Building my first clock movement.

Discussion in 'Clock Construction' started by Harry Hopkins, Nov 24, 2014.

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  1. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    Greetings all, One of the items on my bucket list has long been building a clock movement. I have about 25 years experience repairing clocks as a hobby. I retired about 3 years ago and since then have been acquiring necessary tooling, etc to start my project. This year I also attended 2 NAWCC classes in Columbia taught by Jerry Kieffer that have filled in most of my gaps as far as skills are concerned. Both of the classes I took were centered around the milling machine and cutting wheels and pinions including making your own cutters. I do not have a background in machining but the classes I took taught me to think like a machinist. I started a website that shows the progress of my movement and I thought those on this forum might be interested. I welcome comments and suggestions. I know there must be easier ways to doing some of the things I have photos of.

    http://harrysclockshop.weebly.com/

    Harry Hopkins
    Mason, IL
     
  2. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    Fantastic
    Tinker Dwight
     
  3. caddwg

    caddwg Registered User

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    Harry:
    As already mentioned on the "Clockmakers Newsletter Board", Everything looks great and thanks for sharing here also. It appears you've done a great job and we look forward to your completed movement. I'm quite sure you'll receive a lot of satisfaction during the process. Good Luck and Best Regards: Larry
     
  4. Allan Wolff

    Allan Wolff Moderator
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    Great workmanship Harry! And great photography. Keep us posted on your progress.
    Allan
     
  5. GregS

    GregS Registered User

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    Hey Harry,
    Very Nice. Congrats on a very good start! Can't wait to see more. Thanks for sharing! :thumb:
    Greg
     
  6. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Awesome work Harry. Please keep us posted as you progress.

    David
     
  7. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    Thanks for all the encouragement. I have been reading this section of the message board for a few years so I know that most of you have built clocks before and I have seen your work. I am a little intimidated by all the craftsmanship I have seen posted here so I will have to keep all of my mistakes to myself. Have a great
    thanksgiving everyone!

    Harry
     
  8. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Harry please don't keep your mistakes to yourself. I try various things, and some work and some don't. By posting what doesn't work it will save others from repeating your mistakes. I don't really call them mistakes, but rather "attempts that didn't work out the way I wanted them to". I always learn from what works and what doesn't.

    David PS and have a happy thanksgiving to all my USA colleagues.. our thanksgiving is long gone.
     
  9. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    OK David, I am not afraid to air my mistakes...

    My biggest learning experience: To cut my teeth I cut full depth each time by lowering the mill spindle on the Z axis then raise the spindle, index and lower again. Somewhere about half way through my escape wheel I was distracted and kept running the spindle down after I had cut a new tooth. I kept going down until I took a nice gouge out of my 3 jaw chuck with my single point cutter that I had just spent an hour making. Lesson learned for me is that I need to make some sort of adjustable mechanical stop for the Z axis of my mill.

    Next biggest learning experience (so far): Thinking I could sharpen the cutter and continue on. I spent about as much time trying to sharpen and reshape my damaged cutter as it would have taken to make a new one. I finally put it back in the holder and continued on cutting teeth but there was a noticeable difference in the shape and depth of the teeth so I ended up scrapping that escape wheel. All was not lost though... I put the scrap wheel in the lathe and machined the teeth off and now I have a nice backing plate for that size of wheel.

    Other lessons learned: Patience and perseverance. A couple of times I was having a difficult time making a piece and finally gave up for the day. Each time the next morning I was able to find a solution to my problem. One time it was a simple as I was using a dull cutting tool. I had been trying to machine the main arbor out of tool steel with a carbide tipped cutter and it just wasn't cutting well at all. The next morning I grabbed a different cutter and it made the nicest curled shavings I had seen.

    OK... I feel better now.

    Harry
     
  10. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Thanks Harry. I am trying to figure out your cutting process. It looks like you have a horizontal mill. Is that correct? If I was trying it in a vertical mill I could be cutting in the Y direction. Just trying to understand your cutting with the Z axis. Jerry Kieffer sent me information on making single point cutters. Looks like I am going to have to try it some time soon.

