Imperial Electric Clock, Collins, Ill.

Discussion in 'Electric Horology' started by strega10, May 27, 2006.

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  1. strega10

    strega10 Guest

    This clock has a wire that drives the pendulem from a gear train & walking bar. Their seems to be a spring somewhere that is not winding when the battery lifts the weight up. This spring keeps tension on the wire that swings the pendulem & keeps the clock running (I think). First time I've tried to make this clock work, but no sucess. Any information on the clock movement would be appreciated
     
  2. strega10

    strega10 Guest

    This clock has a wire that drives the pendulem from a gear train & walking bar. Their seems to be a spring somewhere that is not winding when the battery lifts the weight up. This spring keeps tension on the wire that swings the pendulem & keeps the clock running (I think). First time I've tried to make this clock work, but no sucess. Any information on the clock movement would be appreciated
     
  3. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
    NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Aug 24, 2000
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    I suspect strega10, that the "walking bar" is probably what clockmakers call a verge. The verge is one of two critical parts of an "escapement." The other part of the escapement is a carefully made toothed wheel, something like a gear wheel. The two make up the escapement; so called because it allows the force stored in a spring or falling weight acting on a gear train, to escape little by little through an oscillating lever.

    The oscillating lever is the wire your refer to which engages the pendulum.

    Your Imperial clock's oscillator is the pendulum which is linked to the verge by a small wire engaged in a slot along the pendulum rod.

    The force to operate your Imperial clock comes entirely from the small weight on the end of the lever which is lifted periodically by the electromagnets and not from force stored in a wound-up spring.

    The weighted lever should descend very slowly as the verge rocks back and forth under control of the pendulum until the lever reaches a low point where the electrical contacts re-energize the electromagnets and reposition the weighted lever for more advantage.

    The gear train must be friction free. Try putting a tiny drop of light oil on the ends of each axle where it pivots through the brass end plates. Do not oil gear teeth, they just have to be kept clean.
     
  4. strega10

    strega10 Guest

    Boy, that was a quick reply! As you can tell this is my first atempt at "fixing" an old clock. It's sure nice to know some of the proper terms for the parts of the clock. The escapement looks good to me. I've cleaned & lubed the axle points. The toothed wheel & verge work well together & the weight is lifted back up by the battery & contacts about every eight minutes or so. About half way through the second cycle of the weight dropping, the oscillator is slowing down enough that the verge doesn't operate the toothed wheel anymore. I thought maybe their was a coil spring that kept tension on the oscillating wire through the gear train to keep the pendulum moving. Could the spring that the pendulum is hung on be causing some problems? That spring has probably been changed over the years more than once.

    I sure want to thank you for all the neat information that you have provided me. Maybe I'll have to send this unit out for repair, but I thought I would try to get it running myself first. It's fun, but has been a little frustrating!
    Thanks again.
    Bob Smith
     
  5. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
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    Aug 24, 2000
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    Bob I'm glad you found my lecture helpful. The thin spring that suspends the pendulum is known as a suspension spring. Although it is a spring, it's so thin that when compared to the mass of the pendulum it is not supposed to have any effect on the pendulum's free oscillation.

    If, as you state, the clock keeps stopping, then there's probably a loss of power getting to the escape wheel due to gummy old oil on the pivot ends of the axles. (arbors) Too, the pivots may be rough which makes for a poor bearing. The pivots must fit rather close to the bearing holes in the plates. If they're worn oval, then the wheel and pinions don't mesh properly and loose power. Those are the wear factor things that affect a clock due to age.

    There's two things you can do that may help. One is to listen very closely during the last few minutes when the clock is beginning to fail.

    Listen to the cadence of the tic-toc. It must be tic-toc-tic-toc-tic-toc and not tic...-toc-tic...-toc-tic...-toc. If the sound is not a steady tic-toc-tic-toc-toc then shift the bottom of the clock case just a little to the left or right until the sound is a good tic-toc-tic-toc. When the cadence is even, then the clock is said to be "in beat." There is a delicate bending of the crutch wire to make the beat exact and even when the clock case is plumb up and down.

