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Imperator Clock Mainsprings

mikehutson

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Feb 21, 2013
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I am working on an Imperator clock and need to replace the main springs. These are in barrels with a 46 mm inside diameter. The springs are 45/64” wide x 0.021” thick x 64” long. I measured the length by wrapping a string continuously around the coils. It should be close. I have found springs 48” long. Anybody have a source for unusual springs?
 

mikehutson

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Feb 21, 2013
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I believe they are weak. The time train appears to be good. I have cleaned and oiled the works and the springs. With the pendulum set to the top of the adjustment, the clock starts losing time on the third day. The strike train may work for 8 days, but have not got that far.
 

Dick Feldman

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Although your symptoms are consistent with low power on the time train, I would note that springs seldom go bad. They will break, the ends will come unhooked, etc.
If you replace the springs, the problem likely will not go away.
I would be more inclined to look for another reason for low power to the escapement.
The most common cause of low power in clock trains is friction. Friction due to wear due to long use.
Clean and oil are seldom viable cures for low power. Those processes are primarily preventative rather than being curative. That does not mean those are bad for clock movements but ineffective for wear and power losses. Adjusting to compensate for wear is normally an iffy practice and will result in a short term repair if at all effective. Attempts at adjusting will often times introduce a second or third reason the clock will not give reliable service.
Many times clock problems are blamed on either one end or the other of the clock train. That being the main springs or the escapement. It is more common to find the real problem is wear at the pivot holes in the plates. The accepted cure for loose pivot holes is to install bushings at each wear point. Check out this link:
https://mb.nawcc.org/wiki/Encyclopedia-Subjects/Clock-Repair/Bushing-Using-Hand-Tools
I would add that clocks do not wear only in a few places. It is imperative to address all wear points for a long lasting repair and reliable operation of the movement.
The above is based on many years experience in the repair field. Others may differ.
This board is populated with repair people of many different levels and you can receive bad advice from some.
Best of luck with your clock,
Dick
 

mikehutson

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Feb 21, 2013
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Dick,
I have bushed the second wheel pivot on the strike train. Have looked at the pivots on the time train and they do not looked excessively worn. I uncoiled the spring about 12” and it took a set. It did not go back to it’s original coil shape. That is what made me suspicious about the spring. I will revisit the possible wear issue.
 

Willie X

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Feb 9, 2008
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That sounds completely normal to me. How bout some photos? "Imperator" doesn't ring a bell for me ... Willie X
 

bruce linde

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shared this anecdote in another thread, but had a chelsea i thought i had done a sufficient job on with regard to servicing the mainspring. when i sent it to labounty to work out some other kinks he reached out to tell me that he'd had to service the mainspring... by removing, stretching out, sanding off any old/residual crap until shiny smooth, lubricating, and re-installing. if you've gone labounty on your mainsprings and they're still not performing, MAYBE you need new ones... but i would heed willie's and dick's advice....
 

mikehutson

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Feb 21, 2013
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Bruce, I have not cleaned it to shiny metal. Am an amateur and did not know that was necessary. Seems the springs may be 100 years old. Do they wear out? The movement only has 43 cm stamped. The barrels are stamped inside with 43 on one and 17 on other. I do not see those numbers in any catalogue. Will try to clean springs better.
 

Willie X

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Feb 9, 2008
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Have you looked up 'cleaning mainsprings' or 'servicing mainsprings'?

In short, you anchor the center on a rod, or bolt, and pull it out about 8 or 10 inches at a time, don't bother the innermost coils. Working it over good all the while with machine oil (or WD-40) and various grades of sandpaper, folded to do both sides. Then go to steel wool and finish up with a clean dry cloth.

My starting point for sandpaper, on a really grungy spring, is 150 grit, then use finner grades (220 to 320 to 400 is good) then use steel wool. If the spring is in pretty good shape, you can skip the sandpaper and start with 2-0 steel wool and finish with 4-0. Always wipe it as clean as possible before lubing (a little solvent on the cloth is good) and it only takes a small amount of lube, just enough for a thin coat on the entire surface. Usually 4 or 5 drops of oil will do it.


This sounds like a long process but actual time spent will run from 5 to 15 minutes per spring, dependinh on their condition.

Be checking, all the while, for pitting (from rust) and cracks. Either will nix the spring for future use.

Willie X
 

mikehutson

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Feb 21, 2013
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The only identifier is Imperator. Cleaned the mainspring with 600 wet/dry, wiped down and lubed. Bushed 2nd wheel and back plate for wheel with hands. Movement now rotates better. Will run for 8 days.

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Last edited by a moderator:

JTD

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Sep 27, 2005
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It would be helpful in trying to identify your clock if we could see the whole thing, movement, dial and case. You say the springs may be '100 years old'. If so, then it is possible that the little plaque on your clock may be that of the company Ludwig & Fries in Frankfurt/Main.

The company was not in business very long, perhaps 1900-30, and was a wholesaler of clocks, not a manufacturer.

This is just a possibility, I am not at all sure that it is actually correct, but seeing the whole clock would help a lot.

JTD
 

shutterbug

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I think I removed the duplicate images for you.
 

mikehutson

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Feb 21, 2013
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Thanks Shutterbug. JTD, I intend to put the clock together tomorrow. Will post pics. I am running the time train and it is running much better. I cleaned spring with 600 grit wet/dry and put in 3 bushings.
 

JTD

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Sep 27, 2005
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From the appearance of the clock is does seem that it could fall into the time period when Ludwig & Fries were in operation.

I can't recognise the maker of the movement from the photo, but there are those on here who can, so I hope one of them will be along shortly to identify it.

JTD
 

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