• Important Executive Director Announcement from the NAWCC

    The NAWCC Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Mr. Rory McEvoy has been named Executive Director of the NAWCC. Rory is an internationally renowned horological scholar and comes to the NAWCC with strong credentials that solidly align with our education, fundraising, and membership growth objectives. He has a postgraduate degree in the conservation and restoration of antique clocks from West Dean College, and throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to handle some of the world’s most important horological artifacts, including longitude timekeepers by Harrison, Kendall, and Mudge.

    Rory formerly worked as Curator of Horology at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, where his role included day-to-day management of research and digitization projects, writing, public speaking, conservation, convening conferences, exhibition work, and development of acquisition/disposal and collection care policies. In addition, he has worked as a horological specialist at Bonhams in London, where he cataloged and handled many rare timepieces and built important relationships with collectors, buyers, and sellers. Most recently, Rory has used his talents to share his love of horology at the university level by teaching horological theory, history, and the practical repair and making of clocks and watches at Birmingham City University.

    Rory is a British citizen and currently resides in the UK. Pre-COVID-19, Rory and his wife, Kaai, visited HQ in Columbia, Pennsylvania, where they met with staff, spent time in the Museum and Library & Research Center, and toured the area. Rory and Kaai will be relocating to the area as soon as the immigration challenges and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 permit.

    Some of you may already be familiar with Rory as he is also a well-known author and lecturer. His recent publications include the book Harrison Decoded: Towards a Perfect Pendulum Clock, which he edited with Jonathan Betts, and the article “George Graham and the Orrery” in the journal Nuncius.

    Until Rory’s relocation to the United States is complete, he will be working closely with an on-boarding team assembled by the NAWCC Board of Directors to introduce him to the opportunities and challenges before us and to ensure a smooth transition. Rory will be participating in strategic and financial planning immediately, which will allow him to hit the ground running when he arrives in Columbia

    You can read more about Rory McEvoy and this exciting announcement in the upcoming March/April issue of the Watch & Clock Bulletin.

    Please join the entire Board and staff in welcoming Rory to the NAWCC community.

Newbie in need of some help

Snorty

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Feb 21, 2021
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Hi guys, I am very new to the world of old clocks and really am just starting to learn!
I recently bought a longcase clock from some near me and now I have it setup, it is clear I have some work to do.
The main issues seem to be, the time side weight once attached drags the movement around quickly. Hopefully the video illustrates the problem.


As this is the first weight driven clock I’ve had, I’m wondering if turning the hands should be as difficult as it appears to be? Does this sound normal?


There are a few other things....I think the gut may need replaced.The strike is off...striking 6 at 1 (I moved the hour hand so hopefully that is the correct method to rectify that?! Additionally, the hour hand seems very loose (push pull movement front to back as you look at the face).
EBA39DF8-9DA7-48B5-810B-1DDBE006289A.jpeg


Any help or pointers are greatly appreciated as I’m on a very sharp learning curve!!

Cheers,

Graeme E333B3F2-EC59-4F49-9082-52C7C21F4FE7.jpeg
 

Paul Statham

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Hi Snorty that is some clock you have decided to repair i freaked out on my first two train clock last year. Its will have to be stripped down and cleaned of all parts if you go ahead and try and get it running, there is plenty of experience people on the forum who will give you good advice on how to go about it don't be afraid to ask good luck .
 

Snorty

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Thanks Paul! It does feel a little daunting given I have very little knowledge of these but I’m looking forward to learning about them. I just need to find as much info as I can to read up on. From looking at the various features on this one, it seems to date from 1750 - 1775 give or take. I think that’s probably the last time it saw any oil too tbh!! :)
 

Simon Holt

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Any help or pointers are greatly appreciated as I’m on a very sharp learning curve!!
Hi Snorty, and welcome to the wonderful world of old clocks!

Two observations, straight off:

1. The fast running is due to the escape wheel not being properly engaged with the anchor. If these terms mean nothing to you, which may well be the case as you are new to clocks, then elsewhere in this forum you will find a 'clocks parts terminology' thread. In fact, here it is: 2. The gut may or may not not need replacing, but it DOES need to be correctly wound into the spiral grove into the drum. Any overlapping will cause it to bind up at some point, preventing it from running at all.

