Adjusting Grandfather clock timing

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by Rob PA, Jun 1, 2019.

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  1. Rob PA

    Rob PA Registered User

    Mar 16, 2019
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    Got the old grandfather clock running, and after talking to fine folks in the forums here, I decided against a full tear-down and clean/oiling. However, getting the clock to keep relatively good time was important.

    The clock was running quite fast. I guessed that extending the disc down on the pendulum would slow it down and I was pretty content to just do trial and error to get it right. Well, I eventually heard a weird sound in the house and had to track it down. The weird sound was the pendulum hitting the side of the grandfather case. Just looking at the pendulum swing, I could see that it heavily favored the right side.

    I got a level and verified the case itself was level, so I guessed some adjusting was necessary. Since I BELIEVE the crutch is on the back side of the mechanism I decided to remove the whole clock mechanism and move it to my wood workshop so I could have free access to all parts of it there.

    The crutch?
    IMG_20190601_164743.jpg

    While I'm at it, even if I'm not going to clean it, I can still oil it, right? The trick is WHERE to do that? I looked at a lot of videos, and they all seemed to show a little oil cup where pivots were supposed to be oiled. Looking at my brass plates, I couldn't find any little cups. I did, however, see 3 specific places where the little evaporating oil trails were evident. So I'm guessing those are 3 places to put a dab of clock oil. How do I tell where else?

    IMG_20190601_164703.jpg

    I took the 3 weights for the clock and weighed them. I had no idea they were different weights but one of the videos I watched mentioned they were. I did not have anything that could measure the ACTUAL weight of each of the 3 weights, but I was able to tell which was the lightest and which was the heaviest. I put the heaviest on the chime movement (every quarter hour) and noticed it played quite a bit zippier. I put the middle weight on the hourly gong, and I put the lightest one on the pendulum. Is that probably correct?

    Finally, I have seen/read that I would need to know what the spec beats/hour are for the clock if I was to set it completely correctly, but not having put this clock together, i have no idea what that number is. I did see, however, on the metal bracket that holds all of the chime rods that there are 2 numbers printed on it (B122/19). Is that first number the number of beats? It's clearly not 122 beats per hour, and it's not 122 beats/minute, unless the tick and the tock count as 2 beats.

    IMG_20190531_134233.jpg

    Thanks for any help or advice.

    Rob
     
  2. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
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    The pendulum swing will never "favor" one side over the other.

    You have two ways you can go: raise the right side of the case about 1/8" or loosen the movement and slide it over to the left a bit. One or the other may work, if not you will have to do both.

    Willie X
     
  3. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    In an English longcase this usually means you have the movement too far to one side. If it happens both sides you can reduce te driving weight, reduce the bob diameter, or cut a groove either side in the case. This was often done, you see it in cases a lot, particularly the earlier ones.
     
    Rob PA likes this.
  4. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    if the case is level, and the seatboard (which holds the movement) is level, then it should be easy to double-check the centeredness of the movement and pendulum simply by measuring from the left side of the inside of the case to the left side of the pendulum rod (near top and near bottom) and from the right side of the inside of the case to the right side of the pendulum rode (also near the the top and near the bottom). the left and right measurement should match. that should address the 'smacking against the side of the case' issue.

    level is nice because it looks good and helps with issues like this... but is optional. on the other hand, 'in beat' is mandatory. the timing of the ticks and tocks needs to be perfectly even. you should be unable to tell a difference. read this: Beat Setting 101

    it looks to me like the crutch pin on yours is mounted on a dial that turns... allowing you to adjust the beat. you would turn it slightly in one direction and then listen to see what affect it had on the in-beat-ness.

    as for oiling... you could just dump oil in every possible pivot hole, but oil dries up after 5-ish years and/or gets grungy and/or filled with particulate matter and dust that all work to start grinding away parts instead of lubricating them. the RIGHT way to oil is to disassemble the movement, clean and service it, and then oil after re-assembly.

    as for 'running fast'... two options: the rating adjuster needs to be used (under the pendulum bob) OR the escape wheel is skipping as it goes around. the height between the escape wheel and verge needs to be right... enough to catch reliably/accurately but not so much that it causes undo friction. video of yours running would be informative.

    there's more, but that's a start. :cool:
     
  5. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    The gong rod block numbers are just factory stock numbers, totally irrelevant to the movement. It is an Urgos gong and appears to be missing two rods, which are now being restocked again by Timesavers. This is an older block as it has the ornate border framing cast into the base. Later ones were plain.
     
