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E Howard Tower Clock

Zionclock

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Jul 5, 2011
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I am a new member of this blog and have a familiar story....new volunteer to take care of church tower clock. I believe that it is a E Howard #3 three train, modified for electric motor winding assist. It runs well but has no documentation as to model #, serial #, operating and maintenance, just "folk tales" passed down through generations of clock minders with fuzzy memory. I need some advice as to lubrication requirements, types of oil, what to do and what not to do. Can anyone provide some help?
 

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doug sinclair

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I have a copy of a small booklet put out by Howard circa 1915. One movement shown I believe to be the same as the subject movement. None of the movements in the booklet show a model number! The one I believe to be the same as yours is simply called a "quarter-striking clock". I look after a "round-top" Howard tower clock with strike on the hour only, and a Seth Thomas 16A, hour and half-hour strike with gravity escapement. These operate in a climate that can reach - 40 F during the winter. I use 10-30 weight synthetic motor oil on them both.
 

Zionclock

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Jul 5, 2011
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Thanks, Doug, for your reply. I have been told that you should use different weight oils for different parts of the clock. As an example, use 10W-30 synthetic oil for the bearings with heavy loads - the cable drum bearings, the cable sheaves supporting the weights and on the steel cables themselves. Then to use "clock oil" for the bearings with lighter loads - bearings of the escape wheel and bearings further down in the gearing until you get to the cable drums. Also, use clock oil on the escape wheel teeth and anchor pallets by taking a flat artist's brush (3/8") and "painting" a pallet with clock oil before it moves into the escape wheel, then letting the pallet itself lubricate three or so teeth, and then repainting the pallet again. Repeat this process until all 40 teeth are lubricated, then do the same with the other pallet. Any thoughts on this?
 

gvasale

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Serial numbers can be hard, sometimes impossible to find. A clock like the one in question usually has the number stenciled on the end of the frame, but it may have it stamped on the horizontal surface at the same ends with numbers about 1/4" tall. They may be obscured by years of accumulation of dust etc. That winding setup looks wild. Do you slide the bevel gears into mesh to wind each train? Mounts for gearing suggest extensive care in that design suggesting it was done by Howard, at least thats what I think. You should give us a description of its operation.
 

Zionclock

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Jul 5, 2011
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You are correct.....the horizontal shaft in front of the clock is connected to an electric motor and is not used until winding is required. The three gears on the shaft are not engaged during normal operation. For winding, one of the three gears on the shaft is engaged by sliding into its respective winding gear. The motor is turned on until the weight for that train is fully wound up. The motor is stopped, the gear disengaged, and the next gear on the shaft is engaged into its respective winding gear. This procedure is continued for all three trains. This works well and saves the back!

I'll look again for and numbers on the clock, but I do not have much hope in finding any. Thanks.
 

doug sinclair

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Zionclock,

Some folks recommend typical clock oil for lubricating tower clocks. Upon the advice of a prominent maker and restorer of tower clocks (who shall remain nameless), I use what he uses. 10-30 synthetic motor oil for all the usual places except the bottom end where the strain is greater, and pulleys, and cables. There I use synthetic hypoid gear oil. The climate here is comfortable for 6 months out of the year. But our tower clocks operate at + or - 0 degrees F for at least two months out of the year, then at temperatures below that for another four months, with temperatures that do occasionally go to - 35 to - 40 F. Both operate in unheated cupolas. Is there a lubricant designed for tower clocks with sufficient viscosity that is suited to operating conditions such as these? In short, you be the judge as to what you feel is suited to your clocks and your environment. I have been looking after two tower clocks here for 21 years, and I find my regimen works.
 

Zionclock

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Jul 5, 2011
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Thanks Doug for your comment. One more question....how often do you lubricate the two clocks that you maintain?
 

Peter A. Nunes

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That is indeed a very impressive, simple, and non-destructive (I think) electric winding system. It still takes a person to operate it, but no backbreaking winding is involved. I have restored and maintain the Howard in our town hall here in Rhode island, and I heard through the grapevine that the custodian who winds it does so twice a week. I saw him at the post office one day, and asked him why, and he said it tired him out to wind both trains all at once. He is in his mid sixties, and slight of build, so what he said made sense. It had never occurred to me that winding could be a problem, but people do become physically limited as the years go on.
 

