Counterbalancing Hands of E. Howard Tower Clock

Discussion in 'Tower, Monumental & Street Clocks' started by William Shoucair, May 3, 2019.

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  1. William Shoucair

    William Shoucair Registered User
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    Apr 23, 2019
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    How does one counterbalance the hands of an E. Howard roundtop tower clock - model #2 striker with app. 5' diameter clock face - 4 clock faces in the tower. Wooden hands.
     
  2. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
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    The hubs that the hands mount on will be drilled and tapped for a small rod that extends out opposite the hand. This rod will be about 1/2 to 2/3 as long as the hand and have a sliding cylindrical weight with a set screw. A 5 foot clock would have a counterbalanced minute and hour hand. Willie X
     
  3. William Shoucair

    William Shoucair Registered User
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    Apr 23, 2019
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    Those are on the outside on the hand side of the glass, correct? I see them - rods opposite each hand. I figured that there should be weights on them but looked carefully and there are none - figured they must have fallen off over the years of weather and wear. Is that the only way to do this correctly - to put weights on those rods, from the outside? I really don't have access to them.
     
  4. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
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    Your hands could be balanced by the weight of the rod alone. They are all different but sounds like you have one with no access to the outside? That can be a big problem! Willie X
     
  5. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    What makes you suspect they need counterbalanced? An issue with them slipping?
     
  6. William Shoucair

    William Shoucair Registered User
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    Apr 23, 2019
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    When I pull out the pin to the drive gear and can turn the hands to set them using the drive shaft, the hands move freely BUT they want to settle in to a low point then it takes effort to turn them all the way around, then they settle into the low point again. Not sure if this makes sense. So I jury rigged balancing them from the inside with spring clamps until they turned smoothly and evenly all the way around and the clock is working fine and keeping good time, but again, this is jury rigged and probably better if they were counter-balanced the right way. Do you think there is another reason they did not turn evenly?
     
  7. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    Precision regulators, when they incorporate a counterbalance, will usually put it behind the dial.

    Ralph
     
  8. jjsantos

    jjsantos Registered User
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    May 7, 2017
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    Hmmmm...There are folks on this forum a lot more experienced than I, but I have a similar clock - 5 foot face, 3 dials, E Howard #2 . The counterbalance are the rods, as Willie said. Frankly, I hold the leading out work pretty securely when disconnecting the drive pin - the rod moves smoothly to adjust, but I wouldn't trust it to stay in position. If the gears aren't slipping or grinding , it's not shearing the pin, and the clock is keeping time, I might argue the hands are counterbalanced close enough, so why mess with it? I am watching this thread closely in case I need to take action ;)
     
  9. William Shoucair

    William Shoucair Registered User
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    Apr 23, 2019
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    I kind of agree since it's working quite nicely, but wondering what might have happened to the balancing over the years to throw it so far out. Yes, it has counterbalance rods only but guess they aren't sufficient at this point. If you find anything more out and vs will post here.
     
  10. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    Mar 3, 2006
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    This is an interesting topic. The Howards I've dealt with, both tower clocks and street clocks, have simple steel rods threaded into the hand hubs, as mentioned above. No sliding weights. When I restored our town hall dials two years ago, I had to replace the hands, and I made good reproductions in western red cedar, which were then primed and gold leafed. With the original counterbalance rods, they are almost perfectly balanced. The original circa 1923 hands were weathered away so that they weigh very little- so when the hands were allowed to freewheel, they would settle at 12:00, the weight of the rods overwhelming the weight of the dried out and weathered hands. If the hands on your dials move around freely, with little resistance, I wouldn't worry too much about perfect balance. Your spring clamp idea is a good one, if they'll stay in place. Non destructive to the original parts, and "Cheap & Cheerful", as a friend often says!
     
  11. William Shoucair

    William Shoucair Registered User
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    Apr 23, 2019
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    Peter, that is very interesting and something I didn't think of - the wooden hands might be so worn they have no weight and the counterbalance rods are heavier! I took a closeup with my telephoto of the clock face and will look at it more carefully. I would bet these are the original hands from 1902 (Howard records show it was installed in June of 1902 :) ) Yes, I guess if my clamp jury-rigged balancing is working why fuss, right? Thanks for the feedback. Bill
     
  12. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    It sounds like your hour hand wants to to end up at 6, though, which indicates that the hand is heavier than the rod.
     
  13. jjsantos

    jjsantos Registered User
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    I am trying to understand your inside spring clamp jury rig. Do you have pictures?
     
  14. ElectricTime

    ElectricTime Registered User
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    We wrote a FAQ on rod tails for tower clocks - as clients have asked about it.

    For some special projects, we have put a counterweight on the backside of the clock mechanism (we extend the minute hand shaft through the clock movement and add a counterweight there). This does create torsion on the shaft(s) though.


    Brass rod tails can be very visually pleasing (photo below).

    rodtails.jpg
     
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