    Another thing you may try is a tiny dab, just a light smear of thin oil right on the palet faces of the verge. It may help.
     
  6. strega10

    strega10 Guest

    Hi Les,
    Thanks again for the things to try. I have leveled the case (48'X 17")on a portable work bench. I think your right about wear in the bearing holes. I do notice a small lateral movement when I push or pull on the toothed wheel, front to back.
    I weighed the pendulum & it's three pounds of lead, covered with a brass shell. I'll try my wifes sewing machine oil on the palet faces & listen for the tic-toc.
    More to come from later, I'm sure ---

    Bob
     
  7. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
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    Your Imperial battery clock would have been made sometime between after WWI and 1920. For that short period only the factory was said to be situated in Collinsville.

    Hang the clock on a sturdy wall before attempting to adjust or evaluate the sound and evenness of the beat. Any wobble or shaking will upset the beat.

    Just listen carefully for the space between tics and tocs. The space is even when beat is correct and smooth. Being level or plumb is not significant. Even beat is more important.
    There are simple methods to get the beat right when the case is plumb but that's for later.

    End-to-end play or shake in the arbor or shafts is normal and some end play necessary. Any side to side play from an enlarged bearing hole or worn down arbor end pivot is going to cause the gear wheel teeth to engage the driven pinion at the wrong angle and cause friction.

    The bearing holes usually wear oval due to side pressure caused by the force of the gear wheel against the teeth of the driven pinion. That's normal wear. If the bearing hole is badly worn oversize or ovaled, then it has to be repaired by re-bushing. A job requiring skill and some special tooling.
     
  8. strega10

    strega10 Guest

    Hi Les,
    I did all the right things that you suggested last evening. The clock has been running on my bench for sixteen straight hours now. I waited until now to send this report just to make sure it was going to continue running.
    Looks like you worked your magic!! Makes me feel good to have you share your knowledge with me, & now the clock seems to be running just fine.

    I counted the beat this morning after running all night & it is a consistant 40 beats per minute. The weight cycle time is four min. forty five secs.
    I supose the next thing is some kind of change to the power supply, other than the two EN6 batteries that I have now. I imagine some kind of regular maintenance is required on these old clocks too.
    I have some cleaning to do on the Oak case before I put everything back together. I can see this could become another fun hobby!!

    Anything else that I should do or need to do that you can think of before I put everything back together, let me know.
    Thanks again,

    Bob
     
  9. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
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    Bob the pleasure is mine. It is pleasing to be able to lend some knowledge to one who is capable and has enough mechanical intuition to carry out some simple instructions by remote.

    And doubly pleasing that you breathed new life into an old and tired clock that once knew a good life.

    The two EN6 cells should run the clock for about a year. There are other sources that can be less expensive to replace.

    Caring for the external appearance of the case is well discussed on this message board. Just remember that the original finish on your clock was old fashion shellac. Avoid any "miracle" mouse-milk finish restoring stuff and follow the best advice on this message board. Shellac 101 and Hide Glue 101 come to mind among other threads. You'd be surprised how much grime comes off with a damp cloth and a little mild soap.

    Congratulations and keep up the good work.
     
  10. strega10

    strega10 Guest

    Hi Les,
    Again, thanks for all the good information. I had no idea that the finish would be shellac on these old cases, but it makes sense now. Thats all they had in those days. I'll try the mild soap & water for cleaning. The case has a few, if not a lot of little nicks & scratches to try & blend in too. That's all part of the fun isn't it?
    Makes me want to try another clock soon.

    I'm sure I'll want to glean more information from the site once I get this clock mounted on the wall. I have read about the several types of power sources for these clocks on the message board. Some seem quit expensive, but maybe in the long run it's worth it.

    Now, back out into the garage to work on that Oak case

    Bob Smith
     

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