Help Requesting guidance for disassembly, cleaning, reassambly, and lubricating

murphyfields

Registered User
Jun 24, 2020
75
10
8
Westminster, CO
Country
Region
Hello

I am John from Colorado, and I am still very new to all of this. I have typical basic tools, although it looks like I could use a standard flat blade screwdriver that has been sharpened to help with some abