Ingraham Movement rebuild, can I do it?

Fred M

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While cleaning my father's house several months ago I came upon an old clock. Up until the time of this discovery I knew virtually nothing about time pieces let alone these old mantle clocks. I was fascinated for two reasons. One the beauty of the mechanics of these clocks and two this was my great grandfather's clocked that ticked away during WW1, the birth of their three generations and the loss of their son during WW2. It was a witness to so much of their lives. So I began a little research (funny I found a Gilbert key with this clock and assumed it was a Gilbert Clock until I pulled the movement and had to restart my research). I believe this is the "Adrian" model and from the numbers stamped on the frame I am assuming either Jan 1906 or June 01 but not certain which. I removed the 1/2 hour bell (the threads were stripped)

I want to restore the movements of this clock and my BIG question is, "Is this something a novice can do" I am mechanically inclined, I work a lot with my hands in small places (dentist) and am very methodical but... will that be good enough to successfully rebuild the movement. There is a clock repair store that will rebuild it for $195 (includes springs and new pivot point bushings where needed) but it takes 4 months and I really would like to do it myself if you (the experienced) think it would be feasible.

Any advice would be greatly welcomed

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Schatznut

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While cleaning my father's house several months ago I came upon an old clock. Up until the time of this discovery I knew virtually nothing about time pieces let alone these old mantle clocks. I was fascinated for two reasons. One the beauty of the mechanics of these clocks and two this was my great grandfather's clocked that ticked away during WW1, the birth of their three generations and the loss of their son during WW2. It was a witness to so much of their lives. So I began a little research (funny I found a Gilbert key with this clock and assumed it was a Gilbert Clock until I pulled the movement and had to restart my research). I believe this is the "Adrian" model and from the numbers stamped on the frame I am assuming either Jan 1906 or June 01 but not certain which. I removed the 1/2 hour bell (the threads were stripped)

I want to restore the movements of this clock and my BIG question is, "Is this something a novice can do" I am mechanically inclined, I work a lot with my hands in small places (dentist) and am very methodical but... will that be good enough to successfully rebuild the movement. There is a clock repair store that will rebuild it for $195 (includes springs and new pivot point bushings where needed) but it takes 4 months and I really would like to do it myself if you (the experienced) think it would be feasible.

Any advice would be greatly welcomed

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Sounds to me like you've got the right stuff to take on this project. Mantel clocks are not my strong suit, but a time and strike movement is a time and strike movement, whether powered by springs or chains, so I'll offer up a few thoughts. The real question is whether there is significant wear in the pivots and you'll have to take all the power out of the springs ("letting them down") before you can investigate that. There are many on this board that can help you get or make the right tool and let the springs down safely. With the key you have, you can easily make a suitable letdown tool from a piece of wood dowel. Once you get that done, we can help you determine how much wear is in the pivots. If it's not severe, then you can proceed to take it apart, clean and reassemble it. If you determine there is significant wear in the pivots, then all of a sudden that quote of $195 to rebuild it will sound downright reasonable. If you do decide to take on the overhaul yourself, consider buying a similar movement to practice on - that way you won't be practicing amateur horology on a family heirloom and the worst that happens is you toss a handful of old clock parts in the dumpster. Let us know how it goes...
 
