Evaluating pivots

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by disciple_dan, Feb 9, 2019 at 4:53 PM.

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  1. disciple_dan

    disciple_dan Registered User

    Mar 10, 2016
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    Hey Y'all, I have a Bachmaier & Klemmer Regula 25 here. I was told and have read I believe that most post-war movements have plated steels. I am finding many that don't seem to have them.
    I don't see any scaling and these have surface rust.
    I'm going to say this clock does not have plated steels and polish them my normal way for steel pivots.
    Any opinions from the pics?
    20190209_163418.jpg 20190209_163137.jpg 20190209_163055.jpg
    Thanks, Danny
     
  2. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    You can get out the ole microscope, or just drag your best fingernail across the pivot lengthwise. A plated pivot, under the microscope, will have cracks and scales. A steel pivot will have vairing types of grooves.

    A plated pivot will still be rough after normal polishing. It may even get worse and worse until you eventually remove all the plating. Unfortunately the underlying steel is no good for a clock pivot IMO.

    There are some really good plated pivot micrographs on this list somewhere. They were done by David L. many years ago. Good luck, Willie X
     
  3. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    In a movement like this, if the pivot is smooth after polishing, run it. I've never had a problem turning down a plated pivot and running the base steel, but if you want to upgrade this movement any damaged or plated pivots can be replaced tempered pivot wire. I believe new movements like this are available at very reasonable prices which may be worth considering before doing a lot of pivot work.

    RC
     
  4. shutterbug

    shutterbug Super Moderator
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    You can always test the movement for steel with a simple magnet. If it don't stick, it ain't steel ;)
     
  5. disciple_dan

    disciple_dan Registered User

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    Interesting. The way I understand it the Manufactures use mild steel and then plated them. Would a magnet not stick to them? I'll do some experimenting with that.
     
  6. disciple_dan

    disciple_dan Registered User

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    RC, so you have removed the plating and polished the pivots? I heard the clock won't last long doing that. Can you expound on that?
     
  7. disciple_dan

    disciple_dan Registered User

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    Oh, Yeah, SB. I meant to tell you my magnet stuck hard to the pivots on this cuckoo. I think these are steel pivots. I don't have a microscope but under the magnification I do have I see grooves. It almost looks like machining marks on some of them. The grooves are from shoulder to tip. Very faint mind you, but visible.
     
  8. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    That could be from wear, or put there when the pivot was made, or a combination of both. Factory pivots on modern clocks arent finished very well and when plated any imperfections still 'shine through'. A bad plated pivot will look more like the bark on a tree, not the normal groves that wear in line with the rotation. Willie X
     
  9. disciple_dan

    disciple_dan Registered User

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    Great info. I'm almost convinced these are not plated. I have seen the article by David LaBounty. I'll see if I can find it and give it another read.
     
  10. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I'm looking at one now that's running fine after about 12 years. I guess I should oil it soon just to be nice.

    RC
     
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  11. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    12 years! Bad boy, where's my rolled up newspaper? Willie
     
  12. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    It's been about 12 years running since Iturned down the plated pivots, I know I oiled it at least once during that time but, yeah, it's been neglected and I'm sure it's due. Maybe tomorrow, you know that tomorrow is always the best day of the week!
     
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  13. dad1891

    dad1891 Registered User

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    Dan,

    A picture is worth a thousand words. I just happened to have a large pivot on my bench that has flaking plating. The arrow points to the area that the plating has come off.

    IMG_8347_LI.jpg
     
  14. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Polish the pivots until they are shiny and you'll have done all that can be done. If there's plating, a 1/0 emery buff will remove it, and you'll likely see bits of plating that have been removed. I don't think cuckoo clocks ever had plated pivots. And yes, there are machining marks on lots of pivots, which makes one wonder how much insight the factories--and us, for that matter--possess in the matter of bearing surfaces.

