Grandfather clock chimes running too fast

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by montgomeryAL, Mar 16, 2017.

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  1. montgomeryAL

    montgomeryAL Registered User

    Mar 16, 2017
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    I recently bought a Grandfther clock at an estate sale (for a very good price). It is an Ethan Allen brand that was bought as a Father's Day gift in 1980. The clock keeps perfect time and sounds great,except the chimes tempo is too fast. I have never heard the Westminster chime strike as fast as this clock strikes it. What can be done to slow the chimes to "normal" speed?

    Grandfather Clock.jpg
     
  2. Jasons34

    Jasons34 Registered User

    Jan 1, 2016
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    When you say fast just how fast is it? I have 2 grandfather clocks running. One is a 1986 Sligh cable driven and the other I built 5 years ago which is chain driven. The cable driven clock will complete it's hourly chime sequence about 4 seconds faster than the chain driven. So when I ask how fast do you mean fast ages in finishing at lightning speed?
     
  3. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

    Apr 15, 2005
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    Hello Monty (forgive the abbreviation). Welcome to the board.

    Ok, see this is your first post so not sure what you know. So here goes.

    There are 3 trains on your clock. A train is series of gears to perform a function.
    They are called the strike, time and chime.

    The time train moves the hands and keeps track of time.

    The strike train counts the hours. It plays after the chime is done. It normally only operates at the top of the hour.

    The chime plays the Westminster melody. The melody is as follows.

    At 15 minutes after the hour it plays 4 notes.
    At 30 minutes after the hour it plays 8 notes.
    At 45 minutes after the hour it plays 12 notes.
    At the hour it plays 16 notes and then activates the strike train to ring out the hours.

    First guess is that you have incorrect weights. But this does not mean you have them in incorrect order as the most heaviest weight should be on the chime (usually far right when facing clock).

    If it comes to suspect that you may have the incorrect weights then you will have to research here and see what movement you have and what the manufacture specs are on the weights that should be using. Don't be surprised as clock weights do migrate and often people add heavier weights to get a poorly running clock to perform. This is incorrect as the movement should be serviced as extra weight causes damage.

    Now we advance understanding as to components of the trains.

    The time train has the escapement. The escapement is a controlled method of allowing the last gear (escape wheel) to turn. This involves interaction of the anchor and palettes with the escape wheel. Later when you wish, you can explore understanding this. For now I do not believe it is necessary.

    The strike and the chime train work differently. They both have a device called a fly. Each has it's own fly. A fly is the last gear of that train located at the top of the movement and it's job is to "catch air" to regulate the speed of the strike/chime.

    A fly is just a flat piece of metal that grips it's arbor in a manner that is suppose to be slightly friction fitted. Meaning not a solid connection but having enough grip that when that gear's arbor turns it turns the flat blade of metal to "catch air" and slow the process down.

    Most times if a fly fails to grip their arbors then a simple adjustment can be made to the fly so that the frictional grip is tighter. You can imagine thin metal giving way after years of use.

    To remove the flys so you can repair. I would do the following.

    Wind up the grandfather clock all 3 with weights on as usual.
    Remove weights. Remove pendulum. Remove hands. Remove dial. Remove movement.
    Notice I'm not too elaborate description here because either your up to the challenge or not.
    Much is simple so either you get it or not. Your decision.

    Then with the movement out here is a simple trick so that you don't have to take the whole movement apart. This takes advantage of the fact that the two fly's are at the top edge of the movement.

    First study the action of the gears by attaching minute hand and advancing it while pulling/pushing the suspect train to provide power while you study the action of the flys. You can do this in your hands or set the movement back in the grandfather case so to hold the movement.

    Take time to notice if either of the flys seem loose or fail to turn with their arbors. If so you can then adjust them tighter.

    To take a fly out without disturbing the whole movement remove the upper 2 nuts and loosen the bottom 2 a small amount.

    Then you can spread the plates open just enough to remove the problem fly. Be careful not to spread the plates too wide as other gears will tend to pop out of their holes.

    The fly and the gears have what is called pivots. The pivots are tiny delicate wire tips that turn inside holes in the plates. The holes in the plates are called bushings.

    The biggest problem is bending/breaking the pivots. If any of the pivots fall out of their bushing holes then you have to re-insert them before closing the plates to put the nuts back on. Be warned it is easy to bend/break pivots.

    What I do is hold the movement up to my eye level like a sandwich. I have my magnivisor with light on so I can see good. As I am spreading the plates with my left hand finger and thumb I grasp fly with right hand finger and thumb or needle nose pliers if wished and then remove. The tips of the pivots can scrape a little but be careful not to bend them when removing. Take your time and when you get use to it it's easy.

    When you get the fly out you can remove the metal blade portion and then adjust the tang or other arrangement to be tighter.

    When you reinstall then check to see that the other gear pivots are in. Even other train gears can pop out so take your time and check each gear.

    To check that the gears are in place you can wiggle them up/down (if your holding it sandwich style) and if they wiggle up/down without struggle then attempt to close the top plate. Avoid using pressure. If you feel resistance stop. Just continue looking and wiggle to see that each is in their pivots. The smaller gears tend to drop out but the larger gears don't. So this gives you some leadway.

    Once you have all in place and top on tighten the nuts and test.


    Good luck.
    RJ
     
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  4. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
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    Check that the chime fly is snug on it's arbor. The fly is not supposed to be tight or loose. It should not spin freely, but when you hold its tiny pinion/gear stationary with your fingernail, the fly should have a small amount of resistance when you turn it on its arbor.
    Willie X
     
  5. montgomeryAL

    montgomeryAL Registered User

    Mar 16, 2017
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    Thanks for the quick responses. When I say chimes, I mean the Westminster melody. It runs through the tune in about 15 seconds on the hour, faster on the quarter and half hour. And you're right R J, I know nothing about clocks. I have a 30 year old key wind mantle clock that stopped chiming two months ago, and a 1934 electric mantle clock(Westminster chimes also) that I no longer have plugged up because once it strikes the hour it doesn't stop.
     
