Errors Newbies Often Make (And How To Avoid Them)

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by shutterbug, Sep 12, 2013.

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  1. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I thought this would be a fun and instructive page for newbies to learn what NOT to do. I'll start with a partial list, and you guys add to it. Eventually it might become a sticky :)

    Mainsprings hooked together. If placed on top of one another, mainsprings will mate, and there's no way in creation to get them back apart. Always place them so they wind in opposite directions, and they can't do that.

    Count wheel upside down. Some run one way, some the other. Always note which way they go on when taking them off.

    Helper springs not attached. Levers won't work right, and the springs interfere with other things so they can't work either.

    Pivots bent by trying too much force to get the pivots in place and the plates back together. Patience is the key, and MINIMAL force.

    Replace good parts. It's easy to assume that this or that part is defective, weak, non-functioning. You know what assume does, so don't do it. Be sure, then do.
     
  2. wow

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    #2 wow, Sep 12, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2013
    Here are some more. I've done them all!!!

    Remove plate nuts without clamping springs or letting down barrel springs.
    Remove wheels without marking them.
    Disassemble without photos of movement.
    Wind or unwind mainsprings without gloves.
     
  3. Randy Beckett

    Randy Beckett Registered User
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    #3 Randy Beckett, Sep 12, 2013
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    Don't take pictures before disassembly - Once a movement is apart, putting it back together is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. With good pictures to go by, it's a little like a 50 piece puzzle of a picture of your car. Without pictures, it could be like a 500 piece puzzle of a star laden night sky.
     
  4. Tony10Clocks

    Tony10Clocks Registered User

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    #4 Tony10Clocks, Sep 12, 2013
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    Remove the hands before unscrewing the movement from the case, Don't put a dial in the ultrasonic, and DO​ take plenty of pictures during disassembly
     
  5. ClipClock

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    #5 ClipClock, Sep 12, 2013
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    As a newbie I feel qualified to add a couple

    - Do put the plug in the sink BEFORE you start cleaning little parts (whistles innocently) :D

    - If you photograph the thing from every angle you will end up doing hand stands and contortions trying to figure out where all those cogs go when you get to the rebuilding stage. Photograph from the angle you will be rebuilding.
     
  6. Scottie-TX

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    #6 Scottie-TX, Sep 12, 2013
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    Here's a couple I did starting out so no fabrication here. I think it was my first I tried to assemble upside down - pillars pointing downward. This is NOT easy and I did fail. Same clock; There were posts near the pillars - I didn't notice the spring attached to the pillar and attached it to one of those posts nearby. Didn't run very long - two or three days maybe.
    BIGGEST mistake I made. One of those handheld spring winders. Without nearly enough respect for it, tore a gash in my hand I'll never forget. Advice; Don't buy one. That'll do for starters.
     
  7. Bruce Alexander

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    #7 Bruce Alexander, Sep 12, 2013
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    Placing new bushings with insufficient clearance in an effort to eliminate "slop". Plates can and do flex slightly when mainsprings are completely wound or when movements are mounted. If you make your bushings too tight, it won't always show up right away but chances are good that you will soon be re-doing your overhaul...after you track down why one or more of the gear trains have started to stall prematurely. Not fun if you own the clock and definitely not good if you don't. There are general rules and charts for pivot-bushing tolerances. Search the message board archives for details.
     
  8. ImPondering

    ImPondering Registered User

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    #8 ImPondering, Sep 12, 2013
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    "Someone I know"..... said he sprayed a porcelain dial with Windex to clean it and watched the retailer's name run down the dial.
     
  9. shimmystep

    shimmystep Registered User

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    #9 shimmystep, Sep 12, 2013
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    Bending parts. Avoid bending parts of the movement when trying to make it work. Commonly bent parts are on the front striking gear. It can be a PITA to get right again.
     
  10. bangster

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    You clumsy ox. :whistle:
     
  11. hdsoftail03

    hdsoftail03 Registered User

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    Huh not a newbie but got in a hurry the other day, didn't put on the gloves and ended up getting my left hand slapped pretty hard when a main spring came unhooked in the winder. Lucky no cuts. I've been guilty of a few of these in the past. Learning can be a lesson in frustration.
     
  12. daveR

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    A couple more for good measure : trying to straighten french clock pivots that are just a "little bit" bent without softening them first and one I haven't done, fortunately, due to timely warning from this forum: cleaning a kaiser universe 400 day clock painted dial with anything much more aggressive than a soft cloth!!
    David
     
  13. harold bain

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    I suppose #1 should be to make sure your mainsprings are restrained before separating the plates. Early in my career I learned this lesson the hard way with a French movement (fortunately my own clock). The movement was pretty well destroyed.
    #2 is make sure you spend enough time studying the movement before you take it apart. Learn how the strike train works, what each lever does, what stops the movement after the strike, and how the gears line up at this time. Also, after restraining the springs, look for slop in the bushings by pushing the mainwheel and looking for pivots jumping back and forth. If the clock doesn't work, you should have discovered why before taking it apart, as once it's apart, you are less likely to discover the problem.
     
