Friday, March 17, 2017

Wheel flipping

I certainly haven't had to do it too many times and that's a good thing too cause it's not one of the fun jobs.
It seems that I've been repairing and restoring these old clocks for so long that I don't see the different jobs as easy or hard anymore, but more as how much of a pain in the neck (or someplace), they are.
Wheel flipping is one of them.
It's almost always the "great wheel" or number one wheel that needs it, but occasionally it is another.  It happens when the actual teeth of the wheel wear from years of rubbing against the adjoining pinion, which is the small gear on the next gear.  Now that the teeth don't mesh together smoothly  it increases the friction reducing the power to the upper gear train.  Many times in the past I've just been able to harvest a good wheel from an identical movement in the orphan pile, but not this one. Just too old and just too rare.
 Here's a pic of the wheel.  The worn teeth are visible, but a little hard to make out.

Here's a better close up showing the ruts worn in the teeth.

This shot of the entire wheel shows the click, the click rivet, click spring, click spring retainer, and the ratchet wheel. All of these pieces need to be removed and then reinstalled on the other side of the wheel. The pain in the neck part is that everything is riveted together so out come the files to get it apart.

Most of the pieces are reusable, but a new click rivet and clickspring retainer wire will have to be made. One additional hole will also need to be drilled in the wheel for the end of the clickspring, but the other holes are also reused.

Here is the back of the spring retainer showing the ends peened down to hold in place.

On the back side of the wheel, all of the riveted ends need to be as flat and as smooth as possible because this is the side that the mainspring rides against and if they stick out too far the coils of the spring could snag on them.

Now it goes back in the clock for a test.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Barometer level scale

This barometer came in for a new tube and calibration. Overall, the instrument was in beautiful condition with the original finish and amazing banding inlay around the edge.
I can't even guess what happened to the silvering on the level scale plate since the dial and the hygrometer silvering was perfect.  Although it only came in for a tube, I told the customer I could redo the plate if he wanted it done. Since it was the only flaw in the thing he said go ahead.
Here's a pic of the scale as it came in.
I can't explain why, but the silver in some of the letters in "LONDON" remained.

 This is the scale with the engravings refilled and the rest of the original silver sanded off.  A few more minutes to straighten out the graining (sanding marks) is needed.  It's hard to see in the picture, but this is bare brass.

This is the plate after the silvering process.

In the instrument

Monday, January 30, 2017

Wood works

I'm posting this in stages. I'll have the case pics and other things as I get them done.

The wood works clock.
It's a very early one made by Chauncey Ives.  He was in business from 1818 - 1838 but during his last 8 years the had a partner, who is not acknowledged on the label in the clock so that would put this one pre 1830. If it turned out that it was early in his career, it could be 1820 which would make it almost 200 years old.   Making the gears out of wood was an inexpensive way for new clockmakers to establish businesses.
The only brass gear is the escape wheel that is visible in the video at the bottom.
The problem with these is that all the work is by hand.  The ultrasonic gets the day off.
Once apart every piece is checked and cleaned.  I use a very soft bristled brass brush which does a nice job. After a few hours, they were all clean and ready for a test run.  For this I only assembled the time train gears to see if this thing was even gonna work. Besides that, the striking gear trains are just nightmares to get together do to the syncing of the gears that is required.  I'll get into that later.

Check back in a day or 2 for more on this.

Now that at least I know that it works, it all comes apart to install and test the striking train.  These 2 wheels need to be installed in perfect orientation to each other so that as the last strike just finishes, one lever falls in the notched wheel and the other levers pin hits its stop.  If the mesh is off by a tooth or 2 the plates need to come back apart and rotate one or both wheels and try again.  I got it on my second try which is just a miracle.  I've had some in the past that have taken 10 tries.  Needless to say on these clocks words are used that you wouldn't want your kids to hear.

 All the gears in the clock and ready for the front plate.
All put back together and working beautifully.  I had previously made a suspension spring for the pendulum that worked, I've since found the original one and at almost 200 years old, this thing works nicer than a new clock. I just need to find the original pendulum now.
This clip has the clock running and striking.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Crystal regulator

I seem to remember after completing one of these years ago that I wouldn't do another.  While looking thru a storage trailer for something else a few days ago I spotted this in the corner and apparently forgot about my promise to myself. It was tarnished and beat up, but it was French, which were by far the best, and it was very old. The cobalt blue porcelain dial was also quite different.
The clock is stamped on the back plate by S. Marti who was an early maker of these and started in business in 1860.   It has an engraving on the front of the base with initials and a date. If only it could talk we could have a great history and who "CGR" was, and why the clock was presented.  Retirement or wedding gift maybe ?  These weren't cheap items back then so it was probably for someone well off. This one has a low serial number so it's likely an early one from the factory engraved at a later date.

Here's the filthy thing as I found it.
The biggest problem restoring these is mainly just the amount of pieces in them.  It would be pretty nice if you could just clean them whole, but that's pretty much impossible.
This one had 24 pieces just in the case, and that's not including the screws.  There were 19 of them.  It also doesn't include the pendulum which had 16 pieces of its own.
Here are the pieces after disassembly. The box on the right is the pendulum without the vials.
Once taken apart, all the pieces need to be stripped of any remaining lacquer, dried, and it's off to the buffing machine.  It's messy and dirty work, not to mention time consuming. The buffing process seems to leave polish marks on the pieces.  I use to just run them thru the ultraxonic machine to reclean, but lately I have been hand polishing with simichrome.  It adds considerable time to the job but seems to make the pieces look a lot better. Up until now all the work can be done with bare hands. From now on gloves need to be worn. Touching any piece now would leave a fingerprint that would surely show up in the future.
The next step is removing the simichrome residue by wiping each piece with a clean rag saturated with acetone and then buffed with a clean dry rag so there are no streaks.
Here are most of the pieces after the polishing, but before the acetone and then spraying each piece with lacquer. 

