Questions about ivory bushings in Eli Terry shelf clock

Discussion in 'Wood Movement Clocks' started by R. Croswell, Dec 8, 2016.

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  1. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
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    I'm currently working on this Eli Terry and Sons clock with (I assume) ivory bushings for a friend. The immediate 'cause of death' appears to be an escapement clash due to a badly worn escape wheel pivot hole in the rather buggered up brass support bridge. The owner admits that he has used WD-40 on the metal parts and has coated the gear teeth with graphite, so it is somewhat of a mess and there is a lot of rust. The tablet is a very nice replacement that he had painted some 30 years ago. When he acquired the clock, it was pretty broken up (he has the original finials not shown). We believe the hands are an older replacement. A number of the pivots are badly scored but most of the bushings still fit fairly well after the pivot wires are reversed/replaced. There is a lot of crud in the pivot holes which I assume to be a mixture of graphite, WD-40 residue, and rust powder. Not much has been done to it for the past thirty years except oiling the escapement and whatever WD-40 & graphite he may have used. We believe the face is probably original. There are signs of previous 'repairs' but no broken teeth or pinions. I'm guessing that this clock was made in the mid 1820's sometime after 1822. So that's what I know of its history.

    My questions primarily concern the ivory bushings. From what limited references I have, I found a fairly detailed description of what I believe to be this movement but found no mention of ivory bushings being used. Did Eli Terry use ivory in his movements that would have been in a clock like this? Is it possible or likely that the bushings shown are later additions/replacements? I noticed that the pivot holes in some are not true perpendicular to the plates although none seem to be loose. Compared to similar movements with wood pivot holes the pivots seem rather severely worn right where they contact these ivory bushings. I had always assumed that ivory bushings were run dry, perhaps I was mistaken. Should ivory bushed pivot holes require any type of lubrication?

    Thanks for any suggestions and information.

    RC
     

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  2. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Jun 14, 2008
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    My first recommendation is to call these bone bushings not ivory. There are so many rules about ivory these days I have eliminated that description on all parts of clocks and furniture. Bone escutcheons, bone bushings, bone knobs etc. Just a recommendation. There have been a number of arguments and opinions as to which there were originally. Given the whaling business in the New England area I suspect many of the parts we have called ivory were really whalebone. More whales harvested in those days than elephants by New England crews. This subject has been beaten to death in several threads on this site. And as to your question, I don't believe that Eli Terry normally bushed his wood works movements with either bone or other products. That said, there was so much trading back and forth of movements and cases by all the clock makers, debts were settled by exchanging movements for cases and vice versa, workers were paid in clocks and in some cases movements or cases, so it is difficult to say with any degree of confidence who did or did not do something. In the case of this movement there are a couple of clues that it may not have started life with these bushes, but that is more of an educated guess since a first hand inspection would be necessary to pin down those thoughts. Bone bushings should not be lubricated.
     
  3. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Thanks for that information. Yes, there are concerns about having, buying, and selling ivory. I'm not too concerned in this case because whatever the material is it has been there for a long time and if original, probably predates the "ivory" rules plus the owner has no intention of ever selling the clock and we have no intention of replacing any of the bushings with ivory. My main concern is whether the "bone" bushings are original to the movement or a later modification. That will to some extent drive a decision whether to make an effort to retain then even if a bit worn or to remove and replace with something else. Your "educated guess" seems give some support to my suspicions that these bushings may not be original to the clock. According to the movement identification spreadsheet it does however appear that the movement was likely made by one of the "Terry family".

    RC
     
  4. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    My point is there are auction houses and dealers, and dealer shows that will not allow anything made of ivory any more, no matter when it was made. Crossing into Canada or coming from Canada with something made of ivory, no matter when it was made, can be a problem. It is very difficult to prove it is pre ban no matter what you or I may think or what the label on the clock may claim. There is entirely to much over reaction on most anything regarding pre ban ivory. I completely support the ban, but the reaction of many who act inappropriately or out of proportion or act based on what they think versus what the ban says is why I even mentioned it. Much easier to label these clock parts as bone and go on. They are most likely just that. It is not unknown for pre ban ivory items to have been confiscated and then the owner gets to prove it is pre ban, or lose it. And the photo is a clock hopefully done up in whalebone....I just tossed that in for the fun of it, it is certainly not germane to your clock questions. And yes, without breaking out Snowdens matrix, it does appear the clock does have the appropriate Eli Terry period movement. The biggest user of bone bushings was most likely Hoadley......others did use them too, to a lesser degree.
     

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  5. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Wow, that's really over the top!

