French striker - what to watch out for?

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by peanuts, Jan 15, 2020.

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  1. peanuts

    peanuts Registered User

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    Good morning everyone.

    A neighbour has asked me to look at this slate clock, which I was told "doesn't run":
    2020-01-15 08.47.10.jpg 2020-01-14 10.49.11.jpg 2020-01-14 10.49.25.jpg
    I wound it up and set it going, and it will tick for a minute or two then stops (despite being in beat), so there's nothing fundamentally broken.

    I'll strip, clean and inspect it, but I've not worked on one of these strikers before. Is there anything I particularly need to be aware of and take care over? I'm guessing it's French, and that the normal warning about tiny hard pivots applies.

    Simon
     
  2. Hans_

    Hans_ Registered User

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    That suspension housing ( chops?) looks a bit off. It was the only problem on a paris movement that I worked.

    Hans
     
  3. Hans_

    Hans_ Registered User

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    Also, I'd get rid of that washer holding the going click. That might mean replacing the screw.

    Hans
     
  4. peanuts

    peanuts Registered User

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    Thanks Hans. It looks like the suspension post is held by a single screw, so can maybe be rotated back into position.

    Simon
     
  5. peanuts

    peanuts Registered User

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    That screw has already been replaced once I think. I'm not sure what useful purpose that washer serves, but if the replacement screw isn't shouldered then it may have been glued in place. I'll take a closer look when I've got the plates separated.

    Simon
     
  6. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    What's already been said plus it looks like the pin holding the going train ratchet wheel is missing. It does look French but I've never worked on that had so many pivot holes on peninsulas. Your movement has obviously been worked on (or at least messed with), so I would say almost everything is suspect, including the possibility that someone may have "adjusted" the position of one or more of the peninsulas. I hate working on a clock that someone before has messed with. Generally French clocks have fine pivots that are easily busted so caution is in order. If it don't fit don't force it. Does it have a deadbeat, recoil, or Brocot escapement? Can we see pictures between the plates?

    RC
     
  7. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    I agree with what has been said. The movement doesn't quite look like a typical French movement. Especially the peninsulas are quite unusual. In addition to what has been said, servicing the mainsprings (take out, clean and lubricate) is very important. These movements are not overpowered at all.

    Uhralt
     
  8. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    That IS an odd cluster of peninsulas. Increases the desire to know what's inside.
     
  9. peanuts

    peanuts Registered User

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    #9 peanuts, Jan 15, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
    I haven't split the plates yet (I'm waiting to see if anyone will warn me of any 'gotchas'), but here are some photos showing what's in between:
    2020-01-14 10.47.36.jpg 2020-01-14 10.47.46.jpg 2020-01-14 10.48.03.jpg 2020-01-14 10.48.10.jpg
    I think it's a recoil escapement (the EW teeth point away from the direction of rotation), and the pallet faces are quite worn – but it looks as though the anchor may have been moved along the arbor at some time, because there are two distinct areas of wear:
    WIN_20200115_15_42_16_Pro.jpg WIN_20200115_15_46_27_Pro.jpg WIN_20200115_15_50_15_Pro.jpg
    The pin is present, thankfully - but it doesn't protrude out of the side that is visible in the photo.

    Simon 2020-01-14 10.47.58.jpg

    (Ignore that final picture - I don't seem to be able to delete it...)
     
  10. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    I think there is nothing special with regard to splitting the plates. Take a look how the helper spring for the hammer tail is attached. Sometimes it is screwed into the plate and should be removed before splitting the plate.

    Uhralt
     
  11. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I would say that verge either need some serious repair work, or a replacement.

    RC
     
  12. peanuts

    peanuts Registered User

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    I've split the plates; this is how it looks:
    2020-01-16 09.57.33.jpg 2020-01-16 09.58.29.jpg
    I'm interested to know whether or not it is French; I'd love to be able to pass on the information to the owner, who has no idea.

    This is the Time side spring: quite a weak spring, as you said. Not only had the oil turned to a nasty sticky mess – there was (or should that be were?) some kind of gritty deposits:
    2020-01-16 12.36.57.jpg
    Apart from the badly scored pallet faces, the only other area of concern is this crack in the Strike side barrel:
    2020-01-16 11.40.55.jpg
    Now, I have done a barrel repair on one of my own clocks in the past (cutting out the area around the crack and soldering in a replacement piece, tapered so it couldn't push out), but I didn't enjoy it and am very reluctant to try again on someone else's clock. My inclination is to leave it as is and inform the owner that there's a risk of it getting worse. But what exactly are the risks here? Catastrophic failure with collateral damage? Or a non-damaging kind of failure that means the owner can safely wait out then have it dealt with?

    Simon
     
  13. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    Yeah, it seems that spring has been badly ignored in the past. It needs to be carefully cleaned and lubricated. Rubbing it down with steel wool for cleaning might be good. I would try to silver solder the crack after closing it with something like a hose clamp. Or, make a thin brass sleeve. If left alone, nothing might happen for a long time, but it is also possible that the crack widens, the barrel cap falls out, the barrel tilts and takes a spin, damaging the teeth.

    Besides the peninsulas, the movement looks French from the inside. Maybe it is a rather late example.

    Uhralt
     
  14. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    That barrel needs to be repaired in my opinion. High temp silver solder would be a strong repair (1100° temp). Otherwise reinforcement from either the inside or outside would give you some assurance that the owner isn't going to get hurt.
     
