07-12-2005, 11:22 AM #1
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
Chelsea Ship Bell Time mainspring- Help Please
Welcome to the real world. Chelsea does not want anybody repairing their clocks, except Chelsea. Parts have always been a problem. Depends on who you are, sometimes.
The last time I needed mainsprings, I found them in one of the supply catalogs, LaRose, I think. But it was a while back as overpriced Chelsea clocks are rare in my neck of the woods.
07-16-2005, 01:50 AM #2
- Join Date
- Aug 2000
Chelsea Ship Bell Time mainspring- Help Please (By: Len Lataille)
Some of the questions asked on this list have been around a long time. The people asking them change as new members join in. For that reason I often repost messages I have sent in the past. I wrote the following before I retired:
Chelsea Striking Clocks
June 24, 1999
Korean clocks, cuckoo clocks, did anyone mention 400 day clocks? Obviously someone wants to stir things up a little around here during these hot and lazy days. Try this one for excitement. I consider round Chelsea striking clocks to be the embodiment of innocence and purity. The person who designed those movements was innocent of any knowledge of how to design clocks, and the result is a pure disaster. Yes, I use considerably stronger language in private.
Shall I tell you how much I dislike them? Let me count the ways. First, any movement maker who persisted in using single roller escapements for years after the double roller was well known, and being manufactured by Chelseaís escapement supplier, Waltham Watch, is more than a little out of touch with reality. Second, it shows little thought, relative to manufacturing costs, to design a movement with a separate bridge for the mainspring barrels, then make it necessary to have to lift the front plate to remove a barrel from the clock. There is a model where that is the case.
Third, what genius designed a movement with a demountable platform, at last, and installed it so that the fourth wheel catches on the potence? I suppose I should be grateful that the engineers finally accepted the concept of an integrated platform, even if the fourth wheel pivot hole was part of the platform plate. Fourth, for the prices Chelsea got for their clocks, and knowing the cost of jewels, I will always wonder at the wisdom which prevented Chelsea from providing nine jewels on their Waltham platforms, or at least a jewel at the lower escapewheel pivot. Fifth, what perversity made Chelsea use a balance staff slightly longer than all the easily available 18S Waltham staffs that could have been used with the other components Waltham supplied? Before Waltham died there were some improvements in Chelsea escapements, but they didnít have horologists dancing in the streets.
Sixth, was it a secret from the Chelsea engineers and mechanics that when you tighten a tiny blued screw against a hardened center arbor enough to keep the brass lifting pin mount for the strike from slipping, the screw will break? True, the lifting pin would not be as likely to slip if the lifting lever were not as excessively stiff as it is, or the lever didnít jam if someone tried to move the hands when the strike was run down or had failed to work. Seventh, let us not ignore the awkward necessity, during assembly, to synchronize the lifting piece, the cannon pinion on the front of the movement, and the second set of motion work wheels, with snailwork, that is attached to the back of either an ordinary time and strike or a shipís bell movement.
And, eighth, woe be to any clockmaker who does not know to put the gathering pallet pin at the top, or farthest point from the rack when the strike locks, when he is trying to get the hour and half hour hammer action to work on a shipís strike. That is something, in fairness, that a clockmaker who understands the mechanism should be able to figure out. In general, it is apparent that the manufacturer of these clocks had little consideration for the repairman. Even the little clips intended to make removal and installation of the dial easier were the cause of more scratches than all the taper pins in the world.
I suppose I should say something nice about Chelsea Clocks. Chelsea made good wall clocks. Chelsea pinions and arbors are beautiful, even in the clocks with bad depths. They should be. Eastman was a pinion polisher for Howard until he went across the street and opened the Harvard Clock Co. forcing Howard to get an injunction against him for the similarity of names.
Certainly any retailer who knew the truth about these movements and still had the stones to sell one at list made a handsome profit. Caveat Emptor. Enough people liked the polished brass cases and sonorous gongs to build a reputation that defies belief. Yuppies hadnít even been invented when these things became something to kill for.
Of course none of this would have happened if Tiffany & Co. hadnít placed an order with Eastmanís Boston Clock Co. for round movements like those available from France, about a hundred years ago now. Eastman designed and built a movement, went to New York to demonstrate it, and Tiffany said, ďItís beautiful, Mr. Eastman, but whereís the strike?Ē As Eastman rode the train back to Boston his foremost thoughts must have evolved into the idea realized today as the club car. It seems that he had, with all the confidence of the short sighted, ordered a large supply of dials in France, all with one winding hole at six! By the time the train reached South Station the single wind movement with strike piggybacked onto a timepiece movement had been conceived. The rest is history. (I heard this story from old timers in my youth often enough to believe there must be some truth to it.)
Finally, when I started into business in the fifties I used to call the Chelsea company and Mr. Mutz, VP, and later, I believe, President of the company would answer the phone, take an order for parts, and ship them on my reputation. He didnít wait for my check then hold the order until the check cleared. Later I called the company, and the owners had changed. When I tried to order material I was told, ďWeíre in the repair business too, and we donít sell parts.Ē I had to turn a staff for a WW II balance when there were hundreds sitting in a drawer on Everett Ave.
If I couldnít buy parts, I wasnít going to repair Chelseas. What a disappointment. I sent even good customers to Chelsea with their clocks. They would come back livid after they picked up their clocks and found the bill was three times what they had been told it would be. It seemed that the company was trying to hang itself out to dry.
Lo, these many years later I mellowed a little and I took a Chelsea for repair. I called the factory for a lever spring, and I was told, ďWeíre in the repair business too, and we donít sell parts.Ē I guess some people never learn, me included. I donít do Chelseas.
Chelseas are the embodiment of innocence and purity. Jcl
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