English Long-case: motion works previously bodged

Simon Holt

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I offered to help a lady who has a family-heirloom, a 19thC long-case clock of English origin. Her husband had paid to have it restored as a Christmas present after 30+ years of not running. The 'restorer' collected the movement and kept it for 18 months before returning it as 'running'. The husband did the re-installation into the case but could not get it running, and gave up until I came along...

To call this a bodge job would be an understatement - a real candidate for the hall of shame - and I'm working my way through the issues. I got it running just fine by raising the anchor a tad (maybe I'm just compensating for wear but I haven't yet decided whether bushings are really needed).

But I need guidance, please, on one specific issue regarding the motion works:

The tube part of the bridge (terminology?) that supports the cannon pinion has been replaced at some point. The fat end of the cannon pinion does not sit inside the tube:

PXL_20220620_112422259.jpg

In an ideal situation that may not matter too much, but that new tube has been installed at a slight angle, so when you put tension on by fitting the minute hand, the fat end of the hour cannon collides with the lip of that tube. The 'restorer' had compensated for the leaning tube by shimming it with scraps of sandpaper (yes, really...).

Is that tube too short? Or do I just need to correct the lean?

Simon
 

Uhralt

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I think that tube needs to be longer to at least partially cover the fat end. It appears that the tube has been soldered onto the bridge. You can simply unsolder it and replace it with a longer tube.

Uhralt
 

Simon Holt

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Sage advice as always. Thanks, Uhralt. I've done that now with good results. Fortunately I had the materials and tools to do this otherwise I'd have had to either farm it out or buy stuff in (I don't mind that but it delays gratification :emoji_nerd: ).

I still can't believe how badly bodged this movement was. Just one example: there was no tension on the minute hand, which was actually retained using a dressmakers pin bent into a 'U' shape. When I removed the motion works, this is what I found instead of a tension washer:

PXL_20220620_103213738.jpg
Yes, that's right. A domed brass washer. Admittedly it was a hollowed-out dome and might have provided 'some' tension, but what were they thinking?

Thanks again

Simon
 

svenedin

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That poor movement. It's so filthy and so bodged! I see the rack tail covered in solder and the rack tail spring soldered onto the plate. Horrid, horrid. I think you might be in for some "fun" when it comes to getting that movement to strike properly as the strike geometry may be wrong given the level of sheer incompetence seen here.

 
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Thomas Sanguigni

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Simon, I would certainly start with a bath. After you clean up the pivots, that's when you can determine how many bushings will be needed. It seems you will have to take it one step at a time. On movements like this, I make a list to keep me on task. I see more and more units like this. They are a total basket case, but with determination you can return it to a good working order.
 

Simon Holt

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I think you might be in for some "fun" when it comes to getting that movement to strike properly as the strike geometry may be wrong given the level of sheer incompetence seen here.
You're right, it is wrong! It is striking one less than it should (meaning none at all at one o'clock). I need to work out how many degrees to rotate the tail, and devise a method of ensuring that I achieve precisely that amount of rotation. I suppose I can fine-tune it by filing the tail pin, but that's a last resort and almost certainly a horological crime.

After you clean up the pivots, that's when you can determine how many bushings will be needed. It seems you will have to take it one step at a time.
Quite right. My aim at the moment is to reverse all of the bodges, so that I can see how well it is working. I call this 'triage', before the real work starts.

Simon
 

Mike Phelan

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Simon, I would certainly start with a bath.
Then do the same with the clock movement :chuckling:
After you clean up the pivots, that's when you can determine how many bushings will be needed.
As it's a "normal" British LC movement, I'd be quite surprised if many or any bushes were needed. The rack tail probably just needs a slight move on its collet.
To tension the hands, usual thing is a bent oval washer between the shoulder on the centre pivot and a domed washer on the minute hand. The cannon pinion should be completely free of the bridge.
 

svenedin

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Then do the same with the clock movement :chuckling:
As it's a "normal" British LC movement, I'd be quite surprised if many or any bushes were needed. The rack tail probably just needs a slight move on its collet.
To tension the hands, usual thing is a bent oval washer between the shoulder on the centre pivot and a domed washer on the minute hand. The cannon pinion should be completely free of the bridge.
These:


