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Newbie learning an Urgos UW32/1A

FritzM

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Hi folks -- first time post here!

I recently inherited some of my grandfather's furnishings, including a Trend grandmother clock (pictured below). My grandfather would have purchased this in the late 60's or early 70's -- I have very fond memories of the clock from visiting my grandparents all the way back to early childhood (I am 50-some-odd now!) I would "help" my grandfather wind the weights and set the time on the clock every Sunday.

I have no previous experience specifically with clocks, but am generally mechanical/technical. I disassembled the clock to pack the case, glass panels, pendulum, weights, and movement (an Urgos UW-32/A) separately for shipment to my home in California. Everything arrived undamaged, and I reassembled and leveled the clock. It is running nicely now, keeping time and chiming merrily away, and hearing those sounds from my childhood now in my own home is bringing me a good bit of happiness.

While disassembling/reassembling the clock, and holding and examining the movement, I could start to feel the familiar technical "bug": the details of the design, wheels, levers, and interlocks, the how and why of all the parts working together to accomplish the functions of the clock, etc. was fascinating, and I knew right then I wanted to learn more about clocks in general, and how to perform maintenance, care, and upkeep of this clock myself.

I have now purchased and read a few books, surveyed a lot of online videos, read many relevant threads from these forums and am really enjoying the journey so far. I've done a couple of very minor adjustments/fixes so far: adjusted mounting of the chime block and correcting some bent chimes to eliminate rattles, adjusting chime hammers for even sounding, etc. I also adjusted the phase of the snail relative to the star wheel because the clock was striking "one" at both twelve and one o'clock.

I think any regular maintenance of this clock would have fallen off in his last decade or so of my grandfather's life. While working with it a little, I have noticed that while generally clean, it is slightly oily/sticky overall... It seems a good deep clean, inspection of bearings for wear, and re-application of fresh oil would be advisable (I know its not a particularly valuable movement, and given its age is probably nearing the end its useful life, but it's part of my own personal journey! If I end up replacing it sooner than later, so be it; at least I've learned something along the way.)

To this end, I purchased a "parts" version of the same movement off eBay for about forty bucks. I figure I can use this movement as a trainer, just for my own education -- take it apart, clean it, put it back together, to get familiar with all the ins and outs of all the parts, make mistakes, ask questions, collect tools/supplies as needed, and generally learn my way around a bit before setting in on a movement I actually care about. No downside, and afterwards I'll also have a collection of relevant spare parts should I ever need them.

So, I've been learning the ins and outs of all three trains on the practice movement, and have now had the plates apart and together several times (that's a fun dexterity challenge, but I'm getting better/faster at it!) Have a few questions so far where I could use some of the wisdom/experience of the forum, so I figured I'd just start a thread here to collect questions / answers / suggestions as I work my way through the trainer. Any all advice appreciated! First few questions follow...

IMG_0075.jpeg
 

FritzM

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Okay, one reason the trainer movement was a cheapy is because it had apparently been sprayed overall with some sort of lubricant/grease. This was *clearly* indicated in the eBay listing, but I figured I want to take it all apart and clean it as a learning experience anyway, so...

Movement arrived as advertised, quarantined in a plastic bag, and is absolutely disgusting :) I have no idea what it was sprayed with, but absolutely *everything* is covered in it. It has piled up in places and almost reminds me of the green/brown grease that my father used via a grease gun on his yard tractor. Not sure if the green was already in whatever this grease is, or is from the grease reacting with the copper in the brass? Anyway, apart it comes for cleaning. First pass is just to wipe everything off (there is so much, literally gobs) before even getting to giving anything any sort of bath.

Most of the movement came apart in fairly obvious ways. The gathering pallet was a puzzle, but I read in Conover's "Grandfather Clocks" about shimming it to stake it off, and that seems to have worked well and easily enough. I struggled with the star wheel though...

I eventually had some success with the two screwdrivers, opposite-sides, turned opposite directions method, but clearance was marginal to get started and it sure was a stubborn mofo'... I marred up the plate and the wheel a little doing this (that's why I got a trainer movement!) so I don't think I would want to do this the same way again. Need to find a better tool/technique for this. Also, I'm not sure how the star wheel will best be eventually staked on again? I haven't seen a lot of information on this sort of thing yet.
 
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FritzM

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As mentioned above, everything has been lubed, even items like the hammer assembly bearings that seem to be on everybody's "do not lube" list. Given that I think I should disassemble this hammer assembly along with everything else to properly clean out the grease:

IMG_0098.jpeg

Conover's "Grandfather Clocks" book, in the Urgos chapter, has a picture of a partially disassembled one of these with caption "the hammer assembly must be thoroughly cleaned", but how is this thing best taken apart?
 