Kuckucksuhren

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Jul 26, 2010
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It's very cool to see another E Howard quarter strike! You've probably read it already, but there are some good pics and info on St. Stephen's clock: https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?t=69507 It's another E Howard quarter strike that I am taking care of. It is hand wound, however.

The oil that has been used on St. Stephen's clock is the oil in glass bottles. They look pretty old and may even be the original animal lard oils.

Your's is the only other clock I've seen with a thick chain for the quarter side. How is that holding up? I'm afraid the one at St. Stephen's will have to be replaced if I want it to strike again.

Good luck!
 

Zionclock

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Jul 5, 2011
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Hi John, it's nice to hear from someone working on a twin(almost) to our clock. The chain drive works well and I will try to keep it that way by lubricating with synthetic hypoid gear oil, as has been suggested. I am looking for any documentation that exists for the operation of the clock, such as setting the time. There is a spring loaded pin inserted into a 60 tooth wheel which I think is for time setting, but I am afraid to touch it....I may screw something up with the synchronization between the time and the chimes. Does anyone out there know the proper way of setting the time, both fast and slow, other than stopping the clock and waiting for the proper time to restart it? There must be operating instructions out the somewhere! Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.
 

FDelGreco

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That's what the pin is for. Pull it out and you can rotate the shaft going to the outside dials. The setting dial on the clock will move as well -- it should be synchronized with the outside dial.

Somewhere I have a copy of a poster that Howard used to include with the clock. I'll look for it. It tells how to care for the clock.

Frank Del Greco
 

gvasale

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Properly set & synchronized time strike & chime trains shouldn't bee too difficult. But you'll find that out after runing it through a cycle or two. 3 train tower clocks don't respond well to setting time back when near the hour or quarters. There it is best to stop the clock and wait. Setting ahead using the index pin is simple and accurate to the minute, however stopping the clock and restarting at the right moment is the method the Howard paperwork describes. The older locking sleeve, a bit slower, was more flexible, that is allowing for splitting minutes accurately. The worm gear setup of Seth thomas is very accurate, but cumbersome depending where the key sits inside the frame. You really don't need hypoid gear lube for the chain drive. Any good oil which can provide rust and oxidation protection should be fine. However, I havent seen too many of the old chain drives in operation, and most have seldom been oiled from what I see. Just remember, excess oil attracts dust and dirt.
 

Zionclock

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Jul 5, 2011
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Thanks to all for your helpful suggestions. I still have a concern regarding setting the time using the spring loaded pin which is currently in one of the 60 holes in a facing wheel. I understand that if I pull the pin and rotate the wheel with the holes to a different position and reset the pin into a different hole that the outside hands will turn and the machine mounted clock will also move to match them. But, will the chimes follow this change? In other words, will it now chime five minutes earlier than the hands indicate it should? Did I move only the hands and not the chiming triggers?
I really do appreciate all your help!
 

gvasale

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did you ever check to see if the hands are matching the clock? There are setscrews on each handshaft which allows this to be done. Otherwise it would be very difficult to loosen and move the bevel gears on the transmission and you could still be off. The setscrews are on the "expansion joint" that is the part with the sliding key at one end of the handshaft.
 

Zionclock

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Jul 5, 2011
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Gvasale,
Yes, I have checked the hands against the machine mounted clock and they are about two minutes off. I did find the "expansion joint" that you mentioned (see below) and it does have a set screw that can be loosened to allow the shaft to the hands to be rotated, thereby moving the hands to whatever time required. This would be a "fix" if moving the spring loaded pin unsynchronized the chimes with the hands. I was hoping that changing the time by moving the spring loaded pin would move the chiming trigger along with it. After studying the location of the various notched wheels that control the chimes, I think that it might be so, but I am a coward to try without some confirmation from my friends here on this blog.
 

