E. Howard Clock Striking Issue

Paul M

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Hello all! I’m a brand new NAWCC member and a novice in the field of horology ... but willing to learn! I’m part of a group that maintains our town’s 1906 Model 0 E. Howard tower clock. It was professionally refurbished about 9 months ago and has been keeping excellent time. Occasionally, though, the chiming mechanism “sticks” in mid-chime. Here’s a recent video of the clock “sticking” after 2 chimes at 5pm.

The problem is easily corrected by either rotating the governor blades slightly or by lifting the pawl off the chiming gear. To stop the problem from happening, we’ve tried the following:
  1. Lubricated the chiming mechanism (hoping to reduce friction);
  2. Adjusted the governor blades (hoping to reduce air friction and speeding up the chiming process);
  3. Added a bit of slack to the wire running up to the bell hammer, allowing the bell drum to start turning and acquire a bit of kinetic energy before trying to lift the bell hammer.
These have helped but have not solved the problem. We’re now thinking that the chiming weights are just barely sufficient to power the chiming mechanism and are occasionally unable to overcome the existing inertia/friction involved in lifting the bell hammer in the belfry. We’re now considering three additional actions:
  1. Offset some of the weight of the hammer by hanging some weight either at the end of the wire running up to the bell hammer or at the end of the chiming pawl;
  2. Replacing the current stack of square chiming weights with a cylindrical stack of weights, thereby removing a potential source of friction as the weights rotate in the shaft;
  3. Increasing the total amount of chiming weights (currently 218 lbs.)
Can excess chiming weights do damage to the chiming mechanism? Is there a way to calculate the optimum weight? I’d be interested in any thoughts whatsoever on this issue.
 
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Peter A. Nunes

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Hello Paul, welcome to the NAWCC and the message board. When was the last time the mechanism was cleaned and repaired? If it has been years, there is likely wear that is causing excessive friction in the strike train. If there is old oil and/or grease on the pivots, it may have turned gummy and if so, may be causing drag too. Adding more weight will likely increase the rate of wear, and is not a good solution. If the clock formerly struck effectively using the weight provided, which it likely did, the problem is not too little weight, but too little maintenance and repair.

Friction from the weights dragging in the weight channel is also unlikely to have much effect on anything, and replacing the original square plate weights with round ones is certainly not good from a preservation standpoint. Many of these wonderful mechanisms have been lost or butchered, and parts tend to disappear when removed.

I have restored, and maintain, the same model Howard for our Town Hall here in Rhode Island.

While watching the video, I can hear a squeaking sound that may emanate from a dry pivot.

The clock looks to have wonderful original paint!
 

Paul M

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Peter,

Thanks for the reply. We just had the clock torn-down, cleaned and repaired last July by a professional tower clock repair company. It is keeping excellent time with only an occasional jam in the chimes. I'm loath to add any extra weight and I'm also sensitive to the possible historic value of the set of square weights powering the chime mechanism. I've only been a part of the clock maintenance group for 2 years but the chimes have always jammed every now and then. Since last years restoration, though, it happens much less frequently. We'll focus on getting rid of that squeaky noise that can be heard on the video. Dry pivot, huh?

- Paul -
 

Peter A. Nunes

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Thanks for the reply. We just had the clock torn-down, cleaned and repaired last July by a professional tower clock repair company. It is keeping excellent time with only an occasional jam in the chimes. I'm loath to add any extra weight and I'm also sensitive to the possible historic value of the set of square weights powering the chime mechanism. I've only been a part of the clock maintenance group for 2 years but the chimes have always jammed every now and then. Since last years restoration, though, it happens much less frequently. We'll focus on getting rid of that squeaky noise that can be heard on the video. Dry pivot, huh?

- Paul -[/QUOTE]
It sounds like a dry pivot, but of course it could be something else, maybe an agitated mouse.

One possibility is a slightly bent or distorted tooth on one of the wheels. You might want to mark the teeth where they engage the pinions,when it is hung up. That will show you whether it is stopping at the same place every time, or if it is a random event. You can mark the teeth with a small Sharpie.
 
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Paul M

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One possibility is a slightly bent or distorted tooth on one of the wheels. You might want to mark the teeth where they engage the pinions,when it is hung up. That will show you whether it is stopping at the same place every time, or if it is a random event. You can mark the teeth with a small Sharpie.
Worth a try. It's been 15 days since the last jam, but I know it's going to happen again.
 

Jim DuBois

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That squeaking while striking needs to be resolved. From the frequency of the squeak it is high up in the train, most likely in one of the fly bushings/pivots. I would be on the look out for both a dry bushing and a worn/scored pivot. If it is just dry a bit of oil should make it disapear but....tower clocks tend to need oil fairly frequently, some recommend carefully oiling monthly. I would suggest looking for dry bushings no less often than quarterly. And I would think that who ever did the refirbish would be worth contacting in regard to both the squeak and the train stopping. I would think them to be related....and may reflect something not properly done in the refurbishment..and not likely to get better left unattended...
 

Paul M

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That squeaking while striking needs to be resolved. From the frequency of the squeak it is high up in the train, most likely in one of the fly bushings/pivots.
Oiling the high part of the train seems to have taken care of the squeak. Time will tell whether it solves the jamming problem, but the squeak is basically gone. Listen for yourself: Before vs. After.
 
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kevin h

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That was a bad queak , I guess it solved it ? If one bushing was missed ............. I would look it over good , oil is cheaper than any part on there
 

Paul M

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That was a bad queak , I guess it solved it ? If one bushing was missed ............. I would look it over good , oil is cheaper than any part on there
The bad news is that the squeak is starting to come back. I'm guessing the additional oil masks a small, underlying misalignment. The good news, though, is that the striking train hasn't jammed in over a month.
 

kevin h

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I would think something has been missed , worn arbor / bushing and needs immediate attention , what oil did you use ?
 

kevin h

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I don't know why I asked , it is a hot topic , I have heard 10-30 synthetic , bounced around , I think the damage is done the way it squalled , but a little extra oil on it won't hurt until resolved
 

gvasale

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Lots of people neglect to check the pivoting structure of the bell hammer
It' meant to allow force to rotate the hammer in an arc. Many times the thing is worn so much the strike train has to lift the hammer to get it to work, all requiring the clock' strike train to work harder.
 

kevin h

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Lots of people neglect to check the pivoting structure of the bell hammer
It' meant to allow force to rotate the hammer in an arc. Many times the thing is worn so much the strike train has to lift the hammer to get it to work, all requiring the clock' strike train to work harder.
You may have just nailed it ! that would make good sense , most of these clocks are really neglected
 

Paul M

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Lots of people neglect to check the pivoting structure of the bell hammer
We oil the following two pivot points on the hammer on a quarterly basis. Maybe I'll throw a little extra oil in those areas. I'm not sure how this would relate to the squeaking noise but it could contribute to the occasional jam of the striking train.
upload_2018-5-25_12-16-25.png
 

gvasale

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How sloppy are the pivots? Does the shaft appear to lift when in operation? I would oil them every time I oil the clock
 

Paul M

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Does the shaft appear to lift when in operation?
I actually don't know the answer to this one. I usually stay out of the belfry when the bell is sounding. :) Something to check, though. Thanks!
 

gvasale

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You can manipulate that by hand and see excessive wear if its there.
 
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