How do I fit a new longcase escape wheel

goodgoff

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I am restoring an old longcase clock. The collapsed and worm-eaten case is glued up and awaiting refinishing. The movement had been cleaned and re-assembled by a repairer who unfortunately died. It will not run though. I have removed the 43mm escape wheel which has several short teeth and has already had three tooth inserts fitted at some time. The slotted pendulum arm was badly bent, so I expect some of the damage was caused by poor handling. It does not look salvageable to a clock novice like myself so I am thinking of buying a new wheel. Can I reasonably expect to swap old for new when I do not have any special clock repair tools?
 

Jim DuBois

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In order to swap out an escape wheel you at least need a lathe and the knowledge of how to use the lathe and how to remove the old and install the new wheel. Both the tools and the knowledge are necessary. But, we all have to start somewhere in a journey to become clock repairmen? And this is not the best place to start. IMO.
 

wow

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Finding that exact escape wheel may be the main problem. The original is repairable but it is a slow detailed process. Like Jim, I would not recommend trying that without proper tools and knowledge of the process. There are many on this message board who have the tools and know how to rebuild that escape wheel or make a new one. Let us know and we will help you find someone who can help you. Good luck.
Will
 

goodgoff

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In order to swap out an escape wheel you at least need a lathe and the knowledge of how to use the lathe and how to remove the old and install the new wheel. Both the tools and the knowledge are necessary. But, we all have to start somewhere in a journey to become clock repairmen? And this is not the best place to start. IMO.
Thanks for that Jim, I take your point but I do enjoy trying new skills. I do have a mini metal working lathe with standard 3 jaw chuck, but no collets.
Do you have a view on the reparability of the wheel?
The existing wheel and arbour seem to be in one piece. I notice that new wheels are sometimes offered with an arbour. If the two just need pressing together and the assembly then pressed onto the shaft, that seems fairly straightforward. But if all parts need operations like taper reaming for example then that sounds more special. The investment overhead in tools might not be justified for this one off venture. The spindle does have a slight taper at one end. Is that typical? Can the arbour just be pushed off?
If I managed to fit a new wheel or if I found an expert to do it for me, should I then expect the clock to tick properly without adjustment.(The spindle does not have eccentric bushes).
I have just seen another reply from 'Will' but will post this anyway.
 

Willie X

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Hopefully you can find an already made E-wheel that is close to your old one but, it's a safe bet that the pallets will not work on the new wheel without further adjustments. In the long run you may be better off to have a new E-wheel made. Then you would be back much closer to what was there originally.

I don't think you mentioned the condition of the pallets/anchor. IMOE they are usually not in very good condition.

Willie X
 
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goodgoff

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Finding that exact escape wheel may be the main problem. The original is repairable but it is a slow detailed process. Like Jim, I would not recommend trying that without proper tools and knowledge of the process. There are many on this message board who have the tools and know how to rebuild that escape wheel or make a new one. Let us know and we will help you find someone who can help you. Good luck.
Will
Hello Will,
Thanks for your advice. Is it not a good idea to buy a wheel of same diameter and number of teeth? Making from scratch sounds pretty major.
I would certainly like hear from somebody who can help me with this last task in the restoration of this cherished heirloom. It is owned by a friend's 99 year old father and handed down several generations.
 

goodgoff

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Hopefully you can find an E-wheel that is close to your old one but, it's a safe bet that the pallets will not work on the new wheel without further adjustments.

I don't think you mentioned the condition of the pallets/anchor. IMOE they are usually not in very good condition.

Willie X
The pallets don't look too bad I think? 1627832914047.jpg 1627832944598.jpg 1627832867683.jpg
 

Jim DuBois

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yes, the pallets will need to be refaced or rebuilt and when done it will be necessary to fit the verge to the new or repaired escape wheel. Between the damage done on the wheel and the wear on the verge, proper re-fitting is needed. I suspect the pendulum support bracket, with its bushing for the back pivot of the verge, has already been moved about. By the way, the process of replacing the escape wheel, refacing or repairing the verge, and setting up the depthing of the escapement, none are all that uncommon in the restoration of these movements. And if I were doing the work I would cut a new escape wheel vs messing with this one. And to your earlier question involving mounting the escape wheel to the escape wheel arbor and pinion, there is most often the shaft, a brass arbor on the shaft, and then the escape wheel being pressed and fit on the brass arbor. It is often finished in a fashion that detail is not apparent.

20210801_111234.jpg
 

Willie X

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Looks like someone did a good job of fitting 'slippers' to the worn anchor faces years ago and then turned them around recently. They look good except for some scratches and lack of a polish. Willie X
 

goodgoff

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yes, the pallets will need to be refaced or rebuilt and when done it will be necessary to fit the verge to the new or repaired escape wheel. Between the damage done on the wheel and the wear on the verge, proper re-fitting is needed. I suspect the pendulum support bracket, with its bushing for the back pivot of the verge, has already been moved about. By the way, the process of replacing the escape wheel, refacing or repairing the verge, and setting up the depthing of the escapement, none are all that uncommon in the restoration of these movements. And if I were doing the work I would cut a new escape wheel vs messing with this one. And to your earlier question involving mounting the escape wheel to the escape wheel arbor and pinion, there is most often the shaft, a brass arbor on the shaft, and then the escape wheel being pressed and fit on the brass arbor. It is often finished in a fashion that detail is not apparent.

