Kaiser Universe

Discussion in '400-Day & Atmos' started by lesbradley, Aug 29, 2008.

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  1. lesbradley

    lesbradley Registered User
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    At last I've acquired one without breaking the bank (about $350 equivalent), blue dial, narrow backplate, Zodiac chapter ring.

    It's not perfect but good value for money. The dome appears to be original with only a slight nibble or two, someone has stripped the cream lacquer off the base and pillars and wire-wooled some of the base, there is a long thin scratch on the globe, and the base is fractured on the thin bit by one of the adjustable feet, only a couple of millimetere size blemishes on the dial. The movement is dirty and the torsion spring twisted. These are all repairable without too much hassle.

    A lot of people rate these as the best ever anniversary clock. I have mixed feelings. Some of my earlier clocks, although less sophisticated are made to a higher quality.

    What do you think?
     

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  2. Burkhard Rasch

    Burkhard Rasch Registered User
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    Hi Lesbradley!Yes,I feel the same.From the pics and description in the RG I had verry high expectations the clock being described as "the best ever made".OK,it´s verry decorative but plates,wheels and pinions are cut with no higher craftmenship than others.Fixing the backplate with hexnuts for me is a bit crude.The finish of mvmt-parts in my JUF 1909 is better than this one and -as a time piece-I find it more difficult to regulate ´cause the mechanism ís indirect and jerky.
    So:I´m happy to have one but the statement of Terwilliger I don´t really understand.
    BTW:The price You´ve payed is certainly OK!Congrats:thumb:
    Burkhard
     
  3. lesbradley

    lesbradley Registered User
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    Hi Burkhard
    Thanks for your reply. I am glad someone agrees with me regarding Kaiser quality of manufacture. In my opinion Huber, Hauck, JUF and Becker pre-WW1 clocks were certainly of higher quality.

    I do not dispute that it is an interesting clock, and for its period excels other contempary clocks in its complexity and appearance, but in another 50 years time how is the finish on the dial and pendulum going to survive?

    Even the silvered and colour lacquer clocks from before WW2 can be refinished with modern materials, but how are you going to deal with one of these when the decoration starts to go?

    I guess the dial finishes are high quality screen printing. I assume JH or someone similar will advise if my assumption is right or wrong.

    When I strip this clock for restoration I am inclined to do a high resolution colour scan of the dial and chapter ring for posterity. At least then there is a chance of restoring it in the future when it deteriorates.
     
  4. LaBounty

    LaBounty Registered User
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    Hi Lesbradley-

    Congratulations on your new acquisition! I own one of these as well and believe they came in two styles, white and brass. Replacement domes are difficult to find but, should you need one, can be had at GlassDomes.com.

    The dials on these are very delicate and, as you mention above, are probably screened on. The ink is water soluble and easily washed off so be very careful in handling it. If you are going to make a high res image of the dial and chapter ring, I would be very interested in getting a copy. The reason I own one of these is because someone tried to clean the dial and a high resolution image would come in handy :).

    Welcome to the "Universe Family"!
     
  5. Burkhard Rasch

    Burkhard Rasch Registered User
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    Hi Lesbradley!
    Couldn´t stop thinking of what we both (and others) agreed:Had a look at my Kaiser which is the same type as Yours but still has the cream laquer on pillars and base: Have a look at the barrel hook:Just a V primitively stamped out and bent inward and the barrel wall is not too thick.This is not what I would call superior quality.I wonder how Ch.Terwilliger came to his opinion.He must have seen many other clocks and he (if not he -who else)was an expert enough to judge what quality is .Perhaps John Hubby knows?Perhaps we get an explanation when the MB is working again?
    Looking foreward to that:thumb:
    Burkhard

    BTW John Hubby has shown 5 or 6 different styles a few month ago in a reply to a post on Kaiser Universe.Sorry I can´t link You there .
    B.
     
  6. lesbradley

    lesbradley Registered User
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    Thanks Burkhard I have read the post, and very informative it was. Yes again, I agree the build quality is comparatively mediocre, but it is still a bold clock, considering Germany had only just come out of WW2 and industry was still at a real low.
     
  7. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
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    I really don't now how Terwilliger reached his conclusion about the Kaiser clocks and their quality. Frankly speaking, in my opinion the Schatz 49 clocks were made every bit as well including finish, design, decor, you name it. I suspect he may have formed his opinion while Kaiser was making only the wide plate movements. Those are more substantial than the narrow plate versions.

    Additionally, in my view the pre-WWII clocks made by Ph. Hauck, Jahresuhren-Fabrik, Kienzle, Kundo, and Kern were at least of equal if not better quality than the Kaisers or any post-WWII manufactured clock. Notice that I didn't mention Becker . . because they were not as consistently well made as any of the above-named makers' clocks. One note of qualification: I am speaking only of clocks made with cut pinions and Graham escapements, not the pin pallet/lantern pinion variety.

    Next on the list would be clocks made by Bowler & Burdick. This Cleveland, OH company assembled 400-Day clocks using German movements and French crystal regulator cases, with a few glass dome versions being mostly fully imported. B&B made most of their own dials and pendulums as well. The quality of these clocks (using Huber, JUF, Hauck, and Kienzle movements) is superior in all respects to the Kaisers. However, because the movements used were not quite up to the Claude Grivolas standard that I will discuss last, they weren't the "best made" even though they used many of the same cases as Grivolas.

