American Jacob Custer, Revisited?

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by Jim DuBois, Jul 12, 2019.

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  1. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Jun 14, 2008
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    So, TGIF and all that stuff? Time to cycle down a bit and get ready for the week end? Well, since I am retired every day is Friday, except Sunday. But, to the point of this little missive, a couple of months ago a Jacob Custer tall clock found its way in here for a bit of work. I have covered it in a bit of detail in a prior discussion, see here American - Jacob Custer, unusual mechanism 8 day tall clock

    Now these little precision devices are not common. What is the likelihood of a second one coming in the door today? About 100%. I got the last one back on the road after perhaps 30 or more hours of investigation, research, close observation, solder removal, fine tuning, bushings in strange places, and a visit to a shaman or two.

    This one is similar but different, pillar and scroll model, 8 day. This one has a similar strike mechanism but it is vertical in nature where the tall clock had the rather infamous helicopter strike mechanism. This clock has the same strange mechanical setup where the great wheel teeth are used as the rack, and the weight on the time side drops when the hands are advanced to set the clock.

    More to follow when I get into this unique opportunity and figure out next steps.

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  2. Bill Ward

    Bill Ward Registered User
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    How interesting! The case feet imply a date a little later than the typical P&S, perhaps 1840ish. Also, the very large scroll pediment (if that's not a perspective distorting photographic artifact) perhaps presages the neo-rococco, which we began to see (around these parts, at least architecturally) about 1850. What was mounted in those two holes in the lower backboard?
    We'll be very interested to see the movement analysis.
    Thanks!
     
  3. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Bill, the holes on the lower backboard are where the clock was screwed to the wall or mantle to keep the clock in place with the door open while winding etc. It is surprising how many clocks will fall over with the door open. Don't ask me how I know that. But, to your thoughts on the time period of the clock, Custer was in Norristown 1825-1843. Harold Bain (sadly missed) offered up the following on Custer years ago. This particular clock has been pictured in several book publications. I don't recall from where I stole these scans, but it is easier to pull those from the file than it is to run out into the shop and pull the movement from the actual clock and take new photos of the movement. Like his tallclock movement I have in the shop right now, this version is also rack and snail strike, but Custer again uses the teeth of the great wheel as a rack. It works quite nicely. (Nicely may not be the right word, but it does work) The bell hammer rotates and as it rotates it hits a little ramp which directs the hammer to hit the bell.

    Custer was quite innovative but his craftsmanship fell far short of his innovation. You will notice many extra holes in the plates as pictured. Typical Custer. It seems that he was trying different things on every movement he made, and he didn't bother himself with neatness nor good clockmaking techniques. How this fellow ever managed to feed himself is a great mystery to me. But he made watches, mantle clocks, tall clocks, tower clocks, and warning striking mechanisms for lighthouses. Innovation is the keyword I think.

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  4. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

    Feb 18, 2004
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    The comments on Custer's craftsmanship are very interesting! And, stuff you won't hear maybe anywhere else. With such a wide field of endeavors, it's certainly understandable that craftsmanship was not Jacob Custer's strength. I can imagine him working, his mind going in many directions as he tries different things, maybe short on time.
    Perhaps an original "short attention span" fellow (which is a trait of a modern mind).
     
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  5. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Here is a classic example of Mr. Custer's work. He placed the lower left-hand column in a position where it conflicted with the weight cord as it comes off the time side main wheel barrel. He first filed away nearly 1/2 of the column and when that didn't work he then moved the post a bit over 1/2" to the right. There is a filled hole for a 3rd location of the post that can be seen in the 2nd photo. The 3rd photo shows the front plate with the extra holes, lower left on the movement.

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