French Papin Weights and pendulum missing. Worth the effort?

Wishiknewmore

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Hello, I am at a bit of a loss with this one, I have been given this clock missing the weights and the pendulum, added to that the bell is cracked, it came to me with two of the gear shafts not installed, so it has been messed with. my questions are, What is it?,What should the weights and pendulum be like? Is it worth the time, money and effort? Is it some from of kit from the 70's Its not modern but its not old either, Just can't make my mind up if its interesting or just tat!
Views and opinions would be appreciated
many thanks
Philip

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JTD

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This is an old French clock often called Morbier clocks after the place where they originally were made, or Comptoise clocks. The often have a huge pressed brass pendulum and cast iron weights. Some were designed just to hang on the wall, others had a wooden case.

I am not an expert in these clocks but suggest yours was made between about 1880 and 1910 but others will know more or better.

Although these clocks are not hugely valuable, it is certainly not a modern kit clock and well worth preserving.

JTD
 
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Burkhard Rasch

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Verry nice Comtoise made around 1880+- . The cage and the brass part of the face were made a bit larger than for a normal 8day runner , so the manufacturer could also use it for his month runners which had one more wheel in both trains and the winding holes one "floor" lower in the front. Therefor the movement plates kind of stand on "high heels" and the train begins at a considerabel distance from their lower ends. The front piece could also be used for a smaller cage ; it was cut to size , therefor the crimp in the lower part of it. The clock has the typical anchor escapement in form of a gable , the pendulum of these clocks consisted of a three part rod of flat iron sheet , riveted together , foldable , with a light plain brass bob of about 15cm diameter , ca 1m long (seconds beater) . The cast iron weights are about 4.4kgs each . About 10% of these clocks had an alarm mechanism , another 10% -like Yours- had an additional date mechanism.
These clocks are of exellent quality and don´t wear out in centuries , well worth restoring with little effords. The parts can be ordered from the usual suppliers or bought on evilbay or the like.BTW Papin is the name of the retailer of this clock , sometimes the name of the first owner.
Good luck with it!
Burkhard
 
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Wishiknewmore

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Thank you
I am little wiser, so it would appear this goes into my 'TO DO' pile and to create a list of missing bits and source them! There's wear on the bushes, which appear to be brass/bronze brazed into the steel, would I rebush to same way as if it was a brass plate?
Thanks again
Philip
 

Burkhard Rasch

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if bushes need to be repaired they´re done the usual way , but they rarely are oval ; often they´re floppy like black forest clocks , don´t expect them to be as tight as e.g. in a german contemporary movement. I never ever found one in need to be rebushed in many Comtoises I restored.
Burkhard
 

Wishiknewmore

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Thanks Burkhard
It was the bush on the first shaft after the clock side drive that is a bit floppy, but I am more than happy to leave it!, my plan is to see if I can get it to work I will create some weights and cobble together something that resembles a pendulum ( any suggestion for an initial overall length and weight) I think I will have some issue with the chime count as the "rack" only seems attached at the top, but I do need to investigate more
Philip
 

Burkhard Rasch

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take of the hands and the face and let´s see what is there. As said these clocks are seconds beater , the pendulum length is about 1m. A light brass bob with an iron back and a rod of strips of sheet iron each 5mm wide and together ca. 1 m long with a regulator nut at the bottom will do the job required . They apear on evilbay often or can be bought new from e.g. timesavers , same as the weights.
Burkhard
 

Wishiknewmore

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Burkhard, I am now committed! I have just placed an order on a certain electronic auction site for both weights and pendulum, these should be with me next week (ish). I will remove the hands and face and post pictures in the next couple of days

Many thanks

Philip
 

Wishiknewmore

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Hello again I have attached some pictures of the movement, apologies for incorrect naming, my areas of concern are-
1)the small brass rack that is lifted on the chime side should it have a steel rod at the bottom as well as the top to guide and locate it
2)the butterfly has one quarter broken off, suspect it needs to be soldered back on
3)the rod/linkage that sits on the count wheel that connects to the above rack , somewhat bent
4) the pieced brass plate with two pointers on it ..what is it and what shape should it be?

