1710 Etherington Table clock with lots of bits missing

NigelW

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I am now making a new set of blanks for my cutters, this time trying my best to get all the tooling as accurately set up as possible.

First off is the drilling of the positioning holes. To do this I mounted my ER32 chuck directly onto my rotary table rather than onto a chuck adapter fixed to the table (to cut out as many "middlemen" as possible. I had to make a new set of T-bolts with 1/4" BSF threads to do this. The chuck was carefully positioned using a gauge held in the spindle and repeated taps from a hide mallet until everything was true. The arbor was then held in a collet. All went well and the set of five holes was nicely concentric (better than before).
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Next was to mount the ER32 chuck accurately in the lathe. I had tried this before but was never happy with the result. The ER32 chuck was sold with an adaptor for the Myford lathe which screws on to the lathe spindle. The chuck is then fixed on, the location being by means of a close fitting male part on the adaptor locating in a female part on the chuck, with three screws to hold it in place. Despite following the manufacturers' instructions and turning the male part in situ to ensure concentricity with the lathe I could never get the chuck itself fully concentric so I have now tried an alternative, which is to make the whole thing a somewhat loose fit on the adaptor, including opening up the countersink holes for the socket screws a shade to allow a little more movement, then tightening it down gradually with a dial indicator in place, tapping with a mallet until it is aligned. This finally seems to have worked, the eccentric mandrel has been mounted and trued up and the next stage of cutting the relief edges is underway.
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NigelW

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I was very privileged at the weekend to be allowed to remove the dial and inspect at close quarters what is probably one of the best clocks ever made by Etherington. It is far superior to mine in finish but was probably made at around the same time so it shares many of the same mechanical features. The under dial work, which you so rarely get to see pictures of in catalogues and books, is especially interesting.

In the first picture I am holding the V-shaped lever away from the quarter snail to show the "foot" which engages on the snail. This lever conveys to the quarter repeat train the information about which quarter it is. In some quarter repeat mechanisms the lever is lifted clear of the quarter snail at the end of the quarter repeat sequence and only unlocked and allowed to drop onto the snail when the quarter repeat string is pulled. Here it appears to be in contact with the snail the whole time. The potential problem with it being in constant contact is that it could jam the motion work if the minute hand is moved backward to an earlier quarter but this is prevented by having the "foot" pivoted and sprung. I have never before observed this detail.

The second picture is a close up of the other end of the V-lever where it engages with the saw-tooth like stop on the end of the main quarter repeat arbor. When the quarter repeat string is pulled (not the string you see here - that is attached to the leaf spring which pulls it back) the arbor will rotate until the appropriate tooth is stopped by the T-shaped protrusion on the end of the V lever. On release the leaf spring rotates the arbor back to its original position, strikng the appropriate number of quarters on the way. All this is quite conventional. What is unusual about this Etherington movement and mine is that there is a window in the front plate corresponding to the position of the T-shaped end of the V-lever. The exact purpose of this has long been a puzzle to me. My theory was that the saw toothed stop might have been between the plates, not in front of the plate, and that the window was to allow the v lever to engage with it, through the plate. In this clock however there is no such arrangement (for which i have found no precedent anywhere else either); the window appears only act as a stop to restrict the movement of the V lever - something which could equally well have been achieved by a pair of banking pins.

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NigelW

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This picture compares the underdial quarter repeat work of three quite similar clocks by different makers. The V-lever (B in the Gould) appears to be in constant contact with the quarter snail in both the Etherington and the Quare but in the Gould it has a pin which allows it to be lifted clear of the snail at the end of the sequence.

The unlocking arm D is attached to an arbor from which another arm between the plates extends to engage with a locking pin on the second wheel of the quarter repeat train. The configuration is the same in all three but how the arm is locked differs, the Gould being the simplest. There are also differences in the linkage mechanism C which holds the hour strike on warning until the quarter repeat sequence has been completed.

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NigelW

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This picture compares the underdial quarter repeat work of three quite similar clocks by different makers....
Another thing that all three of these appear to have in common is that the maximum rotation of the main quarter repeat arbor for any given sequence is about a quarter of a turn, which will occur when the time is between a quarter to the hour and the hour itself when three quarters will be sounded. This means that the main wheel must have 12 hammer pins (it does, in the Etherington) and if the train is locked on a pin on the second wheel that the gear ratio of the main to the second wheel needs to be 12:1 (other ratios may theoretically be possible I suppose, but this seems the most logical).

Not all quarter repeats have a main wheel with 12 pins but there is an advantage with this particular configuration of under dial work. The stop formed by the end of the V-lever is at three o'clock in relation to the main arbor and the pin on the locking arm is just before twelve. The maximum rotation of 90 degrees means that the hook or protrusion of the cam which engages the pin on the locking arm does not interfere with the interaction of the saw-toothed part with the V-lever so both can be formed from the same piece of brass sheet. If the rotation were, say, 120 degrees, then there would have to be a different, and less simple, arrangement. In the Gould the rotation needs to be a little more than the other two to allow for the unlocking of the V-lever.

This potentially sends me back to my drawing board. I originally postulated a six pin main wheel with a 6:1 ratio between it an the second wheel. With 72 teeth on the main wheel that gave a 12 leaf pinion, which I duly made. My tutor declared that this looked wrong to him and I have never found an example with this many leaves in a contemporary quarter repeat train. So I reduced the pin count to 8, giving a 9 leaf pinion which I also made. All along I was assuming the the saw-tooth like cam would be between the plates so not also be involved in the unlocking of the train, but more crucially there is limited space for the main arbor wheel given the position of the top right pillar; I had ruled out 12:1 because, using modern calculations of gear sizes and modules, that would have resulted in clearance of only half a millimetre. I am now reviewing this decision. The empty main arbor pivot holes in the plates look too much big and show no signs of wear so I feel pretty confident that they would have been bushed and the bushes subsequently removed. Since I will need to rebush the holes I think there will scope to move the centres a millimetre or so further away from the pillars to give that precious clearance which will accommodate a 12 pin wheel, a 90 degree maximum rotation, and a cam similar to that on the Etherington pictured above. A new arbor for the second wheel will be needed, with a six leaf pinion. Third time lucky, I hope!
 

NigelW

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Interesting; mine is guite good, but I've had it for years now.
The Hobson book is a facsimile of a sketchbook kept for private use and never intended for publication plus some black and white photos of only reasonable quality. There is very little description and analysis and few if any of the mechanisms are described in full. Useful, certainly, but frustrating.
 

DeanT

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The Hobson book is a facsimile of a sketchbook kept for private use and never intended for publication plus some black and white photos of only reasonable quality. There is very little description and analysis and few if any of the mechanisms are described in full. Useful, certainly, but frustrating.
Its good to help join the dots but it doesn't paint the full picture....

Would be great to write at updated one at some stage....maybe an open site where photos could be posted with explanations.
 

Mike Phelan

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Its good to help join the dots but it doesn't paint the full picture....

Would be great to write at updated one at some stage....maybe an open site where photos could be posted with explanations.
An excellent idea, Dan.
 

NigelW

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These photos compare the dials and under dial work of two Etherington clocks which I believe may be close in date. The first dial is more finely engraved and has four subsidiary dials with the alarm setting dial in the centre (clockwise from top left, strike/silent, rise and fall, day of the week, pendulum hook). The second dial (my clock) has - unusually - a rotating alarm dial in the top left, a strike/silent lever at the centre top and rise and fall in the top right.

The first under dial picture relates to the clock with the four subsidiary dials, the second to mine. The under dial layouts are different but similar. It is hard to be sure how much is original but the first is clearly much more complete. Curiously some of its elements are not as ornate as mine, for example the hour rack cock. Two under dial components on the second movement post date the removal of the quarter repeat work - the strike/silent lever and the hour lifting piece.

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NigelW

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Finally got back to making my gear cutters. To check the width and depth of the cutters I need to make I have looked again at the existing wheels. Teeth on clocks of this age are square bottomed and are formed with a more or less parallel sided cut, with the teeth only curved over at the top. The analysis shows that the teeth of the original wheels are all narrower than the gaps between them, in one case only factionally so, and at the other extreme the tooth just under about 80% of the width of the gap. The length of teeth in the trains seems pretty constant and does not vary with the diameter of the wheel, although the teeth of the finer motion work wheels are shallower. I have not yet completed the analysis but so far I have identified the need to make three different cutters. Cutter 1, being the same depth as cutter 2 but narrower, could be used instead of making a second cutter if I advance the dividing head slightly and do an additional round of cuts but I would feel more comfortable using a wider cutter I think as I will be doing all the dividing by hand, having economised by not buying an electronic one.

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NigelW

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Used my Vertex rotary table today with an ER32 collet chuck mounted on it to slash the teeth on my first gear cutter. Stages of cutter development shown in second piucture, alongside a commercial Thornton cutter. Still need to heat treat, polish and test.

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NigelW

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Just had an email from my dial and case restorer. Both are finished. The mechanism restoration is more or less designed and some tooling up has been achieved but I am far from completing it.

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NigelW

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My clock club's workshop has finally re-re-opened so work, long suspended, can resume! I have quite a nice set up in my home workshop now but for this restoration I need all the help I can get from my tutor and from club colleagues so I have been reluctant to take many steps without their guidance.

I have now heat treated my homemade, five toothed, Thornton-style gear cutters and an initial test was promising. The club's Schaublin mill complete with electronic indexer which I would like to use to cut the wheels (easier than hand-indexing on my Vertex rotary table on my Proxxon) is currently being serviced so wheel production will have to wait. I have now turned my attention to screw making. There are several, non-standard, threaded holes on my brass plates where long lost parts were once attached. I don't want to rethread any of these so I need to make a bespoke screw for each one.

First challenge is to work out the diameter and pitch. I used some peg wood and a thread gauge to get a first estimate before running up a test thread in brass to try in the hole (less likely to damage the thread than a steel one). A few holes appeared to have a 32 tpi pitch - a nice number and easy to make on an imperial lathe - but my test one didn't quite fit. Closer examination showed the pitch was in fact somewhere between 30 and 32 tpi. Fiddling about with the change wheels on the Myford I managed to get something close to 31 tpi (using a 65:63 reduction which is close to the 64:62 which would theoretically be needed). The resulting test using 1/8" diameter brass bar fitted two holes, although one was a bit looser than the other. I now need to repeat this until I have threads which fit all the holes. Three more holes also appear to be 31 or 32 tpi but two are smaller and one is bigger. I have also found holes which appear to have tpi's of 36, 40 and 64.

The third pic shows the test piece of brass in one of the holes needed to secure the verge backcock. The dome headed screws top left holding the bracket for the rise and fall lever are probably original and have the same 31 tpi pitch and 1/8"diameter. The cheese headed ones are later and part of the anchor conversion (they held the anchor backcock). The slots on the old dome heads are not parallel sided but distinctly v-shaped. This suggest they were cut with a file with a knife edge rather than sawn or filed with a parallel sided slotting file, something I am minded to copy.

I guess the original screws would have been made with wrought iron? The question for the restoration is what type of steel I should use now....

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Jevan

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I cut threads in a similar manner except for one slight difference.

I found the thread cutting action more effective if you set the cross-slide at an angle then mount the cutter so that the right hand edge of the cutter is parallel with the cross-slide direction.

The advantage I think this offers is the set-up permits a finer feed of the cutter into the work as it’s coming in at an angle not head on & secondly it transfers almost all of the cut onto the left hand edge of the cutting tool which in my experience is less stressful on the cutter during the cutting action.

Even so I find for a nice thread it will take many passes before reaching the full thread depth.

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NigelW

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Thanks Jevan

I have seen this technique and used it myself on larger threads. I may well use it when I switch to making the threads in steel.
 

Jevan

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Not of any practical use for this thread but maybe of passing interest.
Here is my Etherington relic bought many years ago from eBay for education, once verge, alarm & repeat, no dial or case.

Etherington was obviously an accomplished maker & I enjoy examining the clock but I do doubt my sanity at times.

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NigelW

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Jevan

Wow. I have been putting together a catalogue of Etherington clocks as I come across them as part of my research and this, although only a fragment, is of exceptional interest to me. The asymmetrical engraving is of superb quality and the clock, of silent repeat form, can tell us a great deal even in this state. I am aware of a number of silent repeats (one which came up for sale at Bonhams in London a few years ago was responsible for starting my interest in this particular maker) but I have never had the chance to examine the movement or study the plates of one of them.

I am going to examine your photos of the plates closely but the first thing that stands out for me is the position of the two pulleys on the back - one for the quarter repeat and the other for the alarm with the rare, but seemingly common feature in Etherington's clocks, of the three lugged spring barrels behind the pulleys (normally there are only two lugs according to my tutor).
 
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Jevan

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I didn’t expect it would hold much interest for you but would be happy to take better shots or give you any information you may find useful if required.

The images were from the eBay listing, here are the rest.


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NigelW

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Thanks for that. The pillars, fusee, barrel, ratchet and some of the motion work look original but all the wheel work inside looks like it was replaced when converted to anchor. The interest for me lies in the engraving and the position of the holes in the plates which, with some study, could reveal how it might have been in its heyday.
 

NigelW

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Made around a dozen test threads in brass now and am getting there. The main threads are around 1/8" 31tpi and 5/64" 62 tpi (nearest I can get on my Myford is 62.4) but there is significant variation in the diameter of the holes which means I will need to make screws of varying sizes to get all to fit properly. There are a few outliers which could have been made or rethreaded later - one around 40tpi, one perhaps 28tpi and another maybe 36tpi...

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NigelW

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Picked my tutor's brains about screw making yesterday. He recommended using EN8 aka 080M40 rather than regular mild steel (too little carbon) or silver steel (too much). He declared my threads were "too perfect" and that I should bash them up a bit by putting them in the rotary polishing barrel (you can't always tell if he is being serious or not!).

Meanwhile my thoughts have turned to finishing my castings which will need to be fitted to the plates with my shortly-to-be-made screws. These I had sent off to be cast some while ago in high zinc content yellow brass, using the lost wax process, from models I had made in modelmakers' ply. My tutor tells me I need to work harden the castings by hammering them although I am not quite sure how to do it or how much welly to give it but I have some extras to practise on.

Rather than buy a set of stakes I have made some up from odd lumps of steel at my club and bought a planishing hammer, although it seems a bit too big and I may need a smaller one. Since I intend to file and polish after hammering I am guessing I don't need the hammer and stakes to be perfectly polished, as they would need to be for silversmithing.

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Jevan

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Your castings look very good.

I have used a few trade casters in the past but have increasingly found the experience slightly harrowing & you’re never really sure how good the casting is until you have filed into it, I have resorted to cutting bridges, cocks etc. from solid rod.

Some time ago I heard that casters don’t like using old recipe green/yellow brass because the chance of a failed casting is much higher than other more predictable metals, in other words with clock brass it is less easy for a caster to guarantee a proper wage.

I know you have mentioned the casting up-thread but is your caster a commercial trader, ie could anyone commission castings?

I only need castings every now & then but understandably I find small order casting is not really welcome at some casters.
 

Jim DuBois

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I have to agree on threads needing to spend some time in a polishing machine to round over the sharp points. I have never had a "period" screw with a sharp thread. They are always rounded in the valleys, which of course will not be resolved from sharp in the rotary polisher, but the tops of the threads and the rest of the screws will look far more "proper" after a few hours in the polisher. I have been using some 1/4" ceramic triangles in the polisher and it seems their fairly sharp edges do better work than other mediums I have tried on my clock parts.
 

NigelW

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I know you have mentioned the casting up-thread but is your caster a commercial trader, ie could anyone commission castings?
I used a guy called Mike Powell of The Brass Foundry, near Tiverton I think, but his website seems to have disappeared so perhaps he's no longer trading. I had a set made by someone else before that who, having assured me he would use yellow clock brass, proceeded to use something different then refused to acknowledge that it wasn't as good or the same colour (the brass was far too pink).
 

NigelW

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I have to agree on threads needing to spend some time in a polishing machine to round over the sharp points. I have never had a "period" screw with a sharp thread. They are always rounded in the valleys, which of course will not be resolved from sharp in the rotary polisher, but the tops of the threads and the rest of the screws will look far more "proper" after a few hours in the polisher. I have been using some 1/4" ceramic triangles in the polisher and it seems their fairly sharp edges do better work than other mediums I have tried on my clock parts.
Thanks for that. The valleys can be rounded by using a slightly rounded lathe tool, which mine is and I have been leaving slight flats on the points to approximate the old shape. Whether the screws should look identical to 300 year old ones is a moot point. I want my clock to look close to how it might have been originally but not to deceive anyone that some parts are anything other then a recreation. As I bought it at a public auction anyone doing their homework would be able to find that out, as would a close examination of unused holes, which I don't intend to fill too diligently. The screw holes for the anchor backcock for example I am thinking of filling not with a rivet but with a removable brass grub screw.
 
