GUT, How long will it last ??????

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by TEACLOCKS, Aug 8, 2019.

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  1. TEACLOCKS

    TEACLOCKS Registered User
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    I have been cleaning the drums of all the ,Long, Tall, Hall, floor clocks that I have had in the shop to be repaired for a long time & removing the gut or cable ends left inside of them.
    So I was thinking (sorry) If the movement is about 150 years old, and I got out 6 ends (as you can see)
    150/6=25 years seems to be how long gut will last.
    what do you think :???::???:
    Thank you very much
    Lloyd

    DSCF6483.JPG
     
  2. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I think it tends to be replaced when the clock gets a major service which was often when it stopped working for some reason. My planned maintenance is every 10-15 years.
     
  3. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    Inside the cat, it generally lasts at least 18-20 years.:D
     
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  4. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    My GB regulator supposedly had new gut lines when i bought it.One day a line snapped and the weight fell to the bottom of the case and losened it, but no breakage. I decided fishing line is better for me. If it were a customers, then i would replace most likely with gut, but would talk with them first.
     
  5. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    The good news here is that longcase don't have bases, so a couple of sandbags stops the bounce and the floor or plinth being damaged.
     
  6. TEACLOCKS

    TEACLOCKS Registered User
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    I like that Idea "sandbags"
    Customers are always asking, How to stop the weights from hitting the floor.
     
  7. glenhead

    glenhead Registered User
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    Also, inside the cat it's too dark to read.

    Personally, mine has lasted over thirty years. I'm working to get rid of it, but it's still there. The hair on it is great for catching watch parts (in addition to crumbs).

    Glen
     
  8. MARK A. BUTTERWORTH

    MARK A. BUTTERWORTH Registered User
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    I suggest using braided fishing line. One can get natural color and it is very durable.
     
  9. TEACLOCKS

    TEACLOCKS Registered User
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    I just looked up when wire rope was invented "1831"
    SO all clocks "Weighted" before 1831 used gut ?
    Maybe hemp ?
    So all these clocks with brass or steel rope, should not be ?
    I could not find a date for brass rope or cable.
     
  10. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    Chain was used very early, on renaissance spring clocks. 30 hour english longcase used rope, but 8 day and longer used gut from the beginning in the 17th century.
     
  11. TEACLOCKS

    TEACLOCKS Registered User
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    30 hour english longcase used rope.

    Rope then was Hemp right ??
     
  12. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    possibly linen. It will all have been replaced decades or centuries ago but linen is common now
     
  13. MARK A. BUTTERWORTH

    MARK A. BUTTERWORTH Registered User
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    I think as a rule of thumb, if the cable drum is smooth then gut was used and if it had groves then cable was used. The English had access to cotton as well very early on and rope could be made from that. It would have been much cheaper than linen
     
  14. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    yes, cotton would have been available in the 18th century.

    Almost without exception English longcase have grooves and cable is an anathema.
     
  15. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Cable, brass or steel as used in clocks is pretty much a 20th-century application. IMO gut when properly installed, no sharp edges on the drum, weight bottoming out well before it hangs only on the knot, no mice in the environment knawing on the gut, good quality gut properly treated when new, and in an environment that is neither too moist nor too dry, will last a long time. I suspect 30-50 years in some cases. I have a clock whose repair dates suggest the gut lasted nearly 100 years but it did not run for some of that time, how much slack time I don't know. When I got it, there was a bit of fraying but it still held a 12# weight ok, but I was quick to replace it. I on occasion still use gut as brass or nylon or other synthetics looks just wrong on some clocks. I like synthetic brown nylon on plain vanilla domestic stuff. And when gut turns green I think its time to change it out in any event.

    And smooth drums are usually more of a sign of a rural maker, or American made clock than those with grooves. Grooved drums exist for good cause and I suggest it has little to nothing to do with what material was used for cordage, be it brass, steel, nylon, hemp, or gut.

    Testing done by myself and others suggest that linen or hemp is not as reliable for most 8 day clocks. It tends to wear too quickly and will fail where gut does not. I have samples of some very old organic (fabric) cordage from an eight-clock I plan to test further. That it lived this long with 12-pound weights suggests I could be wrong with my thoughts on organic cords versus gut. We also have a lot of Morbiers that have used silk cords for centuries, but I have no first hand knowledge of how long they last.

