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  1. #1
    Registered User scootermcrad's Avatar
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    Default Tower Clock Restoration Unfolding and New Guy

    Hello everyone!

    Long time enthusiast of all things mechanical and interesting. I've been specifically interested in tower clock movements for many years and I'm trying to learn all I can about this unique category of keeping time.

    I'm diving right in to my hands-on education with the assistance to my local community with their Courthouse clock. We are still trying to get the permissions to access the clock tower so we can get a first hand view of the condition of the clock components, but what I know so far is that the movement seems to be an E. Howard "Round Top" with single strike mechanism and bell. I am trying to learn all I can about this particular movement so that we know what to look for upon entering the tower. I will inevitably become the "keeper of the clock" as well, so the more I can learn the better.

    Being that we don't know the condition of the clock yet, and what will need to be restored, I don't have any specific questions, but maybe some more general questions. What was a typical ware component of this style movement? What is the typical drive weight for the clock and strike mechanism? Things to look for during initial inspection? I know nothing about this particular clock, so anything you guys could share or link me to would be very much appreciated.

    I will certainly be doing lots of reading and research in the mean time, but I at least wanted to start a thread introducing myself and the project that I'm about to start.

    Thanks for reading and any help! This looks like a great community and I'm very excited to do some reading and participating.

    Scott
    Last edited by Peter A. Nunes; 03-22-2016 at 06:02 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: scootermcrad)

    Welcome,

    You came to the right place!

    I look after this exact clock, and have since a number of us restored and installed it in a historically significant cupola 26 years ago. You can hope that this clock is original and hasn't been modernized by gutting it and fitting some kind of electric motor. I think we would be better able to advise you once you get into the tower and upload some pictures.

    In hopes that it is all there, andbhasn'tbhad major damage, there are a few things to look for.

    1/ Worn pinions.
    2/ Loose bearings.
    3/ Worn or damaged escape wheel teeth.
    4/ Worn pallet faces.
    5/ Rust!
    6/ Pidgeon guano!
    7/ Rusted or worn cables.
    8/ Damaged pendulum shaft (often made of wood).
    9/ Some have been converted to electric wind.
    10/ Condition of dial trains if they've been exposed to the elements.
    11/ Condition of the hands.
    12/ Condition of dial(s).
    13/ Condition of pulleys.
    14/ This perhaps should have been at the top of the list. CONDITION OF SUCH LADDERS AS YOU MIGHT HAVE TO CLIMB!
    15/ Presence of weight wells to stop weights from swaying.
    16/ What sort of weights are being used. Some tower clocks use a box or rocks or scrap iron. Some use proper weights.
    17/ Is there a bell? Condition? Clapper or hammer present?
    18/ Is the tower pidgeon proof, dust proof, water proof? If not, it will have to be made so.
    19/ Can it be made VANDAL PROOF? Do you want to know why I ask? It's an important question.
    20/ If the bell will be operational, are there any city ordinances about the sound? Might the neighbourhood complain?
    21/ Do you have lability insurance? Who owns the clock? Will you be able to get along with them? Does their insurance cover the
    the project? If you have no insurance and you have an accident, are they responsible for covering you?
    22/ Are there damper boxes below the weights if a cable breaks?
    23/ Might there be danger to anyone who works in the building, on the next floor below the clock? Ask me why I ask!

    As as to how much weight? Ours runs with 750 pounds, single compound, on the strike side, and 125 pounds with no compound on the time side. Depending on the fall available for the weights, you may have to do additional compounding, thereby, you will need a lot more weight. You may find answers when you get into the tower as to compounding and weights. Who is going to ".head man" this project? I ask because quitting is not an option once you start. Can you rely on any helpers? See if you can get yourself a copy of The Tower (or Turret) Clock Keepers Manual. It is English, and I don't have an ISBN number, and I don.'t remember the author's name.

    If you have questions, get back to us.


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  3. #3
    Registered User scootermcrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: doug sinclair)

    Doug! I've been reading through several threads regarding this type of E. Howard and I've seen your responses. I was hoping you would respond to this. Thank you!

