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Interesting but unidentified fusee movement

pruscoe

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Jul 25, 2014
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I have a well-constructed brass clock movement, whose provenance (apart form the fact that it belonged to my late father) is a mystery. Sadly it has no identification marking whatsoever, that I can see.

The frame and pallets are well-made - and machined - with pillars that are decorative, not just functional. The pendulum bob shows distinct signs of being hand (and a little carelessly) made.

I'm sure the movement is fairly old, not just because it is a fusee, but because it uses a gut cord, which I imagine would have been phased out in favor of a brass or steel cable (or a chain) by the start of the 20th century or so. I get the impression that it might have been constructed (probably by an English clockmaker) as a one-off, or maybe even an exercise given to an apprentice (who, by the time he got to the pendulum bob, was a little tired of it!)

I have done nothing to restore it, beyond a drop or two of oil, and, sitting on a shelf, it seem to run perfectly. (I can't attest to its timekeeping yet.)

I have attached photos, some of which show the decorative details which would almost certainly have been invisible when the clock was in a case. (Were there ever movements like this mounted in glass-sided case, I wonder? I can't imagine so.) I particularly like the "ears" or "leaves" on the pendulum pallet, and the beautifully turned pillars.

Dscf0875.jpg Dscf0876.jpg Dscf0877.jpg Dscf0878.jpg Dscf0879.jpg

I welcome all and any comments. I'll still be fond of the movement (and one day I'll desgn and build a case for it.) But anything anyone can tell me would be much appreciated.

Peter
 

jmclaugh

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Jun 1, 2006
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Hi Peter,

You have imo an English fusee movement dating to about 1840 or so based on the style of pillars and the shoulders of the plates. It may have come out of a bracket clock or a dial clock, the former were more likely to be partially glazed at the side and/or rear to view the movement.

Gut and chain alone aren't that helpful in dating these clcoks as they were both in use at the same time, chain was more expensive. You can replace a fusee chain with gut but not vice versa as a fusee cone made for a chain will have flat bottomed grooves while one for gut will have round ones.
 

pruscoe

Registered User
Jul 25, 2014
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Thank you, Jonathan - most informative (especially regarding gut vs. chain.) I checked and the fusee has rounded grooves.

Peter
 

pruscoe

Registered User
Jul 25, 2014
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I learned a new term today: "a going fusee." That, apparently, is one that has a maintaining power spring, to provide temporary force to keep the movement going while it is being wound.

Well, this movement evidently doesn't have one. (I've never taken the movement apart, let alone the fusee itself.) I say this because I applied a little winding pressure to the arbor, and the movement stopped immediately. FWIW, Wikipedia says that later (whatever that means) movements were equipped with a maintaining power spring.

I so wish one of our British contributors were able to say "yes! I have one just like it, and it's in a clock that says blah-blah-blah on the face" or movement, or whatever <smile>.

As I said earlier, my knowledge about the movement won't affect the fact that I happen to like it, but it would be nice if I knew SOMETHING about it.

It shows such clear signs of being hand (rather than mass) made, so that I may never find out much about its origins. I have many reasons to say "I wish I'd asked my father about such-and-such" but in this case, I never knew he even owned this movement until it showed up in his effects.

Making a modern bracket case for it with glass sides and rear is tempting. I'm never short of projects, and I suspect I'd be lucky to find suitable plans, so I would have to design it myself. Does anyone have a picture of such a clock that they happen to like, and could post here?
 

jmclaugh

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Jun 1, 2006
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Peter, sadly most of these fusee movements are unmarked and can't therefore be attributed to a maker and the name on the dial is often the retailer. As for maintaining power it has been around for yonks and well before this movement was made but it was never commonplace on movements due to the extra expense and for most domestic customers the improved timekeeping was not a major factor. Oddly enough a humble 30 hour longcase clock movement using Huygens' endless rope system has it.

For a case I'd try and match a case style to the period is the movement is from but up to you. The net and antique clock sellers' sites and books are probably your best sources. C&W's English Domestic Clocks (chapter XIV) has a good section on bracket clock case styles over time and is relatively inexpensive and available 2nd hand. Other books are The Georgian Bracket Clock (Barder), very expensive so best to find a library that has a copy, Early English Clocks (Dawson, Drover & Parkes), The Bracket Clock (Roberts), English Bracket & Mantel Clocks (Nicholls)
 

eskmill

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Aug 24, 2000
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Pruscoe: Your fusee movement has maintaining power. It is a part of the basic design of these venerable English movements and there is no extra spring to provide maintaining power. Instead, the huge mainspring in the barrel is normally always partly wound. In use, the mainspring is not allowed to completely un-wind.


The development or invention of the fusee came about to equalize the force of a clock mainspring. A spiral wound clock spring's force is non-linear. Its force increases with increased winging around its arbor. The tighter its wound, the more force it has. The inventor designed the shape of the fusee cone's varying diameters to match the non-linearity of the mainspring's force.


Notice that the fusee clock is wound by turning the fusee arbor and that there is a ratchet and pawl to prevent the fusee from turning backward located inside the largest diameter part of the fusee cone.


Notice that there is a lever at the small end of the fusee cone which moves a lever that stops the fusee from turning as the final turn of the cone releases the strand of gut cable or chain. Thus when the fusee is stopped, the gut cable still has force pulling on the fusee. Thus there's still some maintaining force on the clock's escapement.


In the earliest years of the long history of English dial clock production, the fusee cone was individually made to match the linearity of the mainspring. No two mainsprings were alike. The clock maker, used a long lever to wind the spring and carefully measured the force at each turn of the winding arbor. These force measurements were plotted as a curve showing the linearity of the spring under test. The fusee was made with varying diameters corresponding to the force curve of the spring to be used in the clock under construction.


As mainspring manufacture became more mature, springs became more linear and designing the diameters of the cones became more-or-less generally the same for eight-day clocks.


In use, the mainspring is generally left with two or more turns of force and the ratchet pawl screwed down tight. This residual force is the maintaining power.
 
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jmclaugh

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Jun 1, 2006
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Les, I own an English fusee dial clock and I can assure you it doesn't have maintaining power.
 

eskmill

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Mea culpa. Fusee clocks do not have maintaining power. Jonathan is correct and is Pruscoe.

:screwball:

There is no means to provide force to the escapement when the chain, gut or cable is rewound onto the fusee; in fact, a fusee clock that has some form of maintaining power would be unusual.
 

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