Advise on Tower clock finish

Discussion in 'Tower, Monumental & Street Clocks' started by SamS, Feb 7, 2009.

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  1. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Feb 16, 2008
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    I am looking for advise, opinions and suggestions regarding the finish on a tower clock I am restoring / repairing for eventual installation in a clock tower on a mill my wife and I own.

    Attached you will see pictures of the clock, it is a Howard #2 striker, s/n 259, with a plackard dated 1872. This clock was a classic case of being electrified, had many mssing parts, and had many layers of grime and paint.

    I have replaced, repaired, and or made all parts, and the clock is now in perfect running condition (running with a short pendulum in my shop).

    The question is what to do with the paint. I carefullly removed all the layers of grime and paint, and have exposed whats left of the original paint and pinstriping. It's in poor condition, but it is the original work.

    Would you leave it as is, repaint it, touch up the pinstriping, give it a coat of laquer or wax to "even it out", etc?

    When we aquired the clock, we assumed that none of original pinstriping remained, so we planned to completely repaint. Now that we were able to recover most of the pinstriping, we have very mixed opinions of what to do. We really want do "the right" thing.

    What would you do?

    Thank you very much,
    Sam
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Scottie-TX

    Scottie-TX Registered User
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    Wow! That is beautiful. I'd definitely seek to retain that finish while perhaps considering some kind of weather resistant, clear overcoat to protect it from the weather, if that is possible. Be - yoo - tiful. Nice work.
     
  3. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Feb 16, 2008
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    Thank you very much for the compliment and your thoughts about the finish. I am thinking that a coat of laquer mgiht help to "smooth out" the variations in the green, and add an overall continuity.

    Anyone else with thougths on this?

    Thanks
     
  4. Robert Ling

    Robert Ling Registered User

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    Nice Job, Sam

    I think it looks great as is.

    Can we see where it's going to be installed ?
     
  5. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    I'm with him. (Though it pains me to admit it.) :rolleyes:

    bangster
     
  6. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Feb 16, 2008
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    Hello everyone,

    Thank you for the responses and advise. The clock will be installed in the Kirby Mill, Mansfield Center, Connecticut. My wife and I purchased this building in 1997, restored it, and moved our business into it during 1998(small engineering and automation machine builder www.windhamautomated.com).

    A former owner (George Kirby) added onto the tower during 1911, and installed the 4 - 8 ft. Howard dials, and a giant water tank for fire protection. He ordered a clock (we believe a #2 striker) from the E. Howard & Co, paid a $350 deposit, but never finished paying, so the clock wasn't delivered. We have all of the communication documents between E. Howard & Co., and the G.J. Kirby Co (including lawyer comments about money owed!).

    We really wanted the "correct" clock to finaly make it into the tower, and now we have it. We plan to install it at the second floor right in the "lobby" which will make it accessble to everyone (stairs or elevator). The pendulum will hang into the main front door area, over a showcase that displays artifacts from the mill (gold eye glass jewelry). When you walk in, you will see the pendulum and weights, and can go up one flight of stairs to see the movement.

    Attached are pictures of the tower and the location where the clock will be (this spring).

    Thanks again for the help, and if anyone else has comments, please post.

    Sam
     

    Attached Files:

  7. gvasale

    gvasale Registered User
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    #7 gvasale, Feb 8, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
    A job well done. Do you have any more history of this particular clock, such as the location of its original installation?

    I also see you're less than an hour away from my location. Maybe a visit sometime is in order.
     
  8. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User
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    Spectacular clock and equally spectucalar building/story. Save the original finish and I suppose laquer will work as the clock is now protected from the eliments. Nice job on both! Paul
    PS. I went to your site and I envy your playground!
     
  9. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Feb 16, 2008
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    In regards to seeing the clock, I expect to have it installed (may not be with motion works right away), this spring. Our building is open during all normal working hours and the clock will be fully accessable to all.

    I certainly would be happy to show it at other times to anyone interested!

    Sam
     
  10. Robert Ling

    Robert Ling Registered User

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  11. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Thanks Robert,

    The pictures are fantastic. If it's OK with you, I'll download a copy of the E. Howard picture with all the tower clocks and include it with the display of our clock.

    Sam
     
  12. Norman Bliss

    Norman Bliss Registered User
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    Sam, maybe your pictures are too good, but the paint looks in great shape for all it's been through. I'd leave it like it is, unless the remaining paint is ready to flake off, in which case maybe lacquer is in order.

    I also live relatively close, in Mystic. Might even be able to lend a hand if you need it, although I do have a full schedule. Do you have a bell for the tower? And if so, who made it? Mansfield has a great connection with the two Meneely foundries in New York. The original bell founder, Andrew Meneely, apprenticed with the son of Benjamin Hanks, who began his clock & bell making career in Mansfield, before moving to Litchfield (which is where he probably started casting bells) and West Troy, NY.
     
  13. Robert Ling

    Robert Ling Registered User

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    Please do.
    Who knows, maybe the clock that was never delivered is in the picture ??
     
  14. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Robert,

    Thanks for the picture. It will be a good addition to the display.

    Norman,

    Yes, I think the pictures are "too good" (make it look a little better than it is), but so far, the consensus is to leave it as is. We're not planning to put a bell in the tower (mill is in a very small quant neighborhood). I do plan to have it striking, with the hammer and strike mechanism all visible in the lobby of the tower. I will probably have it strike a tubuler bell, or a small "gong" of some type so that people can be very close while it's striking.

    Thanks for the offer to help. I'll probably be OK doing the installation since I'll bring the clock in pieces, and take them up the elevator on a hand truck (small handicap access elevator, not freight).

