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Help with power issue for Harder's Patent 400 day clock

Weight Driven

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A few months ago I acquired this Harder's Patent 400 day clock, something I've always wanted. After disassembly and cleaning the clock it ran for 1 week, keeping excellent time then stopped. This time I disassembled again and removed the mainspring and ordered a new one to the specs of the old mainspring in the clock. It worked and kept good time for two weeks and stopped again. I tried tracking down a possible binding issue with the wheel that corresponds to the great wheel, or mainspring wheel, so I very gently expanded those pivot holes in the hopes that would free things up. This time the clock worked for 33 days before stopping this past Saturday. I thought I may have corrected the stopping problem but apparently not. The clock was worked on by someone else as they had used small weights on the bottom of the pendulum to slow it down, I removed these. Maybe the previous repairman replaced the mainspring with something that is just not strong enough to power this clock for its one year duration. The measurements on the mainspring that I replaced are 3/4" wide, 61" long and strength of .012 inches. My question is should I replace this mainspring with a stronger one and if so, what size should it be. The clock should be in beat as it did run for a month. I have worked on 400 day clocks before but never one like this that is this old. I love this little clock and like to get it running and keeping good time as I know it can. Thanks for any help with this. 306945.jpg 306946.jpg
 
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shutterbug

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Look at your over swing. My guess is that it is minimal and barely keeps the clock running. If so, lower your fork 1/2mm and see if that improves things.
Issues like this after a week of running are never the mainspring, unless it was not wound in the first place.
 

shutterbug

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Just guessing, Tinker, but judging from the relaxed suspension spring I think his pendulum is just laying on the base for the pic.
 

whatgoesaround

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I agree with both of the replies as possible fixes. However, I lean towards Tinker's observation. I know when I saw your posted pics, I thought you had the pendulum detached to begin with. Even if it is just barely making clearance, the slightest movement could make it waver just enough to make a moment of contact sufficient to slow the rotation enough to stop it.
 

etmb61

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Before you shorten the suspension spring you should consider putting the support columns together in the correct order.
 

Weight Driven

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thanks guys for guidance. Yes, the pendulum was taken off for transport to take pics. The pendulum bob does lie very close to the base when connected so I can raise it some as I have to install a new suspension spring anyway, I kept thinning it down to where it was keeping really good time but went a little too far and now it is running too slow. I will lower slightly the fork, hopefully this will take care of the stopping issues. Are the columns not correct? Did not notice that. Let me know what the correct order is and I'll take care of it. One last thing, obviously I did not clean and polish everything as some do. I thought about doing this but decided against it as the clock looks its age and frankly I did not want an old clock that looks new. What are your thoughts? Thanks again for the replies.
 

Rquick1

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A power issue can very well be that there is something not clean or smooth. When I restore these early torsion spring clocks I polish the plates, gears, pivots and bushings. A good tip to try is to polish the plates which leaves a little polish in the bushings. Now place a wooden toothpick in a dremel or lathe and run the toothpick in the bushings. when you are done and you look across the plate the bushings should have a golden glow. This works every time for me. Also look at the spring barrel bushing. Wear happens there first.
 

Randy Beckett

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You might take the hands off and see if it will run that way. Sometimes the face will shift enough for the hour hand bushing to rub on it, or several other possibilities associated with the hands, clutch, or motion works. Just a matter of troubleshooting. Start with the hands and work your way backwards taking things off until it runs. If still doesn't run with just the center shaft sticking out the front, then you will know the problem is between the plates. It is usually something simple, just not apparent.
 

John Hubby

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WD, very nice and complete Harder. The first thing I noticed was the columns were assembled incorrectly, which others also noticed. That definitely placed your pendulum too close to the base. Using the same suspension spring and assembling correctly will raise it about 1/4 inch above the base which is the correct position, and that will eliminate any possibility of touching. I'll comment on your other points following.

