Any Clocks to avoid

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by ChrisCam, Feb 9, 2019 at 4:10 PM.

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  1. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Hi, this question is aimed at those on this forum who undertake clock repair old for customers. As we know there are many different types of clocks and clock movements, such as cuckoo, aniversary, weight driven, platform escapement, longcase and so on. So from experience are there clock types that you are happy for a customer not to bring in?

    Regards
    Chris
     
  2. David S

    David S Registered User
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    No long case clocks. I only work on "portable" clocks due to the size of my shop. However if a GOOD customer brings me the movement, weights and pendulum from a long case, I will work on it.

    David
     
  3. novicetimekeeper

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    I've used two restorers and neither has ever had the case for a longcase, one of them doesn't even have the weights! The cabinet maker collects and returns the cases, he has the dial and movement initially, when he has finished it goes for restoration.
     
  4. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    I think it depends on your level of experience, personal preference and tools you have. Initially I tried to avoid cuckoo clocks and clocks with balance wheel escapements. Now I see me working more and more on those. I still don't enjoy much working on relatively new clocks, like from the 1960s and younger.

    Uhralt
     
  5. leeinv66

    leeinv66 Super Moderator
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    I do not work on platform escapements. I will work on the clock movement, but send the escapement to a watch maker. Just too small for my eyes these days.
     
  6. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Todate my experience limited as it is is exactly as your early experience, do you undertake all repairs yourself or farm some out?
    Chris
     
  7. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Thanks Peter, did you find platform escapements relatively easy when your eyes were better?
    Chris
     
  8. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I don't do tall case clocks (my shop is in the second floor and space limited), I don't make house calls, and I don't do platform escapement. If it's a clock I acquire for myself I'll take on most anything and sometimes look for stuff that will be challenging. When it comes to other people's clocks I prefer to work on models that I have worked on before. Several that I would be happy not to see include the Waterbury triple plate chime clock, Welch Patti, any cuckoo clock especially if it has music, animation, etc. some modern junk that isn't worth the effort to fix, and any clock that the owner expects to be fixed on the cheap.

    RC
     
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  9. wow

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    I do not like working on cuckoos they are stressful. So I refuse them. I can get most 400 day clocks going, but customers have difficulty understanding how to set them up and they often return them with broken suspension springs. I refuse them. The only electric clocks I take on are the nice Revere/ Hershede style tubular grandfather clocks. Quartz clocks offer no challenge, so I don’t do them.
     
  10. Kevin W.

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    Cuckoo clocks for one, a big pain to work on, for me anyways. Another clock not easy is a weight driven IBM master clock, not much repair info out there and they have many quirks other clocks dont have. They are a real learning experience.I moved mine, it was running fine before i moved it, now its been quite a job to get it back to where it was before the move.
     
  11. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    So far I have done all of my repairs myself, but there are some cases where I regret not having them farmed out. Luckily these were my own clocks. For example, I killed a nice silvered platform escapement on one of my French carriage clocks, trying to fix a minor problem. I had to replace it with a modern platform that performs well but it just isn't and doesn't look original. It also put me back about $ 150, about what the clock is worth in today's market. I hope next time I will be wiser but I'm always tempted to try it myself. And my success rates have been getting better over time which makes the decision to farm out or not more difficult.

    Uhralt
     
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  12. leeinv66

    leeinv66 Super Moderator
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    I've always been too heavy handed for tiny glass hard pivots and jewel bushings. So, while I got by, I never liked working on them.
     
  13. Altashot

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    I do not work on electric or battery/quartz clock. I don’t really like cuckoos, but I accept them. Another clock I won’t do is Atmos. I will take it in but I source that one out. I do platform escapements and balance wheel. I also do 31 day clocks. I don’t like them much, but they are quite easily repaired and not fussy.

    M.
     
  14. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    Farm out. I ain't proud. If it's beyond my expertise, I don't intend to muck it up. :)
     
  15. novicetimekeeper

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    What are you all calling balance wheel? I'm pretty sure it isn't what we call balance wheel escapement over here.
     
  16. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Great reply RC very helpful, thanks
    Chris
     
  17. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    That's the point of my post, neither am i too proud if a clock would be better going to better (more experienced) hands if I thought it prudent, yhanks.
    Chris
     
  18. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    thanks, useful
    chris
     
  19. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    knowing one's shortcomings is a good thing
    Chris
     
  20. wow

    wow Registered User
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    I take on balance wheel clocks, even floating balances. I think, like others said, that platform escapements are beyond my expertise and are watchmakers’ specialty. If cleaning them does not get them going, I have to get help from someone who is better equipped and more knowledgeable than I.
     
  21. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    What may be known as a balance wheel in Britain is more commonly referred to as a lever escapement or platform escapement in the USA if such is mounted on a platform separate from the movement's plates. They are small and easily broken which makes them an unpopular repair subject. The glass cover is to keep out dust and clumsy fingers.

