Noisy English Rack striking

chippy2

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Dear all. I have cleaned a 19th century English long-case clock, made by someone who I can find almost nothing about. It had not been cleaned for at least 60 years and one of its previous owners used to give it the occasional liberal dosing of 3-in-1 with the movement is situ. It's also had some poor quality repair work at some point (note the split pins and bent wire in the 'before' photo!). Now I've cleaned it I'm finding that the rack mechanism appears to have become more noisy as it strikes. In particular the arrowed lever, which rises and falls as the gathering pallet rotates, bounces when it has fallen and makes a lot of clatter. I can't see that I've put it together incorrectly or missed anything out. Can anyone else - within the constraints of the photos? Could it just be that the levers move more freely now they're not glued up with oil? Any advice would be much appreciated. StrikeBefore.JPEG StrikeAfter.JPEG
 

Bernhard J.

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I would say you will need to liberally apply grime again for attenuating the noise. I hope you did not discard the original grime as found. Just joking.

I personally apply clockmakers grease to some places of the striking work, e.g. to the post of the lever as pointed at (left end of the lever). That really damps motion quite a bit and without any adverse effect on functions.

Looks like a well done clean up :)
 

chippy2

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Hi Bernard. Thanks for your kind remarks. I was considering using some sort of grease to slow it down a bit, but I thought that lubricating levers that fall under gravity amounted to heresy! (because the lubricant attracts dirt and will eventually make the lever sluggish or not fall at all).
 

Uhralt

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Hi Bernard. Thanks for your kind remarks. I was considering using some sort of grease to slow it down a bit, but I thought that lubricating levers that fall under gravity amounted to heresy! (because the lubricant attracts dirt and will eventually make the lever sluggish or not fall at all).
I don't apply any oil or grease here. For me, the noise just means everything works as intended.
Uhralt
 

svenedin

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If it is just it makes a loud clunk when the clock warns then it is absolutely normal!
 
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chippy2

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It's when it's actually striking. That lever makes a rattle with every stroke.
 

Bernhard J.

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I don't apply any oil or grease here.
Interesting issue. I generally apply little (!) amounts, just a film, of grease to steel-steel contacts, as in this case, assuming that the post of this lever is made of steel as well. The reason is, that well cleaned (degreased) steel surfaces are quite sensible to moisture and corrosion, wherein even the lightest corrosion is imo worse than dirt, which must be removed anyway any 5-10 years.

Lubrication of brass-steel contacts, in contrast, is indeed no good idea, because it is said to promote wear through absorbed dirt, in particular in case of permanently moving brass wheel to steel pinion contacts.

If this particular lever ever becomes sluggish in action due to attracted dirt, then I would consider thinking about the environmental conditions the clock is exposed to ... :cool:

But aside this, the striking work is silenced considerably anyway when the movement is in the clock case and I would insofar agree with Stephen not to worry as long at the work does what it has to do.

Cheers, Bernhard
 

Bernhard J.

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It's when it's actually striking. That lever makes a rattle with every stroke.
This leads me to believe that the bushing of the lever is worn out. Or even that the lever might have a too wide bushing because it is from another movement. Is there any significant play in the lever bearing?
 

chippy2

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This leads me to believe that the bushing of the lever is worn out. Or even that the lever might have a too wide bushing because it is from another movement. Is there any significant play in the lever bearing?
Yes there is some play in the bearing. There is actually quite a lot of wear in the movement generally and several pivot holes really need bushing. But, given the provenance of the clock - it was in my wife's father's family and she now owns it - this is not something I'm prepared to undertake myself! Thanks for your comments.
 

bruce linde

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you asked for advice, so here goes: it hasn't been truly cleaned if it hasn't be truly serviced and still needs bushings. yes, it's cleaner... but the only way to eliminate issues (noise, stopping, etc.) is to pro-actively address all potential issues during best practices cleaning... which requires full disassembly and servicing of pivots, bushings, lever posts. levers gear and wheel teeth, etc.

even after you've done all of that, you may still find small PITA issues.... i'm reminded of a similar movement i had that would stop instead of striking.... turned out there was the slightest little depression in the warning lever where the pin would hit.... understandable after 200 years, but (apparently) easy to overlook even with magnification. easy enough to smooth out and polish, and running ever since... but again proving there's no such thing as looking too closely and eliminating all issues first time every time. :)
 

Mike Mall

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I was considering using some sort of grease to slow it down a bit, but I thought that lubricating levers that fall under gravity amounted to heresy!
I was under the same impression until someone posted a link to the Hermle service manual. (I know this isn't a Hermle)
But it shows that using grease isn't as much a sacrilege as some may imply.

There are points that the book recommends grease to be applied during service. Starts page 53 on the link below.

