Advice please on long case great wheel repair

digitalpan

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Hi, I'm currently working on an English weight driven long case movement c1800 which has certainly seen some action! Almost every part has been repaired at some time and every pivot hole has been bushed and/or hammered. My particular concern at the moment is the state of the going train great wheel.
DSC_0991.jpg
At some time in the past the rim of the wheel has broken into three pieces, a tooth has been inserted, and everything has been soft-soldered back together.
DSC_0992.jpg DSC_0993.jpg DSC_0994.jpg
The soldering was not very accurate - parts of the wheel don't line up very well, and the wheel is not flat. A brass reinforcing band covering about 60 degrees of the circumference has also been added - it's on the other side and not shown in the photos. The last photo above shows that one of the spokes is currently broken at the rim.
My dilemma is whether to try to repair the existing wheel (and if so how!) or whether to cut a new wheel with more substantial spokes. I might add that the great wheel on the striking barrel is not original, and does not match the wheel above. I guess it's a question of conservation vs use; the clock has been in constant use (it's not an ornament) and I'm concerned that this wheel will fail with catastrophic results. I would of course attach any replaced parts to the clock when it goes back.
I'd be grateful for any views on this.
Best wishes
Ian
 

hookster

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Boy what a dangerous and inadequate past repair job. You could try 'sistering' brass strips over the past repaired areas and that would, at least, provide some additional strength, but would look rather ugly. As for other methods that would work, if any, I will leave that to others on this forum more qualified than I to suggest. My guess is that making a new wheel may win out.
Hi, I'm currently working on an English weight driven long case movement c1800 which has certainly seen some action! Almost every part has been repaired at some time and every pivot hole has been bushed and/or hammered. My particular concern at the moment is the state of the going train great wheel.
157409.jpg
At some time in the past the rim of the wheel has broken into three pieces, a tooth has been inserted, and everything has been soft-soldered back together.
157410.jpg 157411.jpg 157412.jpg
The soldering was not very accurate - parts of the wheel don't line up very well, and the wheel is not flat. A brass reinforcing band covering about 60 degrees of the circumference has also been added - it's on the other side and not shown in the photos. The last photo above shows that one of the spokes is currently broken at the rim.
My dilemma is whether to try to repair the existing wheel (and if so how!) or whether to cut a new wheel with more substantial spokes. I might add that the great wheel on the striking barrel is not original, and does not match the wheel above. I guess it's a question of conservation vs use; the clock has been in constant use (it's not an ornament) and I'm concerned that this wheel will fail with catastrophic results. I would of course attach any replaced parts to the clock when it goes back.
I'd be grateful for any views on this.
Best wishes
Ian
 

shutterbug

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There's a lot that could go wrong with a weak repair on that one. I'm in for a new wheel. That wheel supports a pretty substantial weight load. I actually like the looks of the design, and would try to duplicate it as near as possible. At least it looks easy to remove :)
 

Rob P.

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I'd definitely not try to repair that one. I'd also opt to make the replacement look as authentic as possible. Even to the point of matching the OTHER wheel if that would make the movement look proper and complete.

If you decide to remake the existing, then making it to spec would be better than re-designing the spoke thicknesses. It should be fine that way. After all, the wheel ran for 200+ years before the spoke failed. Modern metals should handle that stress test as well as or better than the metals originally used.
 

David S

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Well guys as a person with much less experience than most of the posters in clock repair. I think I would like to take on the challange of fixing this one. Understand that I don't have it in my hands so please consider that. However I always look at ways to preserve as much of the original as possilbe while making sure that it will be robust enough to not have a catastrophic failure.
 

hookster

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I say go for it Dave and OP, as, even if Dave is unsuccessful, you can always have a new wheel made. I'll put my money on Dave to fix it, and fix it well.:)
Well guys as a person with much less experience than most of the posters in clock repair. I think I would like to take on the challange of fixing this one. Understand that I don't have it in my hands so please consider that. However I always look at ways to preserve as much of the original as possilbe while making sure that it will be robust enough to not have a catastrophic failure.
 