    David
     
  11. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    David, It is a vertical mill but the headstock rotates 90 degrees and that is the configuration you see in my pictures of cutting teeth. I don't have experience with any other mill or any other method of cutting teeth but I will say that it seems apparent to me that using this configuration lets you see your work much better and Jerry mentioned in his class that that is one of the big advantages of turning the headstock 90 degrees for work like this. I have attached a couple of pictures that will give you a better view of the mill with the headstock rotated and set up for cutting teeth.

    Harry

    20141126_083603.jpg 20141126_083709.jpg
     
  12. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    To clarify, the Sherline has a base that can be rotated or
    with a bar locked parallel with the lead screw.
    I've used the rotating head to cut Morse tapers as well.
    When the head is mounted on the mill, it can be rotated
    as Harry shows.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  13. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Thanks to both. I am not familiar with the Sherline. It sure looks like a nice machine though.

    David
     
  14. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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  15. caddwg

    caddwg Registered User

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    Harry:
    As already mentioned on the "Clockmakers Newsletter", It looks like your going gang busters on your clock movement and thanks for sharing the photos (they're great). Regards: Larry
     
  16. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    More progress on my eight day american clock movement can be seen here. Also included are some pictures and an explanation of a setback I had. Hopefully if anyone is reading this that may build a movement in the future they can learn from some of my mistakes.
    http://www.harrysclockshop.com/clock-movement-pg2.html

    Harry
     
  17. Dave T

    Dave T Registered User
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    Very nice work! And very nice documentation. I'll be watching for continued reports.
     
  18. caddwg

    caddwg Registered User

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    Harry:
    Great job; Everything looks perfect. Congratulations on the way you improvised in making the spring washer. I ended up turning an aluminum ball on the lathe and them pressing it into an old piece of shoe leather with the same result. I actually thought about using a trailer hitch ball, but would of had to purchase one and I already had some large aluminum rod on hand, from which I could turn the ball. I think Steven did a good job writing the book and including many great explanations of how to complete each phase of the project. Good Luck and Regards: Larry
     
  19. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    I completely agree about the book. Great book for the first time builder like myself. I would highly recommend anyone that is contemplating making a movement read this book first.

    Harry
     
  20. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    I have made some additional progress in making my American Clock Movement from Steven Conovers book. One of the recent tasks was to make 5 arbors out of 3/32" music wire. It took some experimentation with different cutting tools but I ended up having the best results using my cut-off tool to do most of the work on the pivots and finishing the shoulders with a pivot file while using a lot of magnification. Any advice on turning music wire to dimension would be appreciated. I really think there is probably an easier way than what I have done so far.

    See my latest progress here: http://www.harrysclockshop.com/clock-pg3.html

    Harry
     
  21. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    My American Clock Movement is moving right along. I now have spinning wheels! I have a long way to go but it is starting to look like a clock movement.

    Check the latest pictures and descriptions at the link below. the newest pictures start about half way down the page:

    http://www.harrysclockshop.com/clock-pg3.html


    Harry


     
  22. Allan Wolff

    Allan Wolff Moderator
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    Harry,
    First rate workmanship! You are really doing a nice job. Thanks for sharing your progress, Allan
     
  23. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    Thanks very much Allan for the nice words. I have reviewed your skeleton clock posts and have taken ideas and inspiration from them. As my skills improve I hope to build a skeleton clock someday also. I chose this clock because it looked like a good beginner project for me.

    Harry
     
  24. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    I have finally updated my website with pictures of my progress making Steven Conover's eight day American clock. The clock is running nicely now and that is a great feeling of accomplishment for me. Soon I will be disassembling it to start crossing out the rest of the wheels and the long and boring task of sanding, stoning and finishing all of the parts.

    http://www.harrysclockshop.com/clock-pg4.html

    Harry
     
  25. caddwg

    caddwg Registered User

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    Harry:
    Great Job. Hoping you receive many years of enjoyment.
    Good Luck and Best Regards: Larry
     
  26. Allan Wolff

    Allan Wolff Moderator
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    Harry,
    I am impressed with the quality of your work. The parts look great and have a nice finish. You said you are looking for ideas about your next project, so you might want to consider a skeleton clock. This will put your talent on display where it can be seen instead of hidden inside a case. I built W.R. Smith's Grasshopper clock for my second project and everyone who sees it really enjoys watching it run. It doesn't keep very good time, but it is more of a novelty than a regulator. If you want something precise, try a weight driven movement with a deadbeat escapement. Lots of possibilities to keep you busy.
    Allan
     
  27. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    Larry, I am sure I will enjoy this movement for a long time as my first clock project from bar stock. I have learned lots along the way and thank you for your help from the Clockmakers Newsletter forum.