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Jevan

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I used a guy called Mike Powell of The Brass Foundry, near Tiverton I think, but his website seems to have disappeared so perhaps he's no longer trading.

Thanks for your reply,
I think you are right as there seems to be no trace of him on the web... that I could find.
 

Jim DuBois

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I like replacement parts to look "right" in any clockwork restorations. I recently had a nice period tallclock movement, American in nature, that some person had replaced several of the screws with modern screws, cadmium plated and Phillips heads to boot. Worked well, but I would not let the clock back out the door with any association to me, like "JD repaired this for me" with those screws in it. An hour later it had period-looking screws that I had made quickly and it went home with me a happier person. Didn't run any better but I certainly felt better. And I guess that is what we do some of this for?
 
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NigelW

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I like replacement parts to look "right" in any clockwork restorations. I recently had a nice period tallclock movement, American in nature, that some person had replaced several of the screws with modern screws, cadmium plated and Phillips heads to boot. Worked well, but I would not let the clock back out the door with any association to me, like "JD repaired this for me" with those screws in it. An hour later it had period-looking screws that I had made quickly and it went home with me a happier person. Didn't run any better but I certainly felt better. And I guess that is what we do some of this for?
Jim

I agree with what you say about parts looking right and am going to quite some lengths to achieve this. For example I will be shaping all my screw heads by hand with a graver and then cutting the slots with a knife edged file, as the originals appear to have been made. Rounding the tops of the threads in a polishing machine - a refinement that won't be visible unless the screws are removed - doesn't seem necessary to achieve this objective but I won't rule it out.

Nigel
 

Jim DuBois

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Nigel, I certainly agree that taking additional efforts to "improve" or "age" parts that are concealed in place is unnecessary. And slotting the screw heads with a slotting file does yield a better-looking result in the part that can be seen. I seem to have a natural talent at making the slot just a bit off-center too. No matter how hard I try to keep it very well centered! But, the end result is usually quite believable. And if pressed I will contend I planned it that way.

I have several files specifically made for screw slotting, just a series of cutting teeth on the edges. Different widths of course for small medium and large screws.
 
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NigelW

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I have been having a think about Jevan's clock. It has some similarities with one sold a couple of years ago by Alexander George Antiques. I found one image of the movement from the side looking through the glass, but there was no image of the under dial work so I have not managed to understand how it works in detail. The engraving is in a very similar vine style. Pulleys seem to be under the dial rather than on the back.

My conjecture in the last pic has an obvious flaw: the alarm crown wheel needs to be below the hour bell, not the quarter bells, but perhaps its a start.

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Jevan

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I’m probably mistaken but I believe you might know the Alexander George clock better than you think, I’m pretty sure you have posted pictures of the alarm work in this thread.
 
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NigelW

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I’m probably mistaken but I believe you might know the Alexander George clock better than you think, I’m pretty sure you have posted pictures of the alarm work in this thread.
Jevan you are aboslutey right. In fact I have seen the movement close up and in person when I went to visit the restorer Wim van Klaveren on my way back from seeing the one in the Ashmolean museum. I was more interested in a different Etherington he had restored than the silent repeat he had with him at the time so it had slipped my mind but I think Wim later sent me detailed photos of the Alexander George movement, including the under dial work. I will see if I can dig them out.
 
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NigelW

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The June 2021 edition of Antiquarian Horology (Volume 42 No 2 pp 243 - 245) has an interesting article explaining two silent pull timepieces by Gretton which are of about the same age as the Etheringtons. I am now starting to understand how they work. I am a bit surprised that the mechanism in the last set of pictures I posted doesn't have a separate star wheel for the hour snail. The Grettons both have different "all or nothing" mechanisms which, as far as I can tell, the Etherington doesn't either.
 

