Lubing Wood Geared Clocks

Barrymac

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Sep 8, 2004
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Every 20 years or so I drag out my Jeromes & Darrow pillar and splat and set it up. It usually refuses to run. I have always put some graphite in the pivots and a little in the pinions and it takes right off. I don't believe it has any ivory or other type bushings, just holes in the oak plates. Now I have been told not to use graphite. What is recommended to use on these early wood movements?
 

phinegan

Registered User
Jul 9, 2009
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I wonder if it would run okay if you disassembled it, cleaned everything and reassembled it minus any lubricant expect for on the anchor pin. The consensus seems to be that wooden movements do not require lubrication.
Hopefully more knowledgable members than me will offer their expertise
 

Steven Thornberry

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Every 20 years or so I drag out my Jeromes & Darrow pillar and splat and set it up. It usually refuses to run. I have always put some graphite in the pivots and a little in the pinions and it takes right off. I don't believe it has any ivory or other type bushings, just holes in the oak plates. Now I have been told not to use graphite. What is recommended to use on these early wood movements?
I am moving this to the Wood Movement Clocks forum.
 

Jim DuBois

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Woodworks clocks should not be lubricated with anything. They don't need it, and using most lubricants on wood is harmful in the long term no matter what it is. Usually, someone decides their non-running clock needs lubrication when it stops running. The real cause of such stoppages is wear, sometimes in the mating teeth between wheels and pinions, but far more often in the wood plate/bushings and iron pivots. Graphite is a particularly poor solution in that it is VERY difficult to get rid of when someone cleans the movement and attempts proper repairs. I have had several in for repair work that had all the teeth impregnated with graphite also, not just the pivots. Messy, the stuff goes everywhere.
 

R. Croswell

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Apr 4, 2006
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Every 20 years or so I drag out my Jeromes & Darrow pillar and splat and set it up. It usually refuses to run. I have always put some graphite in the pivots and a little in the pinions and it takes right off. I don't believe it has any ivory or other type bushings, just holes in the oak plates. Now I have been told not to use graphite. What is recommended to use on these early wood movements?
I have two questions, are you using dry graphite powder or a liquid graphite-oil solution? If your clock was running fine 20 years ago when put away, what happened that caused it to not run when you dug it out. All that aside, graphite powder is a decent lubricant, all be it somewhat messey, for certain applications, not including wooden works clocks. In spite of what I believe to be correct advice given by Jim, the use of graphite has apparently been rather widely practiced. I do not use graphite on wooden clocks, but I can see how any natural lubricating properties of wood may diminish after 200 years. I personally have not seen any actual physical damage caused by graphite other than making an awful looking mess that’s difficult to impossible to remove. A less messy means of application that I have heard described is to twirl the point of a soft #1 or #2 “lead” (graphite) pencil in the pivot holes. Probably would do no harm, how much good it would do I can’t say.

I will probably catch heat for this, but if you only use this clock for a while every twenty years, and giving it a shot of graphite makes it go, I say just keep doing what you have been doing. You know there is a mess inside already, and the day will come, perhaps 20 years from now when the graphite shot won’t make it go. Then you can clean it and install bushings and it should then run without oil or graphite.

RC
 

Frederick Ringer

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Dec 17, 2010
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After I clean my WW movements from all the nasty stuff added to the movements over the decades. I lubricate the teeth and pinions with a naphtha/paraffin wax solution. The naphtha evaporates and leaves a very thin coat of wax on the surfaces. Works for me...
 

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