  14. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    1. Not taking enough pictures.
    2. Not taking notes as you go.
    3. Forgetting how helper springs are anchored.
    4. Not paying enough attention to a loose click.
    5. Over-oiling.
    6. Bending stuff. Shimmy already mentioned this.
    7. Being reluctant to ask for help on this here Message Board
     
  15. Earl Stedman

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    The number one mistake we've all made is deciding to repair clocks in the frist place.
     
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  16. Bruce Alexander

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    I can only speak for myself, but I think my first mistake was deciding to collect them. Repairing them became a necessity so that was probably my second mistake. Clearly it was the bigger of the two. :D
     
  17. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I think one of the biggest mistakes beginners make is "fixing" it before determining what needs to be fixed then having to "unfix" all the things that were fixed that didn't need to be fixed in order to get the clock running. Another mistake is believing that if enough oil (any kind except clock oil) is applied that will fix whatever is wrong.
     
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  18. Kevin W.

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    Not winding a clock fully and thinking there is a problem why it wont run. Wind fully first. Had this happen to me on a 400 day clock.
    Another one too hot of a solution in the ultrasonic will remove lacquer from clock plates.
     
  19. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Also putting a self adjusting anchor into the cleaning solution will ruin it.
     
  20. Bruce Alexander

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    Or a Brocot in a heated ultrasonic bath. Won't ruin it, but it will give you plenty of experience in resetting pallets.
     
  21. Randy Beckett

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    My own "Achilles Heel", not just with clocks, but with any problem. Assuming the worst, most complicated, solution to a problem before actually proving it. Seem to be getting a little better with age and experience but still far from healed.
     
  22. ImPondering

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    Shining up the pendulum bob on a Seth Thomas #1 Regulator and realizing you've gone through brass to copper.....
     
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  23. Vernon

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    Not making sure that it was in beat and nothing was restricting pendulem swing before going deeper.
     
  24. Earl Stedman

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    Not pulling the main springs out straight to completely clean even if new
     
  25. hookster

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    Thinking that clock repair is a simple no brainer, and then ruining a family heirloom as a result.
     
  26. rvpasquale

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    OK...I won't make this mistake...I promise!!

     
  27. Bogey

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    Absolutely love this post. I think I have done all of the above!!!

    I think my hardest learning experinece had to be not insuring the hook in the wall was strong enough to hold the weight of the clock. Ouch!!!
     
  28. ClipClock

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    After putting the lid back onto the spring barrel always check that the mainspring is still hooked on and hasn't come adrift. Do this BEFORE spending ages reassembling the entire clock...

    Dear fellow newbie this is clearly even more heartbreaking if its eg a striking clock with lots of widgets.

    Can you guess how I came up with that one?

    Head, desk. GAH!
     
  29. ClipClock

    ClipClock Registered User
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    Oh bogey poor you, that must have been awful!
     
  30. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I repaired a very old cuckoo for a customer, and offered to hang it on the wall for him, since he was in his 90's. No, I'll do it he says. Three weeks later I have it back in pieces, extensive repairs required to put the case back together. Ruined a very nice collectable clock, although I'm sure he'll enjoy it for the rest of his life. Not sure what else I could have done on that one :)
     
  31. Zu-Astarti

    Zu-Astarti Registered User

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    Once rubbed a little alcohol onto the silvered dial of a tambour clock and watched the numbers disappear. DAGH!
    Then there was the time I used Simichrome to polish an ST carriage clock and went right through the brass plating to the base metal. DAGH!
     
  32. hookster

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    I once snipped off the minute hand on a very old German chimer, when I went to shorten the tapered pin with my cutter. It had an unusual brass bushing that was not square of rectangular, but was rounded on one end, and the shape/style of the hand was quite unique. I was able to repair the hand, but not before sweating a few bullets. Lesson is to never try to snip off the tapered pin when the minute hand is positioned right below it. Better still, cut the tapered pin to the desired length before inserting in the hole.:screwball:
     
  33. leeinv66

    leeinv66 Moderator
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    If you find you are getting frustraited with the movement you are working on, put it down and go and work on something else! Come back to it later when you have a clear mind. There was a little Smiths floating balance movement that would still be around today if I had realised that when I first started. No, they don't bounce:(
     
  34. saskjoe

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    Don't forget to roll up your sleeves when setting to work. Small parts that were not put safely aside in a tray can and will get caught on fabric and fall off somewhere and maybe even get stepped on or rolled over by the casters on your office chair or just plain lost. Also when working on friction fit pins etc. apply counter pressure so the tool doesn't go skating and gouging all over the delicate workings and surfaces of the thing you were trying to fix in the first place. And for Petes sake get quality screw drivers that fit the screw heads.
     
