Gut pallets?

NigelW

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I believe I heard or read somewhere that verge escapement clocks were sometimes fitted with gut pallets to make them quieter. Is this true, and if so how were they made? I quite like the idea of keeping my quarter repeating bracket clock next to my bed when (if?) it is eventually finished. With a soft tick, the strike set to silent, only repeating the quarter on demand with the pull of the string and the option of setting the alarm, it would be perfect. I have to convert it back to verge from anchor, so I could make two sets of pallets.
 

Joseph Bautsch

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Gut pallets? I have not heard that. If you are thinking of using any kind of soft material for the pallets, like gut, it won't work. The teeth of the escape would quickly cut into any kind of soft materal, the drop would be destroyed as well as the softer material would absorb the enegery needed to run the clock. Even if it did run you would have to replace them probably once a month if not sooner.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Called silent verge, they were used in libraries I believe. I think Dean has one now, a movement only though. I've always fancied finding out just how silent they were, as it might be more partner friendly. As the chap who repairs my clocks always says, you are never alone with a verge. My response has always been perhaps not, but pretty sure I'd be single with two. I have 6 or so now but they are not allowed to run.
 

shutterbug

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I think the steady ticking of a clock at night would be a sleep inducer, not reducer :)
 

NigelW

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Gut pallets? I have not heard that. If you are thinking of using any kind of soft material for the pallets, like gut, it won't work. The teeth of the escape would quickly cut into any kind of soft materal, the drop would be destroyed as well as the softer material would absorb the enegery needed to run the clock. Even if it did run you would have to replace them probably once a month if not sooner.
My thoughts exactly, which is why I am curious to find out more. Harrison used lignum vitae in his grasshopper escapements I believe which had the added advantage of being self lubricating. I wonder if the pallets could be made of steel but just lined in slightly more absorbent material.
 

NigelW

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As the chap who repairs my clocks always says, you are never alone with a verge. My response has always been perhaps not, but pretty sure I'd be single with two. I have 6 or so now but they are not allowed to run.
My wife sleeps like a log so she probably wouldn't notice. I am the one who is the light sleeper!
 

novicetimekeeper

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I think the steady ticking of a clock at night would be a sleep inducer, not reducer :)
the problem with verge is they not only have a loud thump instead of a tick they are also a bit frenetic. I keep a longcase running in the bedroom because the 2 second period is very soporiphic.
 

Uhralt

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Hi Joseph,



Well, that's the whole point of them . . . ;)

This is a (sold) clock with gut pallets from a London dealer.

Regards,

Graham
Interesting! I was trying to imagine how the gut pallet might be constructed. Looks like a clever design!

Uhralt
 

novicetimekeeper

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Interesting! I was trying to imagine how the gut pallet might be constructed. Looks like a clever design!

Uhralt
They are quite rare now, I don't know how common they were in the day.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I wonder how frequently the pieces of gut needed to be replaced.

Uhralt
I'm guessing that might have been the problem, when they were made labour was cheap and the clocks were the property of only the super rich.

The world moved on and anything that couldn't keep working with minimal intervention may have suffered.
 

NigelW

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Hi Joseph,



Well, that's the whole point of them . . . ;)

This is a (sold) clock with gut pallets from a London dealer.

Regards,

Graham
Graham

You are a living encyclopaedia!

The construction of the pallets is not what I expected at all - a gut cord spanning the crown wheel tooth held between two small steel arms coming off the pallet arbor, with the ends of the gut attached through holes drilled through the arbor. Since my verge is missing I can see no reason why I shouldn't try this. I wonder when these were invented? If it was later than c. 1710 then it would be anachronistic to fit one.

Nigel
 
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gmorse

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Hi Nigel,

I'm not sure when they were first used, but I suspect they were fairly early. I believe there was another version which used light steel springs instead of gut; more resilient than silent I should think. I'll try and remember to ask some clock experts tomorrow when I go to a local clock society meeting.