    Note that most theories involving wear and metal fatigue in clock repair work have not and generally cannot be backed up by any real scientific evidence. This is because none of us will live long enough to see how badly the pivots wear if they're left smooth but un-polished, or with one variety of oil vs. another, or with bronze vs. brass bushings. All we can do is look at hundred-year-old clocks last serviced in 1952 and try to guess what the standards were at that time and in that shop.

    (I have the odd perspective of having worked on clocks in a clock shop in the 1960's and again, after a long life of doing other things, on my own since 2014. I wonder if there are others here with similar experience. If so, it would be fascinating to compare notes here.)

    Mark Kinsler
     
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  15. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    In a case like this, one option (if you have a lathe) is to sleeve the worn area. You can make the sleeve from whatever grade steel you like.

    About the same here. Repaired my first two clocks in 1967, sold and repaired bicycles, 18 years teaching middle school science, welding and fixing bigger stuff in food processing plant, operating municipal water and wastewater plants, collecting clocks sort of got out of hand about 15 years ago so I decided I may as well fix clocks for others as well as my self. At 77 now I've retired from everything but fixing a few clocks part-time.

    RC
     
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  16. disciple_dan

    disciple_dan Registered User

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  17. dad1891

    dad1891 Registered User

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    RC, I agree that it could be done, but on a modern clock like this the cost of a sleeve would be more than the cost of a new cable drum, which is the way I am going to go. This one was particularly interesting as it verifies a theory that I have had for some time. The owner took good care of the clock and had the knowledge to buy a small pen oiler and give it a shot of oil every few years. Unfortunately, he focused on pivots that had easy access. The rear winding arbor pivots look like new. The front winding arbor pivots were never oiled and are gone, even though they have a lower unit load than the rear pivots. The geneva stops apparently got in the way of applying oil to those pivots (doesn't make sense to me either). All the other pivots in the movement look good. A lot of bad things are said about plated pivots, but I think it is the owners lack of maintenance that is causing a lot of the plating problems. This movement has 30+ years of run time and the pivots still look great with the exception of the ones that were not oiled.
     
  18. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    >>>>Are we saying that a clock may run for years even after removing the plating?

    Yup. The steel in the sacred old Connecticut clocks wasn't exactly forged by Wilkinson Sword. The stuff lurking beneath the plating couldn't really be any worse. Time will tell, (only we won't be here to listen.) I'm waiting to see how the new stainless steel pivots will work out.

    >>>>>You know, I have a lot of books on clock repair. I have most of the video lessons that David LaBounty has out and I have read countless forum posts on the subject of pivots. Confidence in my own judgment is what I lack. That's why I so glad for you guys.

    Clock books are only helpful up to a point because they tend to give mutually-exclusive advice. They can get away with this because much clock work isn't particularly exacting. You can lubricate a mainspring with Noxema or melted-down birthday candles and it'll run smoothly enough, and there are lots of clocks running at the moment with bushings fashioned from soldered-in bits of brass pushing against the pivots. 50 years ago we used hole-closing punches on any loose pivot hole.

    As mechanical clocks have gotten older and rarer we've gone from repair to something approaching museum-quality restoration. This has fired the ambition of some of our parishioners here and scared the daylights out of many others. Clock repair isn't, or shouldn't be, scary.

    >>>I have all the pivots polished and the movement is back together. I have tried to learn how to burnish the pivots but just can't seem to get the hang of it.

    I can't either, so I use wood buffs from Timesavers, 1/0 to 6/0 and stopped worrying about it. My guess is that some kinds of steel respond to burnishing and some don't. The idea is to get the pivot smoothed down. (And if you look up 'superfinishing' you'll find that plain bearings don't necessarily require the smoothest possible surfacing.)

    >>>>D. LaBounty has a great video teaching on it. I'm going to keep watching and keep trying.

    Good. But if you aren't having fun doing this stuff I'd suggest that you may be taking it far too seriously. It shouldn't be a grim quest for perfection, if for no other reason that the definition of perfection varies widely when you're fixing stuff that cost three bucks at Sears a hundred years ago.

    >>>>>I'll try to post some pics of the method I use to polish pivots. I want to see what you guys think about it.

    Good. I learn a lot from everyone here too.