A few months ago I acquired this Harder's Patent 400 day clock, something I've always wanted. After disassembly and cleaning the clock it ran for 1 week, keeping excellent time then stopped. This time I disassembled again and removed the mainspring and ordered a new one to the specs of the old mainspring in the clock. It worked and kept good time for two weeks and stopped again. I tried tracking down a possible binding issue with the wheel that corresponds to the great wheel, or mainspring wheel, so I very gently expanded those pivot holes in the hopes that would free things up. This time the clock worked for 33 days before stopping this past Saturday. I thought I may have corrected the stopping problem but apparently not. The clock was worked on by someone else as they had used small weights on the bottom of the pendulum to slow it down, I removed these. Maybe the previous repairman replaced the mainspring with something that is just not strong enough to power this clock for its one year duration. The measurements on the mainspring that I replaced are 3/4" wide, 61" long and strength of .012 inches. My question is should I replace this mainspring with a stronger one and if so, what size should it be. The clock should be in beat as it did run for a month. I have worked on 400 day clocks before but never one like this that is this old. I love this little clock and like to get it running and keeping good time as I know it can. Thanks for any help with this.
Regarding mainsprings, when in doubt always check the Repair Guide for the correct spring size. This clock has Plate 1475 that specifies a 19X36 Horolovar mainspring (19 mm wide x 36 mm inside barrel diameter). The specs for this spring are 3/4 inch wide, 45 inches long, and 0.017 inches thick (strength). NOTE that the cross-sectional area of the correct spring is 42% greater than the one you now have in the clock, which translates to about that same amount of additional power delivered to the train if you had the right one installed. The one in the clock when you received it was the correct width but too long and much too thin, and in my opinion would definitely be a source of low power thus could be a contributor to the stopping issues. I recommend you get and install the correct spring to eliminate any question about power. Also, remember that every new spring needs to be thoroughly cleaned and lubricated with a good synthetic oil such as Mobil 1 10W30 before installation. Do "not" use any kind of grease, that is one of the major "stoppers" of 400-Day clocks over time.

I hope that your opening up pivot holes of the first wheel does not affect operation of the clock. Doing that will change the depthing clearances between both the mainspring barrel gear teeth and the second wheel by the same amount in each direction. My experience is that it is highly unlikely that pivot clearance will be a problem on any wheel unless the pivot has been rebushed or there is some other problem such as pitting corrosion of the pivot, a bent pivot, etc.

I think with the correct mainspring, raising the pendulum by correct assembly of the pillars, and putting the clock in beat should get it to run properly. Keep us posted on your progress.

P.S.: Forgot to mention that your clock was made at the beginning of 1884 based on the movement serial number.
 
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Weight Driven

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thanks John. I just ordered a new mainspring to your specs. I have a feeling this will correct the power issue but I was unsure what mainspring size to purchase as some say the 400 day clock guide is correct and some say it is not. I will take everyone's advice, polish plates, gears and pivot holes with toothpicks in drill, the columns have been corrected and a new mainspring. Once it runs for an extended period I'll let everyone know how it is doing. Thanks again for all the great advice.
 

John Hubby

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WD, the one area where the Repair Guide seems to be correct for both pre-WWII and post-war clocks is mainspring size. To my knowledge the only ones that have been reported to be incorrect are a couple of post-WWII miniatures where the manufacturer increased the spring size because of low power problems. That is mentioned in the Appendix but I'm not where I can check right now for the specific clock, perhaps one of our users can point out which one(s) need to be noted.

Keep us posted on how your clock performs after the pillar reassembly and mainspring change.
 

Weight Driven

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ok guys, it's been almost 4 months since I wound this clock and the mainspring problem was apparently the issue. For the most part it keeps good time. Sometimes it does run a little fast and I'll adjust and sometimes it runs a little slow and I'll adjust. Not sure if this is a common problem with all antique 400 day clocks. I also had to replace the suspension spring and thin it down with fine sandpaper, this seems to have worked as well. Thanks John and everyone for the help with this. I'm hoping I'll get a complete year run with one winding but we'll see.
 

KurtinSA

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These clocks usually run fast on a full wind and slow down as the power comes off the mainspring. Wisdom seems to be that winging twice a year is best...and don't wind to an inch of it's life.