Manual
 
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Bernhard J.

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Hi Bruce,

These movements are quite rugged and everything should work nicely even in case of some wear here and there (I am not talking of excessive wear). In case of the striking work it is actually quite difficult to have it not working properly. In my case of the Knox clock it did work although someone had bent this and that a little bit. Carefully bending these parts back to how they should be did not worsen anything, but also not improve (it worked just as before and without fault).

With these movements I would tend to say "Do not repair it, if it is not broke" (include "excessively worn" into the "broke"). If there is a little wear here and there having come up in the last 200-300 years, years in which the environment was not really clock-friendly in the most time, these movements, after having been cleaned and oiled, will continue to tick on happily long after you and me have stopped ticking ;).

Cheers, Bernhard

P.S.: If somethings stops that should not stop, one will, of course, have find out about the reason and get that straight. And, we are not talking about a Strasser & Rohde ... ;)
 
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Bernhard J.

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But it shows that using grease isn't as much a sacrilege as some may imply.
Well, Moebius greases in various variants exist since long and are rather not intended for cars ;).

By the way, it is somewhat funny, that 1 liter of a conventional (synthetic) Moebius oil for watches costs (would cost) about 15,000.-- € :eek:. E.g. Castrol Edge 0 W 30 costing about 1/1000 for the same amount seems a real bargain in comparison :D
 

Mike Mall

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Well, Moebius greases in various variants exist since long and are rather not intended for cars ;).

By the way, it is somewhat funny, that 1 liter of a conventional (synthetic) Moebius oil for watches costs (would cost) about 15,000.-- € :eek:. E.g. Castrol Edge 0 W 30 costing about 1/1000 for the same amount seems a real bargain in comparison :D
You're right about that :)
Lubricants have improved exponentially over recent decades.
What people were taught many years ago may no longer apply. I do understand why most stick to the ways they were taught many years ago.
Why would anyone experiment with their livelihood?
 

chippy2

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you asked for advice, so here goes: it hasn't been truly cleaned if it hasn't be truly serviced and still needs bushings. yes, it's cleaner... but the only way to eliminate issues (noise, stopping, etc.) is to pro-actively address all potential issues during best practices cleaning... which requires full disassembly and servicing of pivots, bushings, lever posts. levers gear and wheel teeth, etc.

even after you've done all of that, you may still find small PITA issues.... i'm reminded of a similar movement i had that would stop instead of striking.... turned out there was the slightest little depression in the warning lever where the pin would hit.... understandable after 200 years, but (apparently) easy to overlook even with magnification. easy enough to smooth out and polish, and running ever since... but again proving there's no such thing as looking too closely and eliminating all issues first time every time. :)
Hi Bruce. Yes I appreciate that it needs much more work than I've done. However, for reasons outlined above I'm not prepared to take this on myself and I thought that, until I have the several hundred pounds it will take for a professional to overhaul it properly, I would at least clean the decades worth of grot out of it to help reduce further wear in the interim. It's still going quite nicely and keeping good time, by the way!
 
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Royce

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Chippy2, potentially there is a minor adjustment you can make to eliminate this noise. In looking at the pre-cleaned movement picture, I note that this arm on the hammer lever is not resting on the other arm as there is a small space between them. After you cleaned and reassembled the movement, the arm now rests on the other arm which I expect is what is making the noise. If you can make a small adjustment and recreate this space, this may solve your issue.

Royce
 
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Willie X

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Clicking levers and noisy old worn gear trains make old clocks delightfully noisy.
Some more than others and some noises can be reduced, if you want to spend the money/time.

As long as the train runs and the piercing bell sound overpowers the mechanical sound, everything should be fine. :)

Willie X
 

lwalper

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Clicking levers and noisy old worn gear trains make old clocks delightfully noisy.
Delightfully noisy? Yep, thats a Seth Thomas train I listen to grind away every 30 minutes. But it runs -- delightful!
 

lwalper

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I was under the same impression until someone posted a link to the Hermle service manual. (I know this isn't a Hermle)
But it shows that using grease isn't as much a sacrilege as some may imply.

There are points that the book recommends grease to be applied during service. Starts page 53 on the link below.

Manual
I just completed a well worn virgin Hermle 340-020 (1987 issue) service covered in grease from the factory -- actually dripping from the mainspring barrels onto the chime block. Whoever put that one together was a liberal greaser. The owner took the movement replacement option and I noticed that the replacement movement was much cleaner with very little visible grease -- only a dab on the clicks.
 

chippy2

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Chippy2, potentially there is a minor adjustment you can make to eliminate this noise. In looking at the pre-cleaned movement picture, I note that this arm on the hammer lever is not resting on the other arm as there is a small space between them. After you cleaned and reassembled the movement, the arm now rests on the other arm which I expect is what is making the noise. If you can make a small adjustment and recreate this space, this may solve your issue.