    That is a wonderful list of things to look for! Sounds like the escapement wheel is often times an issue with these. I'll look for that, especially. I've been going through all of this in my mind and formulated a list that looks very much like the one you've made above. You've raised some EXCELLENT points that I hadn't thought of, though. Liability insurance! Very good point! I will have to find out about that for sure. Those are the details that will be discussed next meeting with the group. Great thing to bring up.

    The clock seems to be very secure, as far as isolating it from vandals and mischief. For that matter, we're trying to figure out WHERE the access point actually is. We're going to find this out in the next couple weeks. I'm very excited to get in there.

    What is the feeling on auto-winders? I've seen a few in person in a collection that I visited once. Is this something that people often use? My feeling is that the clock would tend to be neglected if it's not visited weekly for winding. What is the realistic view on care and winding?

    Doug, what do YOU look for when you care for your Round Top? What is your task list every time you climb up there? I'm going to ultimately be the person doing this for our town and they are going to want some idea of how that works. The building is a private building, so I suppose the logistics of access and security is something they will want to talk about.

    Thanks! Great start to this thread!

    OH! And this is the building... (image from the internet)

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  4. #4
    Registered User scootermcrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: scootermcrad)

    OH! And I would definitely like to have a copy of that Turret Clock Keepers Manual! I will see what I can dig up.

    EDIT: Is this the book?

    http://www.amazon.com/Turret-Keepers.../dp/1492317705

    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5
    Registered User scootermcrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: scootermcrad)

    Additional question!

    It appears that all the hand components are there. I obviously don't have a clue of the condition yet, but I know we will DEFINITELY need to have the faces restored or replaced. They should be glass now. Do people still replace them with glass or have we gone to more modern materials? It's going to be important to be as historically correct as possible, however I realize sometimes we have to do what we have to do.

    I saw some great threads on back-lighting. Looks like there are some great solutions for this, already. I'm not sure if the lighting is still in place for ours.

  6. #6
    Registered User FDelGreco's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: scootermcrad)

    Scott:

    Welcome to the message board.

    I’ve done a few Howard roundtops and they are one of the easier clocks to do.

    The best way to learn about restoring a tower clock is to talk with those who have. The National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors that sponsors this MB has many chapters and there are three in North Carolina. If you are a nonmember of NAWCC, you can attend these chapter meetings at least a few times before you have to join. Chapter 17 in Lexington has several members who have restored some significant tower clocks. For information about the next meeting, contact Bill at wbudusky@northstate.net. Chapter 191 meets in New Bern. Contact Dobert at dowsley119@gmail.com. Finally, chapter 126 meets in Arden. Contact Georg at gjpiulz@yahoo.com. (These addresses are shown in the chapter highlights portion of the Association’s magazine so I assume they are OK to show here.)

    We also have a special interest chapter, “Tower and Street Clocks Chapter 134,” devoted specifically to that subject. We meet three times a year – at the Southern Ohio regional in Wilmington OH in April, at the national convention in Louisville KY in July, and at the Eastern States regional in Syracuse NY in August. We have 80 members who collect and/or restore tower and street clocks.

    The book that Doug Sinclair was thinking about is “The Turret Clock Keepers Handbook” by Chris McKay, the foremost authority on tower clocks in the UK. You can find several sources of the book on bookfinder.com:

    http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac...s%2520handbook

    Finally, Chris drafted a 48 page manual titled, “Guidelines for the Repair, Restoration, Conservation, Preservation & Maintenance of Turret Clocks” a number of years ago, but I don’t think it was ever published as I can’t find it anywhere. He had sent me a draft copy a number of years ago to review. If you send me a private message through this message board and give me your real email address, I’ll send you a copy. It contains some UK English words that may be tough to translate into American English, but for the most part it is informative.

    Frank

  7. #7
    Registered User scootermcrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: FDelGreco)

    Quote Originally Posted by FDelGreco View Post
    Scott:

    Welcome to the message board.