Willie X

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My vote is for replacement. You have metallurgical problems there. The machinist can look at both 1st wheels and come up with a good replacement. Personally, I would go for something not quite so fine. Just one mm could make a big difference in the strength.

If the other wheel is a bit 'iffy', it's the ideal time to make a matching pair ...

Just my 2, Willie X
 

R&A

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I would cut the sprocket and mid way and attach a new one. Not that hard to do. As long as it is attached it would be fine. Make it just a tab bigger and then file it in true to the fitted end. Being both ends. And fix the crack as well. I would do it the same way I fix cracked barrels. You relocate the holes and fill the ones you have. It would be allot of work. It would be challenging but, I like a challenge. I would do one sprocket at a time so I didn't loose center off each one. Would there be a customs charge if you sent this to me.

H/C
 
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harold bain

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It has the looks of stress cracks, possibly from too long in an ammonia bath. I wouldn't trust it. A new wheel is the best repair on this one.
 

digitalpan

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Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.
I think I'm going to cut a new wheel as I can be sure that will be ok. Then I can move on to the other work required. It would still be nice to attempt a repair later, so maybe I'll take up your kind offers at a later date.
DSC_4557_1.jpg
Just to give you an idea of the general condition of the clock, here's a photo of the front plate winding arbor bush! I have lots of work to do!
Best wishes
Ian
 

Jay Fortner

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Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.
I think I'm going to cut a new wheel as I can be sure that will be ok. Then I can move on to the other work required. It would still be nice to attempt a repair later, so maybe I'll take up your kind offers at a later date.
157486.jpg
Just to give you an idea of the general condition of the clock, here's a photo of the front plate winding arbor bush! I have lots of work to do!
Best wishes
Ian
What do you plan on doing with that?,is the depthing not correct? The hole looks fine,granted it was beaten in there with a sledge hammer but looks to be functional.
 

David S

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Well it sounds like only two of us would try the repair avenue, and most say replace. So I guess if that is the concensus I will change my position, and not try the repair. Another challenge gone. Oh well there will be more.
 

R&A

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Well it sounds like only two of us would try the repair avenue, and most say replace. So I guess if that is the concensus I will change my position, and not try the repair. Another challenge gone. Oh well there will be more.
Don't let it beat you down. You gave up to easily. Repair on and set forth the path your on. Go where others have not traveled. Set prints that other can only follow. And the story be your own.

H/C
 

Rob P.

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Well it sounds like only two of us would try the repair avenue, and most say replace. So I guess if that is the concensus I will change my position, and not try the repair. Another challenge gone. Oh well there will be more.
I'd never advocate for someone changing their minds once set on an idea because more of the group voted otherwise. However, in this case there are some factors that you may have overlooked in your original assessment.

For one, the part is a great wheel. Lots of power being applied directly on it.
Secondly, the wheel has been repaired many times in the past and is no longer flat, round or (apparently) concentric to the arbor.
Third, the cobbled repairs and non concentric rim have caused a spoke to break from the weird torque and power forces caused by the out of round wheel not transferring power smoothly to the entire wheel. Instead all of that error is causing the power to concentrate at the weak points until failure occurs. It will continue to do this regardless of how many or how often repairs are made to it.

There is a time to know when to throw in the towel. However, knowing when that time has occurred is the result of knowledge gained from working beyond that point trying to repair something that is just not worth trying to repair or save.
 

David S

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I'd never advocate for someone changing their minds once set on an idea because more of the group voted otherwise. However, in this case there are some factors that you may have overlooked in your original assessment.

For one, the part is a great wheel. Lots of power being applied directly on it.
Secondly, the wheel has been repaired many times in the past and is no longer flat, round or (apparently) concentric to the arbor.
Third, the cobbled repairs and non concentric rim have caused a spoke to break from the weird torque and power forces caused by the out of round wheel not transferring power smoothly to the entire wheel. Instead all of that error is causing the power to concentrate at the weak points until failure occurs. It will continue to do this regardless of how many or how often repairs are made to it.

There is a time to know when to throw in the towel. However, knowing when that time has occurred is the result of knowledge gained from working beyond that point trying to repair something that is just not worth trying to repair or save.
Yes Rob that is why I reconsidered after hearing from those with more experience than me. Although I would need to have it in my hands to better be able to judge. If there was no other way to get this clock going, then I would indeed consider how to make a robust repair that wouldn't be too ugly.
 

R&A

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Ya know looking at something and determining that it not concentric. Now that's a skill. I would still try to fix it. And for anyone to say I lack skill because I am challenged by the repair. Your not braking my heart. I guess you could say I have the skills I have because I am not scared to be challenged like some. This would have to be indicated in and take it from there. I don't think that ammonia had anything to do with the deterioration of this wheel. I think that it's a pour cast job from the get go. I have fix sprockets in the past, and I would go at it the same way again. I am not afraid to fail.

H/C

H/C
 

shutterbug

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If this were a cheap, common clock I might go for the repair too. In this case, it's just not worth the risk.
 

R&A

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Hey shut. With every repair there is a risk factor involved. It just depends on your skill level.

H/C
 

shutterbug

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Yeah, agreed H/C. But if you're skilled enough to fix this one, you're skilled enough to replace it too :)
 

David S

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If, and I say IF, the wheel can be repaired neatly and will be robust to not fail, when is it better to repair versus make entire new, on an old clock such as this? Please understand that the repair would have to be strong and hold up to further use.

Again just trying to understand whether it is best to keep as much of the original as possible. I know that it has been stated that if a part is replaced to put the old one in a bag and include with the clock, but if you take that too far then you put in a Quartz and put the old movement in a bag include it with the clock..done. You know what I mean...just trying to find the balance.
 

Jay Fortner

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Ya know looking at something and determining that it not concentric. Now that's a skill. I would still try to fix it. And for anyone to say I lack skill because I am challenged by the repair. Your not braking my heart. I guess you could say I have the skills I have because I am not scared to be challenged like some. This would have to be indicated in and take it from there. I don't think that ammonia had anything to do with the deterioration of this wheel. I think that it's a pour cast job from the get go. I have fix sprockets in the past, and I would go at it the same way again. I am not afraid to fail.

H/C

H/C
HC, you and I agree on a lot of things,this ain't one. This is a dead horse! First the wheel is hammered brass sheet that is fatigued,every spoke in the center is cracked and one is broken,the rim has broken into three pieces and it has been poorly repaired at least twice already. You or I could do a good job of repairing this mess. A few splines here,some staking there,finish up with a little judicious filing but it's still fatigued,so where is it gonna break next and what collateral damage will it do? Seems you were just telling me about a weight that went through the bottom of a clock,I can just see the same thing happening here. I think it should be reproduced EXACTLY as it is now(with the exception of the hammered brass sheet) and this one returned with the clock.
 

R&A

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HC, you and I agree on a lot of things,this ain't one. This is a dead horse! First the wheel is hammered brass sheet that is fatigued,every spoke in the center is cracked and one is broken,the rim has broken into three pieces and it has been poorly repaired at least twice already. You or I could do a good job of repairing this mess. A few splines here,some staking there,finish up with a little judicious filing but it's still fatigued,so where is it gonna break next and what collateral damage will it do? Seems you were just telling me about a weight that went through the bottom of a clock,I can just see the same thing happening here. I think it should be reproduced EXACTLY as it is now(with the exception of the hammered brass sheet) and this one returned with the clock.
Fix the wheel. And test drive it before you buy it.