Royce
Hi Royce. I see what you mean, but in the first photo it's not quite fully locked whereas in the second it is. I think the gap you're referring to is caused by the lever being lifted slightly by the gathering pallet.
Chris
 

chippy2

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Many thanks for the comments and an interesting discussion about greases. I think I'll just leave it to rattle away happily for the moment. It does its job even though it has a lot to say.
Chris
 
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chippy2

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Hi Bruce,

These movements are quite rugged and everything should work nicely even in case of some wear here and there (I am not talking of excessive wear).

P.S.: If somethings stops that should not stop, one will, of course, have find out about the reason and get that straight. And, we are not talking about a Strasser & Rohde ... ;)
Hi Benhard
When you wrote this were you referring to the movement in my photos? If so, do you think this is a common generic movement put into a case by someone who then put their name on the whole thing? I can't find any identification on the movement at all, but there is a maker's name on the dial.
 

chippy2

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I personally apply clockmakers grease to some places of the striking work, e.g. to the post of the lever as pointed at (left end of the lever). That really damps motion quite a bit and without any adverse effect on functions.
Hi Bernhard
Which grease do you use for this sort of application? The range of greases available is bewildering!
Thanks
Chris
 

novicetimekeeper

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If it is a 19thC clock things were much more centralised, retailers, even if they were once clockmakers, would buy in completed clocks or movements. The person whose name is on the dial could have ordered in a complete clock or a dial, movement, and case, and just put them all together.
 
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Bernhard J.

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Hi Bernhard
Which grease do you use for this sort of application? The range of greases available is bewildering!
Thanks
Chris
Hi Chris,

I had bought two oils and one grease, all three from Moebius, the oils synthethic and the grease natural (if I wrote synthetic with respect to the grease also previously, this was wrong), at least three decades ago and as I recall at that time there were not many to choose from. It has the article number 8300 and apparently is still available. The grease bottle is still half filled and there is no decomposition evident. It is specified for winding work and main springs in pocket and wrist watches, but surely useful for other purposes, e.g. clocks, as well.

Considering the number of watches and clocks I have, this shows that only very little amounts were used.

Cheers, Bernhard
 

Bernhard J.

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Hi Benhard
When you wrote this were you referring to the movement in my photos? If so, do you think this is a common generic movement put into a case by someone who then put their name on the whole thing? I can't find any identification on the movement at all, but there is a maker's name on the dial.
Not nessesarily. The general technical design of these movements was quite similar over many decades and differed mostly in details only. All have common that they are designed to work for decades, if not centuries, and in unfavorable environments (compared to todays homes). And to withstand more or less heavy handed and uneducated service attempts as well.

And the fact that there is no signature on the movement does not have to mean that the movement was bought in either. E.g. my Knox clock of about 1760, which clearly is no mariage, does not have a signature on the movement either. And due to the specific features, sweep seconds and some other details, I do assume that the fellow indeed made the movement himself. He will, however, likely have bought some components used.

It would take some more research to find out, whether your movement is "generic", i.e. bought in completely, or at least partially made individually. One would have to look at many movements for identifying some common details, e.g. where sping feet are located on the plates, etc.

Looking at the photo I do not see evident excessive wear except perhaps in one detail only. The hour wheel (with the snail) runs on a fixed hollow tube fixed on a bridge (arrow). I do, however, note that the two shafts in the circle are not concentric. Perhaps there is some excessive radial play there between the hour wheel and the fixed tube. By the way, between this tube and the hour wheel is also a place where I would apply a very little amount of grease as well.

Cheers, Bernhard

StrikeAfter.JPEG
 
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lwalper

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Iwal,
I would guess that one wasn't as virginal as you thought. :oops: Willie X
Maybe not?? But I didn't see any other of the "normal" service indicatiors like slipped screwdriver scratches or bunged up screw heads. With it being a fairly newish (1987) movement that had been stopped for awhile I just figured it had quit and just been left alone. Again, maybe not??
 

chippy2

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Not nessesarily. The general technical design of these movements ...
Hi Bernhard

Thanks again for taking the trouble to reply. Your views on the degree of wear are helpful. The lack of concentricity on the two shafts that you point out is due in part to a repair that someone else has attempted by inserting a tubular shim in the space between them; I decided to leave this alone.

I'm fairly sure that a number of makers/assemblers have been involved in producing this clock. There's a name stamped on the back of the dial that doesn't match the name on the front. Also it has a moon dial but no evidence of anything to drive it; I initially assumed that someone had removed the mechanism rather than repair it, but now I think that it's a bit of a cut and shut job.

Thanks again
Chris
 

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