• Upcoming updates
    Over the next couple of weeks we will be performing software updates on the forum. These will be completed in small steps as we upgrade individual software addons. You might occasionally see a maintenance message that will last a few minutes at most.

    If we anticipate an update will take more than a few minutes, we'll put up a notice with estimated time.

    Thank you!

Repair of a Brillie model 1556

Ingulphus

Registered User
May 29, 2006
744
14
18
Oakland, CA
Country
Region
This is my first Brillie; I have wanted one ever since I saw a photo, and this one had two advantages for me: it was a good price, and it was located in the U.S. I've had limited experience with electromagnetic clocks, owning an American Clock Company tabletop model, several SWCC models, a Bulle Type A and F and a SETCO master, and was daunted when first faced with the Brillie (I restore torsion clocks as a main hobby). Repeated reading of the AHS Brillie book, digestion of every post on the board about these clocks and various YouTube videos helped me gain an understanding of the functions of each part of the clock and gave me the confidence to start dismantling the various components. In the process I came up with questions related to the age of the clock:
  • In all the photos in the book and online, it appears that the contact controlled by the star wheel has an extension on it to make with the two contacts facing it. On my clock, it is a U-shaped piece with a silver pin transversing it that makes contact. Was that an early feature that was replaced by the extension? As found, they were adjusted too closely, so that the circuit was always closed; I was able to get them adjusted correctly, although until I have a working coil, I don't know if further adjustment will be needed for them or the pawl.
  • Did Brillie serially number their movements? The number 32 is stamped on the back of the movement, and the movement mount was stamped with another number (which I neglected to photograph before I reassembled and mounted the clock on the wall).
There were a few obvious issues; the original suspension spring had been replaced by one that was too short, causing the magnet to rub the top of the coil, and the coil itself had been damaged in shipping, plus someone had marked the pendulum bob with a red sharpie. A new suspension was obtained from Timesavers, and I was able to glue the coil back together, but it's shot and needs to be rewound, both for practical and aesthetic reasons. I've never wound a coil, and not sure if I want to start with this clock! Once it's finally adjusted correctly and running, I will polish and lacquer the bob, and splurge on a brass battery holder from Carleton Clocks (if they still stock them). Then I'll relax, look at it, and glow...


All parts.jpg Contacts.jpg Damaged coil.jpg Front of Movement.jpg Old suspension.jpg

Hung.jpg
 

Jmeechie

NAWCC Member
Dec 8, 2010
644
244
43
Country
Region
It’s looking good! Did you get a replaceme too meter to get an ohms resistance on the coil? I can’t say I’ve ever seen your contacts style before. As far as I am aware no one has published any serial number information on these clock. Most of the serial numbers I’ve seen usually are stamped on top of the mounting bracket and start with a letter. I guess it is possible this is an early clock and was never intended as a master as the contacts are missing and the additional holes on the left are not there for the slave connection. PM me if you want to rewind the coil.
Cheers,
James
 

Ingulphus

Registered User
May 29, 2006
744
14
18
Oakland, CA
Country
Region
James -

Thank you - I will gratefully take you up on your offer! The serial number stamped on the bracket is F 477; it's a pity there is no dating information.
It's a good thing this is not a master clock, as I recall from one of your previous posts that there's a very audible thunk every 30 seconds as the secondary contacts are engaged. Our house has had some settlement over it's 100+ years (about a three degree tilt to the left), and the best place for the clock turned out to be the bedroom, so quiet is desirable...

I did buy a digital multimeter, but when I tested the resistance, it gave me three numbers that kept cycling, none of which looked useful. On my old meter, at the 1Xk setting, the reading was slightly under 100 ohms, if I read it correctly, and using both meters, there was no continuity. Obviously, I don't have much basic experience with electronics!

An update - the coil is working! I noticed that the mounting nuts at the top weren't quite equal, so I adjusted one of them and tested the action to make sure the magnet was still centered in the coil. I expected it to quickly slow down and stop, but it's ticking away quietly. I would still like to have the coil rewound, as a lot of the cloth covering has worn to the copper and the winds are very loose, but I am a very happy camper at the moment. Now on to timing!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jmeechie

Jmeechie

NAWCC Member
Dec 8, 2010
644
244
43
Country
Region
That’s great news on the coil. They’re pretty robust and seem to take quite a beating as evidenced by mine and now yours!
As far as the serial numbers my only guess is the letter possibly indicated a batch run or possibly just sequential for 26 years with no letter for the 1st year?

Looking forwa to hearing how timing goes.
Cheers,
James
 
Last edited:

Ingulphus

Registered User
May 29, 2006
744
14
18
Oakland, CA
Country
Region
Well, it stopped today, after running continuously since my last post. It was running slow, and I had been adjusting the brass bob upwards from time to time to correct that - the issue began after the last adjustment. While inspecting it, I noticed the magnet wasn't in the center of the coil,. so used the bottom adjustment to fix that. I'm getting power when the pendulum is in action, but after about seven good swings (actuating the contacts), it slows and comes to a stop. I know I need to check the pawl adjustment, as there's a certain amount of recoil, but aside from double-checking the contacts, I'm not sure what else to try - I'll be reaching for the Brillie book when I have a moment. Perhaps the coil has died after all?
 

Jmeechie

NAWCC Member
Dec 8, 2010
644
244
43
Country
Region
Hmmm,. I would try returning the pendulum to the original position in the coil it was at previously and see what happens. It may be the advance pawl isn‘t contacting the gear properly with the pendulum moved. I would suggest removing the dial and checking the pawl adjustment is correct with the pendulum centred in the coil.
 

Ingulphus

Registered User
May 29, 2006
744
14
18
Oakland, CA
Country
Region
James -

Thank you! As soon as I read your post, I had a major Doh! moment. I'll dismantle and adjust the pawl this weekend and test it. If all goes well, I'll mail the coil by Monday. I found embroidery floss in the exact color to cover the new copper.

Best regards,

Mark
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jmeechie

Ingulphus

Registered User
May 29, 2006
744
14
18
Oakland, CA
Country
Region
The issue was 'operator error'. While adjusting the pendulum, I must have disconnected one of the coil connections by accident. In addition, while removing the movement, I had inadvertently pulled on the battery holder, disconnecting the positive terminal... Lesson learned, and I found that making sure that the magnet is centered in the coil made the action smoother, with just a minor recoil now.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jmeechie

Forum statistics

Threads
178,995
Messages
1,570,063
Members
54,044
Latest member
Renegade
Encyclopedia Pages
909
Total wiki contributions
3,088
Last edit
Swiss Fake by Kent