    In this 2nd photo, we have the old green line I intend to test a bit more, followed by the modern and fairly cheap gut, then conventional brass clock cable, and finally off white nylon. So far the green has tested to more than 25 pounds static strength, but it has stretched a bit more than I like. I also have steel cable but the only place I will use it is on some very heavy weights, i.e. 35 pounds or more on musical clocks and or small tower clocks. Even then I use it with caution as it can well damage the much softer brass drums and pullies and the like.

    And even though wire rope was invented long ago, it was slow to find its way into clock work I think.

    20190811_134527.jpg 20190811_135000 (2).jpg
     
  16. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I doubt any type of rope would be suited to 8 day clocks as the diameter you could use is so limited. I use high quality gut from a maker of harp strings.
     
  17. MARK A. BUTTERWORTH

    MARK A. BUTTERWORTH Registered User
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    My family clock made by Butterworth around 1765 in Rochdale England has smooth barrels.
     
  18. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    That's why I said almost without exception, because in clocks there is always an exception. Smooth barrels in English longcase are vanishingly rare, and will often cause some doubt as to originality because they are so rare.
     
  19. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    I have the usual books on English clocks and a few more besides and many photos. And I have to agree with you novice, very very few have smooth barrels. They exist in the UK, but they are far more common on this side of the pond. I have 2 in the shop right now. One with wood barrels.

    20190812_142459.jpg
     
  20. D.th.munroe

    D.th.munroe Registered User

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    What do you all think about synthetic gut?
    I've used the small one for Vienna regulators with good results. I haven't used the larger one yet, but it came in a 1000ft roll.
    The smaller is "aged" badminton racket string and the larger is for squash rackets, it has printing every couple feet but it comes off with alcohol.
    Dan

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  21. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    The small one looks acceptable to me. Don't like the large one too much. It will work but it looks too synthetic. I use natural gut that's being sold for re-stringing tennis rackets. Works very well for me.

    Uhralt
     
  22. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    An old English clock book my father had says that old long-case clocks _did_ have bottoms, but they were typically destroyed by weights dropping thereupon. The usual culprit was mice gnawing on the natural gut.

    A lot of this is cosmetic, for there's a furniture store involved in the life of most clocks. My guess is that cable--brass cable at that--came into use when windows were introduced into long-case cases. That's when they substituted shiny brass-enclosed lead weights for the cast-iron sash weights they'd been using. The pendulum bob couldn't be dull lead or iron any longer, either. And those gut cables had to go, so they figured out how to make flexible cables from shiny brass.

    If no abrasion is present I'd personally favor braided synthetic cord, because it's limp enough to not 'bird's nest' when not under tension. I've had good luck with nylon chalk line from the home-improvement store. There's a gold color available (it comes in all colors) that customers seem to like.

    M Kinsler
     
  23. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I look at hundreds, this is not true. It may depend on your definition of old, but certainly doesn't apply to 17th, 18th, or most of 19th century clocks. Not saying there are not exceptions, there always are, but this is basically incorrect.
     
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  24. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    I would also point out that "windows" have existed in clock cases for a very long time, certainly, there are many 18th-century examples on hand today that had them originally. Brass cable was not produced until the first or second quarter 20-century for use in clocks. As to brass weights and pendulum bobs many earlier more formal clocks generally had brass shelled weights and brass sheathed pendulum bobs. Cheaper country / provincial clocks may have had only cast iron or lead weights from early on.

    Not many period American clocks had brass sheathed weights as brass was expensive hereabouts and such indulgence was not necessary. As even formal tall clocks evolved into early 19th-century production, brass shelled weights and brass sheathed bobs were not deemed cost-effective or necessary in new clocks of the period, often they were produced with cast iron weights and bobs.

    By late 19th century, clocks had evolved further into hall clocks and like and these often had glass door fronts and once again featured brass shelled weights and bobs.

    Most museum conservators favor gut as that is proper for period clocks, as do a fair number of serious collectors. All that said, American's largest dealer of antique tall clocks has only tan nylon cable fitted to his tall clocks. He favors it because it doesn't bird nest up when weights are removed for transport and the like.
     
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  25. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    As Nick indicated chain was used in the 16thC. The table clock in the attached picture dates to 1630 and the enlarged photo is from a tower clock circa 1600.

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  26. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    English spring clocks in mid 17thC used gut like the example in the photos which pre-dates the use of the pendulum.


    H3116-L116306541.jpg H3116-L116306537.jpg H3116-L116306540.jpg
     

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