Schatznut

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Congratulations on the safe transport of the clock to your home. I know how strong the tugs of nostalgia can be, and this clock certainly will give you more than its fair share.

Sounds like you've been bitten by the clock bug, and kudos for purchasing a "practice movement." I don't have specific experience with this movement but have been working my way through a stack of hammer assemblies out of Hermle movements. Hermle purchased Urgos at some point, so there is likely a lot of commonality in the construction. if there aren't snap rings or other retainers on the end of the shaft, it may be that it was swaged together at the factory. In any case, consider soaking the whole thing in mineral spirits for a couple of days. The stuff works wonders when it comes to dissolving old grease and gunk, and it leaves behind a thin petroleum film that lubricates and inhibits rust. The best alternative is to completely disassemble, but that may not be possible. Do the best you can and it probably will come out just fine.

Re the "green stuff" you've got all over the movement, that likely is a combination of old lubricant and corrosion of the brass - the copper leaches out green. It needs to come off, obviously.

The star wheel is always a challenge. Strongly recommend you get a couple of paint can openers at your local hardware store and grind them down so that they'll slip under whatever gear or wheel is pressed onto the arbor of the minute shaft of whatever clock you happen to be working on. Think carefully before you go to put that little cam back on the arbor. You may want to build a driving tool by drilling a clearance hole in a piece of wood dowel. Shim the wheel with a piece of business card. Make sure you've got the plates bolted together and the back plate firmly against a piece of wood. Then carefully tap the star wheel into place using a very light hammer.

Best of luck, and let us know how it goes.
 
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tracerjack

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Some always remove the center arbor star cam, and others only if the pivot hole needs to be bushed. Since you are just starting out, you may want to delay that experience until it is necessary. I’m still waiting for one that needs it after several years of repairing movements as an amateur.
 
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FritzM

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if there aren't snap rings or other retainers on the end of the shaft, it may be that it was swaged together at the factory. In any case, consider soaking the whole thing in mineral spirits for a couple of days. The stuff works wonders when it comes to dissolving old grease and gunk, and it leaves behind a thin petroleum film that lubricates and inhibits rust. The best alternative is to completely disassemble, but that may not be possible.
Thanks, Schatznut. No retainers visible -- it looks like there is a retaining ring that was pressed on at the factory. If there is no reasonable way to coax it apart, I'll opt for the soak per recommendation above.

Some always remove the center arbor star cam, and others only if the pivot hole needs to be bushed. Since you are just starting out, you may want to delay that experience until it is necessary. I’m still waiting for one that needs it after several years of repairing movements as an amateur.
Thanks, Tracerjack. The practice movement arrived with a bent center shaft, and the front center pivot hole indeed showed signs of needing to be bushed (arbor rocked much further in one particular direction when sitting in the pivot hole, indicating an oblong hole). After I got it apart it can be seen visually as well by looking at the oil well, which has a much thinner margin in one particular direction. The corresponding rear plate hole also looks to be in need. So, straight into the deep end... Hopefully the clock from my grandfather won't need this much work, but in the meantime this one is for learning and practicing.
 
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FritzM

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I've managed to remove a lot of the green/brown glop by giving all the parts a good wipe down as a first pass -- I now have a pile of wipes on the bench that make it look like somebody around here has a bad sinus infection :) Eww.

Everything is still pretty oily, with some grease remaining in between some of the pivot leaves and in all other nooks and crannies, but at least no longer completely disgusting to handle... I'm contemplating either a hose down and toothbrush scrub with some brake cleaner, or a bath and toothbrush scrub with hot water and industrial detergent as a next step?

After that, I do already have a small US cleaner in the shop -- this would accommodate most everything, but I may not be able to fit the plates in there. An US bath, then a drying rinse in 99 IPA, then hot air dry seems sensible. Lots of choices and opinions for US cleaning solution. I guess I'm tempted to try something non-ammoniated first and see if I get acceptable results, but more reading and research first...
 

shutterbug

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Cleaning things up might get it ticking for awhile, but it's really going to need to be taken apart and the worn areas repaired using bushings. The pivots should also get a refurbishing and polishing. All of that oil all over it did more harm than good, and you won't be able to get all of the crud out of the pivot holes even with an ultrasonic cleaner unless you take it apart. And naturally, a clock that old is going to have lots of wear.
 
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FritzM

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Hi shutterbug — yes, the practice movement is already completely taken apart for cleaning and inspection (I wanted to make sure I really knew how to disassemble things before working on the one from my grandfather.)

I can already see some pivot holes on the practice movement that need to be bushed, but am viewing a thorough cleaning as the first step.
 

Willie X

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As a personal hobby that's a good first step but in business the cleaning would be skipped. The clock would be accessed for wear, broken springs, missing parts, etc. and the owner would be given an estimate, usually with the choice of repair or replace. Then, after the customer's decision, the real work would commence.

