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Roger the Dodger

Grandfather Clock Project.

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Some of you who visit the clock and pocket watch forum may be aware that I wanted to strip and clean my old grandfather clock, so, encouraged by several members, some of whom have kindly offered help and advice, I am posting this as an ongoing project which I hope will be of interest to other like minded members.

So here we go.... The first thing I have done is to set the hands to twelve o'clock and mark with light scribe lines, the positions of some of the wheels relative to each other. I have also taken loads of pics to help with reassembly, some of which I'll post here.

The front of the movement.

Grandfather clock.

This mark shows me where to line this pin up on the wheel. There are more scribe marks on other wheels.

Grandfather clock.

Here, all the components on the front plate bar the minute wheel and its pressure plate behind, and the gathering pallet have been removed from their studs and the order of removal noted.

Grandfather clock.

Here are some of the parts laid out on paper and numbered.

Grandfather clock.

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Here, the front plate has been unpinned and removed from the pillars.

Grandfather clock.

These are the top and bottom of the movement for reassembly reference.

 

Grandfather clock.

Grandfather clock.

Here, the barrels have been removed.

Grandfather clock.

Just one wheel and the fly left.

Grandfather clock.

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Here's where I ran into the first problem. Most of the pivots are in fairly good condition, but one, the centre wheel, is competely worn away. This was one of the first questions Clockworks asked me when he saw the movement, and at the time there didn't appear to be anything wrong.........but have a look at this!

The front end....perfectly servicable....

Grandfather clock.

The rear end...that takes the full load of the weight....Oh dear!

Grandfather clock.

I'm going to file that pivot off, drill the arbour and press in a new pin. Here's the arbour with the damaged pivot filed off.

Grandfather clock.

In order to drill an accurately centered hole in the absence of a lathe, I drilled a pice of 6mm mild steel plate with a 3mm drill and chamfered the edge. This is the exact size of the arbour. Now with the wheel clamped into the hole, I lightly drilled from the other side with the same 3mm drill to make an accurate centre dot.

Here's the plate with the hole (the chamfer is to accomodate to shoulder of the pinion protruding through the wheel)

Grandfather clock.

This is everything clamped together and the centre dot being drilled.

Grandfather clock.

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Finally, I had to drill a 1.5mm hole in the end of the arbour...this was easier said than done because the arbour was very hard and my drill wouldn't touch it. After a bit of thought, I removed the wheel from the pinion (it's an interferance fit) and heated the end of the arbour till it was cherry red and let it cool down. This softened the steel and it then drilled easily. After it was drilled, I re-heated it and quenched it in oil to re harden. The wheel was pressed back on.

Here's the wheel with it's new pivot (it's a piece of broken drill 1.5mm Dia). I'll cut this to length and fix it with some engineering adhesive, and it'll never come out. Because it's drill steel, it should be about as hard as the arbour.

Grandfather clock.

That's as far as I've got at the moment, more to come soon. Any hints, tips and comments gratefully encouraged!

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Great stuff Roger and I like your improvisation. Looking forward to Chapter II.

Edited by NickD

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:notworthy: Rodger! :yes:

Keep on stripping -=- Ooops, that doesn't sound right, but you know what I mean! :man_in_love:

The wear on the pivot is a classic example of the old engineering adage that the softer material will wear out the harder material first! :yes:

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Well done for getting that centre pivot sorted. The jig that you made uses the same principle as the proper re-pivoting tool I use with my lathe.

BTW, if you need to drill any more arbors, a tungsten carbide drill bit will go through hardened steel with softening.

Looking at the photos, the warning pin on the 4th wheel looks badly worn. You'll need to clean this up, or replace it.

What's the state of the pallets?

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Great stuff Roger, I love threads like this. :thumbsup:

The pictures are a real bonus and really helps me understand what's happening.

Looking forward to the next installment

When you get the chance, could you post a pic of the case please?