    260720063299.jpg
     
  22. novicetimekeeper

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    No, balance wheel in Britain is short for balance wheel escapement, it followed on from verge and foliot. We call those lever escapement, though we still call the balance wheel a balance wheel it doesn't give its name to the escapement. (Clock people and watch people diverge a bit here as what would be balance wheel on a clock is verge on a watch, but that's with a hairspring so later)

    Original balance wheel here is a very rare find, usually converted to verge or anchor. DeanT has a few original renaissance clocks with balance wheel escapement and hogs bristle regulators, but if you see them here on lantern clocks it is usually a reconversion.
     
  23. shutterbug

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    I make house calls and most of my work is on tall case clocks. I don't like (but will work on) electric clocks - the plug in kind. I don't like quartz clocks with either music or animation. I never refuse anything without first getting it on the bench to really look it over and determine what it will require to repair.
     
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  24. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Thanks Will, floating is then by consensus generally more easily repaired (short of replacement platform) than the platform (unless it's your thing).
    regards
    chris
     
  25. THTanner

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    I have learned from experience to avoid all 400 days clocks that are smaller than the "standard" 12 inchers. Those midgets are just not worth your time.
     
  26. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Cheers TH, much appreciated.
    Chris
     
  27. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    One more I forgot, the German "time bomb" clock. I just refuse them altogether.

    RC
     
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  28. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    What on earth is a German time bomb clock?

    I take in everything.

    But I wouldn't miss French clocks, though there's one here waiting to be cleaned and oiled and I hope nothing else.

    I wouldn't miss the Rhythm wall clock with the dial that opens up when the music plays, but I'd do another if the people were nice about it for a change.

    Quartz clocks are pretty much the standard these days, so I can't well refuse the things and most aren't a big deal. For five minutes and a three-dollar movement you can win the adulation of someone who loves that particular clock.

    AC electric clocks are a problem because they can conceivably set a house on fire, but I'll do them anyway. They're generally quite tough to repair, and burned-out movements get replaced with Mr Quartz.

    I've done all kinds of grandfather clocks, and I'm about to change my methodology on these. Barring unusual circumstances, I'll be moving the whole clock back here in my truck rather than just pulling weights and movement. That's because it takes a couple of hours for me to get the fool thing to chime nicely in someone's living room where I feel weird and rather vulnerable. I do like to yak with my customers, but not when the chime rods are bonging together and the hammers won't cooperate. So what I'll do is (maybe) pull off the doors and everything else containing glass, wrap the thing in a moving blanket, and tote it out to the truck with a two-wheel beer cart such that I can set up and test the chimes at home.

    I loathe and despise anything with a round movement, but I'll do them. That would include a cursed New Haven crystal regulator w/front escapement that remains to be finished.

    And it seems that every time I welcome in a good old Connecticut-made mantel or cabinet clock on the assumption that it'll be a straightforward repair, it never is.

    But it's fun. I've also fixed a whistling musical figure from Germany, a Marx wind-up toy train, a wind-up phonograph (eek) and now there's this oak-cased antique slot machine sitting here.

    Mark Kinsler
     
  29. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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  30. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Thanks Mark, I think in many walks of life being prudent is advisable. There are always jobs (clocks in this case) which are very difficult to work on or there is too much down side risk in terms of time spent and customer's expectations. When I put up this post I was half expecting 'if your going to repair clocks you have to take everything' and have been pleasantly suprised to see the reaction is a lot more pragmatic. Anything in general terms can be repaired but at a price. If your not happy undertaking a particular repair I see nothing wrong with either just telling the customer or farming it out.On the other hand Mark if you are willing to take on anything that is also your perogative. I might be persuaded to have an initial look at anything and then take a view.

    Regards
    Chris
     
  31. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Thanks RC, having looked this clock up I can see why it can tick away for years then the 20ft spring suddenly go.
    Regards
    Chris
     
  32. R. Croswell

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    Here's one that came in for service a few years ago; Siegfried Haller / Elgin 400 day German Time Bomb clock, circa 1980 It was returned without being serviced. I have another one in my collection that someone gave me and its wrapped up in a towel and duct tape at the moment. On my bucket list to try to remove the "explosives" and substitute a regular spring and barrel. Otherwise it is a neat and attractive clock. If you google "German time bomb clock" there is a lot of info on line about these.

    Same here.

    I usually end up spending more than five minutes, especially if the clock has an unusual movement and no direct replacement. I never make any money on these if I consider the time it takes to talk to the customer, call when its ready, and do the paper work. Still it something we can't really avoid.

    During my lifetime there have been two house fires in my town attributed to electric clocks - one verified, and one probable cause. In addition to the clock motor, (the open coil Telecron being a special concern), these things are plugged in and forgotten about for decades. The old wiring of the day, and the plugs crack and crumble when disturbed, and often they come in with replaced cords attached to unsafe wiring inside. Then there are those novelty clocks that are made from pressed paper that have lamps inside that sometimes have too high a wattage bulbs or have slipped and are in contact with the burnable case. I do take them in but unless converted to quarts, I always advise the owner that there may be a risk of operating any vintage electrical device that my not meet current safety codes.