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Dick Feldman

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Thank you for asking before you have the thing ripped to pieces.
I will make a couple of comments but those are not necessarily those of the group.
That movement can be renewed with fairly simple tools and with a little skill. There ae certainly parallels to dentistry.
1. I would pay particular attention to the click assemblies. That is the little pawl that clicks when the clock is wound as well as a return spring and ratchet wheel. Your clock likely has brass return springs in the click assemblies which have been clicking for a hundred years or so. Brass is a poor material for springs, will become brittle with time and break. The click itself should be tight on the pivot and fit the ratchet wheel. The ratchet teeth should be sharp and distinct. You ask why? When click assemblies fail, the entire force of the spring is released in a nano second. This happens when the clock is being wound and the winding key will spin wildly. The result is normally a blue thumbnail and drawn blood from the wings on the key against the winder’s hand.
2. Your clock shop has agree to add bushings for a certain price. The bushings are to solve sloppy holes in the front and rear plates where the pivots run (the axle ends of the gears/wheels). That looseness is due to wear. My theory is that clocks do not only wear in a couple of places even though one can make a clock go by adding bushings in a couple of places. It is just a matter of time before another place becomes critical and stops the clock. So–decide early what kind of repair you want done. All wear points in a movement should be addressed, not just a few or the absolute most critical. Many/most clock repair people are satisfied to just “make it go.”
3. Surprisingly enough, main springs in clocks do not normally go bad. The replacements today may come from India or Asia which may really be a step backwards.
4. Clean, oil and adjust are knee jerk reactions to try to make clocks go. Those are not bad for clocks but are preventative measures. If cleaning a non working clock movement makes it go there either was little wrong with it before or the repair will be short lived. Oiling is another misunderstood concept. The oils we use today are designed to do what the clock needs. They normally do not gel, dry up, etc. If we were dealing with whale oil or goose fat, it would be a different matter. A dirty clock movement in good shape will run without oil. Adjusting to solve wear in clock movements is also a short sighted action. I won’t go on about why.
The most common malady affecting non running clock movements is lack of power to the movement. Lack of power due to wear due to long operation. Not a whole lot different concept than your dish washer, your lawn mower or your car.
5. I would suggest you go to your local library and read every book you can find on clock repair. Then find a mentor that will guide you through the process. Even a bad mentor can teach good lessons. A good mentor will be of greater help.
Is it worth attempting yourself? Maybe but that is a lot of learning for one movement. If you think you have the initial clock disease and you think that might get worse, it might pay to learn all it takes to properly rebuild movements.
That is my opinion and nobody had proved me wrong so far.
Best of luck with your clock,
Dick
 
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tracerjack

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It is certainly feasible, but will take some investment in tools, especially for bushing work, which is almost a given considering the age of your movement. A basic clock repair book is also handy. You will quickly spend most of that $195, but the up side is that you’ll then be in a position to maintain or fix the clock in the future.
 

Bkeepr

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My short answer is: Absolutely, you can.

You are one lucky duck to have come across an actual family heirloom. Just about a year ago, I decided I wanted to see if I could restore a clock, so I picked up an Ingraham at a second hand store which is about the same vintage and complexity as yours. I got two or three books (recommended here), and read a lot of threads here, and dug in. Most of the tools/stuff I needed I already had on hand, although I did have to pick up a few clock-specific tools. Took me a few weeks, but I got it properly cleaned, a few parts replaced, reassembled and it has been sitting on a shelf keeping great time ever since. After that, I did 4 more clocks of similar vintage. Now I'm about ready to go back to the first one and do a little more complex fixes that I deferred the first time through (you don't have to make it perfect to make it run well).

So-- all that to say "absolutely, you can" fix it yourself. You'll be that much prouder of your clock if you do it. Folks here are tremendously helpful, and if you get into a bind, just post a picture and ask your question and you'll get lots of expert advice. *JUST DO IT!*
 

Jim Hartog

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Hello Fred,

Another suggestion for you. Buy a used Ingraham movement identical to yours (long mounting feet on the back, same vintage). eBay is a good source or find a local NAWCC chapter and make contact. I took apart my first movement having a second intact movement as reference in case I got stuck. I had studied the books, too. Many of the clock specific required tools (letdown tool, locator tool) can be homemade.

The Ingraham date code is month on the left and year on the right looking from the front. Your clock is June, 1901. The "Adrian" model was made from 1899 to 1926 (page 180 in Tran Duy Ly's Ingraham Clocks and Watches). This is a long production run so there are a lot of these out there. Your clock appears three times as catalogue photos on page 195 (1915), 221 (1901) and 237 (1905) in Tran's book. The differences over the years include side castings, case embossing and dial types. One could have a collection of just "Adrians". A search on Google Images will show you some of the variation. Mine has an enamelled dial.

Jim
 

Willie X

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Fred,
That depends ... most clock repair isn't overly difficult but first you will need to do some serious study and lots of practice. If you have experience working with other types of machinery that is a big plus too. Jim's approach would be a very good one. Willie X
 

Hudson

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I totally agree with Jim's suggestion to buy a used Ingraham movement identical to yours That is exactly what I did when I was starting and wanted to get an old Ingraham mantel clock to run. I Bought a couple of movements off eBay and practiced on them. Then I felt confident to repair the one that mattered.
 

