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  1. #1
    Registered User Bill Stuntz's Avatar
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    Default Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie)

    I just acquired a 1941 Seth Thomas tambour clock with 124 movement. And I'm a total newbie.

    From the MANY hours I've spent reading this forum over the last few days, I'm probably totally crazy
    to even think about working on it myself, but I'd like to try.

    1) I'm mechanically inclined, been been building model aircraft for many years, have lots of small tools, etc.
    I'm good at taking things apart, and they USUALLY work after I've put them back together.
    2) It won't run for more than a few minutes. I'm sure it needs to be cleaned & oiled. Taking it apart for
    cleaning looks REALLY scary, but I don't have the cash to pay to have it done.
    3) I've removed the movement from the case, but I'm not crazy enough to do anything more until I get a
    copy of Conover's Chime Clock Repair, which has a chapter on the 124. I should have it late this week.
    4) I don't see any elongated pivot holes or visible wear, so I don't think it needs any bushings.
    5) The only apparent mechanical problem is that the square (key end) of the chime silence shaft is broken
    off. Is there any way to fix this? Should I just grind the end of the shaft to fit the small end of the key?
    Or do I need to replace the shaft? If so, does anyone have one available?
    6) The strike hammer falls too slowly to make noise - the star wheel doesn't seem to completely release the
    lift arm, keeping it from dropping quickly enough. I'm hoping that cleaning will fix it, but I doubt that it will.
    If I lift the L-shaped arm by hand & release instead of letting the star wheel do it, it strikes.

    Any advice will be GREATLY appreciated!

  2. #2
    Registered User Kevin W.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Bill Stuntz)

    Hi Bill, from what i know about this movement, its not the one you want to learn clock repair on.I would start with something easier and go back to this one when you get more experience.
    One clock at a time. Kevin West
    http://www.global-horology.com/GHMB/

  3. #3

    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Bill Stuntz)

    I think you should get your feet wet with a different movement. The 124 is pretty challenging. Try a two train clock first

  4. #4

    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: shutterbug)

    I agree with Veri and Bugs.

    This one can be frustrating, even for a pro. I have seen several that look good in every way, and still they refuse to run dependably.

    Willie X

  5. #5
    Registered user. Jay Fortner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Willie X)

    Bill, Before you do any Stuntz(couldn't resist mate) with that 124,buy an old American time and strike movement and practice on that. It will most likely need bushings,pivots burnished and polished and that's good practice too. I did a wheelbarrow full of Am.T&S's before I ever touched my first chime clock.
    Wise men speak when they've got something to say whereas fools speak just to say something.

    http://rosewoodregulators.com/

  6. #6
    Registered User Bill Stuntz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: shutterbug)

    I REALLY don't think there's any actual "repair" required, except for that chime silence shaft.
    I think the key will still reach the shaft if I file or grind the end square.
    If I have to, I could just leave that as-is since the business end can be reached from the back.
    And it should only have to be moved once if the chiming every 1/4 hour drives my wife nuts.

    I'm pretty certain that all it needs is a good cleaning & oil. I have a clock oiler/oil.

    Is the difficulty mainly that there are a lot of parts? Everything seems to work properly, but with
    excess friction.

    The main concerns that I see are:
    1) I do not have a spring winder or a let-down tool. I think I can improvise a let-down using the key
    and a drilled & slotted hoe handle. Or buy one.
    2) The 3 springs & boxes come out with the bottom 1/2 of the front plate. Do the springs have to be
    let down before removing that plate? I'm not sure I see how to get at the clicks to release them
    (especially the time spring) before removing that plate. I assume (ASS-U-ME) that the Connover book
    will tell me. If it doesn't, I'm sure YOU can advise me. I KNOW how dangerous springs can be, and I
    won't take any chances til I know for SURE!
    3) I think I might need to make a little clearance between the strike lift arm and the star wheel to allow it
    to drop properly - it seems to drag on the tips of the star wheel teeth instead of dropping cleanly.
    But I won't try to adjust or bend ANYTHING without competent advice.
    4) The suspension rod is riding against the back of the crutch, which I suspect might be at least part of the
    reason it won't keep running. Shouldn't it be more centered in the crutch? Again, I won't try to adjust
    or bend ANYTHING without competent advice.

    THANKS!

    P.S. This is the only mechanical clock in the house. I don't have any other guinea pigs to practice on.

  7. #7
    Registered user. Jay Fortner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Bill Stuntz)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Stuntz View Post
    I REALLY don't think there's any actual "repair" required, except for that chime silence shaft.
    I think the key will still reach the shaft if I file or grind the end square.
    If I have to, I could just leave that as-is since the business end can be reached from the back.
    And it should only have to be moved once if the chiming every 1/4 hour drives my wife nuts.

    I'm pretty certain that all it needs is a good cleaning & oil. I have a clock oiler/oil.

    Is the difficulty mainly that there are a lot of parts? Everything seems to work properly, but with
    excess friction.

