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Black Forest 'Postman's Clock' pallet question

Phil G4SPZ

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I recently bought my first wood movement clock, a mid-19th century Black Forest striking clock and am in the process of sympathetically restoring it to working order. It is identical to many that Forum members have posted here, having a round painted dial, wooden frame and plates, wooden arbors with steel pivots and brass wheels, and the striking train behind the going train. Apart from being absolutely filthy, with some wear, old woodworm and evidence of some modern and unsympathetic repairs, all of which I can deal with, the pallets don't seem to be original and the clock won't run properly.

I attach a few photographs of the pallets, as best I can, and have tried to compare these with other images on the MB. It's hard to tell, but I feel sure these pallets are completely the wrong shape. I think they should be more akin to those in American clocks, with a curved entry and square exit pallet, albeit only enclosing three or four teeth on the escape wheel. The existing pallets provide virtually no impulse. The clock will run, but only for a minute. Adding extra weight makes no difference, hence I suspect the lack of impulse being the key issue.

I propose to make new pallets but before I start, I would like to see what shape they should be! Does anyone have a close-up photo of the pallets on a Postman clock, please? Here's what came in my clock:

IMG_3844.jpg IMG_3845.jpg IMG_3846.jpg IMG_3847.jpg IMG_3848.jpg

My other observation is that the hand-setting clutch is part of the 'two-hour wheel' driven by an extension of the arbor of the great wheel. When I removed the two-hour wheel, I found a sliver of plastic wrapped round the shaft, clearly not original! Can anyone tell me how the friction was originally achieved? I suspect a curved spring washer might do the trick.

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Phil
 
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Phil G4SPZ

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Studying this escapement further, I’ve just noticed that it isn’t a conventional recoil escapement after all; the escape wheel teeth point forwards, not backwards, in the direction of rotation. It is therefore more likely to be a half-deadbeat escapement, meaning that the correct impulse face angles on the pallets are crucial.

All suggestions welcome.

Phil
 

Phil G4SPZ

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My mistake. Please ignore post #2, I’m talking rubbish... I got the EW the wrong way round. Duhhh...
 

Mike Phelan

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Dec 17, 2003
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Hi Phil,

Looks as if someone has made pallets that aren't wide enough. Just looking at my Black Forest of the same age, the escape wheel teeth span eight teeth from the pallets, and the minute wheel (below centre) is friction held on by the main wheel arbor and is held by a washer and pin on the main wheel arbor (which has a hole on it for that reason) and a pin with both ends bent.
 

Phil G4SPZ

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Hi Mike, nice to hear from you again.

Thanks for all the helpful information. Yes, you're right, someone has had a right 'go' at this clock.

I read somewhere that the pallets on some of these BF clocks were often like German cuckoo-clock pallets, spanning just three or four teeth, and causing quite a wide pendulum swing as a result. I've now managed to zoom-in on images of a few similar movements where the pallets span about five teeth. Searching through my small stock of American strip pallets, I have found one that spans five teeth when locked on the entry pallet, and six teeth when locked on the exit pallet. It's the longest I have, but it's pretty well exactly the right shape and is drilled centrally for riveting onto the pallet arbor, so I think I'm going to go with that one in the first instance. I may have to open out the relatively narrow aperture in the centre wooden plate to allow the wider pallets to pass through. I'm thinking that the more teeth that are spanned, the pendulum needs to swing through a smaller angle between drops, hence less impulse will be needed and the clock may therefore run with lighter weights, as well as perhaps keeping better time due to reduced circular error, but that may be wishful thinking!

The wooden frame and plates are currently in the deep freeze at -18 deg C and will stay there for the next couple of weeks, just to make sure the woodworm will not become active again, so what I thought I'd do in the meantime is knock up a simple jig to hold the escape wheel and pallet arbor, so that I can test its operation and adjust it out of the movement.

Thanks again and 73 de Phil
 

Phil G4SPZ

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This clock is slowly revealing its secrets. Elsewhere on this excellent Forum, I found this:
1CD071FC-9FDB-43D5-BC76-635DC3EAC14E.jpeg
The image is of the “Schwartzwalder Blechanker” from the Furtwangen clockmaker’s school, 1852. The pallets only span four teeth, but then again the EW has only 32 teeth, whereas my clock’s EW has 42 teeth. I don’t suppose the span is overly critical as long as the pallet shape is correct, so I plan to copy it as per the drawing.

There’s a badly waisted pivot on the chain wheel arbor. I would like to replace it. I have read elsewhere that these can simply be pulled out and replaced, but has anyone actually been able to do this or recommend a method which avoids damaging the wooden arbor?
CC6AEDC6-F500-44EE-B5BE-934A5A1078AA.jpeg

Phil
 

Mike Phelan

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Hi Phil
Mine has the wider pallet span like yours, so I think that making the pallets like that would be OK.
The actual shape is the usual anchor escapement shape so simply making it like that ought to be fine. There's plenty of spare power in these clocks!

As for the arbor, in the long distant past I remembered replacing a pivot; I heated the pivot end with a very fine blowtorch avoiding the woodwork and the end of the pivot just pulled out.

Probably see you at NVCF :)
 
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Phil G4SPZ

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Hi Mike,

Of course! Now why didn’t I think of that? Thank you for the tip.

I’ll definitely be at the NVCF and I’ll PM you beforehand, as I owe you a cup of tea! Cheers,

Phil
 

Phil G4SPZ

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I’ll buy the coffee, then, hot chocolate, beer, whatever! The vintage world runs largely on tea, although there are clearly exceptions to the rule...!
 

Phil G4SPZ

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Mine has the wider pallet span like yours
Sorry Mike, I may have confused you. The pallets that came in my clock are short span, and have been cut down even more. The key constraint is probably the diameter of the holes in the back and middle plates through which the pallets have to pass.

As for the arbor, in the distant past I remembered replacing a pivot; I heated the pivot end with a very fine blowtorch avoiding the woodwork and the end of the pivot just pulled out.
Tried that and failed. Turns out the pivot and arbor are in one solid piece, as I discovered when the other end started getting hot! An ohmmeter confirmed it, not a measurement I ever envisaged needing to do on a wooden clock...

I’ve dressed the worn pivot as best I can, and have turned a new bush to fit it slightly better, for insertion into the centre plate.

Phil
 

Mike Phelan

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Hi Phil
Ah - the arbor goes straight through, then. That would indeed be difficult to remove if heat didn't do it.
 

Phil G4SPZ

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Whilst cleaning and conserving the wooden frame and plates, I found this embossed into the front edge of the bottom plate, behind the dial:

76B1B731-B27E-4081-8C6C-1DC813933115.jpeg

Looks like “S.W” and I wonder if it means anything to anyone? I gather that such initials are likely to identify the frame maker, rather than the clockmaker.

Phil
 

Burkhard Rasch

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black forest clock manufacturing was a kind of cottage industry, many different jobs done by many specialized craftsmen, the clock being carried around during the proces. Afaik these marks are the marks of the G´stellmacher (the makers of the cage) who sold his products to the actual clock maker.
Burkhard
 

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