    Sam
     
  15. Robert Ling

    Robert Ling Registered User

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    Thanks should go to Jim Dubois, He posted the E. Howard factory photo. :)
     
  16. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Sam, I am going to move your thread down to the tower clock forum for better exposure.
     
  17. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    OK Harold,

    The primary question really had to do with "how far to take a clock during the restoration / preservation process". Since that was pretty generic, I didn't really want to limit that question to the "tower clock" group. But I wasn't sure.

    The thread definatly migrated to tower clock talk (OK by me)!

    Thanks,
    Sam
     
  18. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Sam, that was why I left it there for so long. But now I think the bulk of the information fits here better.
     
  19. JB

    JB Registered User
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    Sam, Do you have any openings for a clock keeper? :)Just to echo, Beautifuuuul.

    Regards,
    Joe
     
  20. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    I kind of figured that would be my job some day. Thanks for the compliment.

    Sam
     
  21. FDelGreco

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    The oldtimers would restore the dull paint finish on an old tower clock by mixing up the following solution:
    1/3 beeswax
    1/3 linseed oil
    1/3 turpentine

    Warm the solution and rub it onto the surface with fine steel wool. Be careful around the stenciling. It will remove dirt and oxidation and gloss up the surface. Wipe and buff with clean rags. I've used this before.

    Be careful with linseed oil. Rags soaked with it can ignite spontaneously if left in a pile. Spread them out outside to dry, then you can throw away.

    I would not overcoat with lacquer, as the original paint could be enamel. Lacquer could make the enamel bubble up.

    Frank Del Greco
     
  22. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Thank you Frank, I will try that on a "broken" cast iron winding gear I have to see the effect.

    Much appreciated,
    Sam
     
  23. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Thanks to everyone that had suggestions and compliments relating to our tower clock repair / restoration painted surface finish question. I tried every finish imaginable including some "home made" variations of Beeswax / Linseed Oil / Turpintine, and all of the "regular" materials. I wasn't really satisfied with any of them, so I contacted the NAWCC museum to find out what was used on the Howard #2 striker in the musuem. The museum put me in touch with the person that did the work on that clock (I'll reserve names for now since I have not asked their permission to post their names). It turns out it was done about 30 years ago, so the individual wasn't exactly sure what he used, but he suggested McClosky Satin Varnish.

    Bottom line, I gave it two coats of McClosky Satin Varnish which really brought out the colors, but was still too glossy and "streaky", then I steel wooled (4-0) back to a nice consistant dull finish. I then polished with two coats of good old fashioned butchers wax. It came out exactly as I hoped, moderate sheen / gloss and a nice hand buffed look.

    For anyone else with a similar situation, I would like to say that if I were to do this again, I would use Formbys Satin Tung oil. I did use this on a couple of the parts (winding gears), and it was really simple to apply and provides a very nice finish nearly identicle to the varnish, wax that I used on the majority of the clock.

    As I noted, I did try a variety of recipes of beeswax / turpentine / linseed oil. When applied, the finished looked really good, but the problem is the beeswax eventually comes to the surface, never dries, and is really hard to buff out. I did this, and ended up removing all of it (with turpentine).

    Attached are a couple of pictures of how the "saved" original paint and pinstriping came out. All in all, it was many times more work than stripping (sand blasting) and repainting, but I am very happy with the results especially having saved all the original work.
     

    Attached Files:

  24. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    By the way, this is what it looked like when we got it, so you can see why we never expected to be able to recover the original paint and pinstriping. We fully expected to completly strip and repaint, but are much happier with the actual result.
     

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  25. giorgio

    giorgio Registered User

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    Superlative clock, superlative location!

    I have been musing about my own three tower clocks (the last one I have just posted today asking for help in identifying it and on missing parts) and where to put them. I feel the same way about privately owned paintings, which few people get to see.

    And very few people have the fortune to be able to show it in a tower or similar structure. So congratulations and thanks.

    On the orogimal paint, however, I beg to disagree just a bit. Though your clock seems to have the paint in better than average condition and is possibly original, mine are not. This last one hase been veru crudely repainted and the pinstriping is awful. And a previous owner/seller had painted all the axles, nuts, etc, in black!! I will have no choice but repaint the frame in green (of course) and pinstriping in gold.

    Great thread on the ST!!

    Giorgio Perissinotto
    From California but currently in Spain.
     
  26. Robert Ling

    Robert Ling Registered User

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    Good info on bringing back the original finish.

    The Nethercutt auto museum is near where I live. Most of the collection is restored to like new condition, but they do keep a few in unrestored as found shape.
    These cars I find myself drawn to. Their just more interesting to me.

    Of course not all clocks or cars can pull this off, it all depends on the as found condition.
    I just mention this because it's a venu where you can walk isles of restored cars, and then their is one that stands out because it has all it's patina. They seem to tell more of a story, at least to me.

    Nice job, Sam
    Thanks for the info.
     
  27. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User
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    Sam, outstanding results and a beautiful building. One comment on the finish. When I want to dull a varnish or urathene, I saturate 4-0 steel wool with the Butchers wax thereby preventing over dulling. I wait a short time then rub the results. Saves a step also. Paul
     
  28. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Thank you all very much for the compliments, suggestions, and help. My wife and I installed the clock (no weight or long pendulum yet) this weekend at our mill (Kirby Mill, Mansfield, Ct). We are really happy with how it looks in the tower. I'll post a bunch of installation photos as soon as we get the long pendulum and weights in.

    The clock is in a location accessable to anyone that would like to see it.

    Sam
     
  29. gvasale

    gvasale Registered User
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    Hi Sam: Say when. Greg Vasale
     

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