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Author Topic: restoring then steampunking long case clock  (Read 2900 times)
Not Anumber
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« on: July 26, 2013, 12:05:00 pm »

Ive recently come into possession of a weight driven long case clock that deserves to work again.
The oak casing is in good condition with the exception of some small scratches and aside from a non working mechanism and a cracked glass front panel it looks ok

Can anyone advise on the process of dismantling, cleaning and oiling the mechanism ?  I am very familiar with rebuilding internal combustion engines and computing devices but this will be my first foray into working on clockwork mechanisms.

The previous owner advised that all was well until one day a few years ago when he pulled up the weights in the usual way and was surprised to find the clock stopped and then could not be restarted.

It is rather a plain clock in some respects when compared to the ornateness of a Grandfather clock. The sides and front are entirely straight and vertical aside from a small plinth at the bottom.  It appears to have been designed with function more than decoration in mind though this of course bestows a form of beauty. I will be adding some subtle steampunk additions when it is back in working order.

Does anyone have any thoughts ?
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Maets
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2013, 01:46:58 pm »

Pictures. Good for us to see and can be good for you in reassembly.
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IGetPwnedOften
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2013, 02:57:19 pm »

Pictures. Good for us to see and can be good for you in reassembly.

Definitely. Clockworks can be extremely complicated - take many, many pictures and make sure you lay out the pieces and if possible, label them as you go along.

From the sounds of it, it could be the mechanism has jammed or a spring has broken, but I'm no expert.

Also, from a safety standpoint, remember that the springs may be under tension and there can be a lot of latent energy stored in them.
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Not Anumber
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2013, 04:01:13 pm »

Thanks I will do just that, photograph and label each piece. 

Fortuitously as it is a weight driven clock it has no mainspring to threaten an amateur clocksmith's quota of fingers and thumbs.
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typhonatemybaby
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2013, 12:17:10 am »

given that its weight driven there should no dangerous faff with letting the power off the springs, so thats a boon as was said above.

id definitely support the pics suggestion.

can you take a photo of the dial, pendulum and case if possible? such pics might contain useful info about the clock.

cleaning may be done in a number of ways. full dissassembly first obviously, but you can clean with anything from soapy water and a scrubbing brush to using some seriously nasty chemical rinses in an ultrasonic tank ( profession clock repairers often use this setup nowadays)

obviously suggesting the latter would be totes silly so I would personally say that warm soapy water and a scrubbing brush following an extended bath in white spirit would do, as long as the components are dried quickly and completely afterwards. white spirit to disperse oil, and t=toothbrush to dislodge everything leftover.

bearing holes should be cleaned by using a small stick believe it or not. cocktail sticks or unused wooden skewers like form tesco/poundshops work well for this. stick em in the hole and twist them about to clean out all the crap/grunge.


re oiling: im afraid you'll probably need to get some dedicated clock oil for this, as one of the first things my tutor said about lubricating clocks was "don't use 3 in 1". its too industrial really, im sad to say. you could try a brand called Windles clock oils. they sell on the Cousins and Walsh's trade tool supplier websites ( they supply to jewellers, gemmologists clockmakers etc). oil following complete reassembly by dabbing a small dot on clean oil onto a thin metal oiler ( stretched paper clip should do it) and putting a small drop into the bearing.

I dunno what else to say really. its all fairly basic stuff and I dont know what you know already/ what the state of the clock is so i dont really want to say more in case i end up flooding you with a ton of useless info. (which i may have done already. apologies if so i know this is a huge text bomb to chew through. if this does read as a poorly edited splat of stuff then please say.)
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Abslomrob
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2013, 04:12:03 pm »

I'd recommend getting in contact with the BHI (British Horological Instititute) to find a local chapter or group that will be able to help you more directly.  The first thing you need to figure out is what kind of clock mechanism it is.  Just becuase it's "plain" doens't mean that it isn't a potentially rare and expensive mechanism, and knowledge is power. 
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typhonatemybaby
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2013, 08:16:14 pm »

I'd recommend getting in contact with the BHI (British Horological Instititute) to find a local chapter or group that will be able to help you more directly.  The first thing you need to figure out is what kind of clock mechanism it is.  Just becuase it's "plain" doens't mean that it isn't a potentially rare and expensive mechanism, and knowledge is power. 

seconded. probably that before all else actually.
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Prof Thadeus Q. Wychlock
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« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2013, 10:17:04 am »

where abouts in the Uk are you Not Anumber ??
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Not Anumber
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2013, 08:50:54 pm »

Appologies for my absense. I'm off again tomorrow for a week but grabbed time to take these.
It is an Urgos mechanism but so far nothing to give me an idea of the age. Im presuming that Urgos mechanisms were used by a number of clockmakers. 

Unfortunately there was not enough room in the small workshop to get a good distance shot of the whole clock but here goes:








Weights- the camera flatters them, they show many battle scars close to.


Case with the mechanism removed




A simple face and no clockmakers name.  I very much like this font.


The back view






The mechanism shows the patina of age but no obvious signs of damage or indications why it will not run.





This is striking stuff
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Prof Thadeus Q. Wychlock
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« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2013, 09:03:44 am »

By the style and look of the piece I'd say 1930s to 40s.
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Not Anumber
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« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2013, 10:27:03 pm »

What is the assembled opinion.  A good candidate for some fiendishly splendid steampunk enhancements or best just restored and kept original ?
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Maets
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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2013, 10:31:04 pm »

I say, go for it.  Assuming you do a nice job and are not just gluing on a few gears.
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oldskoolpunk
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2013, 07:08:06 am »

That looks like a good clock to work on. It's big and has strong gears, and it's not too tightly packed.  It just looks like it needs a good cleaning and oiling. The usual problem is simply dust and congealed oil in the bearings.

It's a good basic mechanism. The striking train uses a rack and snail, not a count wheel. That's good, because when you set the hour hand, you also set the number of strikes. (With a count wheel, they're independent, and the striking count can get out of sync with the hands.)

It's a basic weight-driven clock, which usually means a bigger power margin than spring-driven clocks. Clocks that run for a long time between windings have to use very little energy per pendulum stroke, which means fancier bearings (often jeweled), lightweight mechanisms, and less robustness.

What happens if you try to run it? Will the pendulum slow and stop? That's just dirt and maybe corrosion. The striking train should run if you trip it. Those usually have a big power margin. 

If you can remove any parts that can't stand immersion (the face often can't) soak the mechanism in Simple Green for a day or so. It's a low-cost safe cleaner.  (I use it on old Teletype machines.) There are stronger cleaners, but this doesn't look like something that needs them. Then oil all bearings with a drop or two of clock oil and try it out.  That's probably all it needs.
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Not Anumber
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2013, 09:21:03 am »

Thanks, cleaning solution and clock oil now on order. I will take pictures during the process
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Flightless Phoenix
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« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2013, 09:26:43 pm »

I think it's a beautiful clock, striking in its simplicity. I hope you can get it working again soon! I look forward to seeing what mods (if any) you make too.
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