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Gustav Becker - Wall Clock - Advice

Garfield

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Dec 29, 2021
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I have my first wall clock - actually my first pendulum clock. It will not run.

I need some advice how to do things when you can't see it on the bench - you sure can't see it in the clocks home. What is the best kind of stand for clocks of this type?

You cannot get the clock in beat no matter how far the crutch is adjusted, I wondered why I found the crutch this way - now I know. How much play is acceptable in the pallet bridge - sure somebody will tell me the correct term - there is a lot of play in this but it could be normal by clock standards - I haven't the experience and most sources of information describe ideal working clock setup and rarely discuss such matters - I know how to set a clock in beat but not so much when it won't play nice, things look OK other than the amount of play in the pallet bridge, how much play here would be enough to stop the clock - the pin for the pendulum can move in and out by around 3mm. The clock runs very freely, I don't think a clean and service will help much - without the pallets in place it will spin if you blow on it. Things case wise are 100% vertical and horizontal - checked by laser level .... although the image doesn't show it well the horizontal passes just below the groove in which the clock sits - so this is not a case problem although the threaded tip of the pendulum isn't centred - could this be part of the issue ??.

IMG_1215.png IMG_1208b.png
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wow

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You should first adjust the crutch so the pin is in the center. Then mount the movement with the pin in the slot on the pendulum. Then swing the pendulum slightly and listen for a tick. If there is a tick, adjust the crutch till it is in beat. If there is no tick, the anchor at the top of the movement is not in its proper position. You will need to move that anchor on it’s arbor until it ticks when the pendulum is swung. Post a photo of the whole movement so we can help you better.
 

Garfield

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Did that - zero tick - pendulum was near the box wall before any tick - can't get it in beat using the crutch adjustment can just about get it to tick - the crutch clearly isn't centered in the V. I'm trying not to mess with stuff without understanding, the theory I have but the experience not so much, this clock has survived since 1893 so I don't want to be the cause of it's demise - but I want to learn this stuff not simply pass it off to A.N.Other - .

Help me take the kind of pictures you need to see - can you link to some examples ??

IMG_1222.png
IMG_1219.png IMG_1211.png
 

wow

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The anchor slips on the arbor. You must get it centered on the escape wheel where it ticks when the pendulum swings and the adjustment is near the center of the threads. Then you can set the beat with the adjustment. Hold the anchor while pushing on the crutch and it will slip.it is supposed to be pretty tight.
 

Garfield

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Just how much pressure is it safe to apply both are really really tight - feels like I'm going to twist the shaft itself - for sure nothings slipping easily
 

Dick Feldman

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I would like to make a couple of initial comments about your clock. Vienna regulators are known to have low pendulum amplitude (swing) by their nature. This is a sign of limited power to the escapement. Secondly, I would like to say that this board is populated by all levels of clock repair people. Some of the "old hands" dwell on practices that should have been discarded long ago. You may get misleading advice here and even some bad advice along with the good.
Vienna regulators are, in their simplest form, machines. All machines, including Vienna regulators are prone to wear after a hundred years of use. That is a fact. Wear exhibits itself as looseness in the pivot holes in the clock plates. With wear comes friction which will cause low power and poor operation. Clean, oil and adjust, which are the knee jerk reactions with many repair people have little or no effect on the wear process. The wear process is quite evident in your clock. For a moment, think about the clock escapement as climbing a ladder. Would you ever reach your house roof with a ladder having ill spaced rungs? Likely you would run out of patience or energy before reaching the roof. The escape wheel and the verge arbor wandering around could be compared to a ladder with ill spaced (or missing) rungs. Any movement you see in the plate pivot holes is caused by wear.
The first and foremost thing one must aim for is: What is robbing the mechanism of power. The normal solution for wear in clock movements is to bore each egg-shaped hole and properly add a bushing. With that done at each wear point, power will be restored to the escapement and you will have a much better chance of a movement being reliable for a long time. There is a long series of things that must happen for proper operation of a clock movement. Sufficient power is one of those "things" that cannot be bypassed.
My suggestion is that you find a mentor that can show you the process and to read everything you can find on clock repair. Your local library is a good place for clock repair books. A good starting publication is This Old Clock by David S. Goodman. There are many more. I do not recommend using U Tube videos as many of those videos are put out by "first clock repair wonders."
These are my opinions which I voice once in a while on this board. Seldom, if ever are my views challenged.
Many times they are ignored.
Best of luck with your clock and I wish you success.
Dick Feldman
 

