How Long to expect a Spring Wound Clock to Run For

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by ChrisCam, Jul 12, 2019.

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  1. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Hi, After fettling with one of my 3 train clocks (at a guess 90 year old)I have arrived at the situation where it runs perfectly for up to 5 days then lacks power and stops. Now there in my mind I expected this clock to run up to 8 days but to be honest why should I expect 8 days?
    Did some makers make their clocks that went for less or even days and is there a way of discerning the duration that a clock should run. After all if a clock was only intended to run 5 days there is little point expecting it to run 8 even with a complete overhaul.
    Regards
    Chris
     
  2. R&A

    R&A Registered User

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    Replace the springs
     
  3. Albert Antonelli

    Albert Antonelli Registered User
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    It sounds to me that the time spring is set when it gets to the 5 day point, I agree if u are changing one spring u might as well change both springs. My two cents on this count, good luck!
     
  4. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    For the most part "set springs" are rarely the cause of a clock not running for the period it was designed to run. A new spring, or in some cases a more powerful spring, may initially seem to resolve the problem but more often than not the fix will be short lived. There are exceptions and some clocks had little more than enough power when new. Such clocks must be in near perfect condition to perform properly. Many American clocks 8-day clocks were over powered when new and will frequently run up to 14 days when in good condition. I've never know of a 5-day clock, although 30 hour, 1 day, 2 day, 8 day, 2 week, 31 day, and even one year and longer have been made. Before replacing your springs, I would look closely for accumulation of dirt, rough or worn pivots, bent pivots,worn pivot holes, rough dry springs, worn holes in the spring barrels and covers, worn escapement parts, incorrect setup (out of beat, insufficient escapement lock, and if the clock has had previous repairs look for incorrectly located bushings, tight bushings, and anything else that could be robbing power. Also look carefully for evidence that the springs have been altered. Sometimes a broken spring will have the broken part discarded and the remaining part reconnected. Run time is largely dependent on spring length so if the spring has been shortened or replaced wit the incorrect one the clock may not run as long as expected. In almost every case the original springs will be OK unless they are actually broken or cracked.

    It would help to see pictures of the clock you have including the main springs removed and relaxed.

    RC
     
  5. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    #5 Willie X, Jul 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
    When it stops how many turns does it take to wind it back up? Look up "turns of power". If the turns of power are there, the problem is in the time train, usually rough pivots and worn over pivot holes. The complete list is a long one.

    Nearly all chimers are 8-Day clocks.

    Willie X
     
  6. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Thanks for everyone's reply to date. This is a 3 train clock whose time train affords little pendulum swing. I know replacing springs in mantle clocks is frowned upon by many however so far my experience as limited as it is suggests it might be the way to proceed as a matter of course. I base this on the small swing which means I presume a small kick from the spring. As we know as the spring becomes unwound there is less torque and I am sure if we could measure the original torque of the new spring as it was originally with that after 90 years pretty constant use there would be some degradation. So what did work will fall short now or definitely could do so.Thus I am minded in replacing springs where originality is not an issue such as where the clock is of little value. Even if a more valuable clock where all bushes etc have been serviced / checked, the clock oiled etc it may warrant a new spring sourced as carefully as possible. regarding spring length is there a table of such dimensions per drum size or whatever?
    Regards
    Chris
     
  7. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    It depends on how much swing you're getting with the spring fully wound. It sounds like a power problem, and although the spring provides that power it is very rarely the reason for the loss.
     
  8. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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  9. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    Note that this calculator will work with numbers in inches or mm. Just make sure to use them consistently. Don't mix inches and mm.

    Uhralt
     
  10. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    Length calculations depend entirely on the strength/thickness of the spring. The thickness can only be detirmined experimentally. Many German striking clocks use a very short and thick spring on the strike side and a much lighter and longer spring on the going side. This is the way it is designed. The barrels are usually the same size.

    I'm working on two large Junghaus tambor chimers (from the 1920s) now and the springs are fine. General wear is the problem on both. IMOE, the chime side is usually the first train to give trouble on these type clocks, old or new.

    Always inspect and service the springs when you take any clock apart.

    WIllie X
     
  11. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    When you turn the key to wind the clock (except those clocks that have a gear reduction winding feature), you "feel" the same torque that is applied to the clock's going train. If the spring is really weak it will feel weak when you wind it. This can actually be measured by fitting a winding key to a torque screwdriver. Even if a weak spring when fully wound should have enough power to operate the clock properly. If you have a very weak pendulum swing on a fully spring it is a pretty sure bet that you have mechanical problems in the movement that deserve to be corrected. They will not go away just because you install a stronger spring, which of course is your option. There was a time when some here advocated always replacing springs just for insurance, but with the quality of springs available today being so unpredictable, keeping the original springs is becoming a more attractive option.

    RC
     
  12. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    Also, lots of springs are just not available anymore. Often all you can do is repair the old one or make a 'not so good' substitution. Willie X
     
  13. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Where I am at the moment is the clock fully wound on all 3 trains the clock runs for 5 days. It then stops a few mins before the hour so obviously to weak to lift the levers. What I see also is one or other chime hammers are in a the lifted position. I therefore i will investigate weakness somewhere on the chime train that leaves the chime train not completing its cycle and somehow this exerts a small (but enough to stop it) additional load to the time train lifting the hour quarter cam spike. If this is not the case then my next thought is that more than one spring is weak so I will be minded to replace all 3 springs which I note another respected poster does as a matter of course on such clocks. I will keep you informed of my findings. i note there is no mechanism to silent chimes and this movement seems to be an unbranded one that i think is identical to a previous Enfield movement I had. has anyone any thoughts on a weak chime train stopping the time train or am I barking up the proverbial?
    Regards
    Chris

    front.jpg
     
  14. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    If the chime sequence has begun (but stopped before completion) then the time train has already exerted the force required to unlock the chime train so it should no longer see any loading by the chime train until the next quarter. It sounds as if you have a power loss problem in both the time train and the chime train.

    Before selecting which tree to bark up, perhaps we should revisit your original question - how long should it run. We are assuming that this is an 8-day clock that's missing the mark by three days. One simple test is to fully wind the clock, let it run exactly one day, then rewind counting the turns required to rewind. If it takes much more than one full turn then it probably isn't an 8-day movement.

    You will be taking the movement apart to install new springs anyway, so before investing in new springs, can you post pictures of all three springs removed from the barrels? If the springs are seriously "set" it will be obvious that they won't expand much beyond the size of the barrel. It is possible (but not probable) that the clock maker encountered a batch of bad springs and all three have failed, but one would have expected this to show up years ago. I'm still betting that you will find a clock that needs the pivots cleaned and polished and perhaps a few bushings, but it should be clear whether you are barking up the right tree once you have it apart and do a thorough inspection.

    RC
     
  15. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    The time train will stop if it can't overcome the friction encountered while trying to lift the chime levers, or when it encounters a stop pin as it's trying to lift. Otherwise the trains run independently.
     
  16. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Thanks RC, several points to note firstly I can replace the springs without taking the movement apart and as I have already taken the springs out to oil I can state the springs are not set. I know this clock came by way of a local antique shop and with any such old clock what you get may or may not be entirely original. As the clock stops after 5 days just before the hour with the chime train not completing its full cycle I need to make sure the lifting lever on the is not put on any additional stress as the chime train has ground to a halt. Yes it has done the job of lifting the chime release but is there then any thing i am overlooking? I too doubt it is but I will carefully investigate just in case. It would be interesting to hear why AJSBSA (I hope i have that right) posted he replaces mantel clock springs as a matter of course? So far I see no reason to disagree with him.from my limited experience..but i am still learning.
    Regards
    Chris
     
  17. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    Just tie the chime flirt lever up out of play. If then the time train runs happily along for 10 days you can focus your attention on why the chime flirt is blocking the time train.

    If the time train still stops at about the same 5 or 6 day point, the time train is the problem.

    A short pendulum swing (when fully wound) is pretty much an automatic red flag for the ole time train in my book. Especially when you consider your clock is probably about 50 years past due for an overhaul.

    Willie X
     
  18. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Thanks Willie, good point on tying up the chime flirt lever.
    Chris
     
  19. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    have been researching tired springs and came across an article referring to the fact that when the spring is relaxed within the drum all coils apart from up to 2 should be up against the drum outer wall.
    '
    • In a mainspring barrel, when unwound and relaxed, most of a healthy spring's turns should be pressed flat against the wall of the barrel, with only 1 or 2 turns spiralling across the central space to attach to the arbor. If more than 2 turns are loose in the center, the spring may be 'tired'; with 4 or 5 turns it definitely is 'tired'.
    The Chime drum is shown below
    Chris

    Chime.jpg
     
  20. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    Your chime timing might be a bit off. The pawls should not be contacting the cams at all, let alone lifting any hammer, until the train engages after warning.
     
  21. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I wouldn't put too much stock in that rule. You can get a better picture if you remove the spring from the can, but rarely is the spring too weak to run a clock that's in good condition.

    RC
     
  22. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    The spring in the photo looks completely normal.

    I would advise you to discount that artical completely, probably written by someone who has repaired 3 clocks and lives in their mother's basement. Ha

    Willie X
     
  23. ChrisCam

    ChrisCam Registered User
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    Time for my stupid question what are the pawls? Are they the steel pins on the brass chime barrel that lifts the hammers?
    Chris
     
  24. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    Evidently, pawl is not the correct term; the pins should not contact the part that allows for the hammer to be lifted until the train engages after warning. Perhaps someone could provide the correct term for the part, outlined here in red:

    20180120_184045.jpg
     
  25. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    #25 Willie X, Jul 18, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
    I've heard hammer 'lifting piece' or hammer 'lifting block', not to be confused with the 'hammer tail'. The hammer tail is an extension of the hammer wire, aft of the pivot. Its function is usually to stop, snub, or otherwise limit the hammer's drop. But, on most American clocks the hammer tail does the hammer lifting. There are many many variations ... Willie X
     

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