MuseChaser

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A few thoughts from someone who was in exactly your shoes back in late October 2020..

Short answer... yes, unequivocally, yes, you can do this.

Slightly longer answer ... there is an absolutely dizzying amount of information on this forum and in various texts. Some of it won't make sense until you "get your hands dirty." Some of it will make it seem like you need thousands of dollars of equipment and years of apprenticeship under masters to effect an acceptable repair, while some of it will make it sound like all you need is some spit and vinegar and maybe a file and a small hammer. As in all things internet, the truth is in the middle somewhere.

The full answer, at least from my perspective ... there is a learning curve. You will experience frustration and confusion along the way. You will need the following things .... and this is a list taken from recommendations given to me directly and indirectly by folks on this board who have been EXCEEDINGLY helpful and knowledgeable, cautiously encouraging this beginner to keep expanding his skills. In no particular order..

1. A spring winder of some kind, if you want to enjoy the process and dislike injury. Search for Joe Collins' plans and build one. Lots of threads. On the clock you have, there IS a way to manage the spring without one safely, but if you think you'll be interested enough to work on more than one clock, build the winder.

2. The usual small hand tools which you probably already have - medium to very small slot-head screwdrivers, pliers, tweezers, small files (rattail/round, flat, and maybe triangular), and I have a small crochet hook with a couple extra grooves ground in it to aid in pushing and pulling arbors and helper springs into position.

3. If bushing is necessary, you'll need the hand tools to do it. Bergeon handle, and KWM #2 and #3 reaming bits to fit the Bergeon handle, a chamfer bit for that handle, and a bushing assortment appropriate to your movement. I don't have those catalog numbers handy, but can get them for you if you wish. They can also be found in other threads. You'll also need an appropriately sized set of cutting broaches.

4. A method of cleaning parts. A toothbrush and kerosene will get you there. Having some 400, 600, and 1500 grit sandpaper on hand and some 0000 steel wool will also be helpful.

5. A method of polishing pivots. Truth be told, I did NOT do this on the first couple movements I rebuilt, and so far I haven't had any issues, but it's not difficult to do and doesn't require megabuck tooling. Again, there are a lot of threads about it. I use a drill, a white oak block with various sized v-grooves, and a burnisher I made. The door hinge tool looks intriguing, but I have yet to make one.

All in, you can buy everything you need for less than the $195 you were quoted to rebuild your movement. However, you will spend a LOT of time building tools, learning, practicing, and figuring things out. If you enjoy that, and think you might like to work on other clocks in the future, it's definitely worth it. If you just want to get this current clock to run and aren't particularly interested in the hobby.... then pay the $195 to have it done. Given the amount of time involved, even for someone who is very good at it and can do it quickly, that's not a bad price. Personally, I don't own any clocks I'd sink that amount of money into.... and I currently have about fifty five running that I've rebuilt since November. All with help from great folks here on the board.

A word of caution... you WILL read posts, from very skilled people, making it sound like anything other than absolute perfection and the utmost in accuracy will lead to catastrophically failed repairs. That simply isn't true. If it was, I wouldn't have fifty five clocks running consistently and keeping good time (that didn't run at all previously) in my house. If you have a good eye, some patience, and some pride in your work, you can accomplish a GREAT deal with simple hand tools and a little time. You're a dentist, for crying out loud. You won't have any trouble doing this at all... if you want to.
 
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Jim Hartog

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Hello Fred,

More suggestions from a retired educator (high school science) that I used when I did a "service a time and strike count wheel movement" workshop for my NAWCC Chapter.

In education pedagogy, it is called "chunking". Think of it as breaking up the learning curve into steps. For the re-assembly stage in my workshop, I had the students re-assemble the time train into the movement plates and make that run. Same thing again, but this time the motion works (hand gears) was added in. Make that run and keep time. Third step was to re-assemble the strike side only. Learn how to synchronize the strike levers. Make it strike properly. After all that, re-assemble the entire movement and make that tick, keep time and strike..