Garfield

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Dick Feldman And I have no intention of challenging either, I shall consider adding that book to the collection. What I seek from sites such as this one is those 'experiences' not gained from the book, to learn from the mistakes others may have made - an ounce of experience is worth a pound of theory, not that I'm decrying theory, you can't have either in isolation if you're going to do the job well.

On the mentor front I'd love too but there don't seem to be a lot around in my area, many of the old watch and clock places like Ironmongers are long since closed.

So for now I trawl sites such as this for wisdom, read books etc but I don't necessarily or blindly accept - I've seen some stuff on the tube that made even me cringe and I'm a total amateur, there are contradictions in books from 'experts', I've equally seen some advice that is elitist and based on modern materials etc not available to those that made these clocks - take the lubrication debate - I won't start one or even join one.

Well to the original point I decided to bench the movement and remove the face, was hoping to avoid but I'm glad I did so now as 've found so far five issues.

1 : There is a lot of play in the outer support for the escapement shaft - if it were a watch I'd be considering bushing it.
2 : There was a tooth bent on the hour wheel - I identified a spot where the movement choked but would continue
3 : There was a taper pin missing from the strike mechanism that follows the chime plate/Snail on the hour wheel.
4 : I don't think the strike was properly timed - there are marks on the wheels that look as though they should be aligned but somebody has added scratches also - I think the dots should align - but not so sure how the hour wheel dot aligns - no mark other than the one on the wheel.
5 : There is a lot of play in the center wheel pivots on the front plate.

I straightened the pin on the hour wheel, but I know now why it got bent in the first place - the strike mechanism does not reset after midnight/noon (the pin tracking the hour wheel becomes wedged) and locks up if the strike is not running - but the clock continues to drive the hour wheel.

I'm in agreement on the bushing front but I'm coming from the watch arena and what I see as too much play may not be in clock circles. Although I've done bushing and have the tools this challenges the comfort zone significantly, more so than jewels - I don't want to be the death of this clock by accident or otherwise so I'll take my time, get some bushing rod in and practice some more I think - any advice or links on this topic also gratefully received - interference fit or rivet?, solid rod or bushing rod ? - recommendations.

I also have more questions -

1 : Must this clocks strike mechanism also be running / available when the clock is - i.e. you can't let it wind down and leave it whilst still winding the clock itself.
2 : Just how should things look - hence the pictures below of how it is now - I have yet to find anything that looks like it, I'll continue to search for information on the timing marks present.
3 : There doesn't seem to be any facility to lock this in silent mode and even if you do refer to item 1 - the mechanism must run even if silenced


Front Strike Mech.png
Cannon Pin - Marks.png
Marks 2.png
 

wow

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You shouldn’t need to wind the strike side for the time side to run the time train. Is that what you are asking?
This set-up is not exactly like any I’ve seen before but all looks like it is set right. You may have to adjust the upper wheel in the second photo so the rack drops at the right time, though. The gathering pallet is simply a gear which is unusual but the cut off evidently is achieved in the lever above the rack. There usually is not a cut off of the strike train in these clocks. One thing that puzzles me is the upper wheel in the second photo. It is the lift for the strike lever. It has a hole in it? but both pins are there to lift the lever so it should work ok.
 