    M Kinsler

    still trying to avoid the gaze of that French clock waiting to be fixed.
     
  19. MARK A. BUTTERWORTH

    MARK A. BUTTERWORTH Registered User
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    Winding arbors are perfect places to apply our ButterBearings. The condition of the pivot or sleeve is unimportant
     
  20. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    Dad,

    Unfortunately that arbor won't come with a new barrel. You can buy the arbor by itself though.

    My experience has been that maintenance plays very little in how long a Hermle will last. I'm not saying that regular maintenance is a bad thing. Am saying that regular maintenance is not cost effective and will have little or no effect on how long the clock will run.

    The soft steel, or other unknown factors, make a normal pivot service short lived. New parts, or repivot/rebush (together) has been the only way that works for me.

    Unfortunately (again) repair is always problematic with these movements. This is due to the fact that for every worn point you repair there are several more waiting in line to do the same number. Sort of a lose lose 'loose cannon' situation which is best avoided by replacing the movement. The only exceptions for me would be when a customer wants the old movement repaired, even after you explain that this movement is a disposable item, or if the repair is very specific like a broken spring, etc.

    If you are learning the trade/hobiest (at little or no pay), working on your own clock, etc., a Hermle can be a good teacher. Just don't expect your repaired clock to last very long ...

    I have been repairing clocks for the entire 'modern clock' era and I keep preaching this 'Hermle repair story' over and over. Mainly because it can be a very bad thing when you are starting into clock repair and think you can repair a Hermle by replacing a few bushings. This practice will come back to bite you in a few years. In the critical time when you need to build a customer base, your customer base will dwindle because those Hermles will 'come back on you' with a vengeance and the only thing you can do, to keep that customer, is to refund the money they paid you for the repair and charge them for a new movement job. This is not a great place to be, even if you told the customer up front that they needed a new movement.

    Hermles will probably be over 1/2 of your work, so this is something you need to think through and get it right from the start.

    Willie X
     
  21. shutterbug

    shutterbug Super Moderator
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    I haven't experienced the backlash that Willie has, and repair Hermle's quite often. I will typically offer quotes on either a repair or replace, and explain the pro's and con's. Then I go with the decision of the customer. I've only had two Hermle's come back, and the last one is a mystery to me why the chime train stopped and refused to work again even after taking it apart and looking at every part. I was able to determine the wheel at fault, but could not see what was causing it's problem. A Butterbearing solved it's issue, and I still don't know why. Anyway, I'm hoping that I won't be having a hoard of unhappy people peeing on my grave :D
     
  22. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    So if you'd replaced an ill-manufactured Hermle movement with another Hermle movement fifteen years ago, does that mean that Hermle movements suddenly got better after some specific date? What specifically would have been wrong with the older ones? What about other brands like Jauch and Kieninger?

    And when did the modern clock era begin? My 1958 Sears catalog shows several German clocks, so I would guess that we're speaking of any time since World War II.

    I know that the notorious plated pivots date from sometime in the 1970's, but our parishioners here have reported plated pivots in new movements, indicating that there are container-loads of old wheels stocked there in the Vaterland.

    I personally haven't had much of a problem with Hermle movements. The worst ones from a pivot standpoint were a horrid British Smiths-Enfield grandfather and a couple of Kieningers. All generated black gook around previously-polished (but not bushed) pivots within a few months. Dunno why, but I do wonder about the composition of the brass.

    Butterbearings work quite well.

    Mark Kinsler
     
  23. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    That's an interesting perspective but I fail to understand how lack of maintenance would have no effect on the life of a Hermle movement but is generally considered important for other makes. Theoretically Hermles were "maintained" (sent out clean and oiled) once at the time of manufacture, and I recall advice given to reoil new movements before installation because apparently some got missed or were inadequately oiled. I believe that proper maintenance has to affect the life of any clock movement before rebuild/replacement is required. Let it run until it stops then replace may be a option now while new replacements are available. I had a customer a few years back who brought in a Howard Miller with a Hermle movement that had been replaced by someone else 10 years earlier (the original reportedly lasted about 10 years). The owner opted to replace the replacement which I did, and I told her that I couldn't guarantee that the new movement would last any longer than the previous two. I'm sure that she never maintained the previous two movements. So in close to 30 years now this clock has had two replacement movements. Compare that cost to the cost of removing the movement and dusting and oiling every 3-4 years plus at least one tear down and complete cleaning (which may have extended the life somewhat) over that time, and a zero maintenance & replace police begins to look attractive cost wise. That may be the reason that Hermle apparently is focused more on making cheap movements than movements that last several lifetimes.

