Cleaning of a Mobier - Yes or No?

Robert M.

Registered User
Nov 20, 2004
1,114
3
0
Doctor,are you suggesting an ultrasonic cleaning with the movement intact in lieu of a complete disassembly and inspection?Just curious.
Respectfully,Bob Fullerton
.
 

eskmill

NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Aug 24, 2000
7,135
34
0
Region
The Morbier movement is delightfully simple to disassemble for maintenance.

If Dr. Craig, the movement is as dirty as an autombile engine, then it can be pre-cleaned with the least expensive petroleum based solvent you can locate such as paint thinner.

For smaller oil and dirt encrusted clock movements, an aerosol solvent such as "Brake-Clean" is a good alternative.

Once the dirt encrusted oily mess is washed away, the movement can be disassembled for cleaning in the ultra-sonic tank or by other manual methods.

When automotive gasoline was not considered harmful, it was common to "dunk" stubborn alarm clocks in a gallon bucket of gas. The practice is no longer acceptible.
 

Mike Phelan

Registered User
Dec 17, 2003
9,869
25
48
West Yorkshire, England
Country
Region
Originally posted by Dr. Craig:
For your consideration -- A filthy Mobier that, when pulled out for examination, was as dirty and "greasy" as running your hand across a used car engine. I was told that it was not running (surprise!).

I assume that I can clean this very old clock via ultrasound cleaning solution, followed by a mineral spirits rinse. I see, or know of, no reason not to do this. Do you agree?

Many thanks for your input.
A Morbier should be cleaned just like any other clock. They are fairly bulletproof, but observe and remember how the striking works before dismantling anything - they are totally different from anything you have ever met before!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Tom Kloss

NAWCC Member
Dec 5, 2003
1,882
5
38
N.E. Pennsylvania
Country
Region
I'm with Les on this one. Have some pity on your ultrasonic cleaning solution and pre-clean it with some sort of cleaner, paint thinner would be good. A friend of mine in Germany uses a diesel oil dunk before disassembly. A lot of Morbier were used in the kitchen as a wag on the wall and many didn't have any case or sides. As a result they were exposed to all of the grease and smoke of the cooking.

Also, take Mikes advise and study the strike mechanism before you take it apart as they are unique. For one thing, they do not run-to-warn as most clocks do. The strike just take off and, on the hour the strike will repeat itself at about 1 to 2 minutes after the hour.
 

Joe Jones

Registered User
Sep 23, 2004
167
2
18
With Dr. Craig's permission, I would like to attempt to clarify the question and in the process take advantage of an opportunity for me to check out somethng I was told many years ago by an old timer in the trade.

I think that the question is whether or not the parts should be cleaned ultrasonically.

I remember hearing somewhere that the cast cuckoo plates should not be done with an ultrasonic. The logic there was as follows: The castings are porous and so the pivot holes are rough and soak up any lubrication, leaving the pivot holes rough and dry even after an oiling. Old oil and grime gets into the pores in the brass around the pivot holes and over time the action of the pivots hardens and smooths it into a better bearing surface than the casting is when new. The pivot hole, now polished by the action of the pivots, will no longer absorb oil, thus leaving it in place to do its proper function. The cleaning, I was told, would eliminate this bearing surface and leave it rough and dry once again resulting in decreased performance.

This does not apply to castingssuch as those in older long-cased clocks, the old timer continued, because the hammering and polishing process used on them eliminates the pores that are in plates used in the rough.

Right or wrong:???: I don't know, but it is logical and came from source that I respected as credible. This gentleman came up through the apprentice system in the 1920's when they dealt with these clocks as everyday items.

Is this the basis for your question about Morbiers, Dr. Craig?

Joe
 

Jeremy Woodoff

NAWCC Member
Jun 30, 2002
4,163
80
48
Brooklyn
Country
Region
The pivot holes in cast brass plates would not have been cast into them, but would have been drilled and then I imagine broached out to size. This would have work-hardened the wearing surfaces of the brass. A smooth film of oil and grime would still be soft enough to trap dust and grit particles, causing wear to the pivots.

Morbiers have steel plates (or posts) with brass bushings. These bushings have smooth interior faces.

I have two Morbier clocks, both of which were filthy when acquired. They were both completely without wear--pivots, pivot holes, wheel teeth, and pinions. Morbiers are amazing clocks. They are built like tanks but run quietly and don't seem to wear out. Yet they are barely mentioned in the standard clock repair or collecting literature.

Jeremy
 

Bill Ward

NAWCC Member
Jan 8, 2003
1,230
10
38
USA
Your clock might be slathered in Cosmolene, a rust inhibitor used extensively for mothballed military equipment during and after WWII. It isn't so good for brass, but is very effective on iron. Don't ruin expensive ultrasonic rinse with it, but take the good advice above. I doubt water-based cleaners would touch Cosmolene.
 

Bill Ward

NAWCC Member
Jan 8, 2003
1,230
10
38
USA
Originally posted by Eckmill:
The Morbier movement is delightfully simple to disassemble for maintenance.

Could you, perhaps, elaborate? As stated above, they're barely mentioned in the literature. I have two needing work, and they seem to be rivetted together. Do I need to grind off the riveting, or can I spring the plates apart to get the posts out? Are the hollow brass rivets holding the repousse brass dial surrounds to the frame original? (They look like they were applied with a Home Depot rivet gun.) And did they use silk suspensions? One of mine has a sort of rear gantry for the pendulum support, but no trace of a suspension spring. Thanks!
 

eskmill

NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Aug 24, 2000
7,135
34
0
Region
Do not under any circumstances attempt to disassemble the Morbier movement "cage."

Yours likely has a crown escape wheel. Remove it before proceeding further. There is often an adjustable lower bearing that will release the escape wheel arbor. There may be an upper bearing block for the escape wheel attached to the top of the cage with a screw.

Remove the bells and examine the top of the cage and you will see screws securing the vertical movement plates.

Removal of the screw will release the plate so that it can be pulled toward the rear at the top.

Note that the vertical plates have an index that fits in a slot in the cage and the lower end of the vertical plates have locating pins that fit in holes in the cage bottom.

There is a series of three NAWCC bulletin articles of many years ago that explain how to maintain the Morbier.

Additionally, an English translation by Laurence Alan Seymour of "Comtoise Clocks, The Morbier, The Morez" by Maitzner and Moreau. The book covers every version of the Comtoise clocks.

The older Morbier clocks employ string suspension from the peaked appendage at the rear top of the movement. The pendulum is long and made of jointed wire links (folded) with a small bob of less than about 500 grams.

The crown wheel and verge recoil escapement does not have enough force to swing the decorative pendulum.

Usually, the decorative face is fastened to the movement cage with machine screws of unknown pitch and size.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bucksctytt

Richard T.

Deceased
Deceased
Apr 7, 2005
5,064
8
0
Country
Region
Additionally, an English translation by Laurence Alan Seymour of "Comtoise Clocks, The Morbier, The Morez" by Maitzner and Moreau. The book covers every version of the Comtoise clocks.
I agree with Les, the book mentioned above is an excellent reference. It contains technical details, repair and restoration and maintenance information in addition to identification, history , great pictures etc. I did a search and found one copy in (NL). I'm sure the NAWCC library has copies available for loan.

Regards,

Richard T.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Jeremy Woodoff

NAWCC Member
Jun 30, 2002
4,163
80
48
Brooklyn
Country
Region
Les,

I just want to note that I have a Morbier with a crown wheel and verge escapement that has a pressed brass dial surround and matching pressed brass pendulum. It has always worked fine.

Jeremy
 

Bill Ward

NAWCC Member
Jan 8, 2003
1,230
10
38
USA
Thanks, Les, for your (as usual) sage advice. I've read the Mainztner book, but it's short on practical details. Are the Bulletin articles you mentioned also by Seymour, from 1975? Those have been duplicated and bound together as a spiral bound booklet in the NAWCC lending Library. I also picked up a copy of Gustave Schmitt's "Die Comtoiser Uhr", which has a lot of diagrams of the mysterious striking work, although it's in German.
 

Bucksctytt

Registered User
Aug 5, 2019
20
1
3
USA - ITALY
Country
Thanks, Les, for your (as usual) sage advice. I've read the Mainztner book, but it's short on practical details. Are the Bulletin articles you mentioned also by Seymour, from 1975? Those have been duplicated and bound together as a spiral bound booklet in the NAWCC lending Library. I also picked up a copy of Gustave Schmitt's "Die Comtoiser Uhr", which has a lot of diagrams of the mysterious striking work, although it's in German.
Is there a link or search key that would get one to these articles?
 

bruce linde

ADMIN / MODERATOR
NAWCC Member
Donor
Nov 13, 2011
8,121
1,108
113
oakland, ca.
clockhappy.com
Country
Region
you can do a couple of things...

go to the clock repair forum and search for comtoise or morbier and restrict your search to 'search this forum'

or, do a google search, searching for 'comtoise or morbier site:mb.nawcc.org' to use google to search the message board.
 

514 Poplar Street
Columbia, PA 17512

Phone: 717-684-8261

Contact the Webmaster for perceived copyright infringement (DMCA Registration Number 1010287).

Copyright © National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Inc (A 501c3 non-profit corporation). All Rights Reserved.

The NAWCC is dedicated to providing association services, promoting interest in and encouraging the collecting of clocks and watches including disseminating knowledge of the same.