    I did run Snowden's spreadsheet and it does indicate that this movement was made by the "Terry family". The type 1.117 lists among the makers "E. Terry & Sons" the same as the label in this clock. That would seem to suggest that there this movement was not part of a trade deal with some other maker. So I guess if anyone comes to confiscate these "bone" bushings I'll just pop them out and let them take them. (I won't say anything about the "bone" keyhole escutcheon.) I'll keep in mind not to ship anything with ivory-like parts to Canada, and I sure ain't planning to go there until possibly when it gets warmer. I guess Texas is nice this time of the year. Never been there but its a pretty long drive for an old man that doesn't like flying.


    RC
     
  6. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Here's a bit of follow up on this soon to be completed project. A closer inspection of the "bone" (or whatever) bushings reveal that they are not very uniform in size and the pivot holes are not always centered in the bushing and some of the bushings are not exactly level and/or flush with the surface of the plate. Note in the picture of the back side of the front plate one of the bushings encroaches into the count lever cutout. most all the pivots in this movement were scored in a small area corresponding to the thickness of these bushings. So indications are that while perhaps not original they have been there for a number of years - long enough to score the pivots.

    My first thought regarding how to move forward was to pull and reverse the pivots and use the unworn ends thus improving the pivot to bushing clearance enough to perhaps get a bit more life from these "bone" bushings. That was not to be as many had already been reversed plus a number of them had been replaced with "oversize" nails. While oversizing all the pivots was one option, I didn't really want a bunch of fat pivots, especially in the upper train. I was also concerned that the "bone" seemed to be wearing the pivots a lot more than wood have. Another option would be to remove the bone bushings and replace them with wood, Delrin-AF, or more real bone. The owner didn't want to replace the bushings in kind believing that they likely were not original and of course replacing with real ivory was out of the question. He did however prefer to keep the old bushings if possible because they are a part of the history of the clock, original or not. In the end we decided to ream the "bone" bushings leaving them in place and insert 3.5mm Delrin-AF bushings in through the original bushings and into the underlying wood to the bottom of the original depressions in the wood. The attached pictures show this. The main wheels had no bushings so the worn holes were bushed with Delrin-AF as well. The oversize "nail" pivots were removed and the hole true bored on the lathe and a larger steel rod inserted and turned down to a normal size true-running pivot. The other pivots were either replaced or cleaned up as needed.

    The square end of the hour pipe was chewed up so that was reconstructed, and the crutch at some point had been broken off and shortened to where it was almost up to the feather. I extended the crutch and formed a new end. A close look at the photo may reveal the repair but most of the original material was retained.

    The movement is now back together and happily running on the test rack. I usually test run these with 2 lbs. on the time side (as shown) but it ran so well I tried using less weight. It actually will run 14.8 oz. on the time side but may not unlock the strike warning. The original weight (the ones with the clock) are 3.5 lb. strike and 3.3 lb. time, which the owner will likely continue to use.

    So the owner still has his "bone" bushings and a clock that should now run for many years to come..........I hope.


    Thanks for all the information that helped guide this project.

    RC
     

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  7. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    Great write up and a great job Robert, i wonder how much were will happen in the bushings by using the original weights. Also i really like your test stand.
     
  8. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    The physics of friction, wear, loading, and speed are is a couple of pay grades above mine. I have five ww clocks and I cut the weights back to 2.5 lbs. on the ones that have been completely or mostly re-bushed just to take it easier on the old wooden wheels and pinions. I wish I could say that Delrin-AF bushings in this application will last 50 years, 100 years, 150 years or longer but there is just no long-term data yet. The longest running bushings in any of my own clocks is 10 years and still in good shape so 100 years my not be out of sight. I doubt that 1 lb. less weight would cause significantly less pivot or bushing wear but it may extend the useful life of the wooden pinions a little longer.

    Here's a photo of the S3 pinion that has significant wear. The photo glare makes it look a bit worse and also reveals the owner's handiwork of painstakingly coating the wheels and pinions with graphite from a soft 'lead' pencil (not a practice I approve of but probably harmless). I think the wear was due to 190 years of hard use and I doubt the graphite helped or hurt it. Surprisingly all the wheels were in great condition. The main wheels are significantly thicker than one expects see in this style movement. The only damage was the corner of one tooth was gone and I repaired that as shown. Both trains run very smoothly now but in another 100 years I suspect that someone will need to deal with these worn pinions, although I'm hoping that with the well fitted bushings and perhaps better alignment that wear rate may have been reduced.

    That test rack is oak and very sturdy. I made it tall enough for a seconds beating pendulum. It's such that it supports ww movements in the bracket shown or cuckoos or other seat boards and there is a provision for hanging a wall clock on either of the uprights (not shown). It's a heavy clumsy thing that does work pretty well for this purpose.

    RC
     

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