Dislike of Lantern Pinions?

Isaac

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Quick question.

Some collectors/repair people I know are of the opinion that lantern pinions on earlier 20th century clocks (mass produced) are indication of inferior movement quality than those of solid cut pinions. Literature from the 1920s-1930s also heavily advertised "steel cut pinions" on clocks and left lantern pinions out of the advertising brochure if the movement had them.

However, you get clocks like the Seth Thomas #2 Regulator movement which are highly praised by collectors, but these use lantern pinions. Other repair people I know praise lantern pinions to be extremely easy to repair (replace trundles versus create an entire new arbor).

What gives? Is there something I've been missing that is significantly wrong with the design of lantern pinions in general? A clock with lantern pinions (with proper adjustment so that the wheel interacts with the pinion properly) that is properly cared for and maintained in my experience is just as quiet and keep good accuracy across the week.
 
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wow

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I like them. Example: I repaired a Hershede several years ago which had cut pinions. One leaf cracked on one of the larger arbors. I did not have a mill or the skills to make a new arbor with a cut pinion. I had to send it out and have one made. The cost was almost $300. If it would have been a lantern pinion I could have done it myself.
 

Isaac

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I like them. Example: I repaired a Hershede several years ago which had cut pinions. One leaf cracked on one of the larger arbors. I did not have a mill or the skills to make a new arbor with a cut pinion. I had to send it out and have one made. The cost was almost $300. If it would have been a lantern pinion I could have done it myself.
I agree. It's much easier to replace a trundle than to remake an entire arbor. A well-made lantern pinion with hard steel trundles just seems like the better choice out of the two, but it's confusing as to why literature from the time period (as well as even today) solid leaf pinions are considered superior.
 

Jim DuBois

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A properly constructed lantern pinion is a bit more efficient than cut pinions, and thereby a bit better, or so some experts point out. Many of us think of cut pinions as being better than lantern pinions. There have been experiments that confirm the lantern pinion efficiency is better, but I do like cut 10 leaf S.B. Terry pinions over lantern pinions, be it in Seth Thomas regulators or elsewhere. But, that is a perception based on my preconceived prejudices, not fact. You can see more at Lantern pinions on lower portions of trains | NAWCC Forums
 
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chimeclockfan

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I don't mind lantern pinions as long as they work. You can't just judge the quality of a clock by lantern vs. solid pinions.
My old monster Kienzle 3 train with lantern pinions on the middle & upper wheels is durable and good-running.
 

Schatznut

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I have a number of 400-day clocks from 1890 to about 1930 that have lantern pinions and have never had a problem with them. The mechanical loading on the lower wheels is significant, but even after 100 years I see no sign of wear other than polishing on the contact surfaces. The evolution to machine-cut pinions makes sense from a manufacturing perspective - once the machinery capitalization is amortized, the recurring cost is lower because lantern pinions are labor-intensive, comparatively. I agree with Will - I'd far rather have to rebuild a lantern pinion than have to have someone fabricate a new cut pinion for me.
 

leeinv66

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Another reason for using lantern pinions in mass produced movements is they have a much greater tolerance for being misaligned. However, that is exactly the reason you don't find them in high end movements.
 

Salsagev

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Aren't a poor quality cut pinion inferior to a good quality trundle?
 

Isaac

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What about commercial clocks? For instance, look at these two tower clock movements. One uses lantern pinions throughout, while the other uses lantern pinions on the fly arbors. Are these just lower quality tower clock movements?


 

chimeclockfan

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The concept of 'graded' movements fell out during the Depression years due to two big factors:

1. All households just needed a working timepiece regardless of "quality", leading to the popularity of economic designs such as the box regulator. The companies that couldn't compromise resources were the first to drop like old flies. The remaining companies that banged on about unfettered quality such as Herschede and F. W. Elliott had to compromise to survive.

2. There just wasn't much objective difference between differing grades besides minute aspects that fewer and fewer people cared about.
No one cared about plate thickness and chime melodies when there was hardly enough money for food.

I don't do tower clocks but neither of those look like 'low quality movements'.
 

Mike Phelan

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My Black Forest clock with wooden arbors and lantern pinions (with no shrouds) has been working without fail for half a century in our kitchen ...
 

Mike Phelan

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What about commercial clocks? For instance, look at these two tower clock movements. One uses lantern pinions throughout, while the other uses lantern pinions on the fly arbors. Are these just lower quality tower clock movements?


What a beautiful clock!
 

John P

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All modern grandfather clock movements use machine cut pinions.

