Gilbert Crystal Regulator Service - A Recap

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by mauleg, May 18, 2019.

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  1. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    Dec 26, 2012
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    #1 mauleg, May 18, 2019
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
    In this thread, I mentioned the Gilbert Crystal Regulator as an exception to Gilbert's less-than-sterling reputation as a quality clockmaker. My comments were based on my observations during daily use of 2 of these clocks that I've had since 2013.

    One need only look at one of these clocks to see that they are complex. As a result, I waited 6 years to gain ample experience on other movements and to tool up before attempting to service one. Last week, one of them finally stopped running, which was a prompt for me to quit procrastinating and do the service. It was an illuminating experience; on with the pictures; "before" first:

    The movement was predictably filthy, but what appears to be rust on the levers is actually some kind of anti-rust coating applied some time in the past. These images show the complexity of this 3-plate movement:

    20190509_182346.jpg 20190509_182358.jpg
    And with the back plate removed:
    The springs were really grungy; note that the plates have built-in barrel-like retention structures for the mainsprings. The gear is held onto the mainspring arbor with a thin press-fit washer. The clicks are decently designed:

    A rack and snail striking mechanism is used. The release lever has a set screw for easy setup and adjustment:

    And here it is after service, including bushings on the second wheel. There's still a bit of the anti-rust coating in a few areas. I decided that it did no harm and completely removing it would risk unnecessary wear. The important bits are what you can't see:

    There's quite a bit of mechanism here for a clock this size (the dial is ~3.5" in diameter) and several design features were made to accommodate this, like 3 plates and the integrated "barrels". All in all, it was not quite as difficult as I expected, but still represents a job "not for the faint of heart". Once assembled, the only adjustment required was the strike release lever.

    My original comments regarding this clock were that it featured:
    1. Build quality ("stoutness" of components; fit and finish)
    2. Ease of repair
    3. Engineering "elegance" (the use of simple, well thought-out mechanisms vs complex patchworks)
    4. Aesthetics (risk on subjectivity on this)
    5. Functional Innovation
    6. Longevity/Reliability
    For #1, I'd have to give it a middling grade. It's not flimsy by any means, but some of the components could have been heavier and the strike mechanism, although well-designed, is a bit substandard.

    #2 is a bit harder. Little adjustment was necessary after reassembly, and provision was made to make the adjustments easily. Access requires significant disassembly, but given the design constraints imposed by size and the aesthetic, this is understandable. This was a rather innovative (and I believe, well-done) design for its time.

    #3, I stand by my comments. There's a little room for improvement on this score, but overall, the design is well-executed.

    #4. It's a beautiful clock. Check out the pictures below

    #5. Like I stated in #2, innovative for its time.

    #6. Still running strong after 100+ years; so far, so good.

    In closing, images of the clock after service, including quite a bit of cleaning of the case, the brass of which appeared to be olive drab before servicing. Note that the top cornice and the decorative feet and finials are gilded pewter or pot metal:

    20190518_214800.jpg 20190518_214848.jpg 20190518_214907.jpg 20190518_214927.jpg 20190518_214944.jpg
    claussclocks, Isaac and gleber like this.
  2. gleber

    gleber Registered User

    Jun 15, 2015
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    Downingtown, Pennsylvania USA
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    Well worth the read. Thank you.

  3. Isaac

    Isaac Registered User

    Aug 5, 2013
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    #3 Isaac, May 18, 2019
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
    Very nice follow up! Looks pretty intimidating to work on. What's your experience with the through-the-dial beat adjuster?

  4. craig ankeney

    craig ankeney Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Oct 3, 2005
    #4 craig ankeney, Oct 15, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2019
    Just saw this post. I have a similar crystal regulator movement that my chapter repair people won't touch. Since you have done this would you be willing to take my clock for repair? Thanks. Craig 9374336111, Dayton, Ohio
  5. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    Nov 13, 2011
    oakland, ca.
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    craig - these kinds of communications are best done via 'private conversation' (which those of us who remember the previous message board still call 'private messages'). good luck w/ your clock!
  6. claussclocks

    claussclocks Registered User
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    Mar 14, 2013
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    A very nice job. The clock is beautiful
    I have worked on a number of them and have always like Gilbert clocks. I have not worked on a Gilbert crystal regulator though. I prefer them to a lot of Waterbury and certainly Sessions clocks. My experience with Sessions is bush everything and the brass seems either thin or softer than some of the other makers.

  7. craig ankeney

    craig ankeney Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Oct 3, 2005
    #7 craig ankeney, Oct 16, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2019
    OK, will try that. Luck needed.

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