Chris :)

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Hi guys...thanks for all your positive comments. I haven't been able to do much today (I'm spending about an hour in the workshop after work each day) as I didn't finish till late, but I did finish the centre wheel, then started looking at the lifting piece and wondering why all that solder was on there. I soon found out when I filed the solder off the back...the end was cracked. I decided to fabricate a new arm from brass (same as the original) and sourced a piece from an old brass barrel bolt. This was filed to shape, and the next job will be to cut it to length, clean the mating surfaces and solder the new arm over the old one. I've taken some pics of the 4th wheel and the pallets for Clockworks and a couple of the case for Chris.

The finished centre wheel and new pivot. This now fits perfectly in the plates and spins beautifully.

Grandfather clock.

The lifting piece and all the solder, and then the back, where the split can be seen.

Grandfather clock.

Grandfather clock.

The old brass bolt and the piece I cut from it.

Grandfather clock.

Top filed to fit round stem.

Grandfather clock.

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Here's the lifting piece and the new brass arm (It's too wide in this pic, I've got to file it to the same width as the existing), and the next pic shows how it fits.

Grandfather clock.

Grandfather clock.

Here's the 4th wheel and warning pin...I don't think it's worn, its just bent, though it does make contact with the return on the lifting piece.

Grandfather clock.

The pallets look OK....I can't feel any ridges or wear with my fingernail.

Grandfather clock.

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Looks like someone bent the warning pin to compensate for the damaged lifting piece. Straighten it out, then align the new arm that you're making so that it all works properly.

The pallets look pretty good, but the "double" wear pattern on the faces suggests that someone has moved the pallet arbor or escape wheel at some point, or you've got excessive end shake on one or the other. After you've investigated that, give the pallet face a quick stoning, and polish to a mirror finish with 2000+ grit wet-or-dry.

This is looking good!

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Thanks for that advice Clockworks...(what's your name mate...I can't keep calling you Clockworks!) I'll certainly address all that you've said. Just a thought...if that lifting piece arm has lost a tiny bit from the length (we know it's already split at the end) then the lifting pin won't lift it as high as it should go. As you say, maybe someone in the past bent the warning pin so it would catch the lifting piece in a slightly lower position.

I'll leave the new arm a bit longer and see if it makes any difference...I can always shorten it if I have to. Cheers! :thumbsup:

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I'm Steve - now added to sig!

This is why I enjoy repairing old clocks - seat of the pants "engineering", borderline bodging, and finding easy ways of doing things! If it looks right, it is right. Repairing watches generally means cleaning, possibly throwing in a few new parts. With clocks, you get your hands dirty and make the parts yourself. Totally different discipline.

I reckon you'll be down the local boot fair in a few weeks, looking for your next project. Bringing someone else's basket case back to life is addictive.

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I totally agree, Steve...I guess there may be people who would throw their hands up in horror at some of my methods, but at the end of the day they work. This may be an old movement, but every thing I do to it becomes part of its provenance, same as all those other DIY repairs...they're part of its history. When its all cleaned, and the brasswork's polished it'll look great.....it might not go.....but it will look great. I spent 10 years in the maintainance department of the famous compressor manufacturers, Compair Broomwade and when a problem arose, you just got over it, by any means possible. I'm sure a few clock parts won't be a problem....the next thing to do will be to make a new rack tail to replace the one that's held on with wire and solder, and make a new rack spring to replace the safety pin!!

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Rodger, Steve, the true spirit of our forum - two guys batting stuff back and forth and becoming friends who may never meet - but friends nevertheless! :yes:

And the rest of us get to witness this happening :notworthy: - with hopefully a working finished project at the end of it all! I'm in suspense for the next episode :yes:

Wonderful!

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It'll go, Rodger - you've fixed the most serious problem already! The rack tail and lifting piece will probably take a bit of trial and error to get right, but that's just a case of taking your time. BTW, it might be easier to buy a blank rack tail, rather than making one. It needs to be "springy", as it has to move past the snail if the strike train fails to run at 12. A rigid tail will stop the clock if the strike train doesn't run or isn't wound up. That's why the original tail broke off - it repeatedly stopped the clock, and the owner forced the hands to correct the time. Eventually the tail fractured.