Kurt
 

Weight Driven

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Hey Guys. The Harder is still running strong, one winding in the beginning of July. I do have a question however. I have had this issue with other early 400 day clocks before where they keep really good time for sometimes several days and then all of a sudden runs fast by a couple of minutes or slow a couple of minutes. I make adjustments with disc and runs fine for a few days and does the same thing. Is there anything that can be done or is this just the nature of these clocks? Thanks in advance.
 

Derek Smith

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Torsion clocks in general tend to be very susceptible to variation in gravity and temperature. So moon phase, seasonal cycles, and temperature changes in the building, or even sunlight, can cause changes in speed. Best to keep them out of direct sunlight, away from heat sources and air vents, and someplace very solid so vibrations are minimized.
 

John Hubby

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Torsion clocks in general tend to be very susceptible to variation in gravity and temperature. So moon phase, seasonal cycles, and temperature changes in the building, or even sunlight, can cause changes in speed. Best to keep them out of direct sunlight, away from heat sources and air vents, and someplace very solid so vibrations are minimized.
Derek, I have not found this to be true except for extreme variations in temperature, at least when using Horolovar suspension springs. Do you have reference data to show this actually happens?

I have many 400-Day clocks that operate to 1 minute per month accuracy that are in different areas of my house where there are sometimes considerable temperature variations (10 to 15 degrees F in 24 hours) but that has not materially affected accuracy; and I have no data showing any change whatever having to do with moon phase. I can say this because in early days of working to get the 1 minute per month or better, I kept records measuring rate every two to three days and only saw variation when I made a pendulum adjustment. I agree that vibration does affect them, however, and if you live in a large building rather than a single dwelling that could be a factor.

My experience has shown that the single most important factor affecting torsion clock rate is having it out of beat. Following that is how you adjust for rate especially for 4-Ball pendulums. If you see what I call a "step change", meaning all of a sudden you get 2-3 minutes change in rate, something in the movement is causing that. It can be a sticky mainspring, a slightly bent tooth (or teeth), a slightly bent pivot, insufficient end play on one of the arbors, or the like. To achieve the very good rates the movement essentially needs to be "perfect" with none of these issues.
 
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Derek Smith

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It can be a sticky mainspring
Oh, the bane of my existence! I've taken to cleaning EVERY SINGLE ONE with an isopropanol soaked towel and 4/0 steel wool. Then running a very fine line of 100% synthetic oil the length of the springs and smoothing it over the surface before winding them back up. Even the slightest spot of old rust will hang them up eventually.

On the subject of gravitational influences, while they're small, I have noted the differences, or at least it appears to be since lunar cycles seem to coincide with rate changes. I monitored the BPH over a period of time and found it to rise and fall slightly over the same period. I will admit, however, that I did not accurately monitor temperature variations during the same periods.

For the temperature variations, I tested this by directly cooler or warmer air toward the clock and monitoring the BPH. The change is measurable. It's only fractions of a beat per hour, but with only 600BPH or so as the target, a little bit can make a large difference compared to the same small variations is much higher BPH movements.

My actual measurement records aren't great, admittedly, because I've not really wanted to spend the money on the software for my Microset 3. Perhaps the time has come to bit the bullet and just do it. Maybe I've been making my own false assumptions.

-Derek
 

MartinM

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Where torsion clocks are concerned, I put little value on the use of electronic beat analyzers. They're great for smaller, faster escapements, but there are too many very subtle variations in a torsion escapement to account for unless you want to run it for days at a time and have the thresholds set to never miss (or add) a beat. It's just more effective to go with your eye and a degree wheel, if you need one.
 

Derek Smith

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Where torsion clocks are concerned, I put little value on the use of electronic beat analyzers. They're great for smaller, faster escapements, but there are too many very subtle variations in a torsion escapement to account for unless you want to run it for days at a time and have the thresholds set to never miss (or add) a beat. It's just more effective to go with your eye and a degree wheel, if you need one.

