Old Seth Thomas carriage clock -steel plates?

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by Phil G4SPZ, Nov 17, 2019.

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  1. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Registered User
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    Oct 18, 2018
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    A friend gave me this lever-escapement striking carriage clock as a scrapper, but I hate scrapping anything and it looks like a good project for the long winter ahead.

    Essentially it needs some bushings and several broken trundles need replacing. However my question is about the plates, which don’t look like brass, more like brass-plated steel. However, the material is non-magnetic.

    34276703-A9E1-4FE6-8624-60A741F4A80D.jpeg D6029196-609D-46FE-8B44-D4533CA64515.jpeg

    Any ideas, anyone?

    Phil
     
  2. R&A

    R&A Registered User

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    It maybe aluminum
     
  3. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Perhaps tin plated brass. Probably tell more after you get it apart and cleaned up.

    RC
     
  4. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Registered User
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    It’s too hard for aluminium, but tin-plated brass is more likely. Thanks for the suggestion, I’d not heard of that. You’re right though, it is absolutely filthy, and some wheels and arbors are badly corroded.

    Yet - amazingly - even in this condition, it can be persuaded to go. The obvious fault was a twisted hairspring; I fitted a replacement, and now it ticks away quite happily but stops dead regularly due to a combination of worn and cracked trundles on the EW arbor’s lantern pinion and a bent third wheel arbor. The strike train runs too.

    Tough things, these American clocks! I’m told it dates from around 1890.

    Phil
     
  5. Dave T

    Dave T Registered User
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    Be sure and show us some updated pictures. Wonder what model ST that is?
     
  6. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Registered User
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    It’s all in pieces and in the ultrasonic bath as we speak! Photos of parts to follow. Sadly I didn’t take a picture of the clock before I dismantled it, but here is the case:

    883E860E-322D-4ABF-A848-76C476B4E56F.jpeg

    Phil
     
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  7. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Registered User
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    Well, despite scrubbing with hot water and detergent to remove the oil, then half an hour in Horolene solution, rinsing and thoroughly wire brushing, the plates still haven’t come up very well:

    91801154-04B2-4459-AE86-2E3E58EA76E3.jpeg 753F2748-126D-490A-A97C-B6A113A129AA.jpeg
    But RC was right, the plates ARE plated brass. The brass colour can be seen inside the threaded holes. Where the plating remains, it is quite shiny, making me think it might be nickel plating. Some chemical treatment over its lifetime must have caused the plating to come away. However, there’s evidence of what I think is “punching-up” around some pivot holes:

    C0D420BE-D3ED-44B5-836C-2A903418254C.jpeg 1D7C4993-19F4-43C7-9B4E-F2C6ED77EBFB.jpeg
    One day, perhaps I’ll get to work on a clock that has been well-treated and professionally repaired. One day...

    Phil
     
  8. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    My guess is also nickel plated brass. I have a similar Mauthe carriage clock of the "Joker" style that has nickel plated brass plates. The case is probably also nickel plated.

    Uhralt
     
  9. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    That's a little one! Odd that they would plate the brass when it's not visible in the case. Yeah, it's been punched. Less expensive clocks were not considered worthy of proper repairs in the day.
     
  10. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    Actually, the case has glass windows at the sides (at least in my example), so the plates can be seen.

    Uhralt
     
  11. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Registered User
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    Revealed in all its glory, the brass back plate after a gentle going-over with a Dremel rotary wire brush, followed by some Autosol metal polish.

    I’m not going to attempt to do the same to the front plate, because the plating is still adhering strongly and it won’t be seen anyway.

    4B34B8E0-436F-410F-9CE1-BD8365485D60.jpeg

    The case is brass, and yes, it does have glass side panels.

    Phil
     
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  12. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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  13. R. Croswell

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    Obviously plated with something - tin, nickel, silver, chrome? It being visible I would want to at least get it uniform. You might try a bit of silver polish and see what comes up. If the plating is gone in places then the only option would seem to be to remove what is left and polish the underlying brass. Probably not worth the cost and effort to send it to a metal finisher to be replated. I would thing that 0000 steel wool and perhaps Braso and a lot of effort would clean it up, after which you might lacquer.

    RC
     
  14. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Registered User
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    Hmmm... last night, having cleaned everything up and inspected the components in detail, I worked out that I will have to fit half a dozen bushings, plus replacing around 30-40 worn-out lantern pinion trundles. I’ll work my way through that lot first, then think about the plating!

    This clock is mine, so its value is immaterial and restoring it will provide good practice for me at low risk.
     
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  15. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Registered User
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    I’m slowly making progress with this clock. Having a little extra spare time as all my other activities are on-hold at present, I’d like to restore it as close as possible to original. However, I’m a bit confused about the dial, which is clearly non-original.

    All the pictures of Seth Thomas clocks of this “Joker” style show a small seconds hand above the centre arbor. The front end of the third arbor extends outside the front plate by about 3/8”, and the dial pan has a suitable aperture, but the replacement dial hasn’t! It’s also too small. Please see my post #6.

    If anyone can please show me a good close-up of a genuine ST dial and seconds hand, I shall be most grateful and I will know what I’m aiming for. Many thanks,

    Phil
     
  16. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    A big reapir job, but a good learning experience. I have one as well made by Seth. Nice looking clock, and glad its been saved.
     
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  17. Dave T

    Dave T Registered User
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  18. Altashot

    Altashot Registered User

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    I don’t think this is a Seth Thomas but here’s the dial of one I just repaired. image.jpg

    M.
     
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  19. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Registered User
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    Thank you all! Just what I wanted to see, a dial with subsidiary seconds but without the alarm set hand.

    Can I just ask Altashot, as yours does look very like a ST, what is the length of the counterbalanced seconds hand, please? I hope it’s around 11mm, ‘cos I can get these from Cousins in the UK.

    Phil
     
  20. Altashot

    Altashot Registered User

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    I didn’t take it out of the case, it has a music box and the timing and meshing was difficult to get right, I don’t want to have to mess with it again. The second hand is approximately, as best as I could measure through the glass, as the drawing below.

    image.jpg

    M.
     
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  21. Phil G4SPZ

    Phil G4SPZ Registered User
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    That is fantastic, thank you for going to the trouble of sketching it for me. Very kind.
     

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