Howard Miller Not Chiming Properly

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by Sagebrush, Sep 10, 2009.

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  1. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Registered User

    Sep 10, 2009
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    I have just purchased a second hand Howard Miller wall clock. It has an 8 day key wound movement with 3 winding stems, Westminster chimes (5 chime rods) and while I don’t know how old it is (I’m guessing it's approx 10-15 years old at most), it looks like a brand new clock. Furthermore, the movement has just been completely professionally, serviced, cleaned, re-oiled, and re-assembled.

    I’ve had it leveled and running on my wall for two days now and it keeps time beautifully. The only problem is that the chime mechanism doesn’t always chime when it’s supposed to. For example, it ran perfectly for about 5 hours then stopped chiming completely for several hours. After about 3 hours of not chiming, it then started chiming again but stayed about 1/4 to 1/2 hour behind the actual time (for example, chimed OK at 8 pm, skipped chiming again at 8:15 pm, chimed again at 8:30 pm but chimed the 1/4 hour at that time, chimed the 1/2 hour at 8:45 pm, etc).

    Once in a while, it catches up and chimes properly for a number of hours then starts skipping again. For example, it chimed properly for 12 hours from 1:00 am to 1:00 pm, skipped chiming again at 1:15 pm and chimed the 1/4 hour at 1:30 pm. Sometimes it misses chiming on the hour then chimes the full hour that it just missed but chimes it late, at 1/4 hr or 1/2 hr past.

    Currently it is chiming only intermittently. It may or may not chime on the 1/4 hour as it’s supposed to and if it does chime, it may or may not be in sync with the actual time. All of the winding stems have been wound tightly during this entire period and I have checked to make sure all packing materials have been removed from its recent shipping.

    One last point to mention about this clock and that is that when the case is mounted completely level, the beat is slightly uneven (but it keeps perfect time in that position). In order to get the beat to sound completely balanced and even, I have to tilt the cabinet 2-3 degrees or so off level to the right. I am wondering if that could be affecting my problem at all (I’ve been running it in the completely level position with a slightly uneven beat).

    I would appreciate any suggestions as to how to resolve this problem. Returning it to the servicing dealer is not a good option since they are a considerable distance away.
     
  2. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Hi, sagebrush, welcome to the message board. The degree of levelness will not affect the chime, just the running of the clock. You could set it in beat by pushing the pendulum to the side that you are moving the case to. It should have an automatic beat setter that this will activate.
    Unless you wish to commit yourself to spending a lot of time learning clock repair, you should take it back to the fellow who serviced it. Make very sure you have wound up to fully wound the right side mainspring that runs the chimes.
     
  3. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Welcome Sage. The chime system has a built in synchronizing feature, and may quit chiming for awhile while it 'finds itself' again. It can chime incorrectly for several cycles before it corrects itself. The fact that yours is repeatedly cycling incorrectly then fixing itself indicates a problem in the chime cycle or even perhaps in the strike. I doubt that the out of beat condition contributes to this problem, but should be corrected in it's own right.
    Are you able to remove the hands and the dial without removing the movement? Can you take some pictures of the clock (front and back) so we can see what you have? (Looks like I was typing at the same time Harold was)
     
  4. R&A

    R&A Registered User

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    The warning pin maybe set to advanced in the chime train.If so it will do what you are explaining.The front cams have to be readjusted and if you don't know anything about these movements I would suggest that you have it looked at by a clock repairman.It's a very simple movement if you were a clock repairman.They just get out of wack sometimes.
     
  5. doc_fields

    doc_fields Registered User

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    #5 doc_fields, Sep 10, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2009
    "....the movement has just been completely professionally serviced, cleaned, re-oiled, and re-assembled."

    Anymore, I am so dubious of these claims. Not by you, but either by the people who sold it to you or the repairman who did the "repairs" and made these claims to the customer. I get a lot of clocks in that have had such done to them, and are in such poor condition and swimming in oil. Most of the units in these after a length of time should be replaced rather than repaired because they are "expendable" or "planned obsolescent". I might add that they CAN be repaired, but to do the proper work involves time and more money than most people are willing to put out; hence, movement replacement.

    Generally, if the movement is erratic in chiming, then I suspect some wear on the chime side, and that is exactly where most of the problems with this type of clock begins. And, for your information, if it doesn't chime, it won't strike the hour either, because the chiming must first be completed before it will strike the hour. If at some point it starts chiming again as you have said, then most likely it will be out of sequence with the actual quarters, and should it continue to chime for awhile, it WILL get itself back into sequence, but if there is another failure during this time for it to chime, then it is all out of whack again.

