clock stopping mystery

clarke

Registered User
Oct 25, 2009
64
5
8
Hermosa Beach, CA
Country
I have a simple 8-day clock american style count wheel pendulum movement that sometimes mysteriously stops just before the hour/half-hour strike cycle begins. It happens just before the lower lifting lever falls from the lifting cam (to release the strike cycle). When it stops, I have to gently advance the minute hand just a smidgen for the lever to fall off the cam and the striking to begin. And then all's well for hours, before it happens again.
Does anyone have suggestions on what it might be?
thanks
 

Steven Thornberry

User Administrator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Jan 15, 2004
23,351
1,465
113
Here and there
Country
I will move this inquiry to the Clock Repair forum, since it may well involve an issue requiring adjustment or service to the movement.
 

Dick Feldman

Registered User
Sep 1, 2000
2,489
185
63
Colorado, usa
Country
Region
If the clock has not been "adjusted" prior to the problem, the symptoms are of a movement that has reached a threshold with wear. Clock movements are machines and will wear with time. That wear translates to friction. Eventually the friction will overcome the power supplied to the movement. When a clock movement goes into the warn period, a small amount of additional energy is required. That additional small energy requirement combined with the normal energy required to run the clock movement may be enough to stop the movement. Although a "good cleaning and oiling" may solve the problem for a time, that repair will be short lived until friction again takes over. The proper repair for a worn movement is to disassemble, clean and install bushings at all wear points. Installing bushings at only the most severely worn points will probably make the clock run again, but will again be a short lived repair. When another wear point that has been ignored becomes critical, the clock will again give poor service.
If the clock movement has been changed/adjusted prior to the problem, the levers that actuate the strike warn may be in a bind. This also will cause enough friction to stop the clock again at the warn period.
Can you supply clear, close up photos of the movement? Have you let the tension off of the mainsprings and checked for side play at the pivot holes?

Best Regards,

Dick Feldman
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
10,998
1,123
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
As suggested, excessive wear through out the movement is one possibility but a bit more specific information (and some pictures) is in order before jumping to that conclusion or deciding that every pivot hole should be bushed. The actual problem can be very elusive.

I have a clock with an E. Ingraham (typical American) movement that had exactly the same symptoms. I did not suspect wear because I had rebuilt that movement a few years earlier, but I disassembled it again, polished the pivots, checked all the pivots holes, checked all the strike adjustments, even polished the sliding contact areas of the cam and all the lifting levers. Put it all back and it ran fine for a couple days and started doing the same thing. Turned out to be that the wheel with the stop pin was slightly bent and if the end shake of the stop lever was inward, and the end shake of the stop wheel was outward, the stop lever would hang up and bind on the stop wheel and the extra force required to free it would stop the clock. Just a slight realignment and all is fine.

The clock we are discussing probably does not have the same problem but I use this as an example that the problem may (or may not) be something other than wear. If wear is determined to be the problem, please be aware that respected opinions vary greatly as to how may pivot holes should be bushed........ but that's another topic that has been discussed at length before if anyone is interested in the pros and cons. For now lets see if we can determine what ales this beast!

1. When the clock does run, how much swing does the pendulum have?
2. Has the clock been recently moved?
3. When was the clock last serviced, or oiled?
4. When the clock stops just before striking do you feel any resistance when the minute hand is advanced?
5. How old is this clock, approximately?
6. The clock is described as "american style", is it an American movement or an Asian copy?
7. Is the clock "in beat"? That is when it does run is the ticking even. Lift one side of the clock then the other and see if the ticking is more even than when the clock is level.
8. finally, what specifically has been done to attempt to correct the problem.

RC
 

shutterbug

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Oct 19, 2005
46,425
1,858
113
North Carolina
Country
Region
As part of the sleuthing process, I'd wait until it stops and then see if the lever can be raised a little more by hand. If not, then it's binding and that is stopping the clock. Otherwise, I agree with what has been posted already.
 

kinsler33

Registered User
Aug 17, 2014
3,710
511
113
74
Lancaster, Ohio, USA
Country
Region
The proper repair for a worn movement is to disassemble, clean and install bushings at all wear points. Installing bushings at only the most severely worn points will probably make the clock run again, but will again be a short lived repair. When another wear point that has been ignored becomes critical, the clock will again give poor service.
So, suppose we have a hole that's not worn oval and which seems to be a good fit to the pivot that rotates within. And we bush it anyway. Assuming that our bushings are the same thickness as the plate and are not, say, Mr Butterworth's ball bearings, why would this new bushing wear longer than the original hole?

Mark Kinsler
 

lpbp

NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Life Member
NAWCC Member
Aug 25, 2000
2,974
62
48
Country
Region
This problem can be caused by the arm dragging on the slot of the count wheel, if you can put it in a test stand and run it, then when it fails look carefully to determine where the problem is.
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
10,998
1,123
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
So, suppose we have a hole that's not worn oval and which seems to be a good fit to the pivot that rotates within. And we bush it anyway. Assuming that our bushings are the same thickness as the plate and are not, say, Mr Butterworth's ball bearings, why would this new bushing wear longer than the original hole?

Mark Kinsler
In my opinion there is no compelling reason to bush pivot holes where the existing hole is a good fit to the pivot. An argument can be made that in a 100 year old clock all the pivot holes (and the pivots, and the wheels, and the pinions, and the springs, and every other part of the movement) will have some wear. The pivots are not loaded equally and some typically wear out faster than others. When a clock stops because of pivot hole wear, usually there is only one that actually stopped the clock and perhaps a half-dozen that are visually elongated and about to the end of their useful life. Most of the other pivot holes likely have some years of life left. Now if the badly worn holes are 100% used up after 100 years, then all else being equal, the bushing installed will last another hundred years. Logically, the other pivot holes that may have 10% wear, or even 30% or 40% after 100 years may still out last the newly bushed pivot holes because they carry less loading. During the 100 year life of that new bushing the movement will likely be (or should be) disassembled several times for cleaning and if any of the other pivot holes are approaching the limit they can be easily replaced when they get to that point.

The argument most often heard for bushing all pivot holes is that they all have some wear and that it is necessary to bush all to restore the movement to original factory specifications. This is fine if that is one's objective. So why restore every pivot hole to original specification and not replace every wheel, pinion, and other worn part of the movement? Perhaps some would. All the parts of the movement at some point will wear out. How much restoration work one does and when is a decision everyone working on old clocks has to make.

RC
 

Dick Feldman

Registered User
Sep 1, 2000
2,489
185
63
Colorado, usa
Country
Region
This discussion seems to have veered off course. Since the OP seems to be no longer with us, I will take the liberty to continue on that vane. Clarke, if you are still around, please accept my apology for taking up your discussion space and time with things that do not directly pertain to the proper repair of your clock. The first rule on this board is: "Stay on topic, not on people. Be kind and courteous."

When human nature is considered in relationship to clock repairs and repairers, there seems to be a broad spectrum. On the bottom end are those who want to spend no money but want the clock to run. The emphasis is on free. Somewhere up the evolutionary scale are those that just want to make it go regardless of how long the clock will operate. Maybe instant gratification is the goal. One more rung up the ladder are those that treasure clocks and will expend extra effort and expense to keep them reliable for as long as reasonably possible. Reasonably possible has many definitions. Another layer above that are the purists that would possibly not run a clock for fear it would wear or lose its pristine nature.

Common traits associated with clock repair are to substitute cleaning and lubricating for primary troubleshooting skills. It has never been debated that cleaning and lubricating are maintenance items, not necessarily curative. Lots of clock owners have become victims to the knee jerk reaction to clean and lubricate before finding what the real problems are with the clock. Sometimes that cleaning stuff works. More often, not. Adjusting is another oft sought remedy. In reality, clocks seldom get out of adjustment on their own. If a clock needs adjustment, I have found it is usually because someone else before me has adjusted it. (Is that an oxymoron?). Escapements are a prime example of this. Because it moves and is visible, it has to be the problem and needs some adjustment, right? So those are my thoughts on clean, oil and adjust. I find them to be clichés and misused, many times at the expense of the clock owner. I would predict that some of the participants on this board would be penniless and out of business were it not for those crutches.

Many years experience has taught me that the primary reason for clock movement failure has been lack of power. This lack of power is most often due to friction caused by wear. Wear caused by use. Without intervention a clock will normally run till it wears out. Wear being addressed throughout the clock movement is of primary importance. I have often stated that it is ludicrous to assume a clock will only wear in certain areas. This has never been challenged. What happens in the clock movement can be compared to a chain. If one link fails, so does the entire chain. Denial of the wear throughout a movement is illogical. Failing to address all of the wear points in a clock movement is much like Russian roulette. Please refer above to the levels of clock repair and goals.

If one is willing to do less than a complete job of clock repair, that practice should not be portrayed as gospel and the accepted way to do things. What is reasonable for one repair person is not necessarily reasonable for another. One should know his or her competence level and set goals accordingly.

I personally would like to see the level of professionalism and the quality of advice raised on this board. Does that not sound like a reasonable goal?

I welcome your comments.

