Recondition "Cat Gut"

f.webster

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And so I am working on a tall clock that has "cat gut" for cables. It seems to be in un-frayed condition.

My question today is: Is there a way to clean/recondition these lines?

Input and suggestions are appreciated. I would like to keep them with the movement as apposed to replacing them with cables.
 

wow

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If it is smooth throughout its length, it should be fine. You can soak it a few days in olive oil to condition it if it is dry and frayed.
 

f.webster

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Thanks for the olive oil tip.
Some say, the rule of thumb is: if the drums have ridges it should have cables.

Any truth?

The movement I am restoring has ridges on the drum.
 

wow

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Thanks for the olive oil tip.
Some say, the rule of thumb is: if the drums have ridges it should have cables.

Any truth?

The movement I am restoring has ridges on the drum.
I have seen many very old movements with ridges and gut. I’ve never heard that.
 

novicetimekeeper

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If it is English and before 1880 it will have grooves in the barrel and it should be gut.

If you are servicing or restoring the clock it is presumably ten years or so since the gut was changed, so change the gut. The cost outweighs the grief of having to deal with a broken line.
 

daveR

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What Nick says is the guide. If the bottom of the fusee track is square then it probably had a chain, if round it could only had have a cable. Heavy modern cable (like steel) will often mark the barrel. If you have any doubt about the gut line it is better to replace it. Modern gut line is still available and will last a long time.
David
 

Jim DuBois

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Barrels in tall clock movements have been grooved for many years, and yes, the clocks used gut since early times; Only in the last 100 years +/- have brass and steel cables been used by some who hope to provide a better solution. While it may seem the clock and its owner are better served by brass or steel cable that is not always the case.

As Nick mentions quality modern gut is first-rate and does last many years. And to the smooth drum/barrel vs grooved; Smooth barrels are more often found on American made tall clocks. There are some English/Irish/Scottish tall clocks with smooth drums also, but grooved barrels were more readily available to those folks than here. It seems the smooth barrels may have been used in more rural areas, and more in later periods, but that is an undocumented observation by me.
 
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