Marine: Hamilton model 21 Chronometer

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by kboo74, Mar 7, 2010.

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  1. kboo74

    kboo74 New Member

    Mar 7, 2010
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    I just recently purchased a Hamilton model 21 chronometer and I am in need of the top portion of the 3 tiered box (or a new one) and the outer carrying box. The chronometer runs very well. Also can anyone offer any insight into the history of this particular one. It has LYKES LINES engraved on the faceplate and the number 2E12876 on the box and movement. All my searches have come up blank.

    Thanks.

    Ken
     
  2. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
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    Aug 24, 2000
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    Lykes Lines is an old company.

    Wikipedia says, "Lykes Bros. Steamship Co., also called Lykes Lines, was a cargo shipping company acting from the beginning of the 20th century to 2005 having its main business in the trade to and from the United States."

    Lykes obviously obtained a WWII surplus Hamilton 21 Chronometer to use aboard one of their post-WWII freighters.

    The serial number is likely the original Hamilton number.

    Reproduction boxes are available from NAWCC Mart advertisers.
     
  3. itspcb

    itspcb Registered User
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    Your 21 is one of the last produced. The final number is said to be 2E13087 in 1970.

    Try Larry at
    Detent21@aol.com for advice.

    Boxes do come up on e-Bay but are not cheap.

    Good luck you have a fine chronometer.

    Peter
     
  4. mdjtlj

    mdjtlj Registered User

    Aug 17, 2009
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    Ken,

    Congratulations on your marine chronomoter purchase. If you are looking for a replacement top, I would suggest Gary Sellick of www.shipsclock.com. He'll be able to take the box that you have, work some magic on it and give it a new top without any issue.

    As for the chronometer itself, it is not surplus as mentioned, but rather was one of the serials that was produced post WWII. It is not unusual for them to be missing the lid, you'd see this on a lot of commercial chronometers, as having the lid made the dial hard to see when the item was recessed into the chart table on the bridge.

    As for Lykes Lines, I used to sail for them in the late 1980's prior to their real demise in the 1990s. From the early 90's onward, they tried their hand at containersihps and were basically shut out of the market by the larger liner companies (such as APL, Matson, etc.....). Prior to this, especially the 6s0/70s/80s, they were a tramp steamer company that ran 60's era freighters (also known as stick ships because of their cargo booms).

    We took their ships the far four corners of the Earth, whether it was down a river in Indonesia to the most hideous places in the Sudan, Lykes went there. Lykes was heavily involved in government relief cargoes. For example, we once carried bagged grain from New Orleans to Port Sudan in Eastern Africa (about 700 miles north of all the pirate activity now). After spending three and half weeks in this war torn port, we then tramped around SE Asia for a couple of months picking up various items to bring back to the States. There were many of nights that we'd get a TELEX (yes, TELEX) from the office indicating a change in orders, where we'd have to turn around and go somewhere else after starting a transit. It was the nature of the business.

    As for your specific chronometer, it is a late serial number as has been mentioned by others. Most likely it bounced from ship to ship after being serviced by various entities, Baker Lyman did have a contract with Lykes to service these perioridcally. It would be pulled off the ship and immediately replaced with a different one, where the removed one would be serviced, stocked on a shelf and brought to anther ship when needed.


    As for the lid, as mentioned it was removed most likely to allow unobstructed viewing from its recessed perch in the chart table. As for the fate of the lid, that will never be known, but I do remember having a couple of Lykes ships that had these lids mounted on the bridge as coffee mug holders, for which they worked very well. We'd take a circle cutting fitting to a hand drill, cut out the hole big enough to fit the mug, take the circle we just cut, fashion a strapping from brass and fix this strap/hole below the hole that we cut to make a recess. We'd then affix the whole lid to the bulkhead as a secure place to hold our coffee.

    Some of the Lykes ships ended up with MARAD (US Maritime Administration) and are either in the Reserve Fleet or have been scrapped, however, some of their fittings (such as chronometers) have been preserved (not to collector quality) and can be seen at the MARAD website where the link is https://pmars.marad.dot.gov/ you can see the chronometers there. And no, they will not sell any. I've seen some of these with my own eyes, you'd not want to buy them anyway.

    I'd have no hope in finding in any records specific to your chronometer other than what the NAWCC library can offer in terms of production records. We simply did not keep records of the chronometer from one ship to another, we were basically happy if we had one which had a steady rate. One thing is for sure about your chronometer, its seen its share of service, I might have even used it over the years to take star sights, as this was all pre-satellite navigation days.

    Fair winds and following seas.....

    Michael
     
  5. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
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    A very informative and nice response Michael. There's none better than first-hand knowledge.

    Again thanks Michael.
     
  6. Bruce Barnes

    Bruce Barnes Registered User

    Mar 20, 2004
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    Excellent information Michael,I read it twice for the history and I don't even own a chronometer !!
    Thanks for sharing,
    Bruce
     
  7. kboo74

    kboo74 New Member

    Mar 7, 2010
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    Thanks to everyone who replied for your help and advice.

    Ken
     
  8. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    Dec 14, 2001
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    As this wonderful reply shows chronometer collectors usually have to chose between authenticity and complete with third tier top. It applies to virtually all chronometers. If they went to sea they lost their tops.

    I had thought the tops were simply thrown over board but its nice to know they were retained and used as mug holders.

    If you want one that worked for a living you won't get one with a top. If it has a top it is either replaced or never went to sea, probably because it wasn't very good at holding a rate. There are exceptions but far fewer than are available.

    The new ones, particularly the Russina ones are nice and have full boxes becuase they too never went to sea.

    Box chronometers had land uses, lab standards, surveying and exploring, and these probably retained their tops but these too are unusual. Lewis and Clark carried one.

    The Hamilton 21 is a very fine instrument, so fine that it set its own class of standards. Enjoy yours and try to imagine what it could tell you if it could talk.
     

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