Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!  The bell is going off.  Pavlov would be beside himself knowing Wendy has immediately "tuned" into the bell.  She jumps up and comes running over to me and nudges my arm.  "Come on!"  "Get going!"  She's in her own world of awe as we are actually roasting a chunk of pork ... down low ... at her eye level ... where she can watch and smell!  As you might imagine, it has her complete attention. 

I rewind the box and apply more glaze to the roast ... and then sit back again.  We repeat this cycle about four times until the meat has come up to temp.  

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 I shut down the fire and take everything inside.  While the meat sits to rest, I fry up the squash blossoms and stir fry some zucchini and carrots as a side.  And there we have it!  A nice roast and veggies.  All from a couch potato day of TV watching.

Mark
4/2/2012 04:15:10 pm

Looks like they have stopped making the clockwork spit. Bloody putty - how long does your go for once fully wound up.

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Pdiff
4/3/2012 05:46:23 am

Yeah, I noticed they are not carrying them. I contacted them and they said they "would have them next season". A followup email inquiring what "next season" might be wasn't answered, but my recommendation would be to just keep an eye on the site and if you see one, Order It Now! :-)

It runs about 10-12 minutes. I'm a bit cautious about over winding it and don't know if that is the full limit, but who cares! Just have another beer :-) Hope you can find one!

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pdiff
4/3/2012 05:51:53 am

I'll also take a closer look at mine to see if I can find some details on it. It did not come with a lot of instructions or paper work, but there may be something we can look up to source it. I would like to order one as a gift myself......

Mark
4/3/2012 01:06:32 pm

They must be getting them made in China as for the cost it is too cheap, with a mark up. Would be great to find the source. I had an email back from them today and they have the 3 models in stock starting at $349, but I live in Australia so am presuming postage will kill the idea of shipping over. Can you post some more photos

pdiff
4/3/2012 01:57:56 pm

Ha! Well, if they are Chinese, you're closer than I for picking one up :-) My initial perusing around this morning only came up with a French manufacturer (Le Capucin: http://www.lecapucin-tournebroche.com/produits-tournebroches-capucin-c-273_205.html ). Their price worked out to ~$1000 US!!!!!!!. I assure, I paid nothing like that! I'll put the dang dog to work running the spit before paying that kind of money. They are very heavy, so shipping will be a real concern for you. The electric and battery types are fairly common and I'd imagine you could source something along those lines more locally, but these clockwork models are evidently a rare item. Too bad. Such a great idea.....

Mark
4/3/2012 03:56:13 pm

How much did you pay for yours? I think after more investigation they are made in Italy. What is your model number called?

Pdiff
4/3/2012 08:12:33 pm

Yes, it is Italian. It has a plate that says:

Girarrosto A orologeria tipo 4

That is "A clockwork rotisserie, type 4". There is other writing but it can not be read, so I don't have a manufacturer

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Pdiff
4/3/2012 08:24:23 pm

It is this one here:

http://www.fufgirarrosti.it/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=36&osCsid=a97853443f5f31f779998586c876c99c

It was about $300 US which seems in line with their prices. The maker is apparently FUF which I did find on mine. Don't know how you would get one ... Know anyone going to Italy? Wish I was!

steve brind
5/5/2012 01:00:57 am

I have a 19th century French clockwork rotisserie for sale in working order. It only has one spit and the brass collar on the lower rotating cog is missing. The spit support on tripod legs comes with the outfit.
Is there much of a demand for them out there? I also have a full-height double action chimney crane in wrought iron which we no longer use.
I'm located in the U.K.
Cheers,
Steve
I'm located in the

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Mark
5/6/2012 01:22:07 pm

There is probably a market in Aust - but need to see one first can you post some pictures. What do you want for your 19th C one? Also, what is the size, how long does it go for before rewinding etc.

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6/16/2012 04:38:12 am

Hi both of you - do you still have the clockwork rotisserie for sale? I am in London and have been looking for one. Would love to be in touch.