 

Simon Holt

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As it's a "normal" British LC movement, I'd be quite surprised if many or any bushes were needed. The rack tail probably just needs a slight move on its collet.
To tension the hands, usual thing is a bent oval washer between the shoulder on the centre pivot and a domed washer on the minute hand. The cannon pinion should be completely free of the bridge.
The pivot holes all look good. The exception was the front pallet arbor pivot hole, which explained why the anchor was lower than it should be. The pallet cock had the usual pins in place thus preventing adjustment, but the screw holes were oval (and were slightly skewy so probably not as it left the factory - or cottage;)). I knocked out one of the pins so that I could raise the anchor and it now runs happily on 4lb.

I tweaked the position of the rack tail by the 1.4 mm required for one extra 'step' on the snail. The clock was then striking one too many instead of one too few... So I tweaked it back and it went back to missing one o'clock but was now correct for all other hours - maybe I had miscounted originally? The missing one o'clock strike was due to the gathering pallet *just* interfering with the stop pin on the rack. I bent the stop pin slightly and the clock is now striking as it should. But to be honest I'm not happy with the bent pin.

I made a new oval hand tension washer from clock spring material. I realise that the steel will wear away the brass on the back of the cannon pinion but I don't have any springy brass. Svenedin posted a link to a replacement and I think that's the horologically correct solution for the age of the clock. But most mantle clocks have a steel tension spring rubbing against a brass centre wheel so maybe I'm OK?

Regarding the cannon pinion: Are you saying my new longer tube was unnecessary? This is what it looks like now:

PXL_20220621_113233509.jpg
EDIT: See post #36 - it was unnecessary.

This is how I found it:
PXL_20220620_111912569.jpg
As I found it, I could not put tension on the minute hand. Now I can, and there's no interference with the rest of the motion works. The time train now runs on 4lb (just).

Thanks Svenedin. My usual supplier (Cousins) does the tension springs but not the turned washers. I've actually turned down my own in the past but parting-off is a trial! My machining skills are very first-grade (not first rate...). I wonder whether a solid washer like that would be too thick for this movement - if you look at the end of the minute arbor it looks like it has previously snapped off at the hole for the securing pin.

Simon
 
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Mike Phelan

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The pivot holes all look good. The exception was the front pallet arbor pivot hole, which explained why the anchor was lower than it should be. The pallet cock had the usual pins in place thus preventing adjustment, but the screw holes were oval (and were slightly skewy so probably not as it left the factory - or cottage;)). I knocked out one of the pins so that I could raise the anchor and it now runs happily on 4lb.

I tweaked the position of the rack tail by the 1.4 mm required for one extra 'step' on the snail. The clock was then striking one too many instead of one too few... So I tweaked it back and it went back to missing one o'clock but was now correct for all other hours - maybe I had miscounted originally? The missing one o'clock strike was due to the gathering pallet *just* interfering with the stop pin on the rack. I bent the stop pin slightly and the clock is now striking as it should. But to be honest I'm not happy with the bent pin.
Half a tweak?
But most mantle clocks have a steel tension spring rubbing against a brass centre wheel so maybe I'm OK?
On those I see, the spring doesn't move on the centre wheel, but on the arbor when you turn the hands. On your clock, sll should be good if the ends of the spring are polished.
Regarding the cannon pinion: Are you saying my new longer tube was unnecessary? This is what it looks like now:
That seems fine now.
 
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Simon Holt

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One final problem remains with this clock. It runs strongly until I connect up the automaton, after which it will soon slow to a stop. The automaton is a see-saw:
PXL_20220622_060804886.jpg
It is driven by a twisted wire off the top of the anchor arbor:


I've never encountered an automaton before. Am I missing some trick in setting it up? It seems very free swinging so I can't imagine it would cause such a drag.

Simon
 

bruce linde

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i would make sure the pivot holes are good, or bush them. i would make sure that nut isn't too tight. i would replace that twisted wire with a brass crutch, polished smooth smooth.
 