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Dick Feldman

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The strike train does not have to run if it is bothersome. Let it run down or do not attach the weight.
I would warn about something else, though. The wear is likely throughout the movement--both trains.
That is a typical Gustav Becker movement and you should not need the timing marks if you know what is supposed to happen and in what order.
By my standards, if you can see pivot movement in a hole by wobbling the train with your finger, it is too much.
Maybe I am one of those elitists. It is tough to judge how much wear is "tolerable." Normally one can do no harm by installing too many bushings but too few is a hazard. People set their own standards.
In my book, making it "go", that is not repair.
From your pictures, that movement has already been bushed and the pivot holes are again loose.
There is a useful link from this board about hand bushing. Check this out:
https://mb.nawcc.org/wiki/Encyclopedia-Subjects/Clock-Repair/Bushing-Using-Hand-Tools
You may gain some insight on a rack/snail strike system here as well:
Even though clocks and watches are the same machine, it is rare to find a clock/watch person.
I know squat about watches.
Best,
Dick
 
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Garfield

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The upper wheel is indeed the lift for the strike, it also drives the hour wheel

:) I know squat about clocks. I too don't like a lot of slack - has to be some but I'm 99% in your camp - there is too much on at least three wheels.

How can you tell if it's bushed - I've had it under the microscope - it isn't obvious to me, there is only one hole where it seems a different color - thought it was just age and dirt, for the dished pivots I can't tell if there's new metal there or not (if I'd bushed this I wouldn't have cut them so deep), it does look like the escapement has been staked but I don't know if that was factory or not - what am I missing ??

On the strike train the pin that runs on the snail does not reset at 12 - it should move clear for the countdown to start again - it doesn't - I've tried it a few times now it just locks up the clock and I've no intention of straightening a tooth again - I was successful this time but I'm not chancing my arm as I have no facilities to hob a new wheel.

I do have a Seitz jewelling press and a decent selection of reamers etc - well except 0.69 that broke.

I'll study the links but for sure a teardown and rebush is on the to do list, I can't consider the bushing until I take it apart and measure stuff anyhow. I find the prospect frankly terrifying and somewhat intimidating on such a piece of history.

Oh and I do not consider doing it right elitist. For me elitists are the brand obsessives that belittle anyone that doesn't spend as much - yes I too have Bergeon stuff and not all of it is worthy of bench space, if it works for me I don't care whose name is on it - my favourite tweezers come from an ESD set I use for surface mount electronics - cost $20, some of the oils I have cost more than gold but I don't use more than three types on anything - most cases only two.

Anyhow as I mentioned first post I wanted confirmation whether it was too much play - you have confirmed it, my senses were telling me true, I'd considered staking and reaming but decided against.

PPS : How does the cannon pinion remove from a Gustav Becker of this era ?? mine looks like it may be pinned - never encountered such a thing
 
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wow

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So did you try what I suggested in post#4? If so, what was the outcome?
The only photo we have of bushings is the front plate. I see no bushings, just factory holes and oil sinks. Let us see the rear side.
 
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Garfield

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I did - the results were strange. On the bench the 'tick and tock' were equidistant either side the crutch vertical center, while 'playing' I hit a spot where no tick nor tock no matter what, it simply wouldn't advance. Removing the anchor and applying pressure to the escape wheel it was springy - following the rule that anything requiring force on a watch means something is wrong so I dug deeper - and found the bent tooth on the hour wheel that was binding things up - it is just coincidental that I happened on it. I have however found enough to warrant a complete tear down, this is disappointing but not entirely unexpected.

Like so many things at the moment I'm fighting my own ignorance, I can't even get the cannon pinion off to measure the spindle - I can tell by how much it's moving the front plate is badly worn. I'm going to eliminate as much wear as I can then revisit tick and tock.

The only question now is partial or full rebush - resigned to a full job but I need to get things apart and do some measuring to make sure I have stuff on the shelf.

Then I need a really good cabinet maker to sort out the box, came to the conclusion it requires skills I don't have and it isn't something I want to practice on.
 
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wow

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Sounds like a good plan. Usually these movements don’t need many bushings. Rocking the wheels should show you which holes need bushings and which direction you need to cut to be sure the new bushing is centered. Good luck.
 

