1879 E. Howard Tower Clock: St. Stephen's Lutheran, Milwaukee, WI

Kuckucksuhren

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I wanted to document and to share with you this wonderful tower clock that I have the privilege of taking care of. Here, I will share all the details I know about the clock, and will continue to post details as I discover them. If any terminology is incorrect, I apologize and invite you to kindly correct it.

This is an E. Howard tower clock installed in 1879, and is in the original installation. The location is St. Stephen's Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, WI. The tower was an addition to an older "Cream City Brick" church building built in 1866. The tower, along with 3 bells and the clock were added in 1879. In 1901 the old church was razed, but the tower was incorporated into the new church designed by Otto C. Uehling and completed that same year. This church is one of the first steel-masonry buildings in Milwaukee. The tower was painted the dark red color to match the new masonry. In 1965 a freeway (I-94) was built about one hundred feet from the front doors of the church.

A more detailed description of the building can be found here: http://www.ststephen-milwaukee.org/history.htm

As far as the clock, it is in its original installation as described above, and appears to be in complete condition. It is a three train, four-faced, E. Howard "roundtop" model, originally striking the quarter hours and hours on two bells. Serial # unknown (I don't know where to find that if it's on the clock). The hands are the original wood hands. The pendulum swings are 1.5 seconds in length. Early history of the clock is unknown. The former custodian wound the clock weekly for the past 40 years; before that, his father wound the clock. According to him, the anchor pallets were replaced in the 1970's, and around the same time, the pendulum was shortened by a professional watchmaker who was a member of the church (brace visible on pendulum). Prior to 1970, the strike trains were stopped, wired shut, and the fly fans removed. An apparent repair was made to the [wooden?] perpendicular shaft between the clock and the bell room at an unknown time. It appears that the shaft split when the time was set (probably during the winter when the clock was frozen). This was repaired with a metal brace [see pictures]. This repair appears to be re-broken. The weight of the weights are unknown, although maybe a member with access to the NAWCC E. Howard data page will be able to help with this. The time weight shaft starts just above the clock room and goes to the room below. There are pulleys to convey this motion above the clock room. The clock room is an enclosed, plank framed section of the space under the bell room. The bell room houses the bells and also is where the differential, motion works, and faces are located. The striking weight shafts start above the clock room and fall two sections down to the ringing room, and go a few feet below the floor.

As mentioned before, the former custodian wound the clock for the past 40 years, and his father even before that. Recently he moved away, and the clock stopped for a month or so before I contacted him and visited the church. In mid November, we wound the clock, at which time he told me its history and how to set the time and maintain it. A month passed, and I contacted the pastor and offered to wind it. December 23rd was my first solo wind. I am now challenged with many repair problems and currently the clock is stopped. I will start a new thread on the questions I have about how to restore this clock to its original condition, as this thread was only created to document it.

The following album contains the best pictures I have of the clock and tower:
https://mb.nawcc.org/album.php?albumid=348

Here is the repair thread for this clock.

Thank you for your time and interest,

John

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2048

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2045

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2043

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2050
 
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gvasale

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Good for you. I don't consider that to be "round top" model. The round top has two major casatings, which are the sides. The clock you show has a modified "flat bed" frame with extra bosses cast to it for attachments of the posts for winding and reduction gears. The three trains are supported on top. I have seen five of that variety in two different sizes. That basic frame supports two different striking modes, not together, but a Westminster, and a two bell strike like you have there. You will enjoy your time with it, and hopefully will return it to full function.
 

Ray Fanchamps

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John There is a Milwaukee chapter of the NAWCC #47. I am certain you will find some interested members there that would be willing to assist with your project. You can find chapter info at http://www.nawcc47.com/ We do have a January meeting at which you would be most welcome.
Milwaukee has some interesting clocks and it would be great to see more of them running. The May meeting will be on the Life of Matthais Schwalbach a local tower clock manufacturer.
 

sam

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Dec 13, 2006
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80657.jpg

80658.jpg Hello John,

Looks like you have an Howard #3 three train.

I have one that look almost like it.

Sam
 

SamS

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Hello John,

What a beautiful clock and great project, good luck with it. You mentioned that the pendulum was shortened at one point. Do you know why that was done?

The paint on the clock appears to be in very good condition. I'm an advocate of trying to preserve as much of the original clock as possible during any restoration work, including (and especially) the original paint, so when you start figuring out how much "cleaning" your going to do, my vote is to save the original paint, and just clean and polish the best you can (simple green, windex, etc., possibly followed by past wax / polish).

Sam S.
 

Kuckucksuhren

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Ray Fanchamps;520655 said:
John There is a Milwaukee chapter of the NAWCC #47.
I am thinking about joining chapter 47 but I will never be able to attend their meetings because they are Sunday morning and I go to church then.;) I still plan on contacting them regardless.

sam;520837 said:
Looks like you have an Howard #3 three train.
Thanks I'll make this correction to the information.

SamS;521163 said:
You mentioned that the pendulum was shortened at one point. Do you know why that was done?
I don't know why it was shortened. I still haven't contacted the former custodian lately, maybe he would know. I'll work on that.