The other learning strategy is to lower the slope of the learning curve. Then try a steeper curve. Start with something easy and work your way up to the hard stuff. A good progression would be the following movement types:

time only weight driven
time only open spring driven
one day time and count wheel strike weight driven
one day time and count wheel strike open spring driven
eight day striking movements, weight driven and open spring driven
etc.

Etc. means springs in barrels, rack and snail strike systems, dead beat escapements, open escapements, cuckoos. In there somewhere you will run into separate half hour strike hammers and other interesting things that you will wish didn't exist. Three train movements are at the top of the curve along with other "complications". I'm not at the three train level and don't intend to climb that high. There is other stuff I won't touch.

Along the way you will also have to learn the various repair techniques. They can also be learned starting with the easy ones and working up to the more difficult ones. Easy would be setting the tick, harder would be make a gathering pallet.

Your clock specific tool collection will grow with you as you progress.

Another strategy is to find a mentor. Find that knowledgeable someone who is willing to help you out when you get stuck.

Jim
 

Bkeepr

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Fred,
one more suggestion, should you choose to do the clean & service yourself:

take lots of pictures as you take the movement apart. I photograph each step, in order, as I disassemble. I have actually started putting little numbered cards next to the movement in each photo as I take them, so that I can print an "in order" view to putting it back together again once it is in a hundred pieces.

For me, that has been a huge help, and digital pics don't cost anything...

best,
Tom
 

bikerclockguy

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Like MuseChaser, I found myself in a similar situation about 5 years ago. Ever since I was a kid, I always liked the style of the old tambour(Napoleon hat)mantle clocks. I decided one payday when I had a nice bonus that I would buy myself one, and I found a “running” clock on eBay for $75. The description wasn’t wholly inaccurate, it would run, but only for about 20 minutes at a time. I decided to see what I could find out, and after visiting a few “hack sites” finally landed here. My initial goal was just to get that one clock running, and like you, I had a background with general mechanical knowledge. If you are certain this is the only clock you’ll ever have an interest in building, then I would follow RC’s advice and take it to the shop. If you’re not sure, give it a whirl! I thought I just wanted to fix the one clock, but in the process I discovered a fascinating and rewarding hobby.
 

Vernon

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Fred,
I agree with RC in post 11... Also, could you afford to have a finger or hand injury if something did not go right with a mainspring? I think that the quoted price is very fare.
 

Vernon

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There is a clock repair store that will rebuild it for $195 (includes springs and new pivot point bushings where needed) but it takes 4 months and I really would like to do it myself if you (the experienced) think it would be feasible.
 

Willie X

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Thanks Vern, it's mentioned twice ... I must be loosing my reading for comprehension skills! Willie X

Note to OP, I wouldn't leave anything anywhere for 4 months.
 
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Uhralt

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The good news is that the pictures don't show any extreme wear, so the amount of actual repairs needed will not be excessive. Also, the strike side mainspring is totally run down. that means that the strike worked until there was no more power left in the spring. The time spring is almost fully wound, that makes me think that the previous owner, your grandfather or your father, didn't want the clock to strike so he stopped winding the strike side. That the time spring is almost fully wound makes it likely that there was a problem with the time side of the clock that made it stop prematurely. Something to investigate before you take the clock apart.

Uhralt
 

Willie X

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Looks like a good bit of wear at the escape-wheel pivots and the next arbor down. That would support Uhralt's observations and is typical for this movement. Willie X
 

Schatznut

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Looks like a good bit of wear at the escape-wheel pivots and the next arbor down. That would support Uhralt's observations and is typical for this movement. Willie X
Is this a great forum or what? Fred, your clock is quickly turning into a community project, and there's a wealth of experience waiting to help. Be careful, though - when you get to the point of asking what oil to use to lubricate it, all of the sudden the conversation will get very theological... ;)
 

MuseChaser

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Is this a great forum or what? Fred, your clock is quickly turning into a community project, and there's a wealth of experience waiting to help. Be careful, though - when you get to the point of asking what oil to use to lubricate it, all of the sudden the conversation will get very theological... ;)
And...above all...do NOT buy an ultrasonic cleaner and ask what fluid to use....;)
 

shutterbug

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My advise is: If you are contemplating only this one clock, and have no intentions of pursuing clock repair as a hobby/business, you will be money ahead to accept the repair at the price quoted and wait the four months. My shop has been backed up over 6 months before, and with fewer repairmen around I don't think the time mentioned is out of line. The clock hasn't run in years anyway ;)
It will be a good thing to have it restored and passed down through the family. Be sure to write up a little history of the clock and tuck it somewhere safely inside it.
 

kinsler33

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First off, find out if the mainspring that's expanded out can be wound, for it might be broken. Inspect the ratchet mechanism, too: I suspect that it might just be full of gunk, or it might be broken (it's fixable.)