H/C
 

shutterbug

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What about my question:???:?
It's acceptable to make an identical wheel for an old clock. Parts wear out, and when they can't be repaired safely, that's your best chance at preserving the clock. Even old tower clocks that are virtually unique and irreplaceable (think Big Ben) have often been preserved by manufacturing new parts.
 

Rob P.

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Ya know looking at something and determining that it not concentric. Now that's a skill...
Apparently you missed the shoddy repairs which caused/allow the wheel rim to no longer be circular? If so, here's the pics again. Notice how the wheel rim doesn't line up at the repair points with one side of the rim offset higher/further from center than the other side.

As for it not being flat...

The soldering was not very accurate - parts of the wheel don't line up very well, and the wheel is not flat...
 
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leeinv66

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Well it sounds like only two of us would try the repair avenue, and most say replace. So I guess if that is the concensus I will change my position, and not try the repair. Another challenge gone. Oh well there will be more.
I know I am late on this one, but better late than never;) I would repair the original wheel. In my view, the more of the original movement that can be kept, the better. For me, the only time a new wheel should be fitted in a movement of this age is when it is impossible to repair the original or it is missing all together. This one is there and repairable as far as I can see.
 

R&A

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Apparently you missed the shoddy repairs which caused/allow the wheel rim to no longer be circular? If so, here's the pics again. Notice how the wheel rim doesn't line up at the repair points with one side of the rim offset higher/further from center than the other side.
As for it not being flat...

Ok so fix it. Are you trying to tell me that you are not capable of fixing this. I see what is wrong with the wheel. The point is keeping the movement as original as possible. That would be my first and utmost objective. Now how you approach this is to correct what is incorrect. Harping on what is wrong accomplishes nothing. Release everything and repair it. Flat cracks and the sprocket.

H/C
 

Rob P.

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Taking the wheel apart and then reassembling it, pinning and fitting dovetail keys into the broken bits, and hoping it lasts will take more man hours and materials than making a new wheel that is indistinguishable from the original. And the replacement will not have hidden, latent defects that could go "BANG!" in the middle of the night. Which "BANG!" could ruin your reputation and cost your insurance company. So you'd be out the profit from the excess man hours for the repair AND the higher insurance premiums from the claim AND no one will trust your repairs anymore AND the clock could be ruined forever. I see no way to win in that situation.

Seriously, just because something is "original" is no excuse to cobble it back together with bailing wire and bubble gum holding the broken parts. There is no reason to not manufacture an identical replacement part in this case. The clock is repaired, no harm to the clock was done, it is still "original" in appearance & specification, it will function as intended, and everyone is happy.

Sometimes the belief that you cannot do anything which alters the clock from its condition when you get it goes a bit too far. Taking that credo at face value means you can't repair it, clean it, or even brush off the accumulated dirt. And doesn't that just sound silly.
 

moe1942

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I would and could repair that wheel..but I have reverted to hobby status and only work on my own collection of clocks..If one has a shop, repairing that wheel would not be economically acceptable by the customer unless it came in cheaper that cutting a new wheel. Due to the number of areas needing repair I would overlay and rivet rather than solder..If done correctly the repairs are not unsightly and stronger than original. From what I can see the teeth appear to be in VG condition for the age.
 

Jay Fortner

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I think some of you may be thinking this would be a replacement where you throw a piece of brass in the lathe,whack off a blank,carry it over to the gear cutter and cut the teeth then carry it over to the milling machine and mill out the crossings. NO!,this is one you make by hand because that's the only way it's gonna come out looking like the wheel you see here. That wheel was hand made,look closely at the subtle irregularities of the teeth and the crossings. It's not a time and cost issue,time is gonna be long and cost is gonna be high,it's a liability and reliability issue that should be the consideration. Basically do it right or don't do it at all and repairing that stressed out POS is not right. The previous repairs really weren't all that bad but no one can make chicken soup from chicken sh-t.
 

leeinv66

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I think some of you may be thinking this would be a replacement where you throw a piece of brass in the lathe,whack off a blank,carry it over to the gear cutter and cut the teeth then carry it over to the milling machine and mill out the crossings. NO!,this is one you make by hand because that's the only way it's gonna come out looking like the wheel you see here. That wheel was hand made,look closely at the subtle irregularities of the teeth and the crossings. It's not a time and cost issue,time is gonna be long and cost is gonna be high,it's a liability and reliability issue that should be the consideration. Basically do it right or don't do it at all and repairing that stressed out POS is not right. The previous repairs really weren't all that bad but no one can make chicken soup from chicken sh-t.