    I’ve done a few Howard roundtops and they are one of the easier clocks to do.

    The best way to learn about restoring a tower clock is to talk with those who have. The National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors that sponsors this MB has many chapters and there are three in North Carolina. If you are a nonmember of NAWCC, you can attend these chapter meetings at least a few times before you have to join. Chapter 17 in Lexington has several members who have restored some significant tower clocks. For information about the next meeting, contact Bill at wbudusky@northstate.net. Chapter 191 meets in New Bern. Contact Dobert at dowsley119@gmail.com. Finally, chapter 126 meets in Arden. Contact Georg at gjpiulz@yahoo.com. (These addresses are shown in the chapter highlights portion of the Association’s magazine so I assume they are OK to show here.)

    We also have a special interest chapter, “Tower and Street Clocks Chapter 134,” devoted specifically to that subject. We meet three times a year – at the Southern Ohio regional in Wilmington OH in April, at the national convention in Louisville KY in July, and at the Eastern States regional in Syracuse NY in August. We have 80 members who collect and/or restore tower and street clocks.

    The book that Doug Sinclair was thinking about is “The Turret Clock Keepers Handbook” by Chris McKay, the foremost authority on tower clocks in the UK. You can find several sources of the book on bookfinder.com:

    http://www.bookfinder.com/search/?ac...s%2520handbook

    Finally, Chris drafted a 48 page manual titled, “Guidelines for the Repair, Restoration, Conservation, Preservation & Maintenance of Turret Clocks” a number of years ago, but I don’t think it was ever published as I can’t find it anywhere. He had sent me a draft copy a number of years ago to review. If you send me a private message through this message board and give me your real email address, I’ll send you a copy. It contains some UK English words that may be tough to translate into American English, but for the most part it is informative.

    Frank
    Frank,
    Wonderful! Thank you for the response and connections. I will reach out to the members you mentioned and see about meetings and membership. I think that would be of great benefit to my tower clock journey to restoration, care, and collecting of such time pieces.

    I will send you a PM with my information. I really appreciate the offer to do this. Any and all information I would consider extremely valuable.

    Thank you!

  8. #8
    Registered user. Les harland's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: scootermcrad)

    Winding a clock weekly is not too bad providing you can find some to do it while you are on vacation
    A clock I used to wind Ayot St Peter Hertfordshire UK lasted last exactly forty eight hours between winding
    The only way to keep on top of it was to wind it every day

  9. #9
    Registered User scootermcrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: Les harland)

    Quote Originally Posted by Les harland View Post
    Winding a clock weekly is not too bad providing you can find some to do it while you are on vacation
    A clock I used to wind Ayot St Peter Hertfordshire UK lasted last exactly forty eight hours between winding
    The only way to keep on top of it was to wind it every day
    WOW! Do you still do this or did you put an auto-wind on it?

  10. #10
    Registered user. Les harland's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: scootermcrad)

    There is an auto wind on the clock now
    I have not been there for some time now

  11. #11
    Registered User doug sinclair's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: Les harland)

    Automating one of these clocks can be done in two different ways that I know of. Leaving the clock as original, and rigging it so it is wound by automated means. This means a gear reduction motor rigged to the winding arbors, and limit switches on the cables to control wind up and run down. Or the way that distresses me when I see it. Basically, GUT the clock, fit two electric motors between the plates. Particularly stressful on the STRIKE side because in the clocks I have seen done this way, the motor acts on the gears in the top of the train to drive the heavy gears at the bottom of the train. This will destroy the gears and pinions over time.

    There may be other opinions offered on this, but this is how I see it.

  12. #12
    Registered User scootermcrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: doug sinclair)

    Quote Originally Posted by doug sinclair View Post
    Automating one of these clocks can be done in two different ways that I know of. Leaving the clock as original, and rigging it so it is wound by automated means. This means a gear reduction motor rigged to the winding arbors, and limit switches on the cables to control wind up and run down. Or the way that distresses me when I see it. Basically, GUT the clock, fit two electric motors between the plates. Particularly stressful on the STRIKE side because in the clocks I have seen done this way, the motor acts on the gears in the top of the train to drive the heavy gears at the bottom of the train. This will destroy the gears and pinions over time.

