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  1. #1
    John b
    Guest

    Default Hanging Chime Tubes

    Just recently purchased a Waltham Grandfather clock which needs help. The chime sound is loud and harsh so I believe the leather on the hammers need replacing and I need guidance on what type of leather to use and, if unique, where to buy. The leather seems to be tied on with wire. What would be the best method for applying the new leather (wire and glue)? Also, the string for hanging the tubes has been replaced with very thick string which seems to interfer with proper installation. What material can I use to replace this string? Thanks for your help. My experience is limited to mantle clocks and I appreciate all the help I can get.
    Thanks in advance.
    John Benfatti

  2. #2
    John b
    Guest

    Default Hanging Chime Tubes (RE: John b)

    Just recently purchased a Waltham Grandfather clock which needs help. The chime sound is loud and harsh so I believe the leather on the hammers need replacing and I need guidance on what type of leather to use and, if unique, where to buy. The leather seems to be tied on with wire. What would be the best method for applying the new leather (wire and glue)? Also, the string for hanging the tubes has been replaced with very thick string which seems to interfer with proper installation. What material can I use to replace this string? Thanks for your help. My experience is limited to mantle clocks and I appreciate all the help I can get.
    Thanks in advance.
    John Benfatti

  3. #3

    Default Hanging Chime Tubes (RE: John b)

    Hi John, look for a place that makes leather handbags, wallets, etc., and ask them to sell you some scraps. Many shops have them out in their shops to sell. As for thickness, they usually have different thicknesses, so try different ones until you find the 'sound' on the tube you think is correct. Use wire to hold the leather on the hammer. I use cord for the tubes that is sold in Merritt's catalog that is for holding the heavier 8 day OG type weights. After 29 years I haven't had one break yet. MAC
    Mike C.
    aka clock whisperer

  4. #4

    Default Hanging Chime Tubes (RE: John b)

    John B: You are correct the leather is held in place with a soft wire (copper). Remove the wire carefully and save at least one leather to use as a pattern and sample. Try a shoe repair shop for leather or leather shop if your town is large enough. THe last time I cut up a worn out leather glove. You only need 1/2 x 1" pieces (pattern size). The leather needs to be thin enough and supple to form around the hammers. The wire can be obtained from your local hardware or hobby store. I wouldn't use glue, the wire, if correctly tightned will hold the leather in place.
    The string for the pipes can also be found at you local hardware store, Ive been using a nylon type that is twisted three strand. You'll probably have to buy a roll for the 2 feet you need. I can send you some if you give me your address.
    Hope this helps!

  5. #5
    John b
    Guest

    Default Hanging Chime Tubes (RE: John b)

    Denis,
    Thanks for your prompt reply and great advice. I think I can find the nylon string, but I very much appreciated your offer.
    Thanks again
    John b
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Denis O Jahn:
    John B: You are correct the leather is held in place with a soft wire (copper). Remove the wire carefully and save at least one leather to use as a pattern and sample. Try a shoe repair shop for leather or leather shop if your town is large enough. THe last time I cut up a worn out leather glove. You only need 1/2 x 1" pieces (pattern size). The leather needs to be thin enough and supple to form around the hammers. The wire can be obtained from your local hardware or hobby store. I wouldn't use glue, the wire, if correctly tightned will hold the leather in place.
    The string for the pipes can also be found at you local hardware store, Ive been using a nylon type that is twisted three strand. You'll probably have to buy a roll for the 2 feet you need. I can send you some if you give me your address.
    Hope this helps! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

  6. #6
    John b
    Guest

    Default Hanging Chime Tubes (RE: John b)

    Hi Mac,
    Thanks for your advice. I will check out Merritt's catalog. I very much appreciated the time to reply to my questions.
    thanks
    Johb b
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by tymfxr:
    Hi John, look for a place that makes leather handbags, wallets, etc., and ask them to sell you some scraps. Many shops have them out in their shops to sell. As for thickness, they usually have different thicknesses, so try different ones until you find the 'sound' on the tube you think is correct. Use wire to hold the leather on the hammer. I use cord for the tubes that is sold in Merritt's catalog that is for holding the heavier 8 day OG type weights. After 29 years I haven't had one break yet. MAC </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

  7. #7
    Rod
    Guest

    Default Hanging Chime Tubes (RE: John b)

    John,For the leather I have used a leather boot lace for small hammers and I have been using an old leather belt ,this belt has been a source for me for many years and it will last for many more years.......

