Howard Miller GF clock - Urgos movement Special Moon Dial help

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by THTanner, Jul 28, 2019.

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  1. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
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    This is a Howard Miller gf clock from 1986. It has a fine Urgos movement (silent plus three chime tunes) and runs great with no issues.

    But I cannot figure out an easy way to set the Moon dial to the proper rise / set time. This Moon dial consists of two dials mounted together. One small dial shows the phase of the Moon and is advanced once a day by a star gear passing a post on the back of the dial. This Moon phase dial is attached to, and turns with, the larger dial which shows the Moon rising and setting each day at the correct time. In the picture it is shown as a night sky with a full moon rising. The Moon phase dial is no problem.

    The rising and setting dial does not seem to want to be rotated manually. Either there is no clutch to allow it, or the clutch is too tight? Or there is some trick to setting it?

    So far I cannot figure out how to set the time correctly, then set the rise / set dial for the real Moon rising time. The rise / set dial turns 1/24 th each hour and is driven by a gear on the hour tube with two more for positioning to the drive point on that dial. I have not taken it apart since the job was simply to get the pullies and weights back on correctly after they took them off to move the clock to put in hardwood floors instead of carpet and the cable tangled somehow for the chime side.

    There is no manual with the clock and the family has never bothered to try to set the dial. They thought the Moon dial was just decoration and had no idea it was supposed to show the real Moon phase and position in the sky. They are not the original owners.

    When I explained what it was really supposed to show they asked me to figure out how to set it up and come back to teach them.

    Any ideas or source for a manual?
    thanks
    tom

    AliClock.JPG
     
  2. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I'm guessing you can control the two parts separately by turning the dials. If so, just set the clock to yesterdays rise time and turn the dials to match. Then set the time and it should be good for four years or so.
     
  3. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
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    That is logical and probably how it is supposed to work, but the rise / set dial does want to be turned by hand. I suspect something is frozen or bent. I will be trying to convice the owner to let me take the dial off and get some good pictures and see what i can find out. I will post them when I get to take them. It is certainly an interesting idea, but appears nowhere that I can find in the Howard Miller or Urgos information,

    It is also a puzzle since the difference between when the Moon rises each day is not constant. The Moon's orbit is eccentric in two dimensions - the Earth is not at the center of the Moon's orbit, and the Moon does not orbit at the Earth's Equator because it is somewhat canted. This makes a simple gearing pretty much impossible. The link below lets people in the USA put in their zipcode and the date and then advance daily to see when the Moon rises for your location. The Moon rises about an hour later each day for me, but the exact amount of difference changes each day. It will be fun to see what this dial actually does when I get it apart.

    The other issue for why this dial was not very common is that the difference in time each day for the rise of the Moon is partially a function of lattitude, so a dial that works in San Francisco would not be correct for San Diego. I suspect that the rise / set dial needs to be adjusted quite often so there must be an easy way.

    Moonrise and Moonset Calculator
     
  4. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
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    I just got a note from someone in another forum who has seen and worked on two of these. He says the dial is original to this model of HM gf clocks and never appeared on any others that he knows of. He said the only way he could ever set the rise / set dial was to take it off the motion works, and put it back on properly oriented. If true, that poses a real problem for the owner if they stop the clock for more than a day or two, since they would have to not only set the time when they get back, but also turn the hands through a full 24 hours for every day they were gone. hmmmmmmm
     
  5. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
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    I took the dial off and found that the Moon rise dial had jumped the alignment and was jammed in one of the edge guide rollers which was preventing it from turning as designed. With that straightened out the Moon rise dial can be set at anytime with minimal pressure on the dial. It is Howard Miller dial number 270249F.

    Below are some pictures. Behind the Moon rise dial and hard to see are two large gears which convert the 12 hour gear to the approximate 25 hour cycle for the Moon rise timing for Michigan. I suppose the dial recycles each Moon month to be approximately correct once it is set.

    IMG_3971.JPG IMG_3972.JPG IMG_3977.JPG IMG_3978.JPG IMG_3979.JPG IMG_3983.JPG
     
  6. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    An interesting development of the traditional moon dial, though not one I've ever come across personally. I would suspect clocks with this dial were only produced for a limited time.
     
  7. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
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    The research folks at Howard Miller are in the process of looking for the specs on production and for any special instructions that came with it originally. When I first contacted them yesterday they said they had never seen it either :???: Anyway - will post results and I hope a copy of the instruction sheet if they find it.

    It was sold in 1986 or so as their model 610-353
     
  8. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
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    #8 THTanner, Jul 30, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
    I don't know what a typical production run from Howard Miller was in the 1980s, but they said about 3,250 of these were made in 1986 and 1987.
    So far no special instruction sheet has been located.

     
  9. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    One of those interesting but impractical inventions, for the reasons you stated above. As long as one resides in the Northern hemisphere, it probably can be set pretty close to actual rise/set times. I suspect it will need quite a bit of tweaking by the owner. Most people I service clocks for don't look at the moon dial, and some didn't know it actually moved with the moon phases!
     
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  10. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
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    These owners thought it was just some fancy decoration that moved all day and night and changed each morning somehow. If you go far enough North or South the Moon just circles the horizon, but it is probably possible to get some information from the dial if you live between 30 and 50 N, or 50 and 30 S, of the Equator. Over the course of a Lunar month the rise and set times should average out to about the same error, but it will need adjusting at least once a month for the rise and set times. It certainly won't give you correct rise and set times every day.

    The phase dial should remain correct regardless once it is set properly.

    When I was allowed to take the clock apart I found little piles of black dust under each of the winding arbors on the seat board. One pile was about 1/4 inch high and 1/2 inch long. It is a wonder you can wind it. The arbors moved almost a 1/4 inch up and down. I didn't bother to check the rest of the movement, just told them they needed a new one. The clock actually runs and keeps time, but appears not have been serviced more than once in 40 years. Sooooo, Mark is shipping a new UW660018 :)
     
  11. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I believe the phase dial needs to be adjusted every four years. the 29.5 day cycle is not easy to achieve with 24 hour time pieces :)
     
  12. THTanner

    THTanner Registered User
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    I think that is correct as well - but as my customers explain - there will be multiple times during a year when it has to be reset due to vacations and other reasons that the clock stops. They kind of chuckle when I explain that.

    The owner of this unusual dial seems interested in testing how well the rise / set dial will mimick the actual Moon rise times. He says he will keep track of whether or not it seems to average out over the lunar month or if he has to keep adjusting it. The latitude here is about 39 so it is close enough to latitude 40 that the 50 minutes a day change in the rise time should work. If he follows through I will try to provide an update in a few months.
     

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