My suggestion (assuming you want to try to fix this yourself) would be to remove the dial so that you have a clear view of all the various interactions (First, you need to remove the hands. The seconds hand just pulls off). Then, identify the anchor (the bit at the top of the movement, in between the plates, that rocks back and forth as the pendulum rocks). Now, hang a lighter weight than the one that came with the clock on the time side (the right side, looking from the front of the clock). The reason for using a lighter weight is so that you reduce the chances of further damage. Move the pendulum back and forth (or take the pendulum off and just move the pendulum hanger) and observe the wheel that the anchor touches. Each time the anchor rocks back and forth, it should release ONE tooth on at a time on that wheel. It's going to look something like this:
Look at those teeth. Are any broken or bent? If so, there's your problem. Take clear, well-lit photos so we can see what those teeth look like, and we'll be able to advise further.

Simon
 
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novicetimekeeper

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Yes to replacing the gut lines. For whatever reason the escape wheel is not rotating in increments governed by the pendulum/anchor setup.

If it is not a northern clock, and I don't think it is, then I think earlier than your dates. The name from the circle in the arch would help
 

Dick Feldman

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Hello Snorty and welcome to the board.
Although clean, oil and adjust are not necessarily bad for clocks, you will find that the most common problem with clock movements will be wear. That wear translates to friction in clock movements. This is especially true in your case with a movement that could be well over 200 years old. Clock movements are machines and can be expected to wear like any machine. Using clean, oil and adjust as your primary goals will result in many failures and disappointments.
There are many good books written on clock repair and those are available through most libraries. Few, if any credible authors on the subject will offer clean, oil and adjust as initial remedies. You will be well served to read about clock repair and to find a mentor.
My personal preference is to replace gut with some sort of modern material. Gut was good technology a couple of hundred years ago but I feel non organic materials better serve the need with clocks. Cable is a good substitute but can be a problem to manage with bird nesting and kinking. My favorite is nylon cord of adequate size.
Good luck with your clock,
Dick Feldman
 

Snorty

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Feb 21, 2021
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Hi Snorty, and welcome to the wonderful world of old clocks!

Two observations, straight off:

1. The fast running is due to the escape wheel not being properly engaged with the anchor. If these terms mean nothing to you, which may well be the case as you are new to clocks, then elsewhere in this forum you will find a 'clocks parts terminology' thread. In fact, here it is: 2. The gut may or may not not need replacing, but it DOES need to be correctly wound into the spiral grove into the drum. Any overlapping will cause it to bind up at some point, preventing it from running at all.

My suggestion (assuming you want to try to fix this yourself) would be to remove the dial so that you have a clear view of all the various interactions (First, you need to remove the hands. The seconds hand just pulls off). Then, identify the anchor (the bit at the top of the movement, in between the plates, that rocks back and forth as the pendulum rocks). Now, hang a lighter weight than the one that came with the clock on the time side (the right side, looking from the front of the clock). The reason for using a lighter weight is so that you reduce the chances of further damage. Move the pendulum back and forth (or take the pendulum off and just move the pendulum hanger) and observe the wheel that the anchor touches. Each time the anchor rocks back and forth, it should release ONE tooth on at a time on that wheel. It's going to look something like this:
Look at those teeth. Are any broken or bent? If so, there's your problem. Take clear, well-lit photos so we can see what those teeth look like, and we'll be able to advise further.

Simon
Hi Simon, thank you so much for the detailed reply! That’s exactly the kind of help I’m looking for.
Thankfully, I am familiar with some of the terminology and I know exactly where to find the escapement wheel. That said, I have never removed the face or the hands before! It sounds fairly straightforward though so I shall get on with that when I get a chance and duly get some photos / videos etc of what it looks like in there. I think the gut has been replaced previously on one side but the other is a little frayed. It was also quite twisted but I removed the woodscrew it was held up with, straightened it a bit and re-attached so it is a wee bit better! I presume that it would have had something else holding the gut line end up originally? The screws seem a bit Heath Robinson!!
Not sure what I’ve got for using as a lighter weight but I’ll track something down round the house.
Thanks again for the warm welcome!
 

Snorty

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Feb 21, 2021
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Yes to replacing the gut lines. For whatever reason the escape wheel is not rotating in increments governed by the pendulum/anchor setup.