Finished case

Even though the movement was working fine on the test wall, after sitting for so long, it really needed more than just an oiling.  Since there is no way to check or polish the pivots, or examine the mainsprings without pulling it apart, so it had to be done. The sealed vials in the pendulum are partially filled with mercury which is a little dirty, but they are probably the originals so I reused them.
here's what it looks like.

Pendulum vials

Counting all the pieces would have only added more time to the job so I didn't.
Here's a side and rear view of the movement back together and in the case.

The open escapement clocks have the escape wheel on the outside of the dial where it is visible. They seem to be the nicest to look at, especially the French clocks with the very delicate teeth on the wheels.  Here's a short video of how they work.
The completed clock is now in search of a home as well as the mineature in front of it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Just a cutie.

Mineature carriage clock in it's original leather case pictured next to a full size carriage. I didn't measure but it's a little over 2-1/2 inches tall.
Made by the Waterbury Clock company, the patent dates on the back of the clock put it to the late 1800's.
It's just a cutie.

Monday, November 14, 2016

This is a gonna be a tough one.

The broken gathering pallet shaft.
I knew it going in because I've had them before,  Only 3 in over 25 years, but they were all brutal.  I'm sure other clocksmiths have their own "worst" jobs ever, but these are definitely one of mine.  If this wasn't a regular longtime customer, that has never complained about costs, I would have passed on this job in a heartbeat.
And just to put a little icing on this crap cake, the end of the shaft and the gathering pallet were missing completely.  We'll get into the gathering pallet later.
Somewhat of a rare clock movement, with a lot of quality in it, purchased at auction.  Looked like a simple clean and oil, couple of bushings, and out the door it goes. Then you pull the dial and see the gathering pallet.  Well actually you don't see it cause it's not there, but you see the problem.  It's also obvious that someone had tried a really desperate repair that turned out horribly, doing a lot more damage along the way.  Whoever put this into the auction knew it, but this isn't something you will say upfront, because then nobody would opt to buy it.

I don't even know the odds of it, but at the time the bad one came in, I just happened to have a identical twin, but the same maker, on my test stand. The repair was doable without it but at least I could see the shape and size of the original gathering pallet. Even more than that though was it made explaining to the client the severity of the problem with only a couple pics.

Missing shaft and pallet
This is what should be there
 The gathering pallet is probably the one part of any old clock that needs to be made by hand.  This is the piece that makes the clock count the number of times it strikes, and then it's the brake that stops everything.  They are cut and filed out of a solid block of steel, and are the oddest shape that one could even imagine. There are curves, flat spots circles and a square going thru the center to fit the pallet shaft. the tolerances and clearances also need to be very close.

Donor steel and finished pawl
The existing arbor now needed to be extended which is tough.  I elected to use a drill for the shaft because the size quality and hardness of the steel.  A butt joint would not have the necessary strength so I turned the end of the drill down and backdrilled the existing shaft for a press fit.  The joint was then brazed because solder would not be strong enough and then the excess braze turned down in the lathe to end up with a smoothe shaft.
Pieces before joining
Below is a pic of the repaired shaft set up in the jewelers lathe with a filing attachment so that the end can be filed to a perfect square. Prior to this step, and the backdrilling of the shaft, I needed to make a brass adaptor to hold the gear.  Since there was no option but to hold it by the pinion (small gear on end), these teeth needed to be protected.  Here is a pic of the piece.
Brass collet in steel collet

Setup for filing
 These 2 pics are the completed shaft and also the completed shaft in the clock.

Here is a short video clip of the finished part and how it functions.

I was happy to see this job completed and out of here.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Antique Cyclometer

Antique Cyclometer.

Yea, I never heard of one either but this one came in a month or so ago.  Over the years people have wandered into my store with all kinds of things, large and small.  Slot machines, scales, model trains, etc.  I think they spot all of the little tools and figure that you can fix about anything.
This one was a little different because it was a longtime friend that brought it over.  The cyclometer mounts on the frame of a penny-farthing or hi-wheel bicycle.  The cross shaped piece on the top straddles the spokes and as the wheel rotates, each spoke advances the counter.  As a big collector of the bicycles, owning many of them, he only had one of the cyclometers until he recently bought this one. When he got it it he saw that it was missing a lot of pieces.  It's a good thing he already had one that I could use as a model and see what the missing parts looked like, because there doesn't seem to be anything online about these things.
This is the original unit.

The main shaft which has a worm gear on one end and a cross shaped piece on the top were missing.  The glass lens was also broken. I don't have any pics of that part of the repair but the glass was replaced with a nice fitting pocketwatch crystal which is held in by a soldered retaining ring and plaster. I wish I took more pics.
Here are some views of the replacement shaft that was handmade.
The completed shaft and top cross completed.
I was not able to determine for certain the material the original cross was, but I made mine out of brass.  I had a plate of some pretty thick and hard stuff.  This was a tough one because it had to be cut by hand with a jewelers saw and then filed.  Once I was happy with the shape I silvered it.  The original one was plated.

Assembled cyclometer on right.  Owner just needs to "age" the silvering on the cross.