Thomas Sanguigni

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If the holes do not need bushed, at least, smooth broach them. I would oil the crutch and wire connection. In your video, you can see the wire bump or drag on one side. Make sure it is just a bump. Like Bruce mentions, polish it smooth. Clean it afterward to remove residue.
 

bkerr

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Having fun yet! I come across those kind of repairs as well. Looks good so far!
My two cents on the automation. I would look at using a single piece of wire rather than a twisted wire. Like mentioned before check pivot both for clearance and surface condition of the arbor as well as plate. Any loss of power may be an issue. Also check that it is entered so that one side is not heavier than the other. Keep us posted, Thanks for brining it back to life!
 

shutterbug

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Yeah, I can see the pivot moving in the animation. You have to make sure the motion is not under any friction. It has to move very easily. Then Bruce's comment about the wire loop is important. After that, it has to be balanced left to right and you don't want any more crutch movement than you'd have in the pendulum crutch.
Please post a video of it working when it's done! Love those kinds of things on a clock :)
 

Simon Holt

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Yeah, I can see the pivot moving in the animation. You have to make sure the motion is not under any friction. It has to move very easily. Then Bruce's comment about the wire loop is important. After that, it has to be balanced left to right and you don't want any more crutch movement than you'd have in the pendulum crutch.
Please post a video of it working when it's done! Love those kinds of things on a clock :)
All good useful information here, thanks. It would never have occurred to me that the crutch movement would be as critical as in the pendulum.

Incidentally, the movement front plate is stamped with the maker's name and date:
WIN_20220704_08_37_14_Pro.jpg
Not many English long case movements were marked, as far as I know.

Simon
 
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PatH

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Simon, it's wonderful that you are helping bring this clock to life for the owners. I'm sure they will be thrilled.

I was wondering if you have done any research on the name on the dial or on the front plate?
 

Simon Holt

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Simon, it's wonderful that you are helping bring this clock to life for the owners. I'm sure they will be thrilled.
Thanks. The state of this clock was really very bad considering that the owner had paid good money to a "professional". It had even been returned to the owner with one of the weights swapped out for a non-matching one!

I was wondering if you have done any research on the name on the dial or on the front plate?
I've only done a brief Google search. The name on the false plate (S Baker Birmingham) checks out as active between 1821-1854. I hadn't spotted the name on the front plate until I did a proper clean. GH Timmings was working in Dudley in the West Midlands, but the site that seems to contain the most information is behind a paywall - I'll let the owner dig deeper if she wants to. The name on the dial (Jorden, Dudley) didn't produce any hits.

Simon
 
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Dells

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Simon
It’s easy enough to make a oval tension washer for the clock I have recently made one for a skeleton clock.
Dell
2512E7FD-DA29-491D-A89C-73ED90DFFF2A.jpeg
 

Simon Holt

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Simon
It’s easy enough to make a oval tension washer for the clock I have recently made one for a skeleton clock.
Dell
Thanks Dell. I've already made one, but from a piece of mainspring - I didn't have any 'springy' brass available, and didn't know where to get any.

Simon
 

Dells

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Thanks Dell. I've already made one, but from a piece of mainspring - I didn't have any 'springy' brass available, and didn't know where to get any.

Simon
Over here it’s CZ108 brass if you work harden it after cutting to size with a hammer it gets a spring to it then lay it on soft wood and gently hammer with the ball of a hammer to curve it.
Dell
 

Simon Holt

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Over here it’s CZ108 brass if you work harden it after cutting to size with a hammer it gets a spring to it then lay it on soft wood and gently hammer with the ball of a hammer to curve it.
Dell
Thanks for that. I'll see about picking up a sheet of that. What thickness did you use?