    Allan, I have looked at Bill Smith's clocks online and the grasshopper skeleton is definitely on my radar. I plan to borrow a couple of Wilding's books from the NAWCC library and browse through them also to help me decide. I don't think the library has any of Bill Smith's books but once I make up my mind I certainly don't mind buying one. A precision movement is not necessarily a must have criteria so I could end up with any sort of escapement. One idea I am tossing around is this skeleton clock from the NAWCC Education committee. I realize that the idea behind this clock is that you buy a used Hermle 341 movement to use the wheels, etc instead of machining them but my idea would be to purchase the Hermle movement then use the wheels and other parts as a pattern to machine my own. I have gotten quite good at making the single point tooth cutters that I learned from Jerry Kieffers class. This clock would be made with solid pinions instead of lantern pinions so I think that is a good line of progression for me. Once I determined the pinion module of the Hermle pinions then I think I would purchase a pinion cutter since Jerry taught me that the trying to use the single point cutter to make a solid steel pinion is challenging. It's just an idea at this point and if there is someone that has built this clock in this manner I would like to hear from them. Anyway... I think that my next movement will probably use solid pinions so I can learn that skill as well.

    I am putting the horse ahead of the cart somewhat... I still have lots of work to do on my first movement. I appreciate the support that I have gotten along the way from everyone.
     
  28. caddwg

    caddwg Registered User

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  29. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    Larry, your regulator movement is fantastic! It is something that I would like to make someday. The plates look huge in the pictures... what are the plate dimensions? Is this regulator in a published book or is it your design? I am guessing by looking at your photos that there are some parts that would be difficult or impossible to make on my Sherline equipment but I could be wrong. Thanks for sharing.

    PS... the cross slide is very impressive and way above my current skill level.
     
  30. caddwg

    caddwg Registered User

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    #30 caddwg, Jan 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015
    Harry:
    First of all it is in a published book. I thought about trying to design something myself, but felt I wasn't ready for that yet. As far as equipment is concerned; I think your better equipped than I. I envy your current shop situation and wish I had gone the Sherline route. I only have a manual Taig lathe and mill to work with. For you, the only problem I can see is cutting the threads on the barrels, which was my problem also, in the beginning. I purchased a cheapie lathe from HF for around $400 which was a nice addition to my shop and enabled the cutting of threads. My local metal supplier had all the materials on hand at a very reasonable cost. Right off hand I don't remember the exact dimensions of the plates, but I think they are about 9"x9" or there about. The book is very well written, but does require thorough reading. It is called "Regulator Clock Construction" by Peter Heimann.
    http://www.amazon.com/Regulator-Clock-Construction-Peter-Heimann/dp/1854862499
    It seemed, at the time, to be very inexpensive and contained plans for two similar clocks (an 8 day clock and a 30 day clock). I considered the book to be a nice investment, whether I decided to building clock or not. I think both clocks would be an easy build for you.

    The cross slide was an attempt to design and build a prototype prior to building something permanent from cast iron. The aluminum costs were only around $10 and actually worked out quite well. I've never had a triple cross slide in my hands, so designing was the most difficult task. A new design will be somewhat different and will use cast iron this time. I build prototypes quite often when I'm not sure of the design or methods (you will see some of this in the photos). The actual machining was very simple once I had portions of the design figured out. If I had something in my hand to copy, then the whole process would of been very simple and something you would have no problem with.

    If I can answer any additional questions please feel free to ask. Regards: Larry

    p.s.: I think Sherline might have a thread cutting attachment. They do have an impressive variety of accessories (even though a bit expensive). I've always liked the quality.
     
