Question about hand attachment

Discussion in 'Tower, Monumental & Street Clocks' started by Jeremy Woodoff, Sep 16, 2016.

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  1. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    Jun 30, 2002
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    I am going to try to provide assistance to the non-profit Friends of Loew's Jersey City Theater to come up with a scope of work to restore the St. George and the Dragon clock atop the theater. I know something about domestic clock repair but not much about tower clocks. I believe the clock is operational, or nearly, but one issue is that hands have to be remade. What is the typical method of installing hands on a tower clock? I know there are sometimes windows provided in the dial, but is it possible to install hands from that access point, or is a lift to the outside of the dial always required? What is the mechanism for attachment of tower clock hands on a Seth Thomas tower clock from the late 1920s? Is there a standard material thickness recommended for either wood or aluminum hands?

    Thank you for any assistance.

    Jeremy
     
  2. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
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    I think you will pretty much be able to apply what you know about the construction of the clocks you are familiar with, in deciding how to approach the hands on the tower clock in question. Tower clocks might be a bit different in how the hands are affixed, but not enough to cause confusion. I would be very surprised if there was an access door behind the clock faces, especially if they are iron and glass. If the hands are in front of a solid wall, there may be access doors. These are things you will have to decide after a visit to the clock room. You will be able to come to a lot of conclusions if you are able to remove a pair of hands, and examine them. If there are no access doors, how far above ground the dials are will determine how you get at the dials. You may have to hire a crane. With any luck, one of the dials may be accessible without a crane. That would be the dial you need to remove the hands from. Tower clock hands 100 years ago or so were often made of red cedar heartwood. Hands would be available from Electric Time Corp. who have a website. You might be able to answer many questions if you check out their website. Speaking from experience, I do not recommend Baltic fir, cabinet grade plywood which is heavier than cedar. And in spite of the fact it is often sold as using waterproof glues, don't believe it! The hub of the minute hand from most tower clocks is separate from the hand, and and should have a counter poise integral with it. After the new hand is affixed to the hub, it is imperative that you poise the hand before it is installed.
     
  3. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    Jun 30, 2002
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    Thank you, Doug. This is a single-dial clock, and I think it will require a lift to access the dial. Apparently a pair of hands was made not that long ago but failed. I'll have to see whether the remnants are available to salvage the hubs and use as a pattern. I will probably recommend Accoya wood, which is specially treated pine, so fairly light weight, and guaranteed for either 25 or 50 years not to rot, even unfinished, and is supposed to be dimensionally stable, machine like ordinary pine, and accept paint finishes. It's expensive, (similar to mahogany, I think) but not that much is needed for a pair of hands. I would use cedar only if it were old-growth cedar, because I think second growth lumber, even heartwood, is not great. The clock in question is pictured in this post from a while back https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?133995-Restoration-of-a-custom-1929-Seth-Thomas-Tower-Clock.

    Jeremy
     
  4. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
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    20 years ago, I replaced the four pair of hands on our City Hall 1910 Seth Thomas 16 A tower clock. The picture shows the cast iron hubs for the minute hands. In the picture, I am fastening the new hands to the hubs. The hubs show the two radial bosses with nuts used to secure the hubs to the minute hand arbor, as well as the counter poises with weights. I don't have pictures of the hour hand attachment. In the pictures of the theatre clock you posted, it appears to me as though the hubs are not evident. You might be scouring the building for the hands and hubs
    . image.jpeg
     
  5. GregS

    GregS Registered User

    Sep 4, 2008
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