Thanks. Paul

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Paul mew
6/21/2012 12:53:49 pm

If you still have the spit pls call me 07801 494 788 thanks paul

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Steve Brind
5/7/2012 12:44:34 am

Hi Mark,
The details you requested are as follows:-
The clockwork motor 28cmH x 23cmW x 18cmD
The spit is 68cm long, being a piece of square section wrought iron which registers loosely in the brass collar, before being forged flat in the middle.There are two slots along its length presumably to insert skewers through! The end is fashioned into a strange kind of hook affair but I've no clues why.The stand is 34cmH x 12.5cm max. The mechanism, when fully wound but unloaded, runs for 24 minutes before a warning bell sounds and then runs weakly for a few minutes more.
If you go to the www.jpeterman.com site and look under One-of-a-Kind / Fireplaces Items , they HAD one on offer for $1650. I'd like to get £250.
Sorry I don't see an obvious way of uploading some photos, should you still be interested.Perhaps you can enlighten me.
All the best,
Steve.

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Pdiff
5/7/2012 05:31:46 am

There are no means of posting pictures in the comments here. You could perhaps post to an image site such as http://imgur.com/ .

Mark, I did contact "Fuf Girarrosti Firenze" (info@fufgirarrosti.it) in Italy a while ago and they estimated shipping for me (I did not follow through however). Shipping to the Northwest US was to be 95 Euros (~$110), so you might ask them what a price for Australia would be. I assume Steve could do the same for you.

If you are interested, I can put you in contact with one another (Steve and Mark) if you supply a correct email in the appropriate "reply" field when you post. I will only do this if I get positive consent from both of you. Emails will not be posted in the blog. Only I can see them.

Pdiff

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steve brind
5/7/2012 07:51:10 am

Dear Pdiff,
Thanks for the offer of your help. I didn't intend to put you to so much trouble.I'm quite happy for Mark to receive my e-mail address should he wish to pursue the matter.
In the intervening period, I've had a look at your website. I hadn't realised how extensive it was! A most enjoyable read.
The photo of just your legs poking out of the oven is worthy of a caption competition.
Cheers,
Steve.

steve brind
5/9/2012 02:57:54 am

Such as:

Guests were pretty thin on the ground once Wendy showed them what was on that evening's menu.

Pdiff found his study of the paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel a strangely intimate experience.

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Pdiff
5/10/2012 01:54:21 pm

LOL. Thanks for the comments (and captions!).

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Mark
5/27/2012 09:47:53 pm

I finally found an antique FUF (well may not be antique but looks old) in Argentina, only cost me $10 but postage is $85. Looking forward to getting it in the coming months and beginning to renovate it. Thanks for all your posts. Cheers Mark

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steve brind
6/21/2012 10:38:30 pm

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steve brind
7/18/2012 10:22:18 pm

Hi Pdiff,
Just to let you know that the rotisserie has gone to an appreciative home.Just as an aside, the antique clockwork bottle jacks make excellent display items when hung with Chrismas lights such as the battery powered LEDs.An excuse to prevent the mechanism seizing-up!
Cheers,
Steve.

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steve brind
7/18/2012 10:30:14 pm

Hi Pdiff,
Just to let you know that the rotisserie has gone to an appreciative home.Just as an aside, the antique clockwork bottle jacks make excellent display items when hung with Chrismas lights such as the battery powered LEDs.An excuse to prevent the mechanism seizing-up!
Cheers,
Steve.

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John E Cooper
10/28/2013 09:19:31 am

Greetings from Canada !
Just found this website; it answers some ?? about my clockjack that I have for sale in my antiques store in Winnipeg, MB. I knew what it was because I had a 19th C one 2 years ago, and just bought a vertical brass one last week. e former one appears to be late 19th-early 20th C, with its support for the spits, and a tray for the drippings. But now I know who made it ! FUF, whose site I shall immediately visit.
Thanks for your lovely dscription of its actual use !
Cheers, ......John

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John E Cooper
10/28/2013 09:29:14 am

Greetings again !
Just got back from the SpitJack.com site, where I found very similar electric model to my clockwork model (with bell !), but theirs is out-of-stock. I am convinced mine is late 19th C, now. Now to investigate FUF site.
Cheers, .....John.

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John E Cooper
10/28/2013 09:43:06 am

Hello once more !
Just got back from FUF site...they have 11 similar models, the wind-up (clockwork) being the most expensive, less than I ask for my antique one. Thanks for your site !
Cheers, .....John.

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7/9/2015 10:53:09 pm

Dear sir/Madam . i am manufacaturre of Rotisseries iam interested in the hand winding rotisseris please givv me a quote
Regards
khan

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Aaron
9/20/2016 07:00:39 am

Anyone know were I could find one of these rotisseries not having mutch luck! Thanks

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