Stainless Steel Sundials by Spot-on Sundials

Setting up your Spot-On sundial so that it reads accurately

The instructions and pictures below refer to mounting the plinth on a level paving stone. If you are certain that you will not want to move the sundial to another part of the site later, it is preferable to cast a small slab of concrete of around 6 in. depth and rather wider than the plinth, and use this in place of the paving stone. This will ensure that the plinth does not get misaligned in the future due to underlying soil movements.

Before fitting the gnomon to the dialplate, please check that there is no grease or oil on the tenon which fits into the dialplate, and that there is no debris caught in the air gap between the two plates. It is advisable to clean both areas with a tissue soaked in lighter fuel to be certain of this, in order to avoid marks on the dialplate.

The sundial needs no maintenance apart from cleaning. Never use any kind of manufactured cleaner - they will all put scratches on the stainless steel surface. A very soft cloth and warm water is the best method. With any stubborn marks, use lighter fuel with a soft cloth. Most marks will eventually wash off in the rain anyway.

Details of the dimensions of the baseplate and its fixings are given here.

  1. Lay a paving stone larger than the base of the plinth in the ground in the desired position. (Bedding the paving stone in sand makes it easy to level) Level it as accurately as possible. (The East-West level is particularly important for accuracy of the dial)

  2. Attach the sundial to the top section of the plinth. In a very protected setting, it is easiest to do this with a modern contact adhesive, but this is not completely secure since it is possible to detach the sundial from the plinth with a sharp-edged screwdriver or similar. In other cases, please refer to our drawings of the undersides of the 42 cm. sundial and of the 30 cm. sundial

  3. Lay this top section of the plinth on the paving stone

  4. Look up the exact time of solar noon in the table provided (Remember to add 1 hour if BST is in operation)

  5. At this time, rotate the plinth and sundial so that the line of light falls exactly on the line bisecting the circle at the noon point on the dial plate. (A good check on this is that the shadow of the gnomon covers most but not all of the circle. The two arcs of the circle still in sunlight should be of exactly equal size)

  6. Hold a flat board resting on the paving stone, and also against an edge of the plinth. Make sure it is accurately vertical. Mark the outer edge of the board with spray paint or marker pen.

  7. Repeat with the other 3 edges.

  8. Lift the plinth top off the paving stone.

  9. Put the plinth base on the paving stone, and line it up between the lines marked (see 7 and 8 above)

  10. Using an 8 to 1 sand/cement bedding mortar, apply mortar all round the base to ensure that it cannot be twisted out of alignment.

  11. Use the same mortar to attach the body of the plinth to the base

  12. Align the plinth top so that its edges are in exactly the same direction as the base.

  13. If you are at all doubtful about the alignment of the base, wait for the next sunny day and check that the line of light falls exactly centrally (as in 6 above) at the time of solar noon on that day.

  14. Fix the plinth top to the plinth body using the same mortar mix

These photographs show the sequence of operations involved in setting up the Spot-On Sundial in stainless steel. You need to print out the Solar Noon calendar for your exact longitude before you start. You should be particularly careful about the levelling in the east-west direction; errors here have twice the effect on the accuracy of the sundial as errors in the north-south direction.

Cut a hole in the turf, slightly deeper than the paving stone so the grass will grow over it

Fine dry sand is spread

and levelled

A sling is fitted to the paving stone

so that it can be carefully placed

on the levelled sand without disturbing it

It is surprising how many times a little more sand has to be added to one side

Meanwhile, the top of the plinth is marked out with the slot to receive the base of the gnomon

and the soft sandstone slot is chiselled out

Returning to the levelled paving stone

the sundial is fixed to the top of the plinth, which is placed directly on the paving stone, and the level is again checked

At the exact time of solar noon, the sundial and top of the plinth are rotated till the line of light appears

and a pencil line is drawn on the paving stone - this is the true medidian (north-south) line

The bottom section of the plinth is then placed on the paving stone, lined up accurately with the pencil line, and cemented into position.

Then the middle section of the pointh is placed in position and cemented in

and finally the top section similarly

and then the sundial is permanently fixed

and looks as if it has always been there


© Copyright 2017 Stainless Steel Sundials by Spot-On Sundials  -  tel: 07 909 747 335  -  email:
Spot-On Sundials, 9 Lynwood Avenue, Epsom, KT17 4LQ Surrey, England
Tel: (+44) 1 372 725 742, Mobile: 07 909 747 335 (+44 7 909 747 335 from outside the UK)