Simon
 

Dells

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I used .5mm for the skeleton clock but for a long case use .8mm Here is a pdf for you.
Dell
 
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Simon Holt

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Regarding the automaton stopping the clock:

I've implemented some improvements. This the refurbished assembly; re-bushed and re-pivoted (the 'before' pictures are in post #19):

PXL_20220712_072015705.jpg

It is now very free-swinging, and I've set it up so that the see-saw is pretty close to level when the clock is stopped:
PXL_20220712_122553555.jpg
I also closed up the crutch eye to reduce most of the 'slop'; here it is:

For those who like this kind of stuff, here's what it looks like running:


But it still stops the clock - although it now runs for about 45 minutes instead of just a couple of minutes, so I was starting to become hopeful...

What I haven't done yet is what Bruce suggested back in post #16, which is to replace the wire-loop crutch eye with a brass one, similar to a pendulum crutch. I'm reluctant to modify a 207-year-old original design... Does anyone think that is the "magic bullet" solution?

I'm close to giving up; the owner will be happy that the clock at least runs and strikes after 30+ years. But I hate admitting defeat!

Simon
 

Thomas Sanguigni

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Try it with smooth wire. It would be single strand, and that would be less weight less drag. If it does not work, you can reverse it. The bushing work looks great. On the teeter totter lever, is there a wear pit on that? You may need to move it or fill it. It could be slowing it down. Polish that point too. I hope you get great results.
 
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Jim DuBois

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Hardening soft brass is best done with a planishing hammer on a hard steel block. It will become quite springy with just a bit of hammering. Of course, it will expand the brass in width and length while thinning it quite a bit. And I would be looking for some problems in the train if the little attachment ultimately causes the clock to stop. And does the pivot point in the attachment have just a bit of end shake? The wear apparent originally suggests it ran well for a very long time. So, it should run well now too, if all in the train is good.
 
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shutterbug

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I'm detecting considerable crutch movement still. Make the crutch loop as narrow as possible while still allowing sliding action of the pin. As mentioned above, be sure the loop is smooth and burr free. A tiny bit of oil it not sinful there. Also, be sure the teeter totter is balanced on the pivot. You are close. Stay with it.
 

Simon Holt

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Make the crutch loop as narrow as possible while still allowing sliding action of the pin.
I did that, and the clock has now been running for over 19 hours. I can't quite believe that such a small change could make such a big difference!

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and encouragement. I don't know what I'd do without you!

Simon
 
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Simon Holt

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For the enlightenment of anyone who comes across this thread in the future:

I started this post talking about the cannon bridge tube, which had been replaced and which I believed was too short. Coincidentally, I've just been asked to look at another English long-case movement from the same era. The tube on this one looks original, and this is what it looks like with the minute hand on:

PXL_20220814_085555910.jpg
So the fat outer end of the cannon does not need to be inside the bridge tube. I am guilty of overthinking things again (it won't be the last time, I'm sure).

Simon
 
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JTD

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GH Timmings was working in Dudley in the West Midlands, but the site that seems to contain the most information is behind a paywall - I'll let the owner dig deeper if she wants to. The name on the dial (Jorden, Dudley) didn't produce any hits.
I did a little delving for you:

Timings, George Henry, listed at Queen Street, Dudley in Pigots National Commercial Directory for 1828/9

Timings, George Henry, listed at Wolverhampton Street, Dudley in Pigots Directory for 1835

Timmins, G. H. listed at Wolverhampton Street, Dudley, in White's Directory of Staffordshire for 1851. (This directory seems to have quite a number of spelling errors, so I think we can be sure that Timmins and Timings are the same man)

All these entries are under 'Clock/watch makers'.

I can't find anything for Jorden or Jordan in Dudley after a fairly brief look, he was probably the retailer.

It's a nice clock, glad you are mending it.

JTD
 

Simon Holt

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I did a little delving for you:

Timings, George Henry, listed at Queen Street, Dudley in Pigots National Commercial Directory for 1828/9

Timings, George Henry, listed at Wolverhampton Street, Dudley in Pigots Directory for 1835

Timmins, G. H. listed at Wolverhampton Street, Dudley, in White's Directory of Staffordshire for 1851. (This directory seems to have quite a number of spelling errors, so I think we can be sure that Timmins and Timings are the same man)

All these entries are under 'Clock/watch makers'.