Back on the hammer assembly. That left collar will need to be pulled off. Make sure to lightly but permanently mark the hammers before removal, they are all shaped different. And, there is often a spacer or washer there somewhere.

Sounds like you are off to a good start there. Not a good beginner movement but I understand your intended purpose.

Good luck, Willie X
 
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FritzM

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Thanks, Willie. Makes sense about the order of things for folks running a business. I’ll have a go at that collar on the hammer assembly (and thanks also for the heads-up on the hammers being all different!)
 
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kinsler33

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I'd soak that hammer assembly for a few days in charcoal lighter (buy a quart, pry off the safety nozzle, and empty it into a glass mayonnaise jar that has a lid. Toss in your hammer cluster for a few days and then rescue it--it'll dry nicely by itself. You can re-use that fluid for about forever.

You can also use your ultrasound machine. I use straight Zep Fast 505, sold at your local big-box home improvement store. After it's been buzzed and allowed to soak for a while, remove it, give it a healthy shot of WD-40 or Walmart spray lube and rinse it off under a faucet. Shake it off and apply a hair dryer to get it fairly dry. Then hang it up somewhere for a day or so. The spray lube will leave a thins coating that'll protect the steel springs and pivots from 'flash rust,' which occurs when you've stripped steel parts of all grease.

And you can also pour charcoal-lighter fluid into a tin can that's weighted so it won't float. Put the parts in, fill the ultrasound tank with water to cover maybe half the can's height, and let it buzz for 30 minutes. No rinsing needed.

I don't see any valid reason to disassemble that assembly.

For cannon pinions/star wheels, I've been using my ancient Chinese drill press. Chuck the handshaft tightly in the drill press, place a ring of material like a 3" PVC pipe coupler on the press' table, and push the shaft out of the star wheel. It may take a few tries.

To replace the star wheel, I broach out its center hole so that it slips easily onto the handshaft. Carefully add a small drop of blue Loctite to hold it in place.
 
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shutterbug

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I'd steer clear of WD-40 for anything but cleaning. It's not a lubricant, and was designed as a water displacement spray for rockets. It does that well, but leaves a sticky green slime that eventually causes issues in a clock. It will also contaminate your cleaning solution if it gets in your ultrasonic cleaner. I use it to remove grease from springs occasionally. It also works well to remove old WD-40 that's been sprayed on by well meaning clock owners.
 
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kinsler33

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I was actually using WD40 as a synonym for 'spray lubricant.' I typically use Walmart's spray lube, which seems to work well to protect steel surfaces.
WD-40 is too expensive, and the formula occasionally changes. Most spray lube products consist of a light oil dissolved in a volatile carrier solution. You can''t spray even light oil from an aerosol can. I might try mineral spirits in a spray bottle, though.
 
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FritzM

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The chains on these Urgos movements all have an extra ring linked in a couple inches in from the "pull tab" at the end. Do these have some secret / mysterious / clever purpose?
 

Willie X

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The rings are usually placed to stop the clock before the weights touch the bottom and fall over, while leaveing an 'easy to find' length of chain to pull the weights back up.

They can be placed to serve other purposes and sometimes they are just along for the ride.

Willie X
 
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shutterbug

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I have also seen them on the other end of the chain to prevent the weights from banging into the seat board. But typically they are for the purpose Willie mentioned.
 
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FritzM

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Okay, updates: I've had reasonably good luck getting to know the practice movement, cleaning it, practice assembly and disassembly, and have been brave enough to start in on the actual "hero" movement now from my grandfather's clock.

It also needed a good cleaning, and from what I had learned I could see a few issues. It looks as if it had been re-bushed at least once before; only a few pivot holes are showing wear and those not too badly yet, so I'm inclined to just see that it is well cleaned and oiled and let it go for a couple more years. There are a few other minor issues to fix/adjust as I go. Warning runs weren't quite right, but I know how to fix that now by slightly separating the plates to temporarily unmesh and align the various wheels with locking pins.

Another issue is a sometimes "rattle" on the strike -- I tracked this down to two of the hammer arms being loose in the strike hammer arbor. It looks like the brass rods for the hammer arms are inserted through the plated steel arbor, and then the arbor was just sort of swaged around the hammer rod on each side? I'm unsure of recommended tool or technique for tightening this up -- advice appreciated!

IMG_0218.jpeg IMG_0219.jpeg
 

shutterbug

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The hammer wires were probably flattened slightly before being tapped into place. Unless you can get them both loosened enough to redo that, Mark's idea is better than solder.
 

Joe Somebody

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If you don’t want to use loctite, you could put a pair of needle nose vicegrips in between to hold the wires up tight then swage the wires flat where they come through the post if that makes sense.
 

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