That stressed out POS is still holding together despite the fact the previous repairs are dubious at best. Repaired properly, that wheel would be reliable. A new wheel, no matter how well it was made would not have the same characteristics that this one has developed over its 150 plus years of existence. Given the state of this wheel, I can only imagine the rest of the movement must shows signs of a similar repair history. A new wheel would stand out like dog’s what’s its.
 

R&A

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Funny how somebody would consider bubble gum as an argument. Give me a brake. Your not bumping heads with a bunch amateurs here, or better yet. A person considered contemptibly inept at a particular activity such as clock repairing and restoring. 200 years ago they didn't have the knowledge or the tools to do this type of repair. Funny how any of us would even consider trying to preserve the Antiquity of our Heritage. And who ever repaired this had a good idea. But should have taken it just a bit farther.And there are those of you that could care less and have stated so. But a guy comes in here and ask for our opinion. I gave mine. And I stand firm on that. Repair the wheel first. Then think of a alternative, if it fails. It can be tested.< Key word test it. Testing is not an assumption, it's a matter of fact.

H/C
 

Jay Fortner

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That stressed out POS is still holding together despite the fact the previous repairs are dubious at best. Repaired properly, that wheel would be reliable. A new wheel, no matter how well it was made would not have the same characteristics that this one has developed over its 150 plus years of existence. Given the state of this wheel, I can only imagine the rest of the movement must shows signs of a similar repair history. A new wheel would stand out like dog’s what’s its.
Are we looking at the same wheel? Are you just seeing the parts of it that are broken and have been repaired and not the new flaws that are forming and what of the hidden flaws that haven't shown but I'm sure they're there,only x-ray and/or electron microscope can detect those. Sure you can pile more brass and solder on it and when you get done you will have another cobbed up,destined to fail,stressed out POS.
Like I said,dead horse!
 

David S

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Holy crap guys. I am always amazed by the passion you guys have. When I asked the question regarding repair or replacement, I didn't realize (but should have) adament that your positions are..

I am not sure there is a correct answer here. When I asked the question I stated that if it were repaired it would have to robust and stand up to many more years of service.

I like the idea of preserving as much as you can of the old clock, but if it compromises that rest of the movement, then time to make a new part. Problem is we can't get the same materials that were available 200 years ago.. so not quite original. Even though it looks not bac.
 

harold bain

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Seems to me, if you can guarantee the wheel for the rest of your life, and fix any damage caused if it fails, then go ahead and fix it (that's the kind of confidence in your repair you really need to have to take this one on). I don't know if looking at a picture is enough information to know if your repair will have any permanence. That brass wheel might not have the strength to survive very long after a patch up repair.
 

leeinv66

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Seems to me, if you can guarantee the wheel for the rest of your life, and fix any damage caused if it fails, then go ahead and fix it (that's the kind of confidence in your repair you really need to have to take this one on). I don't know if looking at a picture is enough information to know if your repair will have any permanence. That brass wheel might not have the strength to survive very long after a patch up repair.
Way over the top Harold.:whistle: I can't say I have ever seen a clock repair that was guaranteed to last for the life time of the repairer. I guess you could give such a guarantee if you didn't think you had too many years left:p Otherwise you are guaranteeing the repair for your set warranty period. I wouldn't be confident a new wheel will last as long as I intend to;)
 

harold bain

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It's not necessarily the warranty, Peter, but the confidence you have in your repair. If it fails, stand behind it. These old clocks have already lasted 200 years or more, and most still have their original great wheels. If it fails again in your lifetime, you didn't do it right. This is not a common problem with these clocks, in my experience.
 