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Kuckucksuhren

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Jul 26, 2010
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I don't think you will have a problem with the chiming. According to my knowledge and what I remember: The clutch (spring loaded pin) prevents the movement from being damaged as the vertical time shaft is turned forward. That vertical shaft is connected to a wheel with 4 "release pins" (4 bumps). That release wheel is connected to the wheel with 60 holes that the clutch locks into. So every 15 holes on the clutch wheel, there is a peak on the release wheel behind it. There is a cam that rests on the release wheel, which when raised, will cause the quarter train to activate.

You can see this idea on this picture:

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2049

I don't know if that made sense, just ask me to clarify if it didn't. And correct me if I am wrong on anything.

Here are the original (1879) instructions that came with St. Stephen's clock.

https://mb.nawcc.org/picture.php?albumid=348&pictureid=2050
 

Zionclock

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Jul 5, 2011
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Thank you, John, for your explanation. It sounds reasonable. Have you been able to see the "release wheel" with the four bumps in your clock? I haven't been able to get my eyes on it yet in ours....it's buried in the clock works in an awkward position. Your implication is that these bumps are what I referred to as the chiming trigger, and since this trigger is beyond the "wheel with 60 holes" the chimes should follow the 60 hole wheel, and therefore the machine mounted clock, and the outside hands also. This is great, if it's true. Did I understand this correctly? Also, thanks for your 1879 directions.
 

doug sinclair

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That is exactly what the spring loaded index pin is for. And there is no danger of throwing the time and strike out of synchronization. However, there will be a limit to how far backwards you can re-set the time using the re-set feature. You will not be able to set the hands backwards past the 60-minute of any hour. So the time change in the fall requires that you set the clock ahead 11 hours, or stop it for one hour.
 

Kuckucksuhren

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@Zionclock Yes, that is exactly what I meant! In the picture I had in my last post, you can see the spring loaded clutch near the center of the picture. Behind that is the 60 hole wheel, and behind that is the solid brass release wheel. Behind that is the bottom wheel of the perpendicular shaft which is attached to your machine mounted clock and dials.
@Mr. Sinclair That's right. I have only been able to go back 1-2 minutes with this mechanism.
 

Zionclock

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Jul 5, 2011
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Thank you Doug and John, you have eliminated my concern. I will avoid setting the hands backwards. It just seems to be asking for trouble to turn any chiming clock backwards. I'll wait for time to catch up to me. In going forwards I assume that I have to wait at each quarter hour for the chiming to be completed....I can't just jump over the quarters, can I? The procedure will be to pull out the index pin, turn the vertical shaft going to the outside hands until the machine mounted clock shows the correct time, stopping if necessary at the quarter hours to allow chiming to complete, and then releasing the index pin. The pin will snap into the next hole to come along. Do I have this correct?
 

gvasale

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That's pretty much it, in a nutshell. Waiting for the chime to cycle isn't the end of the world. Unless you're right next to the bells, that is... Then bring your earplugs.
 

Boslwne@tds.net

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Re: E Howard Tower Clock oiling

The E. Howard Tower Clock in the tower of the (now) First Congregational Church in Hopkinton Village NH has clock care instructions that were for the clock when it was purchased and installed in 1891. They look like this:

file:///Users/lee/Library/Caches/TemporaryItems/moz-screenshot-1.png
file:///Users/lee/Library/Caches/TemporaryItems/moz-screenshot.png
Hope this works, I am a "new" user...Boslwne
 

Zionclock

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Jul 5, 2011
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Re: E Howard Tower Clock oiling

Thanks for your note, Boslwne, but I could not access your files. They look like files local to your computer or network. If you can make them into .jpg type files, then you can attach them directly to your note for viewing here. I have been provided pictures shown earlier in this thread of a single page by E. Howard Clock Company which has been helpful. I have been unable to find any other documentation for this "Quarter Strike" tower clock. Thankfully it has been running since 1906 with few problems. After careful study of its operation and suggestions from this blog, the lubrication requirements have been identified. There are a few cams on the main shaft, the function of which are still a mystery, but are suspected to be for the night silencer function, which quiets the quarter strikes for nine hours and keeps the neighbors happy. I'm still looking..........