    Finally, I don't know whether Terwilliger actually had the opportunity to see more than a few Claude Grivolas clocks, made by the only French maker of 400-Day clocks. He shows only one of the four known back plate configurations for this maker in the Repair Guide, so my judgement is that he did not see very many. Had he made any side-by-side comparison between these clocks and those of "any" other maker, I seriously doubt he would have made his comment about the Kaisers. Point by point, Grivolas clocks are the "creme de la creme" of the 400-Day clock world. Heavy plates, finely finished pivots, arbors, and gears, and a patented pivot hole manufacturing process that significantly hardened each hole as the plate was made are but a few of the superlatives. These fine movements were then placed in the best French crystal regulator and other fine cases that were second to none.

    Having now said that Grivolas clocks truly rule the roost of top quality, I do need to mention there were a few 400-Day clocks made before 1900 that deserve mention and might be rated at least equal to the Bowler & Burdick clocks and very close to the Grivolas models. These include the full-striking wall clocks made by R. M. Schnekenburger; a "one only known" clock by L. Furtwängler Sohne; the Gustav Becker cylinder escapement clocks; and a number of clocks made (we think) in Hanau, Germany in the mid-1880's.

    Now you have my observations for what they are worth . . these clocks combined represent perhaps the best 25% of all 400-Day clocks made . . the rest being of good but lesser quality for the most part.

    John Hubby
    >>>>
     
  8. MUN CHOR-WENG

    MUN CHOR-WENG Registered User

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    Hi John,

    I would like to add the 400-Day full strikers made by De Gruyter to the list of fine clocks made by the makers mentioned in your post.

    Interestingly this was how Terwilliger descibed a full 400 Day striker in THE HOROLOVAR COLLECTION made by De Gruyter c. 1885:

    " Here is a beautifuly made clock. Its wheels and pinions are of such fine design that the movement is more typical of French workmanship of that period than German. "

    The picture below shows the movement of that striker described by Terwilliger.
    Many of the components still retain their high quality finish which I hope can be seen in the re-sized picture.

    Mun C.W.
     

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  9. whatgoesaround

    whatgoesaround Registered User

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    Perhaps the "best made" was more about engineering, referring to the fact that so few "complications" had worked on other manufacturers? The striking, dates, etc were put out of productin in many instances because of lack of power. Then here is one with a moon phase that works and a fairly fancy pendulum to boot. I think it had a fairly complicated mechanism, also; if my memory serves me, it was also listed as one of the hardest to work on. Would many of the stikers, like in the above post been known by Terwilliger? I am asking questions here, not trying to make a case, because I certainly do not have the knowledge I see displayed by others on this forum!
     
  10. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
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    Mun, you are correct and I should not have overlooked these. Just a minor point, the patent belonged to (was assigned to ?) DeGruyter but the clocks were made by Jahresuhren-Fabrik. In fact, the "Harder Patent" 400-Day clocks made by JUF were about in the same class as the DeGruyter strikers.

    Since JUF's principals (Schatz & Wintermantel) were actually the ones who applied the Graham deadbeat escapement to Harder's year-clock design in early 1882 (and whose work was patented by Harder), I would not be the least surprised to eventually find out they also did the design work for the DeGruyter strikers leading to the British patent in February 1884. We also know that JUF redesigned the striker sometime after 1900 and introduced some improvements, but the finish of those clocks isn't quite as fine as for the DeGruyter version.

    John Hubby
    >>>>
     
  11. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Registered User

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    Hi.

    Hoping John Hubby sees this and can point me in the direction of the post that Burkhard was referring to. I tried searching but couldn't seem to find it. I'm interested in seeing the 5 or 6 different types of Kaiser Universe clocks.

    By the way, I'm hoping to find a dome to fit my Kaiser Universe clock better than the one it currently has. From the best I can measure, it would seem I need either a 4 & 1/2" or 4 & 5/8" diameter. Can anyone confirm?

    Thanks!
     
  12. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
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  13. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Registered User

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    Thanks, John.
    I appreciate it.

    Very interesting about all the different varieties! As best I can tell, mine (a Universe model) seems to fit this category...

    *Blue/White dial, White Chapter Ring, Blue/Gold pendulum, narrow plate movement, embossed brass columns and plain brass base

    ...except that my columns are not embossed; they are smooth/plain brass.

    Thanks again!
     
  14. John Hubby

    John Hubby Principal Administrator
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    John, if the columns are plain smooth brass, it is likely your clock originally had the painted columns and base. I've seen a number of these where the paint had been removed and the brass polished. Sometimes it can be seen where there was an unpainted band around the middle of each column if the polishing job wasn't rigorous. Many times you will find these with badly damaged paint, when those show up I strip to bare metal and then refinish to the original spec using auto touchup lacquer picked to match the original slightly off-white color.
     
  15. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Registered User

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    Hi, John.
    I imagine you're probably right.
    No bands to be seen around the columns, but they probably just polished it rigorously. Although...the brass does seem to be "shinier" toward the lower part of the columns and more dull in appearance toward the top of the columns (hard to tell in the attached photo, but very evident when viewed directly) (but it's a very gradual change, without any specific point of demarcation. Not sure why a rigorous polishing wouldn't have given the columns a more uniform sheen.... But perhaps the dullness came from handling after the initial polishing....
    Thanks,
     

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