French clock repair question

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by onewatchnut, May 31, 2020.

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  1. onewatchnut

    onewatchnut Registered User
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    May 8, 2004
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    Can anyone tell me why people file off the end of the minute wheel cock so the hour wheel is free to fall off the movement? This is the second one in a row where someone has done just that. The hour wheel is free to float and is only held in place by the minute hand. The probability that the same person worked on both of these is extremely low, so the practice is somewhat widespread.

    My wife has an affinity for these clocks and I end up working on them.Most of them are quite well made and the problems I encounter are usually attributable to poor workmanship by some less than skilled repair person somewhere along the line.
     
  2. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
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    I've noticed the same thing. The only explanation I can think of is that if the cock was not filed off, attempting to "pull off" an hour hand that was stuck would damage the teeth. I guess it would be better to have the wheel slip off than to have teeth damaged in an attempt to pull the hand off. Maybe someone else knows for sure why this is sometimes done.

    RC
     
  3. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    Sep 4, 2008
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    I have seen this multiple times too and am at a loss as well. What makes me think that they didn't come from the factory this way is that the file marks are quite obvious, not in line with the otherwise fine finish of the movement.

    Uhralt
     
  4. D.th.munroe

    D.th.munroe Registered User

    Feb 15, 2018
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    I have seen this alot as well, probably 5 of mine are like that and I just finished a customers S.Marti and same thing, with so many I was wondering if it was done during casing for some unknown to us reason.
     
  5. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Oct 19, 2005
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    Can you post a picture of what we're talking about? I must not have ever encountered one.
     
  6. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
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    Here are a couple examples from my collection. May not be significant, but the only examples I could find were made by Marti, but I don't have that many French clock pictures.

    RC

    cock-1.jpg cock-2.jpg
     
  7. woodlawndon

    woodlawndon Registered User
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    Jan 18, 2017
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    Interesting, I haven't seen it before. I still can't think of a reason to do so, it's so easy to remove the cock.
    Don

    6100BC5B-A5E0-4563-B3A3-B4E175BBF620_1_105_c.jpeg

    A2134D7F-56C1-4503-8A54-C81BDC655B05_1_201_a.jpeg
     
  8. Fitzclan

    Fitzclan Registered User

    Jul 20, 2014
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    Well...? I actually did this operation on a French clock a while ago, however I am exactly not sure why. I remember that I had to swap out the wheel with the snail attached because it had one broken and two bent teeth which I am not equipped to repair. I think (not entirely sure), that the snail was slightly larger in diameter than the original, and at 1 o’clock would not clear the cock. Otherwise, it seemed to work and after cutting down the cock it did work. I tried to put the original snail onto the new wheel, but the pipe was too wide to accept it.
    I think that it is a pretty common occurrence that these wheels get damaged by someone forcing the minute hand forward or backward after meeting some resistance for whatever reason.
    As we all know, with French clocks especially, parts that look exactly the same are not plug and play. They were made by hand and are all different. I tried a couple of different wheels only to find that the ID of the hour pipes were just slightly different and not going to work. Shortening the cock seemed a much more palatable solution than trying to repair the damaged wheel. Guess I’m not the only one to think so.
     
  9. Allan Wolff

    Allan Wolff Moderator
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    Mar 17, 2005
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    Almost every round French clock I have worked on has the end of the cock filed off so it does not retain the hour wheel. Here is my guess, but it is just a guess.
    Sometimes the hour hand can be on the hour pipe really tight. If the cock stops the hour wheel from coming off, there is a risk of bending or damaging the hour wheel when removing the hand. If the cock is filed off so the hour wheel does not touch it, removing the hour hand will cause the hour wheel will hit the back of the dial, making contact all around the wheel so there is less chance of damaging it. During normal operation, the minute hand is pinned on which in turn holds the hour wheel in place, so there is no need for the cock to hold it.

    That is my guess and I'm sticking with it...unless someone has a better story.
     
  10. Ralph B

    Ralph B Registered User

    Nov 25, 2006
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    Pretty fair bet that the clock has run down and someone has attempted to reset the time, backwards.
    If the tail of the rack hasn't been picked up, ( because there's no spring power), it'll jam against the snail, between 12 and 1, ( that sharp drop off).
    If you line it all up, the bent teeth will be just in the right place....
     
  11. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I'd hate to have to bush one of those that was filed off!
     
  12. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    Very unlikely to happen. There is little load on the motion works.

    Uhralt
     
  13. wow

    wow Registered User
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    Jun 24, 2008
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    I have encountered this many times too and am puzzled about it also. I remember a previous thread about this same question but I can’t find it. Anybody know what it was titled?
     
  14. TEACLOCKS

    TEACLOCKS Registered User
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    Mar 22, 2005
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    I have seen this so many times, I don't even try to take the hour hand off with out first putting a screwdriver between the back of the dial and the snail, then twist and pull the hour off.
    What is really neat is when you put the dial on without the hour cannon/snail in place cause it does not stay on with out that little end of the cock.
    So you might leave it on your work bench.
    Than do it over.
     

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