Garfield

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This is the back less the crutch etc - re the marks I am not guilty but I never clean pre repair, what follows is the only place I think 'may' be a bush based on the colors and scratching in the area (though that could be just from trying to find the hole - this is the strike lift / hour wheel drive wheel), there's a hole slightly lower that may be but I don't see any others like this.

I also figured out the throat on my jewel press isn't going to work for things this big - that's a bummer - this really is a 'by hand' job in more ways than one.

Rear Clean-ish.png
IMG_1231.png
 
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Garfield

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It has been rebushed at some point - with the plates apart it is obvious. I got the measurements I need - for the record - putting watches together is easier - I'm still fighting to marry the plates again (I don't leave things in bits unnecessarily - that's how stuff disappears).
 
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Kevin W.

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Great clock, i have a few GB clocks, really like them.
 

Dick Feldman

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From your picture, the pivot hole on the east is loose and has obviously been bushed.


Cannon Pin - Marks.png

A mentor would do you a world of good.
Even a bad mentor can teach good lessons.
Best,
Dick
 
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Garfield

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Just an update - Mentor - yep so far that's a nope, so this forum will have to form part of my education for now.

The clock is running, good strong beat, pendulum tip is very very slightly below the II on the case marker in each direction. Looks like it will keep OK time but I need to pull it from the case again to get that sorted - I am not touching the case - wood and me are a bad combination.

Problems - multiple
The canon pinion was mega loose, the arrangement for setting the time on these clocks seems doomed to wear this part if done excessively.​
Slot in the pendulum leader where the crutch pin goes was worn so a lot of energy was wasted. The crutch pin sits very low in the slot so I believe the suspension spring is too short but I have no idea how long it is supposed to be.​
Escape wheel rebushed, I 've left most all the bushes I've left alone for now, one I corrected with a staking tool - yes I know there is much advice out there not to bush the pallet bridge - I did so anyway because I haven't the resource to make new bridges. I purchased a number of bushes for the worn areas but since the clock has been previously bushed and the new bushes use similar external diameter to those purchased I elected not to make matters worse, I don't want to damage the plates obsessing over perfection. I probably need to make my own bushes from rod with a suitable outer diameter - that is a for another day as I simply haven't the tools for this yet.​
Minute hand arbor is incorrectly located - clock strikes 4 mins before or 30 seconds or so after - this cannot be corrected using the wheels - timing marks are irrelevant.​
The arming pin for the strike vs the mechanism is too tight - the mechanism that both locks the strike and lifts the gathering rack gets wedged hard against the adjuster for the strike governer pinion - looks like it's been this way forever - but it does have a small impact on 'tick and tock' tone so it is introducing a resistance that shouldn't be there - not sure what to do about this yet.​
Pinning (taper) the minute hand applies too much pressure against the hour hand which stops the clock dead - again I believe the minute hand is the culprit, it has been restaked at some point and it would appear very poorly done, the hour hand will not go any deeper onto the cannon.​
The strike mech tail had slipped on its arbor so clock struck 2 to 13, it is an absolute pig to set up. It is impossible to see where the tail pin sits on the snail as it completely masks the area.​
The strike interval is not consistent during the strike - speeds up after the third strike in a sequence - no idea why.​
Cannot be run without the strike, the gathering tail pin WILL jam the snail if the strike does not run to lift it clear. I have been looking to no avail for images of a similar GB strike mech to see if anything is missing. The lever on the lift arm cannot be swung out of the way to prevent the lift as it fouls the bridge that supports the hour / lift drive wheel, and even if it could when the face of the clock is mounted it cannot be reached.​

Questions

Would YOU bother extending the suspension spring to lift the crutch pin in the leader slot or leave alone (it is working as is).

Does anyone have an image of a minute hand with the arbor removed - is its hole squared or round?

How would YOU correct this I'm tempted to remove metal from the top face (just below the arrow) - I believe the lift has actually rotated the strike governor bushing/adjuster- oh and things are much cleaner now ;-)

StrikeLift.png

Does anyone have an image of this mech for comparison purposes.
 

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