  6. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
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    15 seconds on the 16 note hourly chime is normal.
    Willie X
     
  7. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

    Oct 11, 2010
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    Do note, that you may be tempted to try to adjust the fly while
    it is in the movement.
    Since to do this, you need to bend the metal finger slightly past
    the arbor, it can not be done while the fly is still on the arbor.
    All any attempt will do it make it looser.
    Fixing it to the arbor ( and some think is a good idea ) will eventually
    damage the mechanism that stops the chime sequence.
    It may be that the other clock is too slow.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  8. R&A

    R&A Registered User

    Oct 21, 2008
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    What do your weights weigh out at? This could also be an issue.
     
  9. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User
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    Apr 4, 2006
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    The real question is whether the chimes are faster than normal or just faster than your liking. I agree with Willie, 15 seconds on the hour is not extremely fast. All clocks have some sort of governor to limit the chiming (and striking) speed the most common being a simple fly or fan, but some use a more elaborate governor. If you have no experience at all servicing clocks I suggest that you consider having a local clock repair person come and evaluate your clock. If you just acquired it and know nothing of its history then this may be a good time to have it cleaned and serviced and the governor checked for normal operation. RJ described steps to tighten the governor fly (if that is the problem) but for a 'newbie' that operation can easily go terribly wrong.


    It is important to determine what the problem is (if in deed there is a problem) before attempting a 'fix'. Reducing the chime weight will provide less power and one would expect also reduce the chime rate. But if the fast rate is due to a loose fly, slowing the chimes by reducing the desired rate by reducing the drive weight may well result in insufficient power to reliably start up the chimes.

    RC
     
  10. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

    Apr 15, 2005
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    I agree with RC on the "newbian" aspect as to going terribly wrong. But hard for me to judge his skill set. I lay it out there assuming he knows his comfort zone. I should have a cautionary disclaimer. We all have to begin somewhere. A weight driven is better place to start than one with springs.

    RJ
     
  11. montgomeryAL

    montgomeryAL Registered User

    Mar 16, 2017
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    I honestly don't ever see myself attempting to do anything like what has been discussed on my clocks. I'm more comfortable tearing down a car engine. LOL. There are only a couple of clock repair shops in Montgomery and I had bad experiences with both with my electric mantle clock. One offered to replace the inner workings with a battery drive, and the other offered me $25.00 for it. The clock has a pat.pending stamp date of 1908 on the inside of the door. I plug it up about once a year for about an hour just because I can.
     
  12. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    I just timed my GF clock. It uses tubes rather than rods. It takes
    5 seconds for each 4 note sequence or 20 seconds for the entire
    chime at the hour. Strikes are a little over a second each.
    15 seconds sounds to be within normal range to me.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  13. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User
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    I can't recommend anyone I haven't used myself, but a Google search shows there is a clock shop in Montgomery that's an "Authorized Howard Miller and Ridgeway Service Center", and there are several places in Birmingham - not sure how far away that is. You might also contact the NAWCC chapter nearest to you and see if there are any members that might be able to service your clock. In all fairness the shop in Montgomery specifically advertises that they repair mechanical clocks. A 1908 electric clock presents issues that many (perhaps most) clock shops are not prepared to deal with and/or would rather not deal with. One word of caution, don't expect the service technician to drive to your home, evaluate the clock, take the movement back to the shop, disassemble clean adjust and repair as needed, and drive back to your home and setup the clock for less than a few hundred dollars. Ask for an estimate first.

    RC
     
  14. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Registered User

    Jun 19, 2006
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    I wonder if this clock is one of the type that has a choice of three different "tunes"...? If so, perhaps it's on the setting to play Whittington (which to me sounds like a stylized variation of Westminster, just with extra notes) instead of Westminster and just giving the illusion of "playing too fast"...? Just a guess.
     
  15. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

    Oct 11, 2010
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    Please read post #10
    It starts while the lever is lifting. It is not stopping during
    warning.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  16. montgomeryAL

    montgomeryAL Registered User

    Mar 16, 2017
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    Sorry I haven't checked back in lately. Yes my clock does in fact have the three tune selection. When I got it I let it cycle through each tune for a day and being the traditionalist that I am i choose the Westminster setting. I will say there is a lot of "play" in the selector lever, but I can feel it disengage and engage between each tune choice.
     
  17. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    Never let a shop put a quartz movement in any clock.
    Most shops will want to service the clock as well as fix it.
    Service on a chime clock can be anywhere from $200 to $700
    depending on location and amount of work.
    Looking at the picture, the clock looks much newer than 1908.
    I suspect you misread the number.
    I'm suspecting 1968 is more likely, by the look of the dial.
    A close picture of the movement's back would be interesting.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  18. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Registered User

    Jun 19, 2006
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    A patent date doesn't mean date of manufacture...it just means that's the date the company obtained (or in this case, submitted) the patent (since it says "patent pending"). There can be years and years in between a patent date and a manufacturing date.

    However, this might be a case of transposed numbers--the original post in this thread says the clock was purchased in 1980 (rather than 1908).
     
  19. montgomeryAL

    montgomeryAL Registered User

    Mar 16, 2017
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    The clock you are replying about is not my Grandfather clock. It is an electric mantle clock I inherited from my grandmother when I was 16(40 years ago). I will take a picture of it tonight and add to this reply.
     
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