    The main concerns that I see are:
    1) I do not have a spring winder or a let-down tool. I think I can improvise a let-down using the key
    and a drilled & slotted hoe handle. Or buy one.
    2) The 3 springs & boxes come out with the bottom 1/2 of the front plate. Do the springs have to be
    let down before removing that plate? I'm not sure I see how to get at the clicks to release them
    (especially the time spring) before removing that plate. I assume (ASS-U-ME) that the Connover book
    will tell me. If it doesn't, I'm sure YOU can advise me. I KNOW how dangerous springs can be, and I
    won't take any chances til I know for SURE!
    3) I think I might need to make a little clearance between the strike lift arm and the star wheel to allow it
    to drop properly - it seems to drag on the tips of the star wheel teeth instead of dropping cleanly.
    But I won't try to adjust or bend ANYTHING without competent advice.
    4) The suspension rod is riding against the back of the crutch, which I suspect might be at least part of the
    reason it won't keep running. Shouldn't it be more centered in the crutch? Again, I won't try to adjust
    or bend ANYTHING without competent advice.

    THANKS!

    P.S. This is the only mechanical clock in the house. I don't have any other guinea pigs to practice on.
    Anwser to ?1 The hoe handle will work fine,that's what I use.
    Answer to ?2 Asolutley yes,you MUST let the mainsprings down BEFORE you attemp to remove them. Injury to yourself and/or the clock WILL result Click image for larger version. 

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    Answer to ?3 will require pics.
    Answer to ?4 Yes the pend. should ride in the middle of the crutch loop when the movement is plumb.
    Wise men speak when they've got something to say whereas fools speak just to say something.

    http://rosewoodregulators.com/

  8. #8
    Registered User Bill Stuntz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Bill Stuntz)

    Jay:

    I can't blame you for the little ding on my name - been putting up with stuff like that for 63+ years!
    And I learned in kindergarten that my initials are "wps" and NOT "bs"!!!!!!!!!!

    Everyone:

    My parents had a similar clock when I was a kid, but I don't remember chime or strike. No idea what happened to it.

    I picked up this clock for $37 at an estate sale - I saw it when we were looking around after my wife bought a $50
    table. They hadn't priced it, didn't know whether it worked, or anything. They said "How about $50?" I picked up the
    clock and found 2 $50 bills under it! Being an honest soul, I gave them the $100 I found, and they said that mom had a
    habit of hiding money all over the place - they'd found over $1000 so far. My wife & I had only $37 cash between us, and
    they accepted it for the clock - maybe because we gave them their $100.

    Anyway, I'm not trying to repair the clock to make a profit or as a (pretend) clock repairman for someone else.
    I just think it's beautiful, and I would like to make it work if I can.

    And I want to do it right, because I'm a FIRM believer in "Do no harm"

  9. #9
    Registered User Bill Stuntz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Bill Stuntz)

    THANKS JAY!

    Maybe it was YOUR post that suggested the hoe handle? Anyway, I just happen to have a broken
    hoe out in the garage!

    I'm not sure a picture will help. The lift arm seems to drag all the way across the star wheel tooth,
    lowering the lift arm most of the way until the (pallet?) is completely clear of the tooth. It only seems
    to drop freely about 1/4 of the lift height. I suspect that the (pallet?) needs a tiny twist so when the
    leading edge clears the tooth, the whole thing clears allowing a full height drop, instead of dropping only
    after the trailing edge passes the tooth. Does this make sense?
    Last edited by Bill Stuntz; 04-08-2012 at 08:53 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Bill Stuntz)

    To properly service a clock it needs to be completely disassembled. There are two spacers under the half plate (on the posts) that cause the plates to be level. Don't loose them. As previously stated this is not an easy movement to work on, even with Conover's chime clock repair book.

    ST 124 photos below:

    Best,

    Richard T.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails ST124a..jpg   ST124b..jpg   ST124c..jpg   ST124d..jpg  

  11. #11

    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Bill Stuntz)

    Bill, I believe Conover’s book covers this movement pretty well, but as others have said, this one is not always the most cooperative patient. If you are the kind of guy that learned to swim byjust jumping into the deep end of the pool then this is definitely the movement for you. It’s not the number of parts but how they line up and synchronize with one another that is important. The springs in this movement can also be aproblem, even with some spring winders. They really do need to come out forcleaning. YES (again) you do need to let down the springs first!!! If you can’tget at the clicks, I believe on this one you can remove the verge and allow it to run down. Same for the chime and strike. At some point the click should moveto a more accessible position where you can let down any remaining tension. Ther eare usually some spacer washers that compensate for the thickness of the plate that holds the springs. Look carefully for these when you take the clock apartas they are easy to loose and you end up with a clock that won’t run and parts left over not knowing where they go. Take lots of pictures and then take somemore.

    A clock stops running when the sum total of all the defects prevents enough power from getting to the pendulum to keep it moving. Cleaning and oiling will likely make the clock run ok for awhile longer but I would be surprised if it doesn’t need some pivot and bushing work. When the hammers drop too slowly the problem is usually dried up oil onthe hammer pivots. That part is easy. Just remember when you put it all back together, don’t bend or force anything. This will be a real challenge – and areal accomplishment when you get it right.