  31. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    I checked out the book by Heimann on Amazon. Heck at that price I will order the book and take a look... even if I never build that clock I am sure there is that much value there. Actually I recently bought a new Sherline lathe that replaced a 25 year old Sherline lathe that I had been using. I was going to sell the old lathe on Ebay and someone in one of my NAWCC machining classes suggested I keep it and turn it into a dedicated thread cutting machine so I bought the thread cutting attachment and permanently mounted it on my old lathe. Yes that is pretty extravagant but it is really time consuming to change the lathe over to cut threads otherwise.

    What is the largest diameter you can turn on your HF lathe?
     
  32. caddwg

    caddwg Registered User

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    Harry:
    I was searching for a project and decided to just buy the book no matter what. I did pay a little more for it than the current Amazon price, but it turned out to be a pretty good book so I was quite happy. I haven't had any problems using the book at all. I did find that I had to read each section thoroughly to capture the important information, but that may just be me and my inexperience concerning the subject matter.

    My HF lathe will turn a 7" diameter (7"x12" lathe). Actually it's kind of nice, since it functions like a real lathe. I had to spend some time getting it set up, and it's not perfect, but overall it works pretty well. I've used it for threading and if I need to remove a lot of material and then transfer the work to my Taig. I can get a much nicer finish with the Taig, since I'm able to control the feed rate and speed. With the HF I can control the speed but the feed rate is limited. There are, however, ways to get a better finish, but I haven't felt the need to pursue them. I bigger better lathe would be nice in the same space, but for now I'll be satisfied.

    I really think you definitely made the right decision on the Sherline products. As you've probably noticed, that I've modified both my Taig lathe and the mill to use the Sherline motor and speed control and over the years I've purchase a couple Sherline accessories.

    I've always been a big believer in dedicated machines, but it is nice to be able to use the same machine for different functions, especially when space is at a premium.

    Regards: Larry
     
  33. MartinM

    MartinM Registered User

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    In the eternal struggle to balance time, space and expense, it seems time is the only one I have any real control over. Consequently, my HF machine does most all my machining tasks. They're not too bad if you put in a couple of upgrades like changing all the plastic gears to metal. I've added a milling attachment and several other features as well.
    Earlier in the thread, someone mentioned that their parting tool was the best thing they found for rough cutting pivots. I use indexed carbide inserts with pretty good success.
    Probably my biggest problem with the machine is the frequent need to remove backlash from the cross-slide feeds.

    A great resource for these little workhorses is www.littlemachineshop.com
     
  34. Harry Hopkins

    Harry Hopkins Registered User
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    I have completed my clock movement! I am quite happy with how well it turned out. I had some scrap along the way but each time I had to re-make a piece I learned more. I started the actual work on 10/31/2014 and I have worked on it most days. Some days 3 or 4 hours and some days just an hour. I wish I had kept better track of my time as I would like to know how many hours I have in it.

    I have ideas in my head for making a pendulum bob for it and a couple of ideas how best to display it so there are still some things to be done but the movement is complete. This has been something I have wanted to do for many years and I feel now I have earned the right to call myself a clockmaker.

    I know there are others out there that have the same goal in mind... to make a movement from bar stock. I hope I have encouraged those that this is a doable project. Yes, I did have to buy some equipment I didn't have and I did have to have a little training (4 days of NAWCC training) but I did not have a machining background at all. I consider the movement I made to be a great beginner project. Steven Conover did an excellent job of describing each step in his book. You can see the book on my website. I had bought the book years ago and read it through a few times so I know what I needed to learn and I would encourage other beginners to do the same even if you choose different book... at least you will understand what you will need to learn.

    I appreciate the help and encouragement I have received from this forum. I also appreciate how much information is on this site. Many times I was trying to decide the best way to complete a task and I would just do a search on this site and most times I would find examples of what I was trying to accomplish.

    Next winter I plan to build another clock so I am doing some research now hoping to find something that I can make with the equipment I already have but will force me to learn new skills.

    I tried to take a lot of pictures as I went along because I had been encouraged by others that had posted their work. You can see all of my progress at http://www.harrysclockshop.com/clock-pg-1.html . my most recent progress starts on page 4 of the website.

    I welcome any comments and suggestions for improvement. I know there are probably better / easier ways to do some of the work.

    Once I have made a pendulum bob and have decided how to display my movement I will post more pictures
     

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