I can't find anything for Jorden or Jordan in Dudley after a fairly brief look, he was probably the retailer.

It's a nice clock, glad you are mending it.

JTD
That's very helpful of you - thanks. I'll pass that on to the owner.

Simon
 

Simon Holt

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This is the final problem I have to deal with: the thread on the pendulum rod has deteriorated to such an extent that the rating nut won't stay on:
PXL_20220901_172140970.jpg
The brass rating nut is one that I had in my box of spares. I opened up the hole in the nut so that it was slightly undersized, and screwed it on to the pendulum rod so that the rod cut a thread in the nut. But it is almost as if the end of the rod is tapered, so that by the time I almost had it regulated (which is where it is in the picture above), if I back it off by the slightest amount the nut falls off.

As you can see, the threaded section (about 3mm diameter) is not a separate piece screwed into the block that sits within the pendulum bob, and the block is no thicker than the threaded section.

My first thought is to deal with it as a re-pivoting exercise, starting with 3mm threaded steel rod, turned down at one end to (say 1.5 mm), so I can set it into that block.

Can anyone suggest a simpler solution?

Simon
 

JTD

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This is the final problem I have to deal with: the thread on the pendulum rod has deteriorated to such an extent that the rating nut won't stay on:
View attachment 724174
The brass rating nut is one that I had in my box of spares. I opened up the hole in the nut so that it was slightly undersized, and screwed it on to the pendulum rod so that the rod cut a thread in the nut. But it is almost as if the end of the rod is tapered, so that by the time I almost had it regulated (which is where it is in the picture above), if I back it off by the slightest amount the nut falls off.

As you can see, the threaded section (about 3mm diameter) is not a separate piece screwed into the block that sits within the pendulum bob, and the block is no thicker than the threaded section.

My first thought is to deal with it as a re-pivoting exercise, starting with 3mm threaded steel rod, turned down at one end to (say 1.5 mm), so I can set it into that block.

Can anyone suggest a simpler solution?

Simon

As a provisional solution you could try a little bit of plumber's PTFE tape. I've used it in similar situations with success.

JTD
 
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bruce linde

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I used .5mm for the skeleton clock but for a long case use .8mm Here is a pdf for you.
Dell

love the .pdf, thx.... but i'm thinking CZ108 is, as you say, an 'over there' kind of thing. i can find it on lots of uk (and india and other) sites, but not here.

is there a u.s. equivalent? i'd like to have a small piece on hand for the next time i need to make one, but probably not worth $40-50.

suggestions/sources welcome, thx....
 

Dells

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love the .pdf, thx.... but i'm thinking CZ108 is, as you say, an 'over there' kind of thing. i can find it on lots of uk (and india and other) sites, but not here.

is there a u.s. equivalent? i'd like to have a small piece on hand for the next time i need to make one, but probably not worth $40-50.

suggestions/sources welcome, thx....
I think over there it is CW508L .
 

shutterbug

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I would first try untwisting the rod. If that's successful, it could be re-threaded with a die and then a new nut could be constructed and threaded with a matching tap.
My second choice would be to thread a new rod to match the old one as close as possible and braze or hard solder it to the pendulum. It's easier than it sounds. I have successfully hard soldered broken rods together and re-threaded them too.
 

Simon Holt

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Thanks for the suggestions, shutterbug. I can't imagine how I would untwist it without breaking it though. Do you think a new thread could be cut without untwisting it? I have both metric and BA dies and taps so I may get lucky matching one of those with the diameter of the rod.

I don't have the equipment or skills for brazing or hard soldering yet - but I'd like to learn. It would be a better solution than my idea of treating it like a repivoting job. I do have a friend about 30 miles away who could do that, and teach me at the same time, so I may go that route.

Simon
 
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shutterbug

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Use thread cutting oil and make sure the rod isn't too big for the die. You should be fine. A thirty minute drive would be a good investment in learning how to hard solder! There is some expense for the equipment though. You could use a mini rig instead of the big stuff. I can supply some pics if you want.
 
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