    The part I have trouble understanding is, aside from the well known plated pivot failure which has supposedly been corrected, Just what is it that apparently causes Hermle movements to have such a short life compared to a typical 100+ year old American "kitchen clock"? They both used brass plates (mostly) and soft steel pivots? There doesn't seem to be any obvious quality difference in the individual parts. There are two factors that I can think of; 1) a hundred years ago people understood that mechanical things required frequent maintenance and lubrication, cars, trucks, tractors, clocks, wagons, everything. 2) Perhaps there isn't as much difference as we tend to assume. I offer the Seth Thomas 124 chime movement which is functionally equivalent to a Hermle Westminster chime movement. Both being spring powered and about the same size (the pendulum version). My experience is that the Seth Thomas can be just as cranky and subject to failure from wear as the Hermle, and about the same difficulty to service, perhaps even a bit more so. The big difference being that we have to repair the ST because there are no new replacements available. So what really makes for the short assumed life of Hermle movements? If a new ST 124 were available and a new Hermle were run side by side with no maintenance, would one really run any longer before failure? The time is coming when new Hermle replacements will no longer be available so learning to repair them will be essential for future clock repair people.

    RC
     
  24. David S

    David S Registered User
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    I have thought about this the same way for some time. It is hard to believer that 100 years + ago they had better material consistency, and machining capability than Hermle has today. When you look at all the metal / components that are in great shape and will be for a long time to come, yet we are prepared to toss the movement because some small holes are worn and some pivots are worn, less than 1% of the total material... doesn't make sense to me. I repair Hermles.

    But then again I think we should attempt to fix any broken parts and get good at it, since special parts are getting harder to find as replacements.

    David
     
  25. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    One of the major changes in the clock industry is the modern totaly automated machinery requires very soft steel in order to make xxxx number of parts with little or no attention. Any clock that makes black 'pivot poop' every 10 years won't last very long!

    I don't like planned obsolence any better than anyone else. I don't like autobeat, as a feature, either! Ha But, we all have to accept the modern clock for what it is. Basicly 'Th Man' has figured out how to control markets and produce a larger stream of cheaper disposable products. More people can afford the cheaper product but the poor consumer has to keep buying and buying, with few options. It's very bad ecologacly too

    Speaking of modern clocks only, if they're shot, I replace em if a replacement is available. Or, if they aren't to bad I repair them.

    There's a large percentage of modern clocks that don't have replacement as an option, or any replacement parts either. It's a much nicer world when a replacement movement IS available ...

    My 2, Willie X
     
  26. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Carbide and ceramic tooling used in automatic screw machines can deal with just about any sort of steel. I rather wish there was a way to communicate with Hermle and the others, if any, to ask them. Supposedly they're going to stainless steel pivots, which presumably encompasses arbors and pinions as well.

    But I did learn something new about clocks some month ago when the Select Committee on Home Furnishings ruled that we needed a new couch. And while we visited one furniture store or another the scales dropped from my eyes when I explored the grandfather clocks they offered. $1200 for a wood case in which a raggedly-finished Hermle or Kieninger movement was displayed like the Crown Jewels. And people utterly love these things, just as they love those damn cuckoo clocks every soldier buys for a 500% markup in Bavaria.

    M Kinsler
     
  27. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User

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    It also seems to me that with a few exceptions, modern clocks use lighter springs, tighter tolerances and smaller pivots than their predecessors. Therefore, when a bushing gets sloppy, the movement is more likely to stop working.
     

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