  15. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I would not leave it with the cracked spring barrel. The main risk is the cover popping out, as already mentioned, and the high risk of collateral damage. You might have success with high temperature silver solder, if you have the proper oxyacetylene torch and the skills to use it properly. I would not trust any low temp regular solder alone, including low temp silver solder. Other alternatives depend on how you want the repair to look or not. An outside band or sleeve, or a curved "patch" soldered (regular low temp solder) across the crack should be functional but visually obvious, if that matters here.

    RC
     
  16. peanuts

    peanuts Registered User

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    Thanks to those who commented on the cracked barrel. I hadn't realised the consequences of the cap coming off (it's a good thing I asked!).

    I'll ask the owner if they would be happy with a repair of this nature, given that it's reversible. That's a job that's within my pay grade (I work for free, by the way...).

    Thanks again for all the advice – very much appreciated.

    Simon
     
  17. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Is that how you chose your name? :D
     
    Kevin W. and peanuts like this.
  18. peanuts

    peanuts Registered User

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    I now believe that the verge may have started life in another clock. I had noticed that there were two distinct areas of wear; slight wear at dead centre, and serious wear off to one side:
    WIN_20200115_15_42_16_Pro.jpg
    However, the escape wheel sits dead centre:
    WIN_20200119_13_57_04_Pro.jpg
    So I polished the pallet faces disregarding the really deep depression, and the time side now runs nicely.

    I haven't finished working on the strike side yet, because I have two questions I'd like some input on:

    (1) Synchronising the strike train: I noticed some synchronisation marks on S2 and S4:
    2020-01-17 12.39.57_LI.jpg
    I arranged those wheels the same way on reassembly - but I wonder what the importance is of those marks, given that S3 (the one that carries the pins that drive the strike hammer) can be re-positioned without splitting the plates, thanks to this removable plate:
    2020-01-14 10.50.17.jpg
    (Try to ignore the solder on the hammer arm: this is a 'before' picture...)

    Question:
    Am I likely to encounter any problems trying to synchronise the strike?

    (2) This spring on the front plate seems to serve no useful purpose - the tail is not making contact with any moving part:
    2020-01-19 13.28.59.jpg WIN_20200119_13_30_30_Pro.jpg WIN_20200119_13_30_06_Pro.jpg
    I put this spring back as I found it, and these are the 'after' pictures. The only useful 'before' picture is in post #1 above. I didn't test the strike train before I started work, so I don't know if it was working. And I haven't tested it yet (I haven't put the gathering pallet back on), so I don't know if it works.

    Question:
    Is this spring broken or out of position?

    Simon WIN_20200119_13_57_04_Pro.jpg
     
  19. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    The marks usually correspond to a chamfered leaf of the pinion that meshes with the wheel. Look carefully at the pinions (I couldn't see the chamfers in the pictures). Once you got each mark on the wheels mesh with the chamfered pinion, the strike synchronization should be easy. Just make sure that the hammer tail is between two lifting pins when the strike is in the "stop" position.

    The spring is a helper spring that should gently push on the strike releasing lever. I wonder if it is a replacement, it appears to be too long.

    Uhralt
     
  20. peanuts

    peanuts Registered User

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    Thanks for the reply, Urhalt.
    I decided to take a chance, and put the gathering pallet back on so that it stops the strike train immediately after the hammer drops. The strike train seems to be behaving the way it should, so I wonder - how critical is this alignment between the marked wheels and the chamfered pinions?

    So, it should be pushing here?
    2020-01-19 13.28.59_LI.jpg
    That would make sense – the spring is close to the plate and therefore only aligns with the arrowed lever. Do you suppose it's been straightened out by some previous repairer? It looks like it's original to the clock, as there is a stabilising pin on the underside of the spring adjacent to the screw, and the pin aligns perfectly with a hole in the plate.

    Anyway, the lever drops quite happily under gravity. Should I leave it alone, or would you bend the spring back on itself so it makes contact with the lever? It'd be nice if someone could post a picture of a similar movement so I know what shape the spring should be...

    Simon
     
  21. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    It looks like it's anchored by the screw, so the other end should be doing the work. Yes, it looks like it's straighter than it should be.
    I don't believe those marks on S2 and S3 have any real purpose.
     
  22. peanuts

    peanuts Registered User

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    Will I need to use heat to put a bend back in it, do you think?

    Simon
     
  23. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Probably not. Give it a try without, so you don't anneal the spring.
     
  24. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    Yes, it should push there. Very gently only, minimal pressure is best. You don't need to anneal it for the slight bend.

    Uhralt
     
  25. peanuts

    peanuts Registered User

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    #25 peanuts, Jan 21, 2020 at 8:42 AM
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2020 at 8:47 AM
    I've done that now (sorry, Uhralt, for spelling your name incorrectly earlier – unforgivable!); my thanks go to you and Shutterbug for the suggestions. Due to its length I had to bend the spring back on itself, so it now looks like a typical click-spring. All seems well:


    Providing it will run for 8 days plus, I just have some cosmetic details to work on. A broken minute hand, which I have totally failed to find a replacement for in the UK (blued steel no problem but I'm looking for brass), and a missing winding hole escutcheon, which I'll have to make. I don't know how to re-create the profile, so I'm probably going to have to make two:
    2020-01-21 10.21.04.jpg
    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to create that concave profile without making a shaped tool for my lathe?

    Simon
     
  26. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    You could just use a round file while turning the stock in your lathe, finish with fine abrasive paper around a stick.

    RC
     
  27. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    I forgive you anyway! The spring looks good now.
    Uhralt
     

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