First Wooden - What have I gotten myself into...

Discussion in 'Case Construction, Repair & Restoration' started by gleber, Mar 5, 2016.

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  1. gleber

    gleber Registered User

    Jun 15, 2015
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    I seem to enjoy working on my clocks more than running them, and I recently wanted a more advanced challenge. I ended up getting this Charles Stratton 1839 wooden works shelf clock in pretty good shape, but definitely in need of restoration. I have another posting in the wooden movement section, which is another story, but please check it out if you know anything about wooden movements.

    20160305_161231.jpg 20160305_161510.jpg 20160305_161720.jpg 20160305_161951.jpg 20160305_162042.jpg 20160305_161239.jpg

    The top has been removed, but these links show cases that are almost identical. They show two different scroll styles for the top.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/24501307@N07/8401146440
    http://p2.la-img.com/302/1589/670101_1_l.jpg

    I am seeking any information on this clock, such as model and any other photos of this or similar Stratton's.

    I would specifically like information about the top and the movement mounting rails (which were removed from mine) and how the dial was mounted. I also presume it had a bell (not a gong), but that is no longer with the clock and I would like to know if it was iron or brass and how large it was.

    Thanks, you guys are a great help.
    Tom
     
  2. secondarylead

    secondarylead Registered User

    Sep 3, 2009
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    Many of the Stratton's I have seen had the movement mounted in the case such as yours and did not have any mounting rails. Many times they were secured directly through the bottom of the movement by screws and at the top of the movement by a wooden cleat of which an outline seems to be visible on the backboard of your clock. Others, may have a different opinion. Try going out on a google search of Stratton clocks of these two sites; RO Schmitt Auctions and Antique Clock Price Guide. You might find some photo records that could help. Sometimes, Stratton had unusual splats.

    - - - Updated - - -
     
  3. gleber

    gleber Registered User

    Jun 15, 2015
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    Okay. I've been doing some more inspection and I think you are correct. There really doesn't seem to be any sign of side rails, and as found, the clock was screwed directly to the back. There was a modern looking full length cleat across the top that had a notch cut for the fly fan. Maybe that was correct, but just remade with a modern piece of wood?

    My dial is mounted on two rails that are dovetailed into the back of the dial. They are vertical, and I don't see signs of how this was mounted. There are some holes in the center cross brace, but they don't line up with holes in the bottom of the dial or the rails. I guess I'll have to keep looking and playing with it.

    Thanks for the info.
    Tom
     
  4. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    Mar 3, 2006
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    Dials on all wooden movement clocks with the movements screwed directly to the back board of the clock mount simply. Generally you'll find a pin (a piece of wire, really) stuck into the top ends of the dial stiffeners, and they extend into holes drilled to receive them in the bottom of the top board of the case. If the pins are missing, likely their holes will be there as evidence. Along the bottom edge of the dial you will find two small holes, with corresponding holes in the small wooden crosspiece that spans the case. Wire pins are inserted up through that crosspiece into the holes in the bottom of the dial. Simple and effective.
     
  5. gleber

    gleber Registered User

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    Thanks Peter. Yes, that seems simple. So, I looked at it and found the following. Inside top of case, no holes. Cross member, two holes. Bottom of dial, two holes, but these don't line up with the cross member holes. So, it looks like I might not have the original dial, but it does look period and style correct (unless the cross member was replaced, but it doesn't look like that was the situation either). And the top does look original to the case. It is mounted with square nails that look original and I don't see any other holes for other mounting and the front veneer is a excellent match to the case - same color, finish and wear.

    So, no real follow up question unless you have any comments. I guess I'll just make it work as you describe.

    Tom
     
  6. Jim Burghart

    Jim Burghart Registered User
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    Jan 27, 2004
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    Hi Tom,

    Beautiful clock. Wood movement clocks are my favorites.

    I can't say for sure, but I am not sure the movement is original to the case. Peter Nunes would know better. I had a Charles Stratton clock very similar to yours. The movement was mounted to the back with 2 screws on the bottom through the back plate, and a wooden block on top cut out so the back plate was wedged under it. The dial mounted the same as Peter described, but the movement had wood blocks on the front plate to hold the dial steady.
    This pictures shows the basic locations, the blocks have been removed, but you can see the lighter color areas.
     