Many thanks
Philip

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Burkhard Rasch

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to answer Your questions:
1) yes , the straight brass rack should have an iron rod of about the same thickness as it is on the top at its lower end and of about 6cm length. This rod slides in the little brass block under the rach , thus providing a straight up and down motion in action.This rod often falls out and is easy to replace. You ´ll find a hole in the lower end of the rack , stack it in here!
2) the wing of the fly needs to be soldered back in place to maintain a ballanced rotation of the fly.
3) the rod on top of the rack needs to drop on the snail for counting the hours correctly , if it needs correction it can be easily bent: it must fall on the snail in the middle of the respective surface , sometimes it needs to be bent a little up or down to make the rack drop the exact amount of fall for counting the hours. You´ll find marks on the snail where it has dropped the last centuries .
4) the pierced brass piece with the two shaped weights serves as a counter-weight for the strike lever assembly , just straighten the tips and re-attach.
The bushings in Your pics need redoing , I´ve never seen such worn out and oval bushings in a comtoise.
You´re on the right track!
Burkhard
 

Wishiknewmore

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Burkhard

Many thanks for your time and response, I will update as and when I make progress, but no doubt I will have more questions

Philip
 

Betzel

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In addition to what others here have said here, you have no idea how lucky you are to have found one with a bezel (all that pressed brass) and dial that actually fits the steel movement case made by blacksmiths. Likely original to the clock. Not too shabby. The brass bushings were (I think) melted into the steel struts and then hand finished. Yes, you can bush them old-school-style if you're careful. They run fine loose, but not too loose. Go slow.

Will you make up a hand to indicate the date? Sounds like a project --these were fairly simple indicators.

The dark finish of the steel "bird cage" is produced by heating the steel and dipping it in a beeswax based concoction called blacksmith's polish. Be careful, it does not want to be cleaned much. Most of these boxes were square, but yours, like mine, is taller than it is wide, and the additional skirt below the dial is needed to cover the front correctly. And, mon ami, your skirt fits! If you look, you'll see a seam-line at the square for the other models the pressers made these for. Probably sheared them off right on that line.

Another odd thing is that many of the tall cases here in France were SO tall, the weights were not "hung" up through the seat board or on a pulley (such that they descended slowly, like their English bretheren) but drop exactly like the clock tower clocks that inspired them. The weights drop straight down. You would need a big chair just to reach up to the arbors in the crown to wind them. Crazy, but true.

When you DO get it all running, you may well find that it strikes the full hours on the hour, once on the half hour, but there is a re-strike about two minutes after the first one at the top of the hour. Urban legend has it that these clocks copied -exactly- the tower clocks of the time and strike once to let you know it was the top of the hour, then again so you can stop working in the field and face town to listen and count the number of bell strikes from afar in the fileds. This was how the tower clocks worked, and it's how they work, too. Funky.

The bell, peoperly adjusted, can be quite "strident" waking the dead and ringing such that you can hear it from a distance and know what time it is well outside the house. Very similar to the English clocks, these were often the only source of time-keeping for a house in their heyday.
 

Wishiknewmore

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Betzel
Thank you for the additional information, although initially I had no idea about this or these clocks I seem to be learning more each day, Luck has played its part already, the fried that gave it to me has explained how the clock was found in a scrap metal skip,
The clock does have its "date hand" so no need to fabricate one- fortunately
The case does have some modern paint on it, but not all, it is interesting about the blacksmiths polish

The bell is unfortunately cracked so, consequently quite dead, I thought it was cast iron/steel, but I have just checked it with a magnet and does not appear to be ferrous at all... anybody any suggestions or is it a case of finding another?

Plenty to keep me busy!

Philip
 

JTD

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The bell is unfortunately cracked so, consequently quite dead, I thought it was cast iron/steel, but I have just checked it with a magnet and does not appear to be ferrous at all... anybody any suggestions or is it a case of finding another?
Bells are easy to replace, either from one of the clock material supply houses (Cousins or M&P, both UK) or from Ebay.

They can sometimes be repaired by welding, but probably best to replace it.

JTD

PS Just checked: M&P who used to supply comtoise bells, are out of stock and no date when/if they will have them again. But I checked with Cousins and they have got them and reasonable price. Just go to the cousins website and put 'bells' in their catalogue search and you will find all the bells they have.
 

Betzel

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There you go. Especially if you're in the UK, Cousins is great.

My clock is likely a little older and my bell is steel, about 165mm, but it may or may not be original. There is also a material called "bell metal" which has been used for centuries, but bells can be made from anything, including steel and brass, etc. Kind of like mystery meat?