Best Regards,

Dick Feldman
 
Last edited by a moderator:

shutterbug

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Oct 19, 2005
46,425
1,858
113
North Carolina
Country
Region
I agree with your thoughts, Dick. What we need to keep in mind though is that we have a lot of people on the board who are in various stages of development as clock repairmen. They post and answer questions to the best of their abilities. It's of great benefit to all of us to have folks like you who have many years of experience that they are willing to share it. When we adjust some opinions that may be less than ideal in a kind way, we have helped that person to grow and advance his skills. It's a great board, and an excellent place for learning. Lets keep it going! :)
 

lpbp

NAWCC Star Fellow
NAWCC Life Member
NAWCC Member
Aug 25, 2000
2,974
62
48
Country
Region
I agree with Dick's comments, I think that a big thing to keep in mind, is do no harm, no dunk and swish, no closing holes, no rathbun bushings, or screw in bushings, a very judicious use of solder, don't bend the arms in the strike train try to correct to a problem, unless someone messed it up before. Proper oil NO WD40, and you can't clean a movement without taking it apart, and the list goes on.
 

clarke

Registered User
Oct 25, 2009
64
5
8
Hermosa Beach, CA
Country
Gentlemen,


Thanks for all your comments.
I've been quiet as I (a mere hobbyist) am absorbing all that was said and trying to observe the movement (in light of your thoughts) going through its paces.


It's on a test stand has run in spurts. Sometimes a few hours, sometimes more before it hangs up. It has now been running for a few days, but I guess will inevitably stop again.
It seems that if friction was holding it back, it would do so in every strike phase, or at least, more often often.


Some info:
The movement is an old Japanese with Chinese markings (similar clocks on eBay claim to be late 1800's, but that's just eBay talking).
The pendulum has a healthy swing and it's in beat. I removed the springs, cleaned and greased so power is there. Movement oiled.


The pivot holes appear to be fine. Only one has been closed. For a clock pretty old, this one is in pretty good shape. I have a couple clocks like this one and being relatively rudimentary, I've found them to be quite forgiving, i.e. difficult to screw up.


Next time it stops, I'll investigate according to the Crosswell and Shutterbug posts.


I guess this is an aspect/puzzle/conundrum/frustration and mystery that makes this all for me, fun.


I don't know if this thread has been a community service or annoyance, but my little dilemma has evoked some very interesting and thoughtful philosophical observations on the whole clock repair process. I appreciate the time everyone has put in.

c. P1120013.JPG
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
10,998
1,123
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
It's on a test stand has run in spurts. Sometimes a few hours, sometimes more before it hangs up. It has now been running for a few days, but I guess will inevitably stop again.
For sure it will. Things like this won't fix themselves.

It seems that if friction was holding it back, it would do so in every strike phase, or at least, more often.
When friction, especially from wear, causes the clock to stop it can be quite random as friction nears the critical point. Things like temperature, how tightly the spring is wound, and how the individual arbore are situated in relation to one another (toward the front plate or toward the back plate) can all cause variations in friction.

The next time it stops, before doing anything and without moving or disturbing the movement, carefully and very gently move the pendulum just a bit right and left and note whether the escape wheel moves at all. That is, when you move the pendulum so the verge (pallet) moves away from the escape wheel tooth is there a position where neither pallet is in contact with the escape wheel. If yes, then there is zero power indicating that something is actually "hung up". If no, then there is some power at the escape wheel but not enough to keep the clock running.


The pendulum has a healthy swing and it's in beat. I removed the springs, cleaned and greased so power is there. Movement oiled.
The pivot holes appear to be fine. Only one has been closed. For a clock pretty old, this one is in pretty good shape.
How wide a swing is what you call healthy? A swing of 2" or more can be a good sign but if the escapement is adjusted tight it will force a wide swing or a no run condition if it can't quite muster the strength to swing that wide. The pivot hole that has been "closed" is not fine and the pivot in the hole is likely not fine either. If one hole was bad enough that someone had to close it to make the clock run then there are likely several others that have excessive wear as well. I believe the first step is to determine if this is a case of something hanging, or insufficient power.

I don't know if this thread has been a community service or annoyance, but my little dilemma has evoked some very interesting and thoughtful philosophical observations on the whole clock repair process.
Definitely not an annoyance, I suspect a learning experience for many. I feel like every clock I repair teaches me something.

RC

(A larger picture or some close up pictures may help,)
 

Forum statistics

Threads
165,482
Messages
1,440,545
Members
86,256
Latest member
eeclone
Encyclopedia Pages
1,101
Total wiki contributions
2,873
Last edit
Weekly News 7/7/19 by Tom McIntyre