Homemade main spring clamps?

Clockrepairforfun

Registered User
Jan 31, 2017
202
0
0
Kent, WA
Country
Hello guys!

Hey i am assembling my movement and im running into problems with the mainspring clamps. They are too big and are getting in the way of second wheel. I was hoping to get it assembled today so one solution i was thinking about is doing a homemade clamp. Any ideas?

See pics for issue.
 

Attachments

David S

NAWCC Member
Dec 18, 2011
7,215
265
83
Brockville, On Canada
Country
Region
Yes I have been where you are and have a set of those clamps. I switch to soft iron or steel wire, like stove pipe wire, or suspended ceiling type wire. I wrap two turns around the spring and twist the ends together. I have used 18 and 20 gauge and find 20 works fine for me. Others have suggested heavy duty cable ties or zip ties. However there have been pros and cons for those. Also gear type hose clamps have been used, and they would certainly be strong enough.

We had a discussion awhile ago about how much tension was really in the restrain around a spring and as it turns out it isn't all that much.

I have made clamps out of thick and thin wall metal tube or pipe, but finally just resorted to using two turns of wire. So I use the wire to contain the springs when I first let down the springs for disassembly. Then when the spring is in the winder I keep the same loop of wire, that is don't cut it. And use it to contain the spring when I wind all back up after cleaning and lubing. This way I know if it was the right size coming out it will be ok going back.

David
 

Clockrepairforfun

Registered User
Jan 31, 2017
202
0
0
Kent, WA
Country
I like ur winder. Thanks. Pic. Im trying to figure out how to tie the wire and still have the end of mainspring available to install. I hope u get what im saying here. Maybe a pic closer to the mainspring?

- - - Updated - - -

Nevermind. I see what u did. I had to zoom. Excellent! Thanks david!
 

bruce linde

NAWCC Member
Donor
Nov 13, 2011
10,395
2,128
113
oakland, ca.
clockhappy.com
Country
Region
just a quick caution... i had a clamp on the edge of a mainspring like you have pictured... instead of dead center... and the center of the spring pushed/domed out during disassembly... knocking out a T2 gear tooth and un-truing another gear. apparently there's no such thing as too careful.



Hello guys!

Hey i am assembling my movement and im running into problems with the mainspring clamps. They are too big and are getting in the way of second wheel. I was hoping to get it assembled today so one solution i was thinking about is doing a homemade clamp. Any ideas?

See pics for issue.
 

harold bain

NAWCC Member
Deceased
Nov 4, 2002
40,853
191
63
74
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Country
Region
Center your twists at the loop end post and all should go well. Never needed two turns of wire, one is strong enough. I use electrical tie wire that is used to suspend conduit, about #14.
 

Harry Hopkins

NAWCC Member
Nov 16, 2011
558
49
28
Mason, IL
www.harrysclockshop.com
Country
Region
If you have smaller diameter clamps it would solve your problem. From your picture it looks like you could easily use the next size smaller clamps.

It won't help you now but something to think about the next time you make an order...

I use these flat clamps. They take up a lot less room than the round ones and are easier to place on the spring as well. As far as I know there is just one size but they work on most common open spring movements.

https://goo.gl/YtJFXF

I have also seen them at Timesavers and on eBay. Google 'Flat Mainspring Clamps'.
 
Last edited:

bangster

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Jan 1, 2005
20,028
594
113
utah
Country
Region
At the risk of re-starting controversy, let me mention zip ties/cable ties once again.

NOT the ones you buy in bundles at Home Depot or Harbor Freight, but the heavy duty 175 lb test ones such as THESE.
or THESE.

0.35" wide x 0.075" thick. They are plenty strong enough to restrain any (clock) mainspring you're going to encounter. I've used them for that, and many other things as well.

I repeat: I'm not talking about the regular zip ties you have on hand: I'm talking heavy duty. When you get some, you'll find uses for them you never expected for zip ties.

I (almost) guarantee it. Yoda
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
11,907
1,840
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
Center your twists at the loop end post and all should go well. Never needed two turns of wire, one is strong enough. I use electrical tie wire that is used to suspend conduit, about #14.
I use #18 hanger wire for most springs. Double wrap is the spring is over 0.018" thick and/or over 3/4" wide. I agree, with #14 a single wrap should be more than enough but a bit stiffer to work with. I use #22 wire on small 30-hr clock and alarm clock springs. To me the clips are just a nuisance - too bulky or too small or too large, and I need one more hand than I was born with to keep them in place. Also I can't remove most springs from a clip without using the spring winder but the wire is easy top snip (unless you want to save it). I have a bunch of clips but seldom use one. The clips do have one advantage in that they don't pull the spring off center like wire does, but usually not a problem if the spring is "wired" when it is just smaller than the main wheel.