If yours survived, you may find a washer, then a piece of leather, the bell, another piece of leather with another washer on top, then the nut. Hopefully, your nut is good enough to loosen and easily re-use. Some oil and time will help as the threads on these are another oddity. Finding a bell is not too bad, but don't break/lose the nut ;-)

Weights: You can experiment with various weights, but most old clocks had excessive weight to keep them running no matter what. My strike side has 3.5kg and the going side (I have a different escapement) runs fine with three. They may have used 4.5 on both sides, but who knows. Depending on how you case it, you can hang them straight (if you have a chair to stand on to wind it - egads) or loop them on a pulley to avoid all that nonsense.

Pendulum: Your suspension is steel, rather than silk, so if you like those larger fancy pendulums, it should hold one I would think. Mine is just a cord, so I have an extremely light pendulum bob on a three-piece folder as was commonly used for the older clocks.

You may enjoy reading through "Dating Morbiers" by Ken Williams, located somewhere on this board? It's a PDF for free.
 
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Wishiknewmore

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I have tried to find the document "Dating Morbiers" but so fat my skills have failed me, can anybody direct me?
thanks
Philip
 

Burkhard Rasch

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I cannot read what the op means but the pic he shows is remarkable in several aspects : It´s a time only , full brass plates , and -never seen before- an adjustable pallet for a verge and crown wheel esapement. Would like to see more of the clock!
Burkhard
 

Burkhard Rasch

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most of them were 8dayers , but a small percentage ca3% were made as monthrunners , therefor the higher cases and the brass faces with the lower extensions.
Burkhard
 

Betzel

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an adjustable pallet for a verge and crown wheel escapement.
That is unusual. But, I don't know if it was original or a later upgrade. Some of the bushings further up the train are slotted (I think, can't see) and adjustable as well. The two weights are joined at the hip but drive one pulley? In France and never seen one of these before either...Is that gridiron functional or decorative? You never know...
-
jerzy1234: Dlaczego nie opublikować tego zegara w osobnym wątku? Powiedz nam, co wiesz, i opublikuj więcej zdjęć?

(Why not post that clock in its own thread? Tell us what you know, and post more pictures?)
 

Wishiknewmore

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Hello
Update on progress,
I have received my weights and pendulum, and she goes, sort of!
I found and attached some rod to the "count rack" that is attached to to the snail, but still need some adjustment as I get an extra two chimes , I take it I just carefully bend the connecting rod
I have soldered back the broken piece on the butterfly
Not sure how the timekeeping is yet as I have just put the pointers back on
The chord from the escarpment "anchor" seems to get a bit of a shake /wobble on each swing and the pendulum seems to "hinge' at the point where is connects to the clock, only slightly ,but the clock has been going all night so, so far so good!
The last large wheel on the chime side has bit of bend /twist and sometimes sticks , so a little more to investigate
On the bright side , she's going!
Philip
 

Betzel

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You may find this website helpful: Description du mécanisme

It's in French, but you will get the idea. Sticking is not good, but most of these brass wheels were cast then machined, so may be helpful to understand how a wheel could have become bent in the first place, and whether the bend impacts function, before imagining how you might straighten it.
 

Burkhard Rasch

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there are two rods attached to the straight rack : the lower just guides the rack in its vertical motion when falling down at the beginning of the strike sequence and being lifted up step bu step by the gathering pallet with each blow . This lower rod is not critical as long as it keeps the rack on its vertical track.
The upper rod defines the position of the rack in relation to the gathering pallet thus determing the number of blows . It must fall completely free when released and its tip must land in the middle of the respective surface of the stepped snail , check carefully with the deep , narrow steps e. g. 11 or 12 o´ clock. Bending this down means lifting the rack , so fewer blows . Bending it up lets the rack fall deeper into the snail => more blows. HTH
Burkhard
 

Wishiknewmore

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Thank you for that, most helpful
When I originally was given the clock, wheels 33 and 34 were not fitted in the clock, and I suspect that neither the front or back pillar had been loosened or removed to take them out, so that may be how it(34) became bent..but not sure its the bend that is causing the sticking , it may be sticking on the rack(41) where the single tooth on 34 lifts it...some more observation to do
The clock is running quite slow about 7 mins in the hour with the pendulum fully shortened , so I presume the one I bought was too long, some improvisation to do!
Once I have it clear in my head how the strike mechanism actually works ( may take a while) I may strip the chiming side to have a more careful look
Thank you
Philip
 