If it is not a northern clock, and I don't think it is, then I think earlier than your dates. The name from the circle in the arch would help
Cheers for the thoughts, the maker name on the boss is EDW MAY, WITNEY. They seem to have been a family of clockmakers based down there from a quick search. The bell is stamped G.AINSWORTH WARR although I’ve not researched that as yet!
 

novicetimekeeper

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Yes Edward May and his family were prominent quaker makers. George Ainsworth ran a bell foundry in Warrington but that isn't an original bell on the movement. He was in business in the first and second decades of the 19th century, over 80 years after Edward became active in clock building.
 

Snorty

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Feb 21, 2021
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Hello Snorty and welcome to the board.
Although clean, oil and adjust are not necessarily bad for clocks, you will find that the most common problem with clock movements will be wear. That wear translates to friction in clock movements. This is especially true in your case with a movement that could be well over 200 years old. Clock movements are machines and can be expected to wear like any machine. Using clean, oil and adjust as your primary goals will result in many failures and disappointments.
There are many good books written on clock repair and those are available through most libraries. Few, if any credible authors on the subject will offer clean, oil and adjust as initial remedies. You will be well served to read about clock repair and to find a mentor.
My personal preference is to replace gut with some sort of modern material. Gut was good technology a couple of hundred years ago but I feel non organic materials better serve the need with clocks. Cable is a good substitute but can be a problem to manage with bird nesting and kinking. My favorite is nylon cord of adequate size.
Good luck with your clock,
Dick Feldman
Thanks for the welcome Dick & thanks for the thoughts too. I dare say thinking that a drop of oil is going to cure everything really is the wrong way to be thinking so I do appreciate the first day lesson!
I will definitely be getting hold of a few books to start going through as there doesn’t seem to be as much material on-line as I had hoped there would be. It’s a long time since I’ve visited a library but I’ll be making a point of doing so.
your mention of replacement gut is intriguing. I have noticed different gauges on offer and I presume I’ll need to get the right size? I also wonder how to judge the ideal length...I do like the nylon idea though....pretty much unbreakable! I think the weights have come adrift at some point as the case base is missing!
 

Snorty

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Feb 21, 2021
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Yes Edward May and his family were prominent quaker makers. George Ainsworth ran a bell foundry in Warrington but that isn't an original bell on the movement. He was in business in the first and second decades of the 19th century, over 80 years after Edward became active in clock building.
Ah, thanks for the info. That is very interesting! I wonder what would have caused the need to replace the bell.....I find the history part fascinating!
 
Last edited:

Simon Holt

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I also wonder how to judge the ideal length
The ideal length would probably be the length required for all the grooves in the winding barrel to be just (and no more) filled when the weight is just below the seat board. It looks like you have about 15 grooves, so if the winding barrel was, say, 2.5 inches in diameter then that would require (2.5 x 3.142 x 15) = 118 inches, plus, say, another 6 inches for the bit that goes through the seat board and back.

Simon
 

novicetimekeeper

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Gut is usually sold in 11 or 12 foot lengths which will be more than enough for each train. I buy 1.4mm dia gut for an 8 day. When I fit it I wind it on the barrel to fill it run it down round the pulley at the correct height below the seat board and back up through and knot it.

I use natural gut from a company that makes harp strings with it, it is expensive but thy are my clocks. One of the clock repairers I use prefers perlon.
 

kinsler33

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I've had good luck with nylon chalk line, which is the string that carpenters rub chalk onto and then stretch and snap against a wall to mark a straight line all at once. It's cheap, comes in a variety of colors, available at your local lumber store, and it is very flexible and probably unbreakable.

You may find, as I have, that these clocks are unusual if you're familiar with more contemporary German or American movements. For one thing, they can run quite nicely under thoroughly horrible conditions, including extensive wear in the escapement. They're exceedingly satisfying to repair and restore.

Mark Kinsler
 

Snorty

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Feb 21, 2021
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That’s brilliant....thanks for the help re the gut guys. I’ll have a look around and see what looks best.
I may well give the synthetic stuff a go if it looks like it will last longer.
Good to have some ideas of where to start now though and I can feel a bit better going into it!
 

Snorty

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Feb 21, 2021
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I've had good luck with nylon chalk line, which is the string that carpenters rub chalk onto and then stretch and snap against a wall to mark a straight line all at once. It's cheap, comes in a variety of colors, available at your local lumber store, and it is very flexible and probably unbreakable.

You may find, as I have, that these clocks are unusual if you're familiar with more contemporary German or American movements. For one thing, they can run quite nicely under thoroughly horrible conditions, including extensive wear in the escapement. They're exceedingly satisfying to repair and restore.