RC
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
11,907
1,840
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
At the risk of re-starting controversy, let me mention zip ties/cable ties once again.

NOT the ones you buy in bundles at Home Depot or Harbor Freight, but the heavy duty 175 lb test ones such as THESE.
or THESE.

0.35" wide x 0.075" thick. They are plenty strong enough to restrain any (clock) mainspring you're going to encounter. I've used them for that, and many other things as well.

I repeat: I'm not talking about the regular zip ties you have on hand: I'm talking heavy duty. When you get some, you'll find uses for them you never expected for zip ties.

I (almost) guarantee it. Yoda
Yes, those are over a 1/3 in wide brutes probably would hold most springs. I think the greatest danger would be someone reading this and not having the heavy duty ones you mention and wanting to do it now and settling for something that looks similar from the corner hardware store. I occasionally use ties on smaller springs but find them stiff and sometimes more difficult to fish around the curve of the spring and other parts. The ones you suggest are $0.14 each ($0.28 per clock) in quantities of 100 not that that's a lot of money for a hobby shop. To each his own - whatever works. Just use the best quality and use it properly and be careful with any restraint method.

RC
 

Willie X

Registered User
Feb 9, 2008
17,149
3,002
113
There have been reports of the flat clips breaking.
If you buy American made springs they will come with a strong and reusable clip.
Good things about using soft steel 'tie' wire are, it's completely adjustable (works on all open spring clocks) and the wire takes up less room within the movement (easier assembly).
Willie X
 

David S

NAWCC Member
Dec 18, 2011
7,215
265
83
Brockville, On Canada
Country
Region

Clockrepairforfun

Registered User
Jan 31, 2017
202
0
0
Kent, WA
Country
Thanks guys.

Went to hardware store. Found tie wraps before wire. Came home. They worked.

Now i have another issue. Ill post separetely. Not sure if im working on the clock or it on me. Rrrrr
 

Attachments

BLKBEARD

NAWCC Member
Nov 15, 2016
759
24
18
CT
sailorsandsettlersantiques.com
Country
Region
Don't put too much faith in those tie wraps. Commercial ones have a listed tensile strength on the package. The cheap ones tend to be very brittle, and the locks slip like greased lightning. All tie wraps are not created equal.
Maybe you have a thin wire coat hanger you could use for safety. Next time your near an Auto Parts Store, you can get a roll of mechanics wire, or bailing wire, depending who you ask.
 

kinsler33

Registered User
Aug 17, 2014
3,922
614
113
75
Lancaster, Ohio, USA
Country
Region
They can be clumsy, but I've had good luck in difficult situations with stainless-steel worm-gear hose clamps. The 3 1/2 inch size will adjust down to whatever size you need, and the band is thin and exceedingly strong.

Mark Kinsler
 
  • Like
Reactions: Blackofee

harold bain

NAWCC Member
Deceased
Nov 4, 2002
40,853
191
63
74
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Country
Region
They can be clumsy, but I've had good luck in difficult situations with stainless-steel worm-gear hose clamps. The 3 1/2 inch size will adjust down to whatever size you need, and the band is thin and exceedingly strong.

Mark Kinsler

Kind of like this one, Mark? It slipped badly.
 

Attachments

dAz57

Registered User
Dec 7, 2011
2,018
35
48
sydney Australia
Country
Region
I just use braided nylon cord, about 3mm dia. I have 12" lengths with the ends melted to prevent fraying, use a square knot to tie.

I wind the spring in the clock, the the cord around it, unwind the spring, then once the clock is dismantled, wind the spring in the winder, then just lift the tied cord off, that way when I reassemble the cord is the correct size.

Nice thing is I can reuse the cord again and again, some of it is 20+ years old, and no I have never had one come undone or slip, just be sure to use a square knot not a granny knot:cool:
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
11,907
1,840
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
Went to hardware store. Found tie wraps before wire. Came home. They worked.
You are VERY lucky but the game ain't over yet! Before you do ANYTHING ELSE get a second cable tie around that spring. These don't look like the heavy duty ones Bang was speaking of. They can explode without any warning or you may get lucky. Also you have the spring restrained tighter than it needs to be. Notice how it is pulled way off center. That can make it difficult getting it back lined up with the 2nd. wheel. The restrained spring should be out close to the rim of the main wheel but not covering the teeth. (This will also put less strain on that cable tie.)