Regards,

Graham
 

MartinM

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deCarle in his Watch & Clock Encyclopedia (page 27) has the following note:
GUT PALLETS: Where the actual pad or active part of the pallet consists of a short length of cat-gut drawn taut. Used in the anchor and the crown wheel escapements. Its purpose is to make the escapement silent. Introduced by Justin Vulliamy about the middle of the eighteenth century.
 

novicetimekeeper

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deCarle in his Watch & Clock Encyclopedia (page 27) has the following note:
GUT PALLETS: Where the actual pad or active part of the pallet consists of a short length of cat-gut drawn taut. Used in the anchor and the crown wheel escapements. Its purpose is to make the escapement silent. Introduced by Justin Vulliamy about the middle of the eighteenth century.
I always thought they were earlier, but I have googled a lot and the earliest I have found is 1745.
 

Uhralt

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Most interesting. When I get to that point I think I should make two sets of pallets - steel ones and gut ones.
It would be nice to have a direct comparison of the two with regard to how they sound.

Uhralt
 

shutterbug

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I'd like to see one working.
 

Clockwise123

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I restored one about 3 years ago. The gut had been replaced with pins prior to restoration. It is part of a collection of clocks in a large country house I look after and has run constantly since repair. Whilst not fully silent the sound is almost more of a resonance than the typical "clack" "clack" of a verge. On average I service these clocks every 5 to 7 years and will be very interested to see how the gut wears.
 

gmorse

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Hi,

...I'll try and remember to ask some clock experts tomorrow when I go to a local clock society meeting...
I'm afraid I didn't discover anything new on Saturday, the consensus was that they were used from the middle of the 18th century, which leaves us with Nick's date of 1745-ish.

Regards,

Graham
 

Uhralt

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I restored one about 3 years ago. The gut had been replaced with pins prior to restoration. It is part of a collection of clocks in a large country house I look after and has run constantly since repair. Whilst not fully silent the sound is almost more of a resonance than the typical "clack" "clack" of a verge. On average I service these clocks every 5 to 7 years and will be very interested to see how the gut wears.
Interesting. Thank you!

Uhralt
 

Snapper

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Some years ago I came across a Scottish drum head long case clock with gut pallets in a dealer' premises. I must confess to not buying it because I was concerned about the longevity of such a feature. This clock was almost silent and I understand it came from a Scottish library.
 

Karl Thies

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How is the gut held in place? I see that Christies had one of these type of clocks for auction about 10 years ago that sold for £106,000 .
 
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Clockwise123

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The clock I restored was by Godfrie Poy of London (unusual spelling for first name) around 1730 if memory serves. The gut is knotted then tensioned and effectively wedged as stated above.
What sort of escapement did the longcase mentioned above have?
 
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NigelW

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The clock I restored was by Godfrie Poy of London (unusual spelling for first name) around 1730 if memory serves. The gut is knotted then tensioned and effectively wedged as stated above.
What sort of escapement did the longcase mentioned above have?
I asked my tutor yesterday about the origin of gut pallets and he said he thought the "Sussex" Tompion has them, but I have not yet been able to find a picture of its movement. This clock was made in the 1680s I believe. I have also found reference to gut pallets on a Quare table clock (from a Carter Marsh catalogue) which they put at 1710 (page 34 in the attached link):
https://www.cartermarsh.com/pdf/CarterMarsh-SoftBack-Book.pdf
 

novicetimekeeper

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I asked my tutor yesterday about the origin of gut pallets and he said he thought the "Sussex" Tompion has them, but I have not yet been able to find a picture of its movement. This clock was made in the 1680s I believe. I have also found reference to gut pallets on a Quare table clock (from a Carter Marsh catalogue) which they put at 1710 (page 34 in the attached link):
https://www.cartermarsh.com/pdf/CarterMarsh-SoftBack-Book.pdf
That's much more what I originally thought, but could find no evidence. Dean's one is early I think but he just has the movement
 

zedric

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I'm sure there is a mention of a clock with gut pallets in "Chats on Old Clocks" or "In Quest of clocks" (or it could be something I was reading about the time I read those books first time around). From distant memory, the author says that they have a clock next to them when writing that has gut pallets, and I may well be remembering wrong, but I think this is in relation to a clock by Henry Jones. As I say, it was a while back that I read this, so may be confused about the maker of the clock. Unfortunately I'm just about to move house, so all the books are in boxes.
 

zedric

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If you look at the definition of "Silent Escapement" here ( E ) Clock Terms, Clock Pictures, Definitions, Explinations they seem to suggest that the tooth form is different for gut pallets... If my reading of this is correct, then it might change your plans to have two sets of interchangeable pallets?
 

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