Jay Fortner

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Don't we live by"First do no harm"? I give a two year warranty after that I'm safe as far as liability is concerned. But it would haunt me thinking that I patched a part that could cause future harm to a historical timepiece. Don't think of just the movement,it's just a pile of useless parts without a clock to put it in. There's the risk of collateral damage if that wheel fails and "I" was the idiot that tried to repair that part that was beyond repair just so I could brag about how I kept it totally original. Does any one think that a clockmaker would have repaired that wheel 170 years ago?,personally I don't. Just like many of us scrap thirty year old Hermles now.
 

leeinv66

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Don't we live by"First do no harm"? I give a two year warranty after that I'm safe as far as liability is concerned. But it would haunt me thinking that I patched a part that could cause future harm to a historical timepiece. Don't think of just the movement,it's just a pile of useless parts without a clock to put it in. There's the risk of collateral damage if that wheel fails and "I" was the idiot that tried to repair that part that was beyond repair just so I could brag about how I kept it totally original. Does any one think that a clockmaker would have repaired that wheel 170 years ago?,personally I don't. Just like many of us scrap thirty year old Hermles now.
Jay, you are entitled to your opinion as everyone here on the message board is. My opinion is different to yours on this wheel. It is not wrong. Also, I don't believe in scrapping movements of any age. But I understand others do, so I won't say they are wrong.
 

R&A

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Don't we live by"First do no harm"? I give a two year warranty after that I'm safe as far as liability is concerned. But it would haunt me thinking that I patched a part that could cause future harm to a historical timepiece. Don't think of just the movement,it's just a pile of useless parts without a clock to put it in. There's the risk of collateral damage if that wheel fails and "I" was the idiot that tried to repair that part that was beyond repair just so I could brag about how I kept it totally original. Does any one think that a clockmaker would have repaired that wheel 170 years ago?,personally I don't. Just like many of us scrap thirty year old Hermles now.
I guess this excludes you from trying this nightmare. I wouldn't loose any sleep. Plus I am note regulated by IF.

H/C
 

moe1942

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The wheel, IMHO, has a design flaw common to many of its period. The crossings/spokes are too delicate for the amount of stress and torque applied to the wheel. It is very noble to loudly proclaim that only a new wheel will be acceptable in this case but in reality it all depends on your customers economic status..my bet is he walks when he gets the estimate..If I was still in business I would pass on this one..Too many plums out there to get bogged down in major projects..
 

shutterbug

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I'd go ahead and estimate based on the new wheel. If he walks he walks.
 

Jay Fortner

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The wheel, IMHO, has a design flaw common to many of its period. The crossings/spokes are too delicate for the amount of stress and torque applied to the wheel. It is very noble to loudly proclaim that only a new wheel will be acceptable in this case but in reality it all depends on your customers economic status..my bet is he walks when he gets the estimate..If I was still in business I would pass on this one..Too many plums out there to get bogged down in major projects..
Wimp!:)
 

moe1942

Registered User
Oct 25, 2010
1,648
18
38
Alexandria, La
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Clock repair has never been a bread and butter proposition. I'm sure I've told more to take a hike than I kept as customers..Right after I told this one to take a hike I would close shop and go get a couple of beers....:)It appears that some think the only problem is the gear.. Haven't even seen the rest of the pieces in the basket...
 

David S

NAWCC Member
Dec 18, 2011
7,215
268
83
Brockville, On Canada
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Awe come on guys it ain't all that bad. I delivered a movement to a guy today to put back in his long case. When all done he paid me then said" are you interested in looking at another clock?" "Sure". Crap it was a cuckoo clock. If I was more established, I would have used your "take a hike" Moe. And it is all covered in dripping oil.
 

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