RC
 

kinsler33

Registered User
Aug 17, 2014
3,922
614
113
75
Lancaster, Ohio, USA
Country
Region
Kind of like this one, Mark? It slipped badly.
Did the worm gear break, or did the spring somehow slip out of it? In fifty-some years of fixing almost everything I've never had one of these hose clamps fail. They're considered highly reliable in industry.

Mark Kinsler
 

harold bain

NAWCC Member
Deceased
Nov 4, 2002
40,853
191
63
74
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Country
Region
Did the worm gear break, or did the spring somehow slip out of it? In fifty-some years of fixing almost everything I've never had one of these hose clamps fail. They're considered highly reliable in industry.

Mark Kinsler

It was a combination of the strap bending and the part holding the worm gear bending as well. Happened probably 30 years ago, but I kept it to remind me not to trust them where outward pressure might be used, like a mainspring.
 

BLKBEARD

NAWCC Member
Nov 15, 2016
759
24
18
CT
sailorsandsettlersantiques.com
Country
Region
Hose clamps like everything else come in various strengths & quality. I've never had a quality clamp such as "IDEAL" fail, I have had Chinese junks that spun out just tightening them with a nut driver.

The Ideal's are made in USA and I routinely tighten them using a ratchet wrench on well pipe, or sprinkler pipe.
I have 100% faith in them
 

harold bain

NAWCC Member
Deceased
Nov 4, 2002
40,853
191
63
74
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Country
Region
This was well before everything came from China. I'll look for it tomorrow and see if it is branded.
 

BLKBEARD

NAWCC Member
Nov 15, 2016
759
24
18
CT
sailorsandsettlersantiques.com
Country
Region
There's always the chance of a defective part also. Nothing is fool proof.

I'm not questioning the fact that you had a hose clamp spring loose. I'm simply stating that I personally would trust a Quality Hose Clamp more than a nylon zip tie.
 

harold bain

NAWCC Member
Deceased
Nov 4, 2002
40,853
191
63
74
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Country
Region
Yes quite possible. Also I may have been torquing it down too tight. Only happened once, and I have used plenty of these in automotive applications without failure.
 

bangster

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Jan 1, 2005
20,028
594
113
utah
Country
Region
Thanks guys.

Went to hardware store. Found tie wraps before wire. Came home. They worked.

Now i have another issue. Ill post separetely. Not sure if im working on the clock or it on me. Rrrrr

Fun, what you have there is NOT the heavy duty zip tie I was talking about. You have what looks like a medium duty tie, rated at about 50 lb test. You might get by if you use two of them, but I can't recommend them. IMHO, you may be risking serious damage. A while back, Doc Fields posted pictures of what his hand looked like after a mainspring got loose. I'll see if I can find it.

............

HERE it is.
 
Last edited:

R&A

Registered User
Oct 21, 2008
4,218
109
63
Country
I didn't mean to divert this thread. Sorry Opened up a can of very different worms. Other options that are important to know. When a spring lets go, it is unforgiving in seconds. And will damage anything in it's path.
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
11,907
1,840
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
Fun, what you have there is NOT the heavy duty zip tie I was talking about. You have what looks like a medium duty tie, rated at about 50 lb test. You might get by if you use two of them, but I can't recommend them. IMHO, you may be risking serious damage. A while back, Doc Fields posted pictures of what his hand looked like after a mainspring got loose. I'll see if I can find it.

............

HERE it is.
Post #13; " I think the greatest danger would be someone reading this and not having the heavy duty ones you mention and wanting to do it now and settling for something that looks similar from the corner hardware store.". I rest my case!

RC
 

roughbarked

Registered User
Dec 2, 2016
7,991
1,615
113
Western NSW or just this side of the black stump.
Country
Region
There have been reports of the flat clips breaking.
If you buy American made springs they will come with a strong and reusable clip.
Good things about using soft steel 'tie' wire are, it's completely adjustable (works on all open spring clocks) and the wire takes up less room within the movement (easier assembly).
Willie X
Yep. Wire can also get fatigue and break where it is twisted. The right softness of the metal is important here.
 

leeinv66

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Mar 31, 2005
10,809
531
113
Launceston Tasmania
Country
Region
Post #13; " I think the greatest danger would be someone reading this and not having the heavy duty ones you mention and wanting to do it now and settling for something that looks similar from the corner hardware store.". I rest my case!