  6. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I have seen narrow cases that just won't accept a great running clock. In those cases I usually reduce lock a little to reduce the efficiency of the escapement. That reduces impulse, which reduces swing, and the clock will still run as well as is necessary. If it's only hitting the case on one side, all of the above posts apply. If it's hitting both sides, try this solution.
     
  7. Rob PA

    Rob PA Registered User

    Mar 16, 2019
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    It is missing 2 rods on the gong, that is correct. Well, perhaps "missing" is incorrect, I actually have them. But they are broken from their brass screws that hold them in the gong holder.

    I had looked into having someone re-weld them back onto their brass screws, but that didn't go anywhere, and I was told that the sound would be off. I'd be pretty happy if I could find a drop-in replacement. I'll check on Timesavers.

    Truth be told, I kinda like the hourly gong as it is now...it's, well, mournful. I don't know what the full sound is with 4 rods instead of 2, but I'm certain I would like that as well.
     
  8. Rob PA

    Rob PA Registered User

    Mar 16, 2019
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    Yes, it's only hitting the left side.
     
  9. Rob PA

    Rob PA Registered User

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    Ha, that's so funny. You're absolutely right, but it didn't occur to me that the pendulum swing simply CAN'T favor a particular side. It's embarrassing I forgot that, given how much physics I sat through in college.

    I didn't think to check centered-ness. I think I have room to move it around in it's mount.
     
  10. Rob PA

    Rob PA Registered User

    Mar 16, 2019
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    Ok, I'll oil every pivot hole. I thought I read somewhere that some pivots should NOT be oiled. I'll make sure just to put enough oil in there to cover it, but not so much it starts draining out. I know I *should* tear it apart and clean it, but that was a different forum discussion thread.... :)

    I did read that Beat Setting 101 thread, and it kinda helped, but some of it just escaped me. I'll try again. Now that the whole "it swings too far to one side" has been solved, I understand that the most important thing is that the tick and tocks are even. They SOUND even to me, but I'll see if I can come up with a more precise measurement.

    Thanks
     
  11. Rob PA

    Rob PA Registered User

    Mar 16, 2019
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    So, timesavers said they didn't have the size I needed, and suggested Merritt's and Black Forest imports. I couldn't find anything at BFI, but Merritt's replied to my query and showed me a 19" and 21" rod. According to my measurement, I need a 18.5" and 20.5" rod. She said I could cut it down to the size I need. I have no problems doing that, and I asked her the right way to do it (cutting, grinding, etc), and she said they'd never really done it and couldn't give any guidance. Sooo....is there a correct way to shorten a chime rod so that it's the correct length, or is it more about it being the correct sound? Is a grinding wheel good enough to get the job done?

    Thanks for the help.
     
  12. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    Dec 21, 2006
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    More about getting the correct sound rather than the exact length since the exact lengths varied considerately even among mass-production rod sets. I use a wire cutter to trim the rods, being extra careful not to trim too much off. Best to snip off the rod one bit at a time, testing it in a spare block to see what note it gives, until it is suitable - then install in the block it's intended for.
     
  13. Rob PA

    Rob PA Registered User

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    I probably have cutters that can cut through .14" steel. And for tuning, I take it you're talking like a musical note tuner, not just "it sounds right"? I have a very simple electrical tuner that I sometimes use with my trumpet (cheap, battery powered) or I'm sure there's an app that will turn my phone into one. Unfortunately,I don't have a spare block to test it in, so I'll have to work around that.

    For that matter, are the 4 notes of an hourly gong a known thing common across all grandfather clocks and so I just need to add the 2 missing notes depending on what 2 are left?
     
  14. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
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    It's best to order a tuned set and avoid the tuning.

    It's much more to the 'tuning' than just snipping the rods off.

    It would be best to find a piano tuner, or someone who has everyday experience tuning instruments, to do this for you.