    Rod

  8. #8
    John b
    Guest

    Default Hanging Chime Tubes (RE: John b)

    Rod,
    Thanks, I was not thinking outside the box. I appreciate the appropriate advice. Thanks to all the advice, I have re-hund the tubes and replaced the leather. The clock sounds great. Thanks to all for helping this novice.
    John b
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Rod:
    John,For the leather I have used a leather boot lace for small hammers and I have been using an old leather belt ,this belt has been a source for me for many years and it will last for many more years.......

    Rod </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

  9. #9

    Default Hanging Chime Tubes (RE: John b)

    7/5/05
    Here is a draft copy of an article I wrote that appeared in the BULLETIN probably around 1998. It may be helpful with the problem above. Jcl

    Adjusting Tubular Bell Hammers on Hall Clocks
    September 10, 1998

    From time to time I have come across hall clocks with tubular bells that have a history of poor performance. As rugged and well made as the earliest of these clocks are, they seem to have the worst record for failure to play the chimes dependably. Not only that, but because they were rarely made with a self-correcting mechanism, they are especially noticeable when the chimes are out of sequence. The finest of these clocks were factory-made beginning in the late 19th century. Included among the manufacturers are Jennens, and Elliot, in London, Waltham and early Herschedes made in Waltham, Mass., and Cincinnati, Ohio, respectively. Major furniture stores and jewelers throughout the United States marketed these clocks, so they often bear the name of a vendor on their dials, rather than the name of their manufacturers.

    Frequently these clocks are found in North America with the name Walter Durfee, Providence, shown on the dials, movements, or tubular bells. Walter Durfee was a tubular bell maker who assembled these clocks at first using movements imported from Elliot of London, then later, using movements from the Waltham Clock Company. Many Waltham clocks have bells marked by Durfee. He sometimes bartered movements for gongs according to his late nephew, Elisha Durfee. There is an extensive article on the Durfee role in making these clocks by ___________ in BULLETIN #_________. [Fill in the blanks] Today, the terms tubular bells, tubes, bells, chimes, and gongs are used interchangeably.

    It would seem that any clock movement as well made as these examples are, some even having fifty pound weights to drive the chime train, would be trouble-free. Often I have seen movements recently repaired, showing that the workman did his job on the movement well, but the chimes perform intermittently at best. In fact, the trouble with these movements is rarely in the clock mechanism itself. Almost always the hammer assembly is adjusted wrong. In an attempt to get a loud and joyful noise out of the chime system, the hammers are set to do things beyond their capabilities.

    First there is the matter of educating the public about these mechanisms. They were not designed or made to compete with the carillon in the tower of the First Parish, Wealthy, which could afford to supply the community with a Howard or Seth Thomas chiming turret clock. Commanding as the cases of these clocks are, with their engraved and pierced dials, exposed weights, pendulum, and gleaming nickel-plated gongs, their presence was intended to supplement their gilded-age surroundings, not dominate them. The sound of the chimes is supposed to waft through the household contributing to a pleasant ambiance.

    There is a “checklist” of things to consider when setting up these clocks. Begin by determining if the hammer pads need to be renewed. They do wear through. There are roughly three types of hammers. The simplest consists of a piece of 1/16th inch thick leather cut in a rectangle, and held to a steel or brass hammerhead with a length of wire holding the leather across the knob-shaped face of the hammer. The next hammer type has an appropriately sized disk of soft leather held to the hammerhead by a threaded bezel. Disks can be punched or cut out of a chamois skin. These can usually be identified because there are screw threads showing around the edge of the hammerhead. The third common type of hammer is similar to the second, but there is a piece of hard wood, such as boxwood, maple, or beach inside the hammerhead. That wood is covered by leather or sometimes a hard cloth disk. I have seen these hammers covered with corduroy frequently enough to think it may have been used originally.

    Nearly all the hammers described are attached to a piece of clock spring positioning the hammerhead near the top of the tubular bell it will hit. The fastener is usually a machine screw through the back of the hammerhead. Before the hammers are properly located near the bells, the cords suspending the bells should be checked, and usually replaced. Any strong cord is appropriate to hang the tubes. It can be nylon, cotton, plastic, or gut, but should not be metal clock cable. There is a trick to hanging the tubes and it begins by getting all the cords tied so that the loops they form are the same length or circumference. I use a square knot, and I tie most cords over a piece of 1 ¼” or 1 ½” plastic pipe resting on the top of the tube.

