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Author Topic: How to salvage gears from a clock  (Read 15071 times)
WillRockwell
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Revisiting history until we get it right


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« on: November 30, 2009, 02:13:47 pm »

I'm sure most of you know how to do this, but for those who don't, I want to show how easy it is to harvest a nice collection of brass gears from even the cheapest windup clock. We'll start with this little timepiece that I found for $1 at a flea market. The only tools you need for this part are pictured, a screwdriver and pair of pliers.

On the back you'll see a couple of screws. Take them out. Also, turn the windup key backwards and it will unscrew and come off

Now the clock will come apart. Set aside the housing and get ready to work on the insides

You'll see a number of small nuts on the clockworks. Loosen them all with the pliers and unscrew them by hand

When you have all the nuts off, now comes the dangerous part (not really). Stick your screwdriver between the sides of the case and pry them apart. The mainspring will unwind suddenly. Make sure your fingers are out of the way, it can bite.

When the case comes apart, several gears will just fall out onto the table. Your work is half done. Pry out the remaining gears, many of them will be on shafts. We’ll deal with that now.

At this point you will change your tools to something like this, a hammer and pointy thing. Your pointy thing can be a small nail. You use this to drive the shafts out of the gears.

You really need a vice for this, not to hold the gears, but to support them while you whack the shaft with a hammer.

Look at each gear and figure out which way the shaft wants to come out. If you can’t move the shaft with a few taps, look again to make sure you are removing it from the right direction.
After just a few minutes work, our little clock has yielded this fine collection of gears, hands and works, which will have a new life in other projects.

Finally, a short obituary for the clock itself. There are those who revere the windup clocks and feel that dismantling them is a travesty. I am not among that group. Windup clocks are a pain in the ass, and most are not worth saving. Their gears, on the other hand, are tiny works of art, and by sacrificing the clock these precision objects are finally liberated from their imprisonment, enriching our lives with their timeless beauty.
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2009, 03:40:08 pm »

Some good information there, people are allways asking how to remove the spindles, however ...
There are those who revere the windup clocks and feel that dismantling them is a travesty.
I do not care if you take them apart either, but I want to let it be known that sticking gears to things does not make them steampunk! Stuck on, motionless gears are worthless and defeat the point of a gear completely, which is the transfer of power kinetically! If anyone wants to put gears on thier devices then they should atleast be turning gears even if it is in an arbitrary mechanism, they should still move!
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MechanicalMouse
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2009, 05:08:27 pm »

I'm starting to feel JingleJoe is against the cosmetic use of gears.

sticking gears to things does not make them steampunk!
I agree to a point. Haphazardly slapping a gear or cog to an item is a superficial attempt at steampunk, however doing it artistically is. Spending time finding the correct place in a design or item, making it feel a solid part of the concept is very steampunk.

The Victorian craftsmen spent that little extra time adding designs and details that where not required by design but gave the item beauty. True these where often fleur de lyse or floral in design, but they where there.

We love the aesthetics of mechanical design and apparatus, and the gear has a simple engineering elegance to it.

As mentioned before, I adore seeing working mechanical items. But the level of time and skill required to make them work puts these constructs in the minority.

We are young (even the old timers among us), and I think most of us tinkerers are striving to this level (whether we get there is another thing).
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WillRockwell
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Revisiting history until we get it right


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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2009, 07:18:46 pm »

Some good information there, people are allways asking how to remove the spindles, however ...
There are those who revere the windup clocks and feel that dismantling them is a travesty.

I do not care if you take them apart either, but I want to let it be known that sticking gears to things does not make them steampunk! Stuck on, motionless gears are worthless and defeat the point of a gear completely, which is the transfer of power kinetically! If anyone wants to put gears on thier devices then they should atleast be turning gears even if it is in an arbitrary mechanism, they should still move!


I plead guilty to "slapping on" gears to achieve a retro, mechanized look, but feel the use of brass gears as decorative objects is justified, considering their history as invisible cogs (literally) in the history of industrialization. When I dismantled a broken mantle clock from the early 20th century, I was stunned by the beauty of the gears and marveled that (outside of a clocksmith) I was the only one to have ever seen them. I use these gears as decorative relics of another age (a recent build is shown below) in celebration of their precision, and the beauty of their symmetry.
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Laserpunk
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2010, 08:07:58 pm »

Quick note about mainsprings. Some older clocks have mainsprings.



These hold a huge amount of energy when wound. Be very careful when releasing these springs.  They can cut deep, and if you come in contact with the gear its attached too, it can cut even deeper.

How I do it is to ware a pair of leather working gloves, and use a small towel.



Place the movement in a towel so the nuts/pins are facing outward. With a gloved hand grasp both sides of the movement and hold tight. Remove the nuts/pins that are holding the movement together, make sure you get them all. Now point the movement down into a bucket with the towel draping down the sides. Slowly release your grip without dropping the movement. The movement should "pop" apart, safely releasing the parts in the bucket. If it does not pop, give the front plate of the movement a rap with a hammer, and all the pieces should explode in the bucket.

Good luck, and be safe.    
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PuppaX
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2010, 11:42:34 pm »

I've salvaged gears, etc from watches and small travel clocks with no problem, but do you have any tips for getting the gears from larger clock movements( like the one in Laserpunk's post)?

Getting the movement apart is no trouble, but the gears all have rods or similar going through their centers which seem impossible to remove. 
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Laserpunk
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2010, 12:19:14 am »

Same technique Will described.

I use the a small diameter steel tube, with a nut screwed on one end. I place it over the shaft and hammer the gear down, then use a nail to hammer it home.
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