    One more clock that I hope I never see again is the Boston Clock Co. time and strike that has two main springs, 4 clicks, and just one winding arbor - turn to the left to wind one spring and turn to the right to wind the other.

    RC
     
  33. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Thank you for the warnings. I was actually warned about the Haller clock by none other than Chris Nimon, who pointed it out to me among some of the more questionable treasures of the Horolovar collection and told me not to touch the things. That reverse-wound mainspring scheme was used on other clockwork devices, specifically a wind-up radio and a wind-up flashlight, both of which used little generators run by the spring. It gives you a great deal more energy storage for a given spring, which is why you don't want to use anything but the sturdiest of click mechanisms.

    I've seen one bogus 400-day pendulum mechanism in which magnetic suspension was used. It's a shame that its coil had burned out.

    Mark Kinsler
     
  34. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Mark how do you get on with platform escapements, are you up to replacing a jewel or do you opt for replacement of the platform itself? You need good eyes, skill and steady handy I suspect to replace the jewel and / or spring?
    Regards
    Chris
     
  35. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    I haven't had to work on any jeweled platform escapements just yet, so the problem hasn't come up. The only platforms I've dealt with was a plastic one from a Kieninger that I replace with one from Mr Butterworth, and I inherited a ship's clock with a missing pallet jewel that I haven't tried to do anything with.

    The reason I don't farm anything out is that there doesn't seem to be anyone to farm it out to, at least not locally. Chris Nimon and John of Horolovar have way too much work with 400-day clocks (many from overseas) and I know the other clock people in central Ohio purely by their reputations and by looking at their work.

    If I do run into something I can't handle at all my first choice would be to get help from someone I've met here, e.g., Mr LaBounty. Thus far I've been able to wriggle my way around the worst of it.

    Mark Kinsler
     
  36. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Yes, I agree, I think to take on the entire clock repair spectrum is a really big ask.
    Regards
    Chris
     
  37. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User

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    I started off with pocket watches before branching out to clocks, so platform escapements (jeweled or otherwise) aren't a problem.

    If you're interested in working on these mechanisms, proper tools and magnification, skill with tweezers, techniques to ensure a steady hand and a basic understanding of the function and fitting of hairsprings are primary prerequisites. A bit of time in the watch repair forum would also be time well spent.
     
  38. steamer471

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    I'm somewhat of a lucky guy. I bought one of those Elgin time bombs several years ago and actually took it apart, removed the mainspring from the barrel and greased it. This where stupid comes in I nailed it to my picnic table then cut the head off the nail and turned it till it was small enough to go back in the barrel. I was smart enough to wear gloves but put the stupid thing in backwards! Repeated the process and actually got the thing to run and keep time. Then I googled the thing and found out what I had done. That is actually how I found this site. It 's now keeping time in a landfill. Now I always research a clock before I take it apart.
     
  39. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    I'm not sure what I'd have done, for all the clocks I work on belong to customers. Any clock can break a mainspring or lose a click or have a weight unscrew. I think that the Haller 400-day clock would be a special case, but I'd be inclined to try to power it differently, or to alter the click mechanism so that it's safe. I have no idea how I'd do that, of course.

    M Kinsler
     
  40. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    If you're looking for someone to farm out jobs to, talk to David LaBounty. He's a master clocksmith, and he's always helpful.
    308-623-0152
    or (toll-free) 1-866 641 7051
    Or google About Time Clockmaking.
     
  41. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Thanks your absolutely right the watch repair forum is the place for platform escapements, sometimes we overlook the obvious...good point thanks.
    Chris
     
  42. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Thanks will keep him in my mind..but remember I am in the UK is he still worth a try do you think?
    Chris
     
  43. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Research before taking it apart seems a good idea if at all possible.
    Chris
     
  44. shutterbug

    shutterbug Super Moderator
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    A few notes about the German Time Bomb: First, it doesn't have a click and is impossible to let down except by removing the anchor and controlling the escape wheel speed until all of the power is exhausted. The spring is the dangerous part, and the bomb part comes from a cheaply made plastic barrel that fails when you least expect it, blowing spring shards through the glass globe and throughout the room, very much like shrapnel from a grenade. If you attempt to take the back plate off without letting down the power, the spring will likely put you in the hospital. It's a dangerous thing that should have been recalled and replaced with metal parts. They are beautiful things, but if you keep one of them I'd recommend never fully winding it up. If you wind it just a couple of weeks worth of power it's fairly safe to have around. Just treat it with utmost respect.
     
  45. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    Oops. Forgot about the pond problem. Better you should find someone on your side of it. Maybe some Brit can give a recommendation. :)
     
  46. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Thanks for the detail on the bomb very useful.
    Chris
     

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