A Small Wooden Works Tower Clock

Discussion in 'Wood Movement Clocks' started by FDelGreco, Dec 9, 2012.

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  1. FDelGreco

    FDelGreco Registered User
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    My latest project is a wooden works tower clock that was loaned to me through Snowden Taylor from the American Clock & Watch Museum in Bristol, CT. My tasks are to try to identify the maker and to make a pendulum, weights, and replacement hands for it. See the images. The clock is about 16 inches long, exclusive of the bases.

    As the story goes, it sat on the top shelf of a tall cabinet in the AC&WM for many years but Chris Bailey never saw it.

    Snowden believes that the clock may have been made by Charles Alva Smith who worked in the 1920s – 1940s and made many all-wood shelf clocks. I’ve reviewed the NAWCC supplement about him by John Anderson but it does not show any tower or street clocks made by him.

    A wheel count shows that the pendulum needs to be about 80” in length. If you look at the next to last image (you are looking from the bottom up toward the escape wheel at the wood verge) you’ll see a stud with a slit in it, probably the pendulum support with the slit being used to hold the suspension spring. The wood verge has a small hole visible in the photo. A wire probably extended from it down alongside the pendulum and served as the crutch.

    The last image shows the motion works – two broken hands and a cracked tooth – no arbors. On the front of the movement (first image) there is some sort of a right angle wood piece (actually, two wood pieces) that I believe serves as the expansion joint for the arbor going to the dial. (No dial present.)

    The movement has two sets of 16 foot cords. It’s a pull up movement – pull the thinner cord and it winds the heavier cord around the drum.

    Anyone seen anything like this before or have any sort of ideas? Comments?

    Frank Del Greco
     

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  2. FDelGreco

    FDelGreco Registered User
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    No response from anyone after almost a full month?

    Frank
     
  3. Troy Livingston

    Troy Livingston Registered User
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    Frank,

    It isn’t lack of interest, just lack of knowledge.
    I've never seen one like it.

    At least the maker of the clock can be said to have been influenced by Smith.
    My actual hands on experience is with his later production and while this clock certainly has Smith like features there are details that are bothersome.
    For what little it’s worth, I'm not convinced it is one of his.
    The absence of markings is perhaps the most damning bit of evidence.

    A detailed comparison with known Smith clocks may help shed some light.
    In the museum you have access to clocks spanning the entire length of his production including some interesting experiments. I would look closely at the profiles of the teeth and pinion leaves in the upper portions of the train. While I have no doubt he would be willing to produce whatever tooling was required to create the larger wheels in the lower train I am equally certain that he would use existing tooling to produce as much as possible in the remainder of the movement, especially in the escapement and details such as the motion work and taper pins.
    Access to an optical comparator would help with this task.

    Good luck and keep us posted on your progress. You might submit a write-up to the Cog Counters Journal when you are done.

    Troy
     
  4. Jerome collector

    Jerome collector Registered User
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    Frank,

    I was hoping someone with more knowledge of Smith's work would chime in first, but I'll be the first to dip my toe in the water (or I would have been the first if I hadn't spent so long composing!). My only knowledge of Smith is limited to the discussions I've seen on the message board and the book by John Anderson that I received for Christmas and just finished reading. First impression (with one exception I'll mention in a moment) is that the workmanship seems to match the caliber of Smith's work. Similarities in movement features include the shape of the escape wheel, the swiss cheese holes (in a milled out central portion?) in gears, and (though not much to go on) the shape and proportions of the minute and hour hands. The posts (with pegs) that extend through the plates also look very similar to ones on Smith clocks. The one exception to quality workmanship is that at least two of the holes in the great wheel are not spaced appropriately and they extend outside the darker central portion of the wheel.

    From the dimensions cited, and the remnants of the hands, do you suppose this is more likely to have been a street clock?

    It would be tremendously exciting if this turns out to be a product of Charles Alvah Smith. Best of luck with your research and restoration. Please keep us updated.

    Mike
     
  5. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    #5 rmarkowitz1_cee4a1, Jan 6, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
    Gee Whiz, I guess I missed this thread!!

    Certainly intriquing possibility and agree that the movement shares some characteristics of CAS' work, especially some of his earlier timepieces where he used "swiss cheese" wheels.

    I would assume you have consulted Anderson's monograph? There are some good pix of the types of gears, pinions, hands and other components and construction techniques he emplolyed over time.

    It is true that he "signed" his timepieces using various versions of a rubber stamp with a pencilled in #, but, may have missed a few?

    CAS serially numbered his clocks and kept somewhat compulsive records. To my knowledge there is no known recorded tower or street clock. BUT, then again, there are "missing clocks", ie, some breaks in the serial numbering and at least 1 of those was an unusual form of wall clock with essentially a ladder type movement!

    For more about CAS, the clock I mentioned above, a time and strike clock wall clock which he supposedly never made either, other examples including an early one with swiss cheese wheels and a bunch of other info, please see this thread .

    Is there any provenance for the clock? That could help, too.

    Yes, would be pretty amazing if it were confirmed that CAS was the maker.

    RM
     
  6. FDelGreco

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    As I'm trying to identify the clock to see if it was made by Charles Smith, I began taking apart the clock to create some photos. If any of you collect or have worked on Charles Smith clocks, please take a look.

    First, Anderson's book shows a set of Smith's hands in ebony. The remaining pieces of the hands from this clock are similarly shaped, but are painted black. The underlying wood is reddish. See images one and two.

    The escape wheel looks similar to the one shown in Smith's book, but lacks the concentric grooves. see images three and four.

    Anderson's book shows that Smith used metal verges where this clock has a wood verge with brass rollers. See two views in images five and six.

    Smith used a coil spring as the slip clutch for the hands. This clock has the same sort of spring arrangement. See image seven.

    Smith always signed his work. There are no marks of any kind on this clock.

    Any thoughts or comments?

    Thanks.
    Frank
     

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  7. Jerome collector

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  8. FDelGreco

    FDelGreco Registered User
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    Mike:

    After I posted that I studied RM's post and saw that one of his clocks had that same verge. I'm now convinced that it is an unsigned Smith clock. The click springs on the winding drum are identical to those in the book (hand wound spring wire around posts instead of the usual leaf or single wire spring). The wood dowel with the off-center pin for adjusting the verge is the same as those in the book. The square pillar posts are the same as well as a number of other things. I think that the base is a crude replacement. I've been taking more pictures and will post them soon.

    Thanks.
    Frank
     

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