    I'm assuming you have purchased two replacement rods? If not just buy a set of 4 pretuned rods, install them and your done.

    Willie X
     
  15. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    Unfortunately during parts shortages this isn't always feasible unless you're lucky enough to find a complete block from eBay.

    Having tuned several rod gong sets, trimming the rods to length is the first step 99.9 percent of the time. Once the rod is trimmed to length you may go from there in regards to filing and notching the rod to suit. Not all sets were tuned the same as one another so one must study how the rods must be tuned first.

    The clock uses an Urgos rod gong block. Urgos rod gongs were tuned in the usual German fashion with each rod notched at its captive end, typically done with a mill file. The notch gives the rod a mellower voice compared to rods which lack the notch. One must be certain not to file too much as to avoid throwing the rod's non-harmonic overtones off - it must be done just right & reflects how gong tuning was really a musician's job. Even with contemporary clocks from the 1960-1980 period you still hand hand-tuned rod gongs being utilized. Sadly when Urgos was sold to Walter Steinbach it seems the Urgos gong tooling was lost or discarded, meaning these particular gongs are not being made anymore.

    Modern gongs do not appear to be hand tuned and simply don't sound the same, nor do they come in the larger size required for these Urgos clocks.

    I like to use a recording of a similar clock as an audio guide. The Youtube site is useful in that aspect as several hundreds of clock recordings have been uploaded.
    Going by what has been shown, this is what I anticipate the clock should sound like:

     
  16. Rob PA

    Rob PA Registered User

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    I hadn't actually ordered them yet since I knew I'd have to cut them down, and wanted to be sure I was able to do that first. That, and Merritt's wanted to charge me some extra $$ for not spending enough at their store, so I balked. The rods themselves aren't all that expensive, so purchasing 2 additional ones won't break the bank.

    So then, since the longest rod I measured in the block was 26", that would be this set:

    4-Pc Steel W/M Chime Rod Set - 26" Longest (6.5mm Fitting)


     
  17. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    The tone of the rod is a combination of material, thickness and length. The same length rod could produce a completely different tone if one of the other factors is different.
    So ignore the length and focus on the tone. If you have a reasonably good ear for music you can do fine without a tuner.
     
    chimeclockfan likes this.
  18. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    Dec 21, 2006
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    The large rod gong sets usually incorporate blued steel rods, though the exact diameter and tapered neck specs varied among manufacturers. While it's important not to trim off too much of the rod when tuning, it is most crucial to get the appropriate sound. In fact the spacing between each note grows longer as the rods go lower pitched, so the lengths never appear symmetrical contrary to popular belief.

    Interestingly that is how some hour gong rod sets were tuned. This was achieved by having two near-twinned rods for both "notes", giving a sound more reminiscent of a giant church bell. As noted earlier, your clock uses an Urgos gong. Now in this demonstration video you will hear what an older Kieninger gong sounds like, showing how it was done quite differently. Kieninger's gongs were originally sourced from J. Hengstler or Haller & Co. in the later years.



    Since this video was made, the clock has undergone adjustments and new hammer tips.
     
  19. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    All the more reason to order a set.

    It's not practical to go by the sounds of another clock. They are all different.

    Willie X
     
  20. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    Dec 21, 2006
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    You cannot always "order a set", especially when one is beset with a rod gong arrangement completely different from what's presently manufactured. :cop: Tuning gongs was really a musician's job and reflects what a collaborative effort clock manufacturing really was during its heyday. Woodworkers to furnish cases, musicians to tune the bells or gongs, machinists to make the movements, perhaps some artists to handle the dials, and of course salesmen to pitch advertising. Not all factions even resided in the same facility.

    Rod gongs were typically made by suppliers who sold these gongs to the "actual" clock companies producing movements. Urgos - Uhren & Gongfabrik Schwenningen, Haller, Jauch & Pabst - was unique in that they were one of few German companies to manufacture both gongs and movements. Even highlighted in their old company trademark: a clock and gong.

    URGOS.jpg

    While I stand on having successfully tuned several custom rod gong sets as proof to my point, it seems we'll have to agree to disagree this time.
     
  21. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    Nope, I do not agree. These rods a readily available in sets and usually easy to replace as a set. I've replaced 1000s of em. Willie X
     

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