DeanT

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This is a really magnificent thread....anyone who wants to restore an Etherington (or similar period clock) will be able to work there way through this thread to gain a detailed understanding of what needs to be done.

Thanks for posting. I really appreciate it.

Cheers
Dean
 

NigelW

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Here's a first go at the underdial work of the Jevan Etherington alongside the Alexander George one. It's not without problems. In particular the rack is squeezed between one of the pillar ends and the pivot of the quarter pumping arm. Unlocking, hammer linkages and whether or not there is an "all or nothing" device to prevent it from striking until fully pulled are as yet unrresoved, as is the alarm unlocking, position of the alarm crown wheel and the bracket(?) for the upper pivot of the alarm verge. Also still plenty of mystery holes, including one next to where the post for the date wheel could be. This is clearly a pivot hole because of the ring of punch marks around it to close it up.

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NigelW

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Dean

Thank you for the kind words. It helps me too to write this thread; trying to explain things to myself by writing them down systematically is a good discipline and forces one to think more clearly. The clock restoration still has a long way to go, mostly (for me at least) across unexplored territory.

Nigel
 
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zedric

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There are, I imagine, quite a few of us who are watching the thread and really enjoying it, while not feeling we have enough skill to contribute. Please keep going!
 

daveR

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Like Zedric, I have pretty much followed this thread from the beginning and I admire your determination to keep going even in the face of some substantial and sometimes expensive failures (was that "learning opportunities") and with a lot of help from your local group you have gone into a variety of traditional clock trades. But for anybody in the future who wants to do something like this, what is in this thread is a great distillation of all that knowledge gained. I certainly look forward to seeing the finished item.
Keep going !
David
 
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NigelW

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While I am on this diversion into silent pull clocks I have come across these images of a clock from c.1690 by Brounker Watts (no relation). It is unusual in having a gathered rack rather than a rack geared to a pinion on the repeat train. One of the two Grettons described in the June 2021 AH journal is the same. In these two examples the quarters strike first, followed by the hours; in the geared rack clocks the opposite seems to happen.

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DeanT

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While I am on this diversion into silent pull clocks I have come across these images of a clock from c.1690 by Brounker Watts (no relation). It is unusual in having a gathered rack rather than a rack geared to a pinion on the repeat train. One of the two Grettons described in the June 2021 AH journal is the same. In these two examples the quarters strike first, followed by the hours; in the geared rack clocks the opposite seems to happen.

View attachment 666812 View attachment 666813 View attachment 666814
Most interested in the Brounker Watts. Do you have any more photos or links?...I've got one a trashed one by him which is awaiting repair at a later date.

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novicetimekeeper

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Most interested in the Brounker Watts. Do you have any more photos or links?...I've got one a trashed one by him which is awaiting repair at a later date.

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Ah, my covet clock.

I really should get one, the closest thing I have to a relative as a clockmaker. (An ancestor had a shop next to his workshop location)
 
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NigelW

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NigelW

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Today, finally, successfully cut my first wheel (the quarter repeat third wheel) using one of my home made Thornton-style five toothed cutters. Tried it on a bit of scrap brass first to check the depth (first pic) then proceeded with the wheel proper. I put a piece of modern brass behind the yellow brass blank for support. I used my club's Aciera mill with an electronic indexer. The final wheel may need a little bit of tweaking with a file after I have crossed it out and mounted it on the arbor but I am quite pleased with it.

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NigelW

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This is my newly cut wheel compared to an original from the striking train of about the same size. I am pretty happy with the tooth shape but the teeth may be a fraction too wide, something I can adjust with a file. The teeth tops are also not completely symmetrical (a fault in my cutter) but I am not sure this matters too much as the original would not have been completely regular.

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NigelW

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With seven wheels to cross out (more if I make a mistake, which I probably will) I think I will make Malcolm Wild's jig. It needs a big chunk of brass (expensive) but will be good investment I think.

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Jim DuBois

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I would think a much cheaper piece of aluminum would be every bit as good for this purpose as a piece of expensive brass. Not like it will get a high amount of wear, or a lot of use for that matter. Even a piece of very hard fine-grained wood, something like lignum vitae or boxwood would suffice, from a pure execution perspective would it not?
 

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