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.