Similarly, the lifting piece probably broke because the owner turned the hands backwards repeatedly, something that these clocks weren't designed to put up with.

You mention polishing - this is the one thing that will cause throwing up of hands in horror by horologists and conservators alike. Polishing removes metal, slowly destroying the object, and is frowned upon these days. It's your clock, so it's up to you what you do with it, but the current thinking is that a repairer should bring the movement back close to it's original finish, and a clock like this wasn't polished when new.

The only time I polish movements now is when they are visible in normal use - carriage clocks, 4-glass clocks, and the back plates of French "drum" movements.

If you do decide to polish it, I won't hold it against you!

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Thanks for the pics Roger

For odd pieces of metal, have a look here, very helpful and will supply small quantaties.

Have a google for stuff called Micromesh - it's magic and ideal for cleaning and polishing ( works on watch crystals as well)

Looking forward to the next installment :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Chris :)

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Thanks once again for all your continued support and advice........Chris, that looks like a great site for odd metal supplies. Steve...you may have put my mind at rest, cos when I soldered the new rack tail on, I was thinking it wasn't rigid enough because I could quite easily flex it backwards and forwards...as for polishing...I don't know. I would quite like it to look like the movement on the front of Eric Smith's book, so I may just give the parts a gentle rub to give them a slight sheen...you certainly won't need sunglasses to look at it!...at the end of the day you don't see the movement because it's stuck behind the dial...........

This is what I've managed to achieve today...the lifting piece with its new arm (slightly longer than the old one so I can play with it) soldered in place.

Grandfather clock.

The rack with the bodged tail....

Grandfather clock.

The newly made tail (from that old barrel bolt again) compared to the old. Sorry about the filthy thumb nail...I have been working all day you know!

Grandfather clock.

The tail soldered in place.

Grandfather clock.

The new brass bits look shiny because I've rubbed them with wire wool to get rid of the solder flux stains....this is probably as bright as they'll be....don't forget, I haven't cleaned anything yet........that's it for today...I'll have a break tomorrow so probably no more pics 'till next week....thanks for looking!

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cracking project Rodger :notworthy:

Something I'd like to do when I get my own place, buy a tired old grandmother clock and bring it back to life (without the aid of quartz! :tongue_ss: )

I'm looking forward to the next entry :)

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Steve...a quick thought...and feel free to shoot me down in flames if need be 2guns.gif ...the new rack tail is fairly springy...as you said it needs to be. The snail has a bevel where the 12 o'clock part meets the 1 o'clock part (as you know). If I file a corresponding bevel on the return of the rack tail, should the two connect, the one should ride up over the other, shouldn't it?.....unsure.gif

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Rather than a bend at the end of the tail, longcase clocks normally have a straight tail, with a pin to contact the snail. The leading edge of the pin is filed at an angle, so that it can ride up the step. Link with pics: here

The way you've done it will work, but you'll have to fiddle about setting it up correctly, and eventually it'll fail again. I'd start again, doing it the way the guy shows in the link. If you don't have any hard (springy) brass sheet, you can buy a rack tail blank for a few quid from Meadows & Passmore. This part is vital in getting the clock to strike correctly, so it's worth spending a bit of time on it.

I've made tails from scratch, and also used blanks. Given the choice, I'd rather spend a few quid on a blank, and save the time it takes cutting one from sheet.

On the subject of polishing, I think a soft, satin, sheen is ideal for parts made from rolled brass sheet. Scotchbrite pads are ideal for this. Might not work on the plates, which are probably made from cast sheet.

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Good call Steve, and thanks for that link...very interesting. The reason I made the other tail like that was because I was basically copying what was already there. The pin method looks much more sensible, and I notice that the pics in Eric Smith's book all show a pin in the rack tail. I'm going to order the lines, oil and pegwood tonight so I'll add in a rack tail too. I'm going to try that cleaning solution this weekend and see what happens.

Have a good one! :thumbsup:

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Are you getting some bushes? Looking at the state of the rear centre pivot before you replaced it, it really needs to be bushed. The clock will probably run OK, but you'll end up knackering the pivot again in short order.

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