    You might begin by applying solvent to all the pivots and moving parts, including the hammer pivots, and try to getthings loosened up enough so that the clock will run and chime. #9 powder solvent (from a gun shop) works well, some like throttle body or carburetor cleaner. If you can get the clock to work, and I/m guessing you can, you can carefully observe the chime warning function, the chime correction function, the strike warning function and how all these parts interact. That will be a big help when you go to put it all back together after cleaning it.

    RC
    Last edited by R. Croswell; 04-08-2012 at 09:28 PM.

  12. #12
    Registered User Bill Stuntz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Richard T.)

    THANKS RICHARD!

    The pictures are great! I've seen those spacers mentioned in several other posts. They were the first thing
    I checked for when I removed the movement from the case. They are in place. And I'll be sure not to lose
    them if I actually disassemble the movement.

    The lift arm I'm talking about in posts #7&#9 is the black reverse L shaped arm that has not been removed from
    the back plate in photos 124A & 124C. The "twist" that I'm wondering about would be at the top of the L after it
    enters the movement through that slot. The star wheel (immediately above and slightly left of that arm) seems
    to drag all the way across the upper surface of that arm before it lets the arm flop back to the left, dropping the
    hammer. It seems to me that it should completely release when the leading (left from this perspective) edge of that
    arm clears the star wheel tooth instead of dragging across it as the star wheel turns. The best way I can think of
    to show what I'm suggesting using keyboard characters is that the upper surface of that arm should be angled
    \ instead of __, so that the arm drops as soon as the star tooth clears the upper left corner of \, instead of
    dragging all the way across __ before it drops off the right edge. Of course the angle I'm suggesting would be MUCH
    closer to horizontal than I can show using keyboard characters. Maybe 5 degrees or less. Just enough that ONLY the
    left edge of the arm ever touches the star wheel tooth instead of the whole top of the arm.

  13. #13
    Registered User Bill Stuntz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Richard T.)

    YOU GUYS ARE GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can't seem to compose & post my reply before I get more suggestions.
    I'm amazed!

    Is there any chance that "Duncan Swish" would at least let me know whether it's worth a full teardown?
    See! I REALLY have spent a lot of time here over the last few days!

    R. Coswell:
    THANKS FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT! I was starting to wonder if I might be biting off more than ANYONE
    can chew. But you have described me to a "T"! It might take me a while, but I really think I can do it.
    And I WANT to - for EXACTLY the reasons you stated.

    I've examined all the pivots with a magnifier - I see NO oval holes or apparent wear. I don't think this
    clock has seen much run-time at all. If it weren't for the crud & gummy old oil, I'd think it was brand new.

    The strike train does seem to be VERY slow. Maybe I'm reading more into the strike problem than is there.
    But I am sure the problem is not the strike hammer pivot. It strikes fine if I flip the lift lever manually.

    I've let the chime train run down by holding up the (stop lever?) - took forever.
    But I can't seem to make that work for the strike train - it keeps stopping.

    I suspect it would take me 20 years to let the time train run down - it will only run a couple minutes at a time.
    Am I interpreting this correctly I can pull the verge and SAFELY let the time train freewheel? I'm NOT
    going to try this unless I get a positive response. As I said, I'm a complete newbie, and a firm believer in
    "First do no harm."
    Last edited by Bill Stuntz; 04-08-2012 at 11:02 PM.

  14. #14
    Registered user. Jay Fortner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Bill Stuntz)

    I'm trying to picture in my mind what your trying to explain. Your talking about the strike wheel star and lever and in operation it and as you say the lever should be lifted by the star then drop off its point as the wheel rotates. I'm thinking that possibly the parts are gooed with old thick oil hampering their ability to function correctly. I wouldn't bend or twist anything yet until you get the book and study how the strike train functions normally.
    Wise men speak when they've got something to say whereas fools speak just to say something.

    http://rosewoodregulators.com/

  15. #15
    Registered User Dick Feldman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Seth Thomas 124 (total newbie) (RE: Jay Fortner)

    Bill,

    You have picked a difficult clock movement to repair. In the last 20 years, I have never seen a ST 124 that did not need bushings to be reliable. Not just one or two, either. When you learn what to look for, you will find most every pivot hole needs a bushing.

    You are in over your head as this is not a project for a beginner. Those movements will challenge experienced clock people.

    If you cannot afford to have the movement serviced properly, maybe you should sell it as is on eBay or at an estate sale. Then, move on to something you know or learn the trade properly.

    Cleaning and oiling will not compensate for wear, and wear is the problem with your clock movement. If the movement were properly repaired without cleaning and oiling, it would likely run and be dependable.

    You came to this board asking for advice and you have been advised by at least four people to walk away. My opinion is that you are destined for failure with this project.

    Best Regards,

    Dick

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