    There may be other opinions offered on this, but this is how I see it.
    Thanks Doug! I watched a video earlier of a winder for the strike side of a E. Howard #2 and it looked brutal. Not sure if it was just being tested and wasn't set right, but it just looked like it was stressing the lower end after each strike.

    I like the idea of being attentive to the clock and keeping it historically as-is. Gives the opportunity to look over the clock, make sure everything is in order, etc.. However, I may think different if I'm doing it every week.

  13. #13
    Registered User scootermcrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: scootermcrad)

    Good evening everyone!

    Well, I have an eventful update. I met with the local county commissioners and Historical Society this evening and learned some very interesting things.

    First off, the information I received about the clock being an E. Howard "round top" was absolutely false. The clock actually appears to be a Seth Thomas, based on the pictures I saw in the meeting. The condition of the clock is a little more apparent now, and appears to be completely restoreable. A local historian was also invited to this meeting and presented an article that showed who the original winder of the clock was as well as some changes that were made to the clock. In 1959 the clock was "electrified". And by this, it was meant that auto-winders were installed. It was hard to tell from the presented pictures what was left of the clock movement, but from what I saw, it appears that all is mostly intact.

    in the meeting, I found out that the clock was evaluated for "restoration" (read replacement) in 2009. Full electrification including a speaker for the bell. I about fell out of my chair when they told me that they were actually considering this, as the building it is in was restored incredibly well. I proposed my plan for restoration of the mechanical movement with volunteer help and the tone changed a bit in the room. Ultimately it's their decision, but I hope that they will decided to give restoration and preservation a chance for the Seth Thomas.

    I will be taking the official tour next week and hope to get as many pictures as I can for identification and a more realistic view of what needs to happen. I know for sure that the faces will need to be restored, the motionworks need to be cleaned and restored and enclosures made to protect them. The movement itself has had some kind of make-shift galvanized box put around it, but I think that help preserve what is there. Pictures showed a lot of duct and grime and surface rust, but it didn't look to be out of line for a basic restoration. I'll know more next week when I see it in person.

    Now to do some research and figure out what Seth Thomas we have here.

    On a side note, thank you to everyone that has sent me things to read and contacts for people. I have been reading my guts out and am more excited than ever now. I have learned a ton just in the last couple weeks. I have also officially joined NAWCC and will be doing to the local chapter meeting this weekend.

    Thanks for everyone's help! I'll keep you posted as I learn more about this restoration!

  14. #14
    Registered User scootermcrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: E. Howard "Round Top" - Unfolding Restoration and New Guy (By: scootermcrad)

    OH! And I found out WHEN the Seth Thomas movement was in stalled. 1876. I'm hoping to find it registered or accounted for somewhere. If I had to guess, I would say it might be a ST #2? Or at least it looks similar from the pictures I saw.

    Looking through records for Seth Thomas installations, I came across Hotchkiss installations. This clock is listed as Seth Thomas/Hotchkiss. Someone please tell me more about this.

    THANK YOU!
    Last edited by scootermcrad; 03-14-2016 at 07:26 PM.

  15. #15
    Registered User scootermcrad's Avatar
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    Default Tower Clock Restoration Unfolding and New Guy (By: scootermcrad)

    Sorry to keep blowing this up, but I just received some pictures. I'm wondering if I should start a new thread on this, now that we know it's not the E. Howard I thought it was.

    So it appears we may be missing the pendulum, escapement components, and a few other things. I'm praying these parts are somewhere laying around or being stored. There may be no turning back, though. Maybe in this case it is best to replace the motors with new ones if parts cannot be had.





    I'm guessing this is the strike mechanism



    All four faces and motion works look like this and appear to have had glass installed with numbers added and frosted paint?



    Bell and strike



    What am I looking at here?

    Last edited by Peter A. Nunes; 03-22-2016 at 06:04 PM.

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