  35. Talyinka

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    Funny - I can't really relate to any of this...:whistle:
     
  36. Earl Stedman

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    Never touch the nice shinny brass weight cans,dial,pendulum ect. with your bare hands use gloves or clean rag but not your bare hands or you WILL make someone unhappy when in time your rusty paw prints show up "not pretty":cop:
     
  37. Bruce Alexander

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    Not knowing how much force to use, or not use. Practice on examples that don't matter and then test (staked joint strength for example)
     
  38. clocknut44skid

    clocknut44skid Registered User

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    This is a great post thanks everyone for sharing. I am new so hopefully I will learn from everything you posted. I did wind a clock to tight yesterday though and snapped the spring on the strike side. Its too bad because the clock is actually running on time now and I have to take it back apart lol.
     
  39. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    LOL. OK, lets add another then: Never FORCE the key. When you feel it getting tight, STOP!!
     
  40. harold bain

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    Unless you wound it with gorrilla strength, the spring was probably bad, due to break anyway. You would have a hard time applying enough force to break a healthy spring.
     
  41. Earl Stedman

    Earl Stedman Registered User

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    I'm glad you posted about overwinding Clocknut. I hear it from many customers "I think my clock is overwound" a spring can break or a hook can fail. The correct way to wind a (spring driven) clock is to
    turn the key until it stops (the coils all touch)
     
  42. Bruce Alexander

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    This also falls into the "using too much force" category, but I think that Harold is right, the spring must have been marginal anyway...still I agree that caution still needs to be exercised. One should be mindful not to "HIT" the end of the spring when winding.
     
  43. clocknut44skid

    clocknut44skid Registered User

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    Thanks guys, yes I was taught at a young age to becareful winding them not to snap them but this is the first time its ever happened and it happened to be on one of my first repairs so I figured up lol. It is possible the spring was damaged since it has been a very long time since it was oiled or cleaned, ill have to do a better job of identifying that when I have them apart :)
     
  44. ddhix

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    A mistake I made when I first started doing bushings. When I went to do the smoothing broach, I thought that you should put a lot of pressure on it, like you would a cutting broad. The smoothing broach became stuck in the bushing, and when I went to pull it out, the new bushing came with it. That bushing is STILL stuck on that smoothing broach!
     
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  45. CeeVee

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    I think I am considered one of the experts around here on newbie mistakes so I will throw in a few:

    • DO NOT bend anything related to the strike or chime train to facilitate dissembly, EVEN if you receive a message from Batman telling you it is the only way to save the known universe
    • DO NOT EVER wriggle a minute hand "a little bit" to remove it
    • DO NOT sit a ticking clock movement with chime hammer underneath 3/4 on the corner of the table EVEN FOR A SECOND while you reach for the base to sit it on
    • DO NOT PANIC
     
  46. JL Smout

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    Don't assume that two movements made by the same maker which look identical are identical. I've just mucked up a 1930s Rotherham winding key and arbor by assuming that the key was a screw-on like the key on my other, (otherwise identical) Rotherham movement from the same period. It turns out the key was a friction fit, not a very tight screw fit like I thought. :mad:
     
  47. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    A client once bought me a clock he thought the chime "might have been wound too tight". His son-in-law had wound it for him so energetically that the wings on the key were bent maybe 20 degrees. Some son-in-law!

    Of course, that wasn't why it wasn't working. But I was amazed he hadn't ripped an end out of the spring.
     
  48. Tinker Dwight

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    Often the arbor will twist off or the key will split but one can rip out the attachment
    of a barrel. On an open spring, the spring is usually gripping the arbor strongly
    enough that the first two are more likely.
    I think the hole thing started because someone wound a stopped clock
    and it didn't restart. "therefore it must be not working because it was wound too
    much".
    Tinker Dwight
     
  49. Earl Stedman

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    I've heard that the (wound to tight) came from early weight driven clocks when the knot would get cought up in the pulley
     
  50. ddhix

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    I don't know if this is a newbie one, but it's close.

    On the cuckoo Regula. If you run into a chain wheel that needs to be replaced, double check that your new one winds and rotates the correct way. If it doesn't wind the same way as the old one, just disassemble them both, and use the new one's parts to fix the old one.
     

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