RC
The same thing can happen just as easy with wire, hose clamps or string. Buy crap and you get crap. Cable ties are no more a ticking time bomb than any of those other materials.
 

roughbarked

Registered User
Dec 2, 2016
7,991
1,615
113
Western NSW or just this side of the black stump.
Country
Region
The same thing can happen just as easy with wire, hose clamps or string. Buy crap and you get crap. Cable ties are no more a ticking time bomb than any of those other materials.
The mainspring is the ticking time bomb. The message is to secure it well enough to safely get it out of the clock and add any secondary safety cable ties you wish.
Whatever works is actually of the most importance. A double wire may seem overkill but in the long run it is a sensible start.
 

BLKBEARD

NAWCC Member
Nov 15, 2016
759
24
18
CT
sailorsandsettlersantiques.com
Country
Region
I think Cable Ties, or Zip Ties are the worst, for the following reason..........

People seeking information might visit a sight such as this looking for "how to" info and may not have any exposure to mechanical, or industrial trades.

They see use cable ties to secure mainsprings and head out to their local hardware or home improvement store to get some.

hardware stores have morphed into houseware stores around here, and quality products are far and few between. My local Home Cheapo Carries Greenlee cable ties, which are fairly good, but they also Assortment Packs, Various sizes color coded, much cheaper, and far less quality.

A person who doesn't know any better will probably choose the cheaper assortment pack because that'll give them the size they need for their mainsprings, plus assorted other sizes for other household need which may arise.

I'm not saying Zip Ties aren't a viable method of securing mainsprings, just concerned about others unknowingly acquiring the lesser quality ones and getting hurt.
 

THTanner

NAWCC Member
Jul 3, 2016
2,892
248
63
Carson City, Nevada
Country
Region
Yes - this is why I don't understand the double wrap of a single wire. You still have one weak point at the one twist. If that gives way your double wrap does not help. Certainly a double wrap is stronger than a single and I assume puts less pressure on the twist, but the twist itself is what is weak. On large springs, when I have used wire wrap - which I don't like, I use two separate wires and two twists if I feel I need extra. Maybe I have been using the wrong kind of wire? I was surprised to hear about using 12 inch lengths of rope. I am going to experiment with that using some parachute cord and test it out. These big springs on this National Time Recording Co clock have me a bit worried. It has a huge winged key and having wound it I know why. These things are nasty.

Yep. Wire can also get fatigue and break where it is twisted. The right softness of the metal is important here.
 

harold bain

NAWCC Member
Deceased
Nov 4, 2002
40,853
191
63
74
Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Country
Region
These are normally wound with a T shaped key (at least their North American cousins). I usually twist the wire at least 4 times on these to take the possibility of slipping out of the equation. Never had one break yet. Get the right strength of wire, not all wire is created equal. Many of the springs I work on have a thickness of .037".
 
Last edited:

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
11,907
1,840
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
A double wrap of wire will have half the load on the twist. If the wire is too light for the task one may see the twist begin to squrm or stress. That's the time to stop the letting down and go for heavier wire or a double wrap. With cable ties it is more likely that the clasp will fail and fail with no warning

RC
 

THTanner

NAWCC Member
Jul 3, 2016
2,892
248
63
Carson City, Nevada
Country
Region
You use #18 I think a previous post indicated. And this is hanger wire used to hang electrical and such in construction? It is not the number of twists that is the problem. Look at the bottom of the twist under a good scope. I often see surface cracks and weakness. Maybe I twist too tight.

These are normally wound with a T shaped key (at least their North American cousins). I usually twist the wire at least 4 times on these to take the possibility of slipping out of the equation. Never had one break yet. Get the right strength of wire, not all wire is created equal. Many of the springs I work on have a thickness of .037".
 

THTanner

NAWCC Member
Jul 3, 2016
2,892
248
63
Carson City, Nevada
Country
Region
Yes - plastic cable ties are a no-no for me, even the heavy duty ones. I suspect I have used the wrong wire and twisted it too tight. Will look for some that is not so stiff.

A double wrap of wire will have half the load on the twist. If the wire is too light for the task one may see the twist begin to squrm or stress. That's the time to stop the letting down and go for heavier wire or a double wrap. With cable ties it is more likely that the clasp will fail and fail with no warning

RC
 

David S

NAWCC Member
Dec 18, 2011
7,215
265
83
Brockville, On Canada
Country
Region
Hanger and tie wire is used in millions of applications and all secured with twists or square knots. The tensile force in the wire for most of the typical clocks springs I work on ...around 0.016" thick is not very much and far less than the breaking strength of 18 gauge tie wire, including the twist.

David
 

THTanner

NAWCC Member
Jul 3, 2016
2,892
248
63
Carson City, Nevada
Country
Region
No idea if this is original or replacement - - and is 5.6mm but marked 18 - I though 5.6 mm is a 16 - but maybe not always. 2 3/4 inches wide



These are normally wound with a T shaped key (at least their North American cousins). I usually twist the wire at least 4 times on these to take the possibility of slipping out of the equation. Never had one break yet. Get the right strength of wire, not all wire is created equal. Many of the springs I work on have a thickness of .037".
 

Attachments

Willie X

Registered User
Feb 9, 2008
17,149
3,002
113
I think a good guide would be to look at what all the spring manufacturers use. Guess what ... steel circular clips or soft iron wire, nothing else that I know of.
Willie X
 

Tony10Clocks

Registered User
Aug 10, 2010
1,641
8
38
62
Northant's
Country
yep iv'e used tie wraps in the past,the thick ones. I used to use two just to be on the safe side.
 

David S

NAWCC Member
Dec 18, 2011
7,215
265
83
Brockville, On Canada
Country
Region
I think a good guide would be to look at what all the spring manufacturers use. Guess what ... steel circular clips or soft iron wire, nothing else that I know of.
Willie X
I have only had a couple of springs from suppliers and that is my experience.

I think we have to remember how this thread started. Clockrepairforfun showed a picture of the typical round C type mainspring clamp and how it was interfering with the internal mechanisms. I am sure we have been there. So he asked for alternatives. If we don't like wire, string, rope, gear type hose clamps, and cable ties, then what would we suggest to solve the OPs problem.

David
 

Willie X

Registered User
Feb 9, 2008
17,149
3,002
113
Clock,
The biggest mistake many repairers (old and new) make is trying to capture the spring way to close to the 'wound up' position. The spring should be relaxed, out to nearly the diameter of the main wheel.
David's photo shows you how to use the wire but that mainspring should have been let down quite a bit more, probably 3/4" larger.
Willie X
 

bruce linde

NAWCC Member
Donor
Nov 13, 2011
10,395
2,128
113
oakland, ca.
clockhappy.com
Country
Region
The biggest mistake many repairers (old and new) make is trying to capture the spring way to close to the 'wound up' position. The spring should be relaxed, out to nearly the diameter of the main wheel.David's photo shows you how to use the wire but that mainspring should have been let down quite a bit more, probably 3/4" larger.
Willie X

sigh... this makes so much sense... using the biggest possible c-ring (that wouldn't interfere with re-assembly) means the spring would have the least possible tension on it... better all around. i will try this on my next one, instead of smallest c-ring + tight wind.

thx for the common-sense-upside-the-head dope slap! :)
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
11,907
1,840
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region



sigh... this makes so much sense... using the biggest possible c-ring (that wouldn't interfere with re-assembly) means the spring would have the least possible tension on it... better all around. i will try this on my next one, instead of smallest c-ring + tight wind.

thx for the common-sense-upside-the-head dope slap! :)
No dope slap needed. When using wire the spring is pulled toward the pillar post so it is important to allow the spring to expand nearly to the full diameter of the main wheel so you can get the arbor back in the pivot hole. If you use the "C" clip the pillar is not bound and the spring is not pulled off center. Using a smaller "C" clip and winding tighter will help keep the clip out of the way or other parts. It also means more stored energy in the spring to be released later. I just got used to wire and find it works more often without interference. I do like the cable ties for light springs 3/8" wide or less because it is easier to to keep the tie on than it is wire.

RC
 

leeinv66

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Mar 31, 2005
10,809
531
113
Launceston Tasmania
Country
Region
I'm not saying Zip Ties aren't a viable method of securing mainsprings, just concerned about others unknowingly acquiring the lesser quality ones and getting hurt.
I'm betting if a survey was done on what material most often failed and released a mainspring causing injury, cable ties would not be that material. Fractured wire twists would be my best guess.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
176,402
Messages
1,544,012
Members
53,286
Latest member
ferkor
Encyclopedia Pages
1,064
Total wiki contributions
3,031
Last update
-