And have a look at timesavers.com. They have a highly-instructional downloadable .pdf catalog that's worth reading cover to cover. (Or you can send them four bucks for the paper copy, or it's free with the first order.)

As an initial step, give the movement a multi-day (or multi-week) soak in some sort of solvent like kerosene or charcoal lighter fluid. Stir it up every day or so, and then pull it out and let it dry in the sun. It'll be lots easier to understand and inspect once it's a bit cleaner, and this primitive cleaning method, which is routinely used by antique dealers, often gets the clock running again on its own.

It's vastly better to disassemble the thing, and you'll find that the most challenging part of the re-assembly process will be those wire levers inside the movement. Do not bend them.

Mark Kinsler
 
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bikerclockguy

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The time spring is almost fully wound, that makes me think that the previous owner, your grandfather or your father, didn't want the clock to strike so he stopped winding the strike side.
Forgive me for starting a topic within a topic, but I have built clocks for a couple of family members who didn’t want to hear the strike, and they quit winding their strike trains as well. I’m sure this is fairly common; do most of you ask your customers or gift recipients in advance whether they will be using the strike side, and if not, what’s the best solution? I would lean toward cleaning and oiling the spring as usual, and then restraining it, but I don’t know that that’s the best method...
 

John P

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First build a test stand and mount your movement. Wind it up and study how it works as best you can. The strike is going to stump you up but the more time you look and study, the easier it is to understand how it works..You need a full understanding of this system and how to set it up .David LaBounty has good information on his website that will help you.
Take pictures, lots of them from every angle.


Good luck
johnp
 

shutterbug

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There are a few ways to disable the strike, Biker. The easiest is to simply disconnect the strike spring from the hammer. They should still wind both sides. Another way is to tie up the rack so it can't drop. It is not recommended to simply not wind the strike side, because the rack can still fall, and will catch the 1:00 shelf and stop the clock. So the second method is probably your best bet. As long as the rack can't fall, there's no need to wind the strike side.
For count wheel types, not winding is a reasonable solution.
 
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Fred M

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Thank you all for your very thorough and concise advice. After reading all the comments I realize that I probably have the skill set required but what I would not have is the time for the research and practice necessary to accomplish this rebuild ( I am in the middle of several projects at home as we speak). As noted by several this would probably be my only rebuild. I will plan though to study enough when I receive the rebuilt movement to keep it properly lubricated. Thank you again for your time and helpful advice.
 
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Kevin W.

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Ron, i have heard this is a good book. I have one on order now. You could for now put the clock to the side, and when you get caught up on your other projects, come back to it.
 

bikerclockguy

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Ron, i have heard this is a good book. I have one on order now. You could for now put the clock to the side, and when you get caught up on your other projects, come back to it.
I have 4 of his books, and I’d have to rate that the most useful of the bunch, followed by “20 American Clocks You Can Repair”. If that’s not the title, forgive me, but I know it’s close. Working 300 miles from home this week.
 
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MuseChaser

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Conover's books are quite good and worth purchasing, but assume some prior knowledge. They are becoming increasingly useful to me as I gain experience and knowledge, but I wouldn't classify them as introductory or complete beginner's texts. When using them, I had a lot of, "Ooohhhhhh! So THAT'S what he meant!" moments after finally figuring out something myself on a movement that I couldn't grasp in the text or rudimentary drawings. Once you've seen a few different but similar movements and a good grasp of the terminology, the books become increasingly useful. Just my experience with them. I've got his Basics, Strike, and Chime books.
 
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bikerclockguy

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MC, that’s been my experience as well, and in every book, there’s at least one real nugget that’s worth the price of the whole book
 

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