Advice to purchase a Synchronome Like Electric Clock

Discussion in 'Electric Horology' started by pepi, Apr 29, 2019.

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  1. pepi

    pepi Registered User
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    Apr 19, 2019
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    I would like to experiment with a Synchronome Like Large Pendulum Electric Clock, intentionally to modify it heavily, but I would like to make it work to start as it is. I don't have any experience with electric clocks.
    There is a number of them for sale at very reasonable price on Ebay for example
    Rare Smiths Synchronome Electric Master Wall Clock Factory Genuine | eBay
    Could anybody with experience with this kind of clocks advice me on which are the ones with the most efficient mechanism? The best quality mechanism and pendulum? Do they come with invar pendulum rods already?
    Do you know of any web page/publication on this subject?
    Thanks for your patience, Pepi
     
  2. Snapper

    Snapper Registered User

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    #2 Snapper, Apr 29, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
    I have run a Synchronome for several years now; mine being a Mark I from 1929. Thet are fascinating beasts being well designed, capable of superb accuracy and simple (relatively speaking) to work on. The biggest issue with them is that they were used mostly in industrial environments and many have led hard lives with little or no maintenance and operating in harsh conditions. That being said, there are a a good few survivors and parts can be cannibalised or remade using donor clocks if necessary.

    As far as I am aware, all Synchronomes were supplied with invar rod pendulums, barring the very early ones which don't come up for sale often. Differences between the Mark I and Mark II versions are mainly cosmetic and both are desirable. Try to find one with all the original cabinet fittings as these items are unobtanium.

    I am unsure what you mean when you ask which ones had the most efficient mechanism so perhaps you will enlarge on that.

    The clock you link to puzzles me as it is marked "Smiths" who did not manufacture Synchronome master clocks. However the movement does seem to be a Synchronome small movement and the hands are correct. Maybe someone with greater knowledge will explain.

    Incidentally I would strongly advise you to buy only a clock with a serial number inscribed on the advance/retard plate as those without were almost certainly home-built from kits supplied by Synchronome and their build quality can only be guessed! (Some years ago I purchased a large skeleton clock, undoubtedly manufactured by Smiths of Clerkenwell but likely bought as a kit for home build. Boy did that clock test my patience! I still have it and it keeps excellent time now.)

    There are a few websites which will be of interest:

    Synchronome Master Clock Set Up

    Synchronome

    There is an active group on groups.io

    Frank Hope-Jones

    There are several others, just use the search engine of choice.

    The definitive work on Synchronomes is "Synchronome, Masters of Electrical Timekeeping" by the sadly now departed Robert H A Miles. I believe the Antiquarian Horological Society is planning to re-print this excellent book shortly.
     
  3. pepi

    pepi Registered User
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    Apr 19, 2019
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    Thank you very much Snapper, all very useful information. I ended up winning the ebay Syncrhronome auction I mentioned in my previous post, I should be receiving it here in Venice, where I have retired, in a couple of weeks with a friend of mine driving down from London. Then I'll most likely come up with lots of specific questions. Thanks for pointing out the groups.io group on synchronomes.
    By efficient mechanism I mean high Q, a pendulum mechanism which requires low power to keep going.
    If successful with making this clock to work again my most ambitious goal would be to experiment with a parametric oscillation pendulum, I described some of this project in another thread Parametric Oscillation Pendulum
    Thanks again for your help, p
     
  4. Snapper

    Snapper Registered User

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    You are very welcome. The io group has several members who actively modify Synchronomes to improve performance, Me? Well I'm of the old school who love originality over modern tech. But each to his own.

    I'm in no position to judge whether a Synchronome has a higher Q than any other master clock as I have owned no other, but your intended experiments with POP sounds intriguing. Let us know how you get on.

    One other book which would be of use to you is "Electric Clocks and How to Make Them" by none other than Frank Hope-Jones. it was published in 1931 and covers many types and makes of electric clock. It also gives full dimensional details of Synchronome component parts. It is usually available at on-line second hand book dealers.
     
  5. pepi

    pepi Registered User
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    #5 pepi, Jun 28, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
    I finally received at my home in Venice the Ebay Synchronome #2177 mentioned above in this thread and set it up as well as I could following a set of instructions found at https://clockdoc.org/gs/handler/getmedia.ashx?moid=50940&dt=3&g=1
    Given the age the clock seems in remarkably good conditions apart for the broken jewel of the gathering click and the spring which was slightly bent. I ordered from Timesavers a replacement jewel and a new spring
    Since international inexpensive shipments take forever and couldn't wait I made a fake jewel in hard steel and straightened the spring, connected a power supply and started the thing following the above cited instructions.

    Jun 28 2019 copy.jpg

    The case is screwed to a brick wall with large screws, it's not budging.
    Everything seems to work fine but the oscillations are not sustaining even when I put the indicator on A for continuous pulses as can be seen at



    Incidentally I have tried to unscrew the escapement screws, like the one at the convergence of the Y piece, but stopped short of stripping them according to my judgement. Any suggestion on how to unstick them? Is cleaning and lubricating a very advisable first step for a clock of such an unknown origin?
    Thanks for reading, all suggestions welcome, pepi
     
  6. AlpineTime

    AlpineTime Registered User
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    Everything that moves on pivots, Pepi, needs to move VERY freely. This is especially true of the count wheel and the tiny roller that rolls down the ramp on the impulsing pallet that's attached to the pendulum rod. If things don't want to come apart, you can try oiling all the pivots as they are. The tricky ones are at the back ends of all the arbors, where they're hard to reach. Oil them as best you can with light clock oil, putting a drop into each hole from the end of a fine wire. The eye of a small needle can work well, as it holds just the right amount of oil and releases it when touched to a surface. The pivot of the wire gathering arm, and the gathering jewel, however, want to run dry, as oil there tends to be a drag. If the gravity lever resets reliably and all the pivots move freely, your clock should keep running. If you can't free them, there may be no substitute for disassembly and ultrasonic cleaning. Be very careful when disconnecting and re-connecting the very fine wiring.
    Adjust the pendulum position front to back in the chops at the top so that the impulse roller rolls down the center of the ramp, and adjust the pendulum side to side so that it utilizes the full length of the ramp. You want to extract all the energy that's available from the drop of the gravity arm. I assume that you plumbed the case side to side and front to back when fastening it to the wall. All these details are important. The Synchronome is efficient, but unlike the Gents, there's no excess of available energy. There's exactly enough, and you need to find and get rid of all the energy wasters.

    Regards,
    Steve
     
  7. pepi

    pepi Registered User
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    I have been very lucky, the condition of my ebay purchase is very good and I rapidly managed to make it work reliably. I agree Steve the losses of the count wheel and its accessories matter, the side to side adjustment seems to be chritical for the rate precision. Curious about the energetics of this clock I proceeded making some measurements which I described in a couple of posts Chasing the losses and Timing data for Synchronome #2177 at synchronome1 groups.io Group, I am still unsecure about my results and it would be really nice if somebody else would repeat them. I described my extra simple diagnostic setup in a short PDF Minimal TImer, p.-
     

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