    In most hall clocks the tubes hang from a rack with one more pin to suspend the tubes than the number of tubes: five pins for four tubes; nine for eight bells. The gongs, therefore, share pins, and they should be installed in ascending order of length. That is, put the longest tube in first, and that means install the hour-toll tube before installing the chimes. The hour tubes are generally suspended separately from the chime ones, and the long ones often require some manipulation to slip them into the case without scratching the interior of the case, poking a hole in a ceiling, or getting them caught on the movement itself. When there is a mount for the gongs separate from the seat-board of the movement, it is practical to install the gongs before installing the movement. Finish by adjusting the tubes so they all hang straight and parallel. They must not be able to bang against each other.

    When the gongs are installed in the case, the hammers should be in a position where they will hit the gong between ¼” and ½” below the top of the gong. To some extent, this can be adjusted by loosening the screws clamping the lengths of clock spring which hold the hammer heads in proximity to the gongs. If extensive change is required, the gongs are probably suspended improperly. Of great importance, the hammers at rest, with the strings that pull them unattached to the movement levers, should be standing about 1/16” away from the tubes. Each is adjusted by gently bending the spring-stanchion with the fingers until the hammer stands as it should.

    The strings that connect the hammers to the clock movement are attached in two ways. Most commonly they are pinched in a piece of leather wrapped around the hammer stanchion with a strip of soft brass. If the strings are rotted they should be replaced with fish line, and the leather should be replaced at the same time. Both the height and the length of the string can be controlled by moving the mount up and down the stanchion, or by pulling the string in or out of the leather. A second method of attachment consists of a “tongue” with a hole punched out of the spring-stanchion. Here, there is no height adjustment.

    The strings which pull the hammers are attached to levers at the top of the movement. Here is where most of the trouble begins. There must be some slack in the string so that the lever on the movement begins to move before the hammer is pulled back. If the cylinder pushing the movement levers is forced to start under a load, it never gets sufficiently into motion (up to speed) and this will stall the chime train especially when the fan is opened to allow for a slow succession of notes. There is almost no “free run” between chime levers, even when starting up, so the chance for the train to get into motion has to come from slack in the strings between levers and hammers.

    Now there are several considerations, which come into play. First, the hammer should hit the gong only for an instant or it will become a damper killing the resonance. If it hits the gong with sufficient, but not excessive force, the energy in the hammer will all be transferred into the gong. The hammer should come to rest immediately and remain standing away from contact with the gong. If the hammer bounces, it probably hit the gong too gently. With hammers where the string can be raised or lowered, the string should be lowered slightly. This will have the effect of pulling the hammer back farther, thus giving it more force when it is released.

    Hammers equipped with tongues at the point where the string is attached can only be strengthened by bending the spring-stanchion more in the direction of the gong. This, of course, leaves the hammerhead too close to the gong. Now the stanchion has to be manipulated into an “S” curve so the hammer is still left out of contact with the tube when at rest. In the case of either type hammer, after other adjustments, there must still be some slack in the string connecting hammer and lever.

    By either method of manipulating the hammer stanchions relative to their strength, there is a practical limit to how far the hammer can be drawn back, or the stanchion strengthened before the demands made on the movement by the hammers exceeds the capacity of the movement to deliver. This brings us full circle. There is a limit to how loud these clocks can be made to play. It is a sad fact that some of the cheaper, late model German chime clocks make more noise than the magnificent early hall clocks they imitate.

    In my experience, the tubular bells in hall clocks sound best when they are given time to resonate. That means that the hammers should run slowly. On all of the high-quality hall clocks I have seen, the fans are adjustable to control the speed. Most hall clocks play chimes using at least four bells, and some switch to tunes requiring eight bells. The rate that hammers hit eight bells is going to be faster than the rate for hammers to hit four bells since the note-cycle depends on the same number of degrees of revolution of the music cylinder at each quarter hour, regardless of the number of notes played. Because of this, the speed of the hammers should be adjusted according to which “tune” the clock owner expects to play most frequently.

    There are occasions when people with hearing loss want the chimes to be louder. For all the reasons already discussed, this is not always possible to the degree needed by the hearing impaired. Quite often, however, increasing the high-frequency tone potential in tubular bells will compensate for lost volume of sound. This can be achieved by reducing the “padding” of the hammers either by substituting thin cloth like silk or nylon for leather, all the way to removing the leather from the hammers, and letting metal hit the gongs. The sound is unpleasant to most, but gives some relief where deafness is a problem.

    Finally, I had a mystifying problem with a Waltham Hall Clock I repaired a couple of years ago. The clock chimed satisfactorily for six days after winding, then stopped chiming and striking. The clock continued to run, and after the owner re-wound the clock it would work properly for another six days. On the return visit I found the problem. Someone had stored a narrow wooden box in the base of the clock case, and the chime weight would come to rest against the box after six days. There are no easy jobs.

    John C. Losch
    1,911 Words

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