SamS;521163 said:
The paint on the clock appears to be in very good condition. I'm an advocate of trying to preserve as much of the original clock as possible during any restoration work, including (and especially) the original paint, so when you start figuring out how much "cleaning" your going to do, my vote is to save the original paint, and just clean and polish the best you can (simple green, windex, etc., possibly followed by past wax / polish).
I plan on keeping as much original as possible as well. This includes replacing a broken shaft with wood instead of aluminum if possible. Please read the repair thread and give your advice there as well (if you haven't yet).
 

anzer2

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John, Good to see a young person interested in tower clocks and clocks in general. I have been servicing a Howard tower clock, similar to the one you are working on, in Williamsport, PA for the past 40 years. According church records this was the first quarter striking tower clock made in this country. It was installed in 1875 and strikes Westminster quarters on 4 bells and strikes the hours on a 5th bell of 2600 pounds. Along with the clock is a clavier from where one can play music on all nine bells in the tower. We have found the serial number stamped into the top of the long bed frame at the strike end of the frame. The numbers are only about 1/4 inch high and are rather hard to see thru the dirt and paint that may be covering them. Check out that area and let us know if you find it and what it is.

This particular clock drives 4 nine foot diameter dials.

This clock was electrified by Howard in the early 40's and has different side frames than your clock but this could be because of changes in design or modifications due to the electrification. You are fortunate to have found the original fly fans and hopefully all the other parts to restore the clock are present.

Here is a link to a photo of Trinity's clock: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LATEST_CLOCK_PICTURES_009.JPG

Next time you climb the tower take along a tape measure and measure the length of the top surfacee of the bed frame. Is may help to identify the model of other clocks. Sam, if you would do the same maybe we'll all have a starting point on identification of some of these larger clocks.

Thanks for the great photos and best of luck with the rest of the restoration. Enjoy the work, you never can guess just where it may lead you next.

Anzer2
 

Kuckucksuhren

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Anzer2,

I had just read about Trinity's clock while I was doing research on St. Stephen's. I'm happy to hear from the one who takes care of it.

I don't know how large the dials are on St. Stephen's, but that's not that hard to figure out. Also don't know the bell weights.

The next time I will climb the tower will probably be Saturday. I'll look for the serial number then, but there is a thick layer of grease/dust so it might have to wait until I clean that part. I'll also measure the bed frame. I'll post the info when I get it.

John
 

Kuckucksuhren

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The latest update for the clock:

Last Saturday I gave a tour of the clock to Craig White, Ch 47's president. A few more tours will be given to discuss what will be done. There definitely will be much involvement with chapter 47.

A serial number was discovered after some scrubbing with a toothbrush. #787

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2140

The dials appears to be 4'. The bed is roughly 57" long and 16" wide. I will get specific measurements when the movement is disassembled.

As far as progress goes, it looks like the movement will be disassembled and cleaned, and the broken shaft will be replaced with a proper replacement. Mr. White observed that the shaft above the one that's broken was made of 12" pieces of metal tube soldered together surrounding a smaller drive shaft. This will make replacement difficult if the one below it is of similar construction. The strike trains will also be cleaned. As mentioned before, everything appears to be complete.

The hour weight pictured in the album is actually empty as can be seen when compared to the time weight. The weight slabs for the hour weight were found underneath the ringing room. I will take pictures of these things next time.

I had mentioned that the pendulum had been shortened. Mr. White observed a slot cut into the center of the pendulum shaft. (I will have a picture soon, this is confusing). This led to the hypothesis that the pendulum was always in two pieces and originally was spliced together. This splice was later redone (probably in the 70's). So it probably wasn't shortened, just repaired.

I'm not sure if much will happen this weekend as the blizzard has shut Milwaukee down. I'm expecting snow inside of the bell room. We had 2' of snow and up to 6' drifts in our yard.

I will keep up with updates as more happens with this clock.
 
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SamS

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Hi John,

Here are some pics of the; bottom of the pendulum rod, the threaded piece that has the stud that the bob attaches to, and the bottom threaded hole on the bob. No finial, just some adjustment to rough in the beat timing.


Sam 83308.jpg 83309.jpg 83310.jpg
 

gvasale

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A slot in the pendulum, about a foot from where it hangs is where the crutch pin goes through, and there should be brass wear plates. In my travels, I saw one pendulum rod cut in half by the animal that electrified the clock. Hopefully your pendulum rod is as described. Looks like your clock was nicely decorated, too. You should also find the SN stamped into the top of the bed at the end where the time train is mounted. Sometimes hidden under a bronze placque.
 

Kuckucksuhren

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Thank you Sam, that solves one mystery. Also the top portion of that threaded piece is about the size of the slot I described earlier, and seems to be attached to the pendulum rod the same way. The two sections of pendulum rod look like they would have been spliced together in this way. I will post pictures tomorrow as I'll be going up again.

When the clock is taken apart and cleaned, I will look for the stamped serial number.
 

Kuckucksuhren

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I did take a picture of the bottom of the bob. That's in the album.

Here are the two halves of the pendulum rod.
https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2168

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2167

The following is a picture of the chime disabling mechanism. When the wire below is tethered in the ringing room, it pulls the hammer lever away from the click wheel. When the wire is freed, that small weight pulls the lever back into the clock mechanism. This prevents the bells and hammers from being damaged when the bells are swung. It also could work as a night shut off.

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2173

gvasale;528772 said:
A slot in the pendulum, about a foot from where it hangs is where the crutch pin goes through, and there should be brass wear plates.
Yup, that looks original and untouched; although the crutch was oiled.

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2169

One more interesting thing that will make this post unbearably long. On the shelf in the clock room is a collection of oils. I think the oil in the glass bottles is the original animal lard oil, although I don't know what that originally looked like. Like I said, it only proves nothing has ever been thrown out.;)

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2172
 
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