Martin,

Then you're doing it wrong. ;-)

For setting/balancing the beat, they're wonderful. For BPH, it's possible to pick up some fork noise, but if you adjust the pickup gain and set the blanking appropriately, they work great, especially when averaging. To avoid extra beats or inconsistent beat timing, I set it to skip which only counts every entrance or exit, but not both. That way, uneven escape teeth are ignored.

For swinging pendulum movements, I use an optical pickup. For torsion, you can use the optical as well, but ANYTHING on the pendulum to make the optical pickup work will adversely affect the weight and give bad readings for BPH counts.

-Derek
 

shutterbug

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Also, torsion clocks don't do well by adjusting faster then slower. The best way is to go in only one direction (fast to slow) and adjust very small amounts until you get the timing you can tolerate.
It has to do with the way the pendulum is made.
 

Berry Greene

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A power issue can very well be that there is something not clean or smooth. When I restore these early torsion spring clocks I polish the plates, gears, pivots and bushings. A good tip to try is to polish the plates which leaves a little polish in the bushings. Now place a wooden toothpick in a dremel or lathe and run the toothpick in the bushings. when you are done and you look across the plate the bushings should have a golden glow. This works every time for me. Also look at the spring barrel bushing. Wear happens there first.
Good tips! What do you polish the plates with? Berry G
 

Berry Greene

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Also, torsion clocks don't do well by adjusting faster then slower. The best way is to go in only one direction (fast to slow) and adjust very small amounts until you get the timing you can tolerate.
It has to do with the way the pendulum is made.
More good tips from you. Thanks! I must say the Kundo pendulum bob (of the torsion variety) is a somewhat flimsy adjustment in that it jiggles around rather easily. I read elsewhere (need to find the thread) that great accuracy can be obtained from the 400day clocks. Quite honestly that amazes me. The low power and general frailty must mean a pretty stable environment is needed even if the Holovar springs are temperature compensated. There's vibration and, I read, even gravity issues! The phases of the moon too! Well they definitely affect me. Please don't say you had noticed! :<)) Rgds, Berry G.
 
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Derek Smith

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What do you polish the plates with?
Berry,

I use Weiman's brass polish (FAR better than Brasso in my opinion). But I then typically smooth broach them rather than using a toothpick in a dremel. Smooth broaching from both sides also creates a beautiful ridge in the center so there's less drag. Then I peg them with orange wood or other typical peg wood, to clean up any debris after broaching. Toothpicks don't do as good a job, again, in my opinion. Just broach gently and check the results.

If you don't already have them, a set of smoothing broaches can be had for a reasonable price. Money very well spent! Just make sure you use smoothing broaches and NOT cutting broaches or you'll find yourself doing a bushing job, too.

-Derek
 

Berry Greene

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Berry,

I use Weiman's brass polish (FAR better than Brasso in my opinion). But I then typically smooth broach them rather than using a toothpick in a dremel. Smooth broaching from both sides also creates a beautiful ridge in the center so there's less drag. Then I peg them with orange wood or other typical peg wood, to clean up any debris after broaching. Toothpicks don't do as good a job, again, in my opinion. Just broach gently and check the results.

If you don't already have them, a set of smoothing broaches can be had for a reasonable price. Money very well spent! Just make sure you use smoothing broaches and NOT cutting broaches or you'll find yourself doing a bushing job, too.

-Derek
Berry,

I use Weiman's brass polish (FAR better than Brasso in my opinion). But I then typically smooth broach them rather than using a toothpick in a dremel. Smooth broaching from both sides also creates a beautiful ridge in the center so there's less drag. Then I peg them with orange wood or other typical peg wood, to clean up any debris after broaching. Toothpicks don't do as good a job, again, in my opinion. Just broach gently and check the results.

If you don't already have them, a set of smoothing broaches can be had for a reasonable price. Money very well spent! Just make sure you use smoothing broaches and NOT cutting broaches or you'll find yourself doing a bushing job, too.

-Derek
Excellent tips Derek. All noted down for action as and when I get confident. Jobs lined up here some have waited far too long. Rgds, Berry G
 

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