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  7. gleber

    gleber Registered User

    Jun 15, 2015
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    Thanks Jim. I wouldn't be surprised if it was not original movement, but I am not that concerned about that for the price I paid. I did find some photos of the wooden block for holding the top of the movement and and I recreated a copy - not shown in the photos above. I like the idea of the dial steadying blocks.

    What was in the bottom frame of the door on your clock? Mine looks like clear replacement glass, but at least the installation technique looks period correct. Also, what did your pendulum look like - just a simple primitive bob with a rating nut or something fancier? Right now, I have a fancy embossed bob since the bottom is clear glass. Probably not original style, but it looks nice. If I know more about the original, it would make more difference to me and I would try to be accurate.

    Tom
     
  8. Jim Burghart

    Jim Burghart Registered User
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    Hi Tom,

    The bottom door on mine had an old mirror, but it was not original. The pendulum bob was embossed like the one attached.
     

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  9. George Nelson

    George Nelson Registered User
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    Oct 5, 2007
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    Hi, Clock Friends,

    Please forgive me if I am speaking out of turn or have come to erroneous conclusions, but I would like to offer here my opinions about the pendulum bob question, based SOLELY on my experience with antique American wood works clocks. This experience tells me that a pendulum bob like the one pictured above by Jim is period correct (not that he needs my opinion as HE is the expert) and used on many wood works clocks, especially pillar and scroll models. However, many of my wood works clocks also have plain pendulums, undecorated except for the typical thin brass wrap around the front.

    In my experience, the deciding factor here seems to be whether or not the original lower glass panel was a plain mirror, a full-cover painting or transfer without a pendulum bob opening, or a decoration that indeed would have shown the pendulum. In my limited experience, I have mostly concluded that the decorated pendulums were originally found in clocks where the pendulum could be seen, and plain bobs included where the pendulum would not show. I know that economy was the byword with the clock manufacturers, and there was a cost difference between the two types, so they would save money whenever they could.

    My opinion is based on five of the wood movement clocks in my collection, all with a heavily documented history of having one-family ownership, with two (noted below) having had a broken weight cord and being stored away unused in attics for more than 100 years. In all of these five examples, I am 99% (but of course can never be completely) sure that the pendulum bobs, weights and winding and door keys are original to each.

    In each example in my list, the clock has has a complete label, perfectly matching weights, original matching period hands, period weight hooks that match, matching tin pulley caps, matching cap retaining wires, a proper, exact-fitting door key, proper, exact size winding cranks, original matching hinges, untouched knobs, and all original case components. In short, I am as confident about originality as a collector can be, based on the clock's history, appearance and subjective "feel".

    However, there is always some doubt, as the components in question can be replaced or substituted. I will say that in each of the following described clocks, every family was proud of the fact and claimed that their clock was completely original. (On the one mentioned below that has the restored tablet, I had the tablet restored myself.) My observations are as follows:

    1) Seth Thomas Pillar and Scroll: Original un-restored reverse-painted lower glass with pendulum bob opening, includes decorated bob (attic stored)
    2) Smith, Blakesley and Company Pillar and Scroll, original restored lower glass with restoration based on original picture showing no pendulum bob opening includes a simple undecorated brass bob
    3) Eli Terry and Sons Pillar and Scroll, original un-restored reverse painted lower glass with pendulum opening, includes decorated brass pendulum similar to the one pictured above (attic stored)
    4) Scarce Seth Thomas double decker clock, with carved columns and splat, a very high-quality clock with lower glass full transfer image of George Washington, no pendulum bob opening, includes undecorated brass-wrapped pendulum bob
    5)Stenciled column and splat, manufactured for George Mitchel by Atkins and Downs, lower glass reverse painted with no pendulum bob opening includes undecorated brass-wrapped bob.

    In conclusion, my thoughts are that if the pendulum bob could be seen, it was decorated, otherwise a plain brass capped bob would have provided.

    I would be quite interested to hear other's thoughts, either in agreement or disagreement, about my conclusions.

    Peace to all, George Nelson
     

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