Mark Kinsler
That’s interesting Mark....I’m actually an electrician so do occasionally use the nylon stuff. It is about as close to unbreakable as it gets! I’ve had a piece attached to a magnet for years which I use to retrieve tools which have fallen into voids etc :chuckling:
Definitely something I’ll consider although I’m not sure the bright orange stuff I’ve got would look too good! I will weigh up all the options though and see what looks best.

On a separate note, I’ve also noticed that the case has suffered from a bit of wood worm. Mostly just the corner blocks inside which I’ll want to replace. Some of the panelling has it too though....a few holes here and there aren’t going to bother me but there is a piece that is very soft. Any ideas on possible fixes for that would be good to hear.
I’m just hoping the larvae are active!! I’ll need to my eyes peeled for signs.
I believe the case is dark oak....are there places to pick up cuttings for repair? I’d rather try and keep the same wood than use random bits.
 

novicetimekeeper

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That’s interesting Mark....I’m actually an electrician so do occasionally use the nylon stuff. It is about as close to unbreakable as it gets! I’ve had a piece attached to a magnet for years which I use to retrieve tools which have fallen into voids etc :chuckling:
Definitely something I’ll consider although I’m not sure the bright orange stuff I’ve got would look too good! I will weigh up all the options though and see what looks best.

On a separate note, I’ve also noticed that the case has suffered from a bit of wood worm. Mostly just the corner blocks inside which I’ll want to replace. Some of the panelling has it too though....a few holes here and there aren’t going to bother me but there is a piece that is very soft. Any ideas on possible fixes for that would be good to hear.
I’m just hoping the larvae are active!! I’ll need to my eyes peeled for signs.
I believe the case is dark oak....are there places to pick up cuttings for repair? I’d rather try and keep the same wood than use random bits.
They aren't that fond of oak, certainly not the heartwood. I treat my cases with a commercial product inside and a treated wax outside. You can buy yellow pine wedges on ebay to strengthen the case use hide glue. They were not used originally on the backboard which was just pinned in place.

Cases did not usually have bases, if you see one it is more often a later addition however provincial clock makers are known for their exceptions
 

Snorty

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They aren't that fond of oak, certainly not the heartwood. I treat my cases with a commercial product inside and a treated wax outside. You can buy yellow pine wedges on ebay to strengthen the case use hide glue. They were not used originally on the backboard which was just pinned in place.

Cases did not usually have bases, if you see one it is more often a later addition however provincial clock makers are known for their exceptions
I think the worst part on the main case is thankfully at the back left just behind the bottom of the hood...the photo seems to make it look a bit worse than it is although the t is very soft at the edge....
5E7920D4-9172-460E-8B14-9A985C70DE57.jpeg

I’ll need to hunt down the treated wax....I want to give the case a good feed and that sounds like an excellent solution.

That’s interesting re the base though. As you can see from the next photo, the blocks really have suffered the most. The one in this shot is very soft indeed so I think I’ll start by grabbing a good few of those.
1CA6A42A-B565-4279-9C37-55F49E821247.jpeg

Here you can see a piece of what looks like 2 x 1” has been used to help hold it together!

31660AEA-EEA5-42B7-8328-AF25474E41A0.jpeg

Presumably it has been used to shore up this split across the case.

D97EC470-E7ED-4E0D-B8D9-B95A788698CB.jpeg


I might get some dark wood filler onto that first edge just to quieten it down and give it a little strength back.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Is that the back on the right in the penultimate photo? Looks like elm. I think they used it a lot for backboards as the walls were damp.


Usually no blocks between the case carcase and the backboard so that the backboard could be easily replaced.

This very simple structure is why they have to be screwed to the wall. (originally nailed)
 

Snorty

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Is that the back on the right in the penultimate photo? Looks like elm. I think they used it a lot for backboards as the walls were damp.


Usually no blocks between the case carcase and the backboard so that the backboard could be easily replaced.

This very simple structure is why they have to be screwed to the wall. (originally nailed)
Yep, that is indeed the back you are seeing in that shot. I wonder in that case if that’s why the worm has been worse on the backboard.
so was elm more forgiving when exposed to dampness then?
Perhaps the blocks were a later addition?
 

novicetimekeeper

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Yes elm is considered more waterproof but worm like it. I think the blocks would be later.
 
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