View attachment 665535
Yes of course, the adjustment is to position of the support bracket. The wheel appears to be soldered to the arbour, there is a thin white line where I would expect see a fine dark line otherwise. Is that unusual? If so then presumably a gentle torch and it would slide off? When you say 'cut a new wheel does that mean drilling and filing from a flat sheet? £40 for a new pre-cut wheel sounds like money well spent or am I missing something?
I must apologise for my ignorance and thank all for their patience. The whole business is quite fascinating. Am I becoming sucked into a dark place I wonder?
 

Willie X

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Just looked at that wheel again, it's toast ... Sending out the wheel/arbor and anchor for a redo will cost a good bit but your clock will be happy for several more generations and will probably run better than it has in a long time.

Be sure to ask the machinist exactly what they want you to send them. Postage ain't cheap anymore. Willie X
 
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goodgoff

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Just looked at that wheel again, it's toast ... Sending out the wheel/arbor and anchor for a redo will cost a good bit but your clock will be happy for several more generations and will probably run better than it has in a long time.

Be sure to ask the machinist exactly what they want you to send them. Postage ain't cheap anymore. Willie X
I see what you mean about turning those slippers round. I wondered what the double wear marks meant. I must now decide which route to take. I might just buy a finished escape wheel and have a go at changing it. If that proves too difficult then send to an expert. Should I press off the arbour and wheel together or just the wheel I wonder?
 

Willie X

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I wouldn't do anything, until I had a suitable E-wheel in hand, along with a good workable plan to install it. Willie X
 

Dick Feldman

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It is not impossible to make a new escape wheel with fairly simple tools. You will need some sort of dividing head, rotary table, or even a template (cardboard) made with a protractor and some sort of jig to hold the work piece. A 30 tooth escape wheel will require 12 degrees between teeth. At least that is an even number. (Easier than 11.6129 degrees for a 31 tooth wheel or 12.4137 for a 29 tooth wheel).
The original may have been made as a one off wheel by hand with files. (By someone with a lot of skill and plenty of patience and experience). If it was not made by hand, we know it was made with far less accurate tools than we have today. Files of different configurations can be modified by grinding but keep the file cool and go at that slowly. A handy aid is modeling clay. An impression from the original wheel in a good section can be made in the clay and the new piece can be continually compared to that impression. What you have at stake is a piece of flat brass and some time. Some time, like an hour +/- to shape each tooth. If you are good and have a steady hand, you probably can rough cut the EW with a fine jeweler's saw. If you fail, there is more brass. This can all be done with the existing wheel mounted and intact. If you give up, you can always bite the bullet and send the original out to be duplicated. If you have a machinist make a new wheel, a half dozen wheels will not cost six times what one will cost. The set up is a big part of the total expensive. An off the shelf, purchased wheel may be able to be modified to match the original.
Before you begin, please do your homework on the shape of the wheel, the operation of the escapement and the setting of the pallet distance as well as the center distance. Also be sure the pivot holes for the EW and pallet arbor are tight (bushings added to cure that). If those are loose, it will introduce error into the operation of the escapement.
Best of luck,
Dick
 
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goodgoff

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I wouldn't do anything, until I had a suitable E-wheel in hand, along with a good workable plan to install it. Willie X
After phoning round several stockists I have ordered a new 43mm 30T wheel with collet from Cousins ex stock. I have found a clock repairer local to me here in Cornwall who seems happy to fit it to the shaft so hopefully we are on the way to success. Thank you all for your time and effort. I'll post a report on progress in due course.
 

goodgoff

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Aug 1, 2021
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It is not impossible to make a new escape wheel with fairly simple tools. You will need some sort of dividing head, rotary table, or even a template (cardboard) made with a protractor and some sort of jig to hold the work piece. A 30 tooth escape wheel will require 12 degrees between teeth. At least that is an even number. (Easier than 11.6129 degrees for a 31 tooth wheel or 12.4137 for a 29 tooth wheel).
The original may have been made as a one off wheel by hand with files. (By someone with a lot of skill and plenty of patience and experience). If it was not made by hand, we know it was made with far less accurate tools than we have today. Files of different configurations can be modified by grinding but keep the file cool and go at that slowly. A handy aid is modeling clay. An impression from the original wheel in a good section can be made in the clay and the new piece can be continually compared to that impression. What you have at stake is a piece of flat brass and some time. Some time, like an hour +/- to shape each tooth. If you are good and have a steady hand, you probably can rough cut the EW with a fine jeweler's saw. If you fail, there is more brass. This can all be done with the existing wheel mounted and intact. If you give up, you can always bite the bullet and send the original out to be duplicated. If you have a machinist make a new wheel, a half dozen wheels will not cost six times what one will cost. The set up is a big part of the total expensive. An off the shelf, purchased wheel may be able to be modified to match the original.
Before you begin, please do your homework on the shape of the wheel, the operation of the escapement and the setting of the pallet distance as well as the center distance. Also be sure the pivot holes for the EW and pallet arbor are tight (bushings added to cure that). If those are loose, it will introduce error into the operation of the escapement.
Best of luck,
Dick
Thanks for that Dick. Not sure I could muster up enough patience to make from scratch though.
 

Willie X

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Sound like a good plan ... Willie X
 

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