Wishiknewmore

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Hello again, my reply was delayed for some reason, so really it was a reply to Betzel!
Burkhard, thank you for the addition info,I believe I understand the explanation, but as I fitted the lower rod I am not 100% sure it is vertical enough--but I think it is
I just need to spend some more time looking-- before doing !
Philip
 

Betzel

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With the brass rack, it may help to just play with it for a while to understand how the "centering" wires guide the whole shebang up and down in a parallel motion, smoothly and easily in their respective (brass?) holders, which are usually riveted to the front steel plate (I think it's the bottom one) and screwed in (?) to the plate on the top. This is so you can unscrew to get #41 out for replacement or to check (twirl it in your fingers) that it is dead straight between the centering wires, fix it, etc. As explained, the wire part on the front with the funky bends is what "drops" the rack (the tip of it hits right in the middle step of the snail surface) to set up the rack for the right number of strikes after actuation.

For the numbered illustrations, you're welcome. At least we can use them to talk. Another reference you may find useful is this: Clockmakers Aid

For me, the best way to guesstimate pendulum length is to do a train count, plug in the numbers and then test it before cutting anything. It is not possible (for me) to know precisely where along the spring the "theoretical top point" of spring flexion or pivot is, so it's usually longer than the number that comes out of the equation. So, it's really a guide to better trial and error. The length also refers to the "center of mass" of the pendulum bob, so usually the bullseye, but on old pendulums the center of mass is not always the center of the circle. You just never know. You'll also need room for adjustment faster and slower, so go slow and test a lot before you cut.

When an arbor is removed incorrectly, the doofuss (I've done it!) usually bends the pivot. These clocks are built like a tank, and hardened, but not like the Parisiennes, so repair is usually not too bad, unless it's your first one. Go slow. If it were my clock I would look at all the arbors, pivots etc. and be sure none are bent, worn, scoured, contaminated and so on. Running it bent is not a good thing, even though they are very tough. If it is bent, try to align the bend in the direction the plate will swing out --or remove both sides at the same time. A finger twirl or roll on the bench will usually be enough to see any bend. On watches, a graph of rate error can sometimes show a bent pivot. It looks like a sine wave as it speeds up and slows down. I would not regulate until all other problems are resolved. Like a bend, and (for me) a disassembly, inspection, cleaning, adjustment, oil, etc.

If you do find a problem and want some help, give us a shout. Might be best to read-up, start (or join) a thread on this topic in the clock repair section?

All the best!
 

Wishiknewmore

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Progress...
The clock is running and pendulum adjusted and it keeps reasonable time, but I still have and intermittent problem with the chiming, most of the time it works but sometime it doesn't
I cannot find any significant tight spots , so I am trying a cheat at the moment I have just added a 400g cuckoo clock weight to the chime weight, my weights are 4kg rather than the 4.4kg suggested by Burkhard , hopefully this may sort , but any suggestions appriciated
Philip
 

Betzel

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If it were my clock I would look at all the arbors, pivots etc. and be sure none are bent, worn, scoured, contaminated and so on.
start (or join) a thread on this topic in the clock repair section?
It's difficult to find problems when you don't know exactly what to look for, as that takes time to develop. But, the purpose of an overhaul is to eliminate all problems to ensure good operation going forward. If you can post some clear pictures in the repair forum, people are often very kind to help you understand and fix what was once very puzzling to all of us. The important parts for strike issues are where the lever (32) fall into holes in (6) in the wheel behind the motion works, and the parts connected out from there on the right hand side of the clock. It looks complicated, but compared to many other clocks we like to discuss here, these are very robust and fairly straightforward. A picture in that forum, as here, is worth a thousand words.
 

Wishiknewmore

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Thank you again
I understand, no simple solutions, I will strip out the chime side ,check and clean everything individually.
My overdriving attempt with the extra 400grams has improved it but not solved it,
Just for information the lever (32) falls into the holes in (6) totally consistently but sometimes the strike action just does not happen (unless I give it a gentle nudge) ...I know clean and inspect !
If no improvement I will post my questions in the repair section
thanks for your help and patience
Philip
 

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