As a result, most all of them fail early because of junk built up in the leaves of the pinion. It is packed so dense, you have to scrape it out with a toothpick. The finer ones used in the 3rd and forth wheels and up, fill up first an begin to push the wheel above it to gain clearance.

It is the number 1 reason these movements stop running.

I see it almost every time on a service call to a customers home. It can cost them as much as $500 to a thousand dollars to get the clock back in service and should be good for 10 years or so before the crude is once again pushing wheels out of the way and wearing bushings out.

Cuckoo movements suffer the same early failure caused by crude build up in the pinions.

Lantern pinions do not fill up with junk even if run for a hundred years. Any crude will be pushed to the center and hopefully fall out.

So, cut pinions were not an improvement to clock movements, but rather the reason they dont last

They are cheaper to produce and certainly ,,,,,,,, to produce future sales.

my 2 cents
johnp
 
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Jim DuBois

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Lantern pinions have been around for a while. This is the oldest functioning clock in the world IIRC. Notice its pinions. Said to date to 1386?

1621171519597.png
 

Salsagev

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Lantern pinions have been around for a while. This is the oldest functioning clock in the world IIRC. Notice its pinions. Said to date to 1386?

View attachment 654589
I do not see issues against trundles except that they are hard to clean - no doubt that regular cut pinions are still hard to clean.
 

Isaac

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I don't do tower clocks but neither of those look like 'low quality movements'.
Precisely. I am trying to just understand why a leaf pinion (which has the one positive of being hardened steel) is seemingly agreed upon as being superior to lantern pinions by some collector's I've talked to.

All modern grandfather clock movements use machine cut pinions.

As a result, most all of them fail early because of junk built up in the leaves of the pinion. It is packed so dense, you have to scrape it out with a toothpick. The finer ones used in the 3rd and forth wheels and up, fill up first an begin to push the wheel above it to gain clearance.

It is the number 1 reason these movements stop running.

I see it almost every time on a service call to a customers home. It can cost them as much as $500 to a thousand dollars to get the clock back in service and should be good for 10 years or so before the crude is once again pushing wheels out of the way and wearing bushings out.

Cuckoo movements suffer the same early failure caused by crude build up in the pinions.

Lantern pinions do not fill up with junk even if run for a hundred years. Any crude will be pushed to the center and hopefully fall out.

So, cut pinions were not an improvement to clock movements, but rather the reason they dont last

They are cheaper to produce and certainly ,,,,,,,, to produce future sales.

my 2 cents
johnp
Agreed here as well. Lantern pinions are a lot more forgiving to wear (I think a lot of the older clocks we see come across the bench with very worn pivot holes yet are still running feature lantern pinions versus solid pinions). Making solid pinions is easy with a CNC machine and an able machinist, and can be rapidly reproduced.

The reason I posted the tower clock movements was to demonstrate that even though the 2nd wheel's lantern pinion is under high load from a huge weight, it's still ticking and doing what it's supposed to.

Finally, I've heard the argument that solid pinions are more accurate than lantern pinions in weight regulator clocks. If both types of pinions are in good condition and supply an equal amount of power throughout the clocks run period, then how are solid pinions superior?
 

leeinv66

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The amount of worn out trundles I have had to replace over the years in mass produced movements must number in the hundreds. The amount of worn out leaf pinions I have had to replace is a handful. I just won't buy the argument that lantern pinions are superior. It is not a fair representation to say leaf pinions are inferior because of how they wear in modern grandfather movements. It is not the design, but the material the pinions are made from that fails in those movements.
 

Isaac

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The amount of worn out trundles I have had to replace over the years in mass produced movements must number in the hundreds. The amount of worn out leaf pinions I have had to replace is a handful. I just won't buy the argument that lantern pinions are superior. It is not a fair representation to say leaf pinions are inferior because of how they wear in modern grandfather movements. It is not the design, but the material the pinions are made from that fails in those movements.
I agree with your point. But couldn't it also be argued that you'll encounter a lot more mass-manufactured movements for the fact that there are many more budget-friendly movements than their more expensive solid pinion counterparts? I suppose the same point can be made that a lantern pinion made with hardened steel trundles and beefy shrouds versus softer steel will fare much better in the longer run.

I suppose to make a final conclusion, 2 movements of identical build in all other aspects besides pinions (and the associated wheel tooth patterns to engage with those pinions properly) would have to be run and compared for a long time, and both movements would have to use high grade material for the pinions of both types to produce accurate results.

Just my 'pinion.
 
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