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Letting Down Power of BIG Springs

f.webster

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I have been restoring a International Time Recording Co. time clock. The case is nearly finished and now I have begun work on the time and time recording mechanisms. The time mechanism is a time only powered by two (2) BIG springs. I need to let the power down so that I can do the bushing work that is required. These springs are bigger than the retaining clamps I have. I have heard that hose clamps might work. Also I was warned to wear a piece of plywood under my apron while attempting this procedure.

I have work with BIG springs before. The Edison inventions and music boxes have equally as dangerous spring; but, unlike these loop end springs, those were in barrels. I have thought of using a brace (old hand twisted drill) as a let down tool. Or, maybe fabricating something using the winding T.

If you have experience letting down BIG springs like these, please share you methods. All suggestions and recommendations are appreciated.

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JimmyOz

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Use fencing wire, wind the springs in so they clear the post that pushes them away from the works, don't wind in all the way as you will then have a problem getting the loop end back on. Put the wire around the spring and give it about 4 twists, let the springs down, when you put the movement back together wind the spring and just snip the wire off.
 

f.webster

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Thanks for the tip. Your suggestion sounds safer than using a old coat hanger.

Next trip to the hardware store will get "fencing wire".

Preparation
 

R. Croswell

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#16 rebar tie wire works well also. The spring will have a LOT of power left after being tied. If possible, allow the clock to "run down" as far as it will before attempting to release the click(s) with your choice of letdown tools, This will only allow the springs to be removed from the movement, you still need "unwire" the springs to clean them and be able to rewind and restrain them for reassembly. A substantial spring winder would help.

RC
 

FDelGreco

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Frank:

Adjustable hose clamps will work, but there are two kinds. One has the worm assembly that flips up so you can make a quick adjustment; then you push it down and do the final tightening. So not use that style because sometimes the worm assembly can flip up on its own. The other style of clamp requires that you turn the worm screw all the way. That will hold.

One time I made my own retaining clamp because I lost one. I took a length of 1/4" D O-1 (oil hardening) steel, heated it red hot and bent it around a form. I then cut off the ends, hardened it, and finally tempered it to straw color. It worked well.

I eventually need to make a big version of the Joe Collins spring winder as I have an English spring driven street clock movement that has a 3.5" diameter spring in a barrel. I'm afraid of it.

Frank
 

JimmyOz

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This will only allow the springs to be removed from the movement, you still need "unwire" the springs to clean them and be able to rewind and restrain them for reassembly. A substantial spring winder would help.
As the OP has not got a letdown tool I doubt he has a spring winder, therefore in this case I would not try to clean the springs, they look passable as I can see no crud anywhere, not the way I would recommend, however, it is 'safe' and given the power of the springs I doubt they will stick as long as he gives them lubrication. One thing I did notice was that the posts that stop the springs going into the works are replacements, one looks like a threaded bolt, I would sleave that with a tube.
 

f.webster

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I have a spring winder; however, without clamps, I don't see that it can be used. I have a brace that will secure to the winding arbors. My reason for wanting to let down the power is so that I can separate the plates and do needed bushing works.

The posts that prevent the springs from unwinding into the movement are both threaded. They are bolts that thread through the plates. Sleeving them sounds like a good idea.
 

eemoore

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Thanks for the tip. Your suggestion sounds safer than using a old coat hanger.

Next trip to the hardware store will get "fencing wire".

Preparation
While at the hardware store ,take a look at some hose clamps and I think you will see how easy they are to use, I recently used these while working on a Korean 31 day movement that has large ( and dangerous) springs. The hoseclamps are wider and seem to me much safer than wire. A set of them is quite inexpensive and can be used many times. I am not an expert by any means but be careful when removing the springs since they may have a tendency to bulge out from the center. Anyway, just my opinion. Good luck .
 

f.webster

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Taking all the advice ... and some reasoning of my own, here is what I am doing to handle those springs.

First I built a support/test stand so that I can work on this BIG spring movement. Next I went to the hardware store and found what I think will be strong enough wire to hold the springs so that I CAN work on this movement (fingers in tact and crossed). After wrapping the springs and giving the wire at least four good turns, I set the movement on the support/test stand and set it to running. I am believing that this will allow the BIG springs to let themselves down.

Stay toned to see what happens.

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shutterbug

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The clock running will let the springs down only to the point where there is not enough power to run the clock. They will still have residual power left in them, and will still be dangerous. After the clock stops, you still need to release the clicks and let them down all the way. You need a letdown tool for that.
 

Allan Wolff

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You can remove the verge and press on the escape wheel arbor as a brake to regulate the speed to let down most of the power. One spring may run all the way down while the other still has some tension. In that case, wind up the loose spring a few clicks and let it run again until both springs are equally and fully let down.
 
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f.webster

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For a let-down tool I was going to use an old brace. Its chuck will handle the square of the winding arbor.

BTW: This time clock requires a #23 key. My let-down tools go up to #12. I have a winding "T" to wind this clock.

I like your idea Alan Wolff and when the clock stops, I will give it a try.
 

RJSoftware

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I like my letdown tool. The fattest part of wood shovel handle cut about 8 inches long. A hole drilled center on one end a few inches deep and then a slot cut/sawn so key wings can slide in. Perfectly holds near any key but the ITR key is a big one.

A curled a thick metal rod into C rings. Lowes sells it. A big fat C ring is much nicer but a wire can be cut in case you have to. Depends whay you need to do. Don't under estimate how wrapping a towel around spring can help that and gloves, goggles.

I own 2 of nearly same clock both are earlier versions without the winding indicators. Nice clocks but I left the recording portion as is. The first one previous owner tossed recorder portion out and modified the case to make it into wall clock. The second is complete but recorder portion is disconnected because unit binds for some reason and stops clock. So disconnecting the rod which powers the recording portion restored movement to the regular clock. Then as time passed I just accepted it the way it is. I have no real interest in punching a time clock (a lot of bad memories)...
 
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f.webster

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The springs have been let down.

After letting the clock run for two days I got tired of waiting and removed the verge and let the power down. When the power appeared down, I checked the end shake of the gears and found that one side still had power. I wound the opposite side just a little and when the wheel stopped turning, I checked the end shake again. After three tries, both sides had no power left. I used my thumb as a break to keep the wheels from flying.

Cautiously I separated the plates and each gear. When I slipped the loop ends of the springs off the columns I put a punch into the loop to keep it from collapsing while waiting to be re-installed.

Phew. Thanks for all the support and suggestions. So far it has been a safe restoration. The clicks are going to be challenge.

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