    My advice, see a reputable repairman in your area. Most shops do not let their warranty carry over to another owner if the clock is sold again within the warranty period..........................doc
     
  6. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Registered User

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    #6 Sagebrush, Sep 10, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2009
    Thanks for all the responses. I am hoping that is what the problem is and given the fact that it was working properly prior to shipping indicates to me at least that this is the most probably explanation....at least that's what I am hoping. I have an old grandfather's clock (about 60-70 years old) that has had a similar problem. Whenever the movement is stopped for any duration (such as when transported) it takes several hours for the chimes to get re-synchronized. The chimes eventually start working on that clock after a few hours.

    This wall clock has taken much longer than that however but after 2 full days of running, the chimes have now run correctly for a number of hours again now (knock wood) and I am hoping that it has just taken an extra long time to get "reset" and "synchronized" after the move.

    Also, I have it positioned so that the beat is completely even now. As I mentioned in my previous post, it had to be off-level to have an even beat. Right now it looks significantly cocked to the side in order to have an even beat and I don't quite understand that. I've never had to shift the position of a wall clock that much before to get it into an even beat.

    I have attached 4 images of the clock below, taken from different angles and including one of the movement in the back. The cabinet, dial and brass work all look much better in real life than in the pictures. As you can see, the dial cannot be removed without removing the entire movement (which is held by 4 screws in the rear of the case). The clock looks very similar to wall clocks that Howard Miller is selling today but with some minor changes to the cabinetry. It does not have a night silencer lever, as near as I can tell.


    http://www.imagecabin.com/?view=25262934806c9c15d2f3effff





    http://www.imagecabin.com/?view=25262930688f6d915172e4018





    http://www.imagecabin.com/?view=25262949262f1e8e231e0763e


    http://www.imagecabin.com/?view=25262937900f227da6a0929c7
     
  7. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

    Feb 9, 2008
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    Sage,

    If that is a 'C' at the top of the ID stamp on the back plate, your clock is about 19 years old.

    Unfortunately that is the end of the life expectancy of this movements.

    I'm with Doc, you chime train is stalling due to wear on the chime side. Usually this wear is worst at C2F, C3F&B, C4F, and the mainspring barrel is usually bad also.

    I know this probably won't make sence to you but your clock repair guy should know that these movements are not long lived. There is no good solution except to replace the old movement. You can opt to repair it but cost per year will be less if you replace.

    I am making several assumptions here but they are based on repairing or replacing 1000s of similar movements.

    Good luck with whatever you do,
    Willie X
     
  8. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Registered User

    Sep 10, 2009
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    Thanks for the response and feedback. The clock has stopped chiming yet again since my last post so there is a definite problem. I have checked around and have found a brand new replacement Hermle movement at a reasonable price (this clock has a Hermle 351-030 A movement w 34 cm Pendulum) so getting that replacement rather than any more repair on the current movement looks like my best option at this point.
     
  9. Mike Phelan

    Mike Phelan Registered User

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    Unless it has some sort of strange chiming system that I have never heard of, it should not take that long.
    Self-correct works like this:

    After chiming the 3/4, the chiming is locked, irrespective of what the hands point to.
    When the hands are on the hour, the chiming is unlocked, so all is back to normal.

    Worst case, then, is if the chiming has got out of sequence and chimes 3/4 at the hour, it will miss 1/4 past, 1/2 past, 3/4 then it will chime and strike the hour correctly.

    I'm in the minority here as I would not scrap the movement.
     
  10. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Registered User

    Sep 10, 2009
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    The clock is clearly chiming only intermittently at this point so there now seems obviously to be a chronic problem. It chimes for a while, stops chiming for a while then starts chiming again (and catching up to the proper time), repeating that pattern over and over. And...on some occasions when it is chiming, it chimes slowly and sounds as if it is struggling (as if there were not much tension on the spring loading even though it is fully wound).

    The consensus here seems to be that there has either been lubrication points missed, abnormal wear in some chime components, or an adjustment that needs to be changed....or all of the above. On the other hand, I can get a replacement Hermle movement for approx $160 to $250 depending on where I get it. That does sound attractive since it would cost me probably at least about that much to have it repaired unless I did the work myself.

    On that front, while I have had a career of repairing electronic, electro-mechanical and mechanical devices (large computers for IBM), and while I have repaired a few clocks and even built a few from kits, I still consider myself a novice when it comes to them at this point. I could probably undertake some simple lubrication and even some adjustments and would likely enjoy doing it to boot. Anything more complex than that would probably best be left to those with much more experience than me however.
     
  11. doc_fields

    doc_fields Registered User

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    This then would leave him the choice of finding a repairman who may give it a little more life for the moment, but inevitably return again to the shop to repair another area that fails or, for himself, dismantle, clean, then determine where the plating is gone on the pivots, cut the pivot off, drill and press in a hardened steel pivot, then bush the hole, etc., etc., ad nauseum, and this assuming he can do the work himself and have the skills and equipment. Turning the movement back over to some repairman who says he can repair it generally only nickle and dimes the owner to death who then either just leaves the clock un-repaired till some future day or once again spends a bunch of money by buying a new movement for it which he now realizes he should have done in the first place, and now has a working clock that lasts a long time.

    I was at first impressed with these German movements when I first got into this work, and really loved their construction. To me, they still have a beauty in their form and function, but as the saying goes, "...beauty is only skin deep." They have inherent problems and manufacturing shortcuts built into them that will not meet the test of time. Yes, other clocks have been mass-produced also, stamped out of presses etc., but I have had a lot of these come to me, needing their first repair in almost 100 years. There is a vast difference in material used and construction of these clocks...........................doc

    "Antiquity is in the eye of the beholder".
     
  12. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Sagebrush, you may have stumbled into a hobby that you would enjoy. Buy a new movement, then use the old one to learn how a clock works.
    I think one reason Hermle is still in business is because of the number of replacement movements they sell every year. I'm sure it surpasses the number of new clocks built with their movements.
     
  13. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Why not take it to a repairman for an estimate? I suspect that you're chiming issue can be solved quite easily, but given the age of the movement it will probably give you more trouble down the road. If you want to tackle it yourself, you'll need to pull the movement and take a pic of the front of it.
     
  14. Len Lataille

    Len Lataille Registered User
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    Have you tried moving the minute hand to a different position on the arbor?

    Could the movement have night silencing? This would explain large gaps in chime operation. Not two days, but you might be advancing the movement through a "silence" period without realizing it.

    I would have the clock looked at by a repairman before spending the money for a new movement.

    If the above are not factors, then replacing might be a better idea and practice on the old movement.
     
  15. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Good point, Len. An automatic night shut-off could cause some of his problems. However, the random jumping out of synch is a different issue I think :)
     
  16. Sagebrush

    Sagebrush Registered User

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    #16 Sagebrush, Sep 17, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2009
    Since you have all been kind enough to provide me information about this problem, I wanted to provide a follow-up to my original messages to let you know what's been happening here. I have found a certified repairman who I have confidence in and has offered to go over this clock for me but it now doesn't seem necessary, at least so far.

    After the 1st four days of having intermittent problems with the chiming, the clock has now settled in and run problem free for 6 days. I just left it on the wall running, without touching or even winding it and after not having gone for more than 12 hours without starting to skip the chiming, sometimes for as long as several hours at a time, I suddenly realized that it was no longer acting up. I've just continued to let it run without touching it and see if it would settle in on it's own. It seems to have done just that (by the way, it has no night silencer).

    I've left it running for 6 days now as I said previously and as near as I can tell, it hasn't missed any more chiming. Also, the chimes no longer sound as if they are binding up when it strikes. I realize that 6 days isn't very long in the overall scheme of things but compared to the first few days I had it, it now seems to be working perfectly and keeping perfect time to boot.

    It may be that it just needed some "run in" time after having just been shipped (and not running for several weeks) or perhaps its lubrication has just penetrated the movement more thoroughly (or both). In any case, if it starts acting up again I have an action plan in place. I will either take it to the clock servicer I mentioned previously or I may just decide to go ahead and replace the movement with a Hermle triple chime movement. Right now, I'm going to just leave it be and see how long it goes before it acts up again....*if* it does.

    I've discovered that I can get a new Hermle triple chime movement for just slightly more than a replacement for the single chime movement that I have now and since the clock case is in like new condition, that may not be a bad move. I have researched the movements and measured the case for doing that and it seems that I may need to add nothing more than a different chime block (and possibly a different pendulum).

    If and when I get to that point however I will be back here for some more advice on exactly how to do that and to see if it's really as feasible as it seems.

    I've been fascinated with this field ever since I was a kid. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I grew up with a grandfather clock my grandfather had and which he then left to me when he passed. I know that particular clock inside and out (although I never have taken the movement apart). I restored all the metal trim on it years ago and keep the movement serviced and it still runs fine with all its original parts.

    Also when I was a kid, I grew up in a very small town and our church had an old steeple clock that had been abandoned sometime during the 30s or early 40s, and the hands and faces were removed. Since I was always good at fixing things as a teen, I always dreamed of restoring that clock in the steeple. When I climbed up in there once to see what was left of it, I realized that alas, there simply weren't enough parts left to make restoring it feasible, even if I could figure out how to do it. It stayed just a dream and now the church itself isn't even there.

    I've enjoyed working with this Howard Miller clock and now that I have more time, I expect I will be keeping my eyes open for other old clocks to buy and try restoring. I have an old octagonal schoolhouse clock on hand now with a beautiful case but an old Korean movement that can't be refurbished. If can find a proper movement for it, that will be my next project.
     
  17. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Glad to hear your clock is behaving. Clocks don't like travelling, so perhaps it did just need to "settle" in to its new home.
    If you think you might like to learn more about clock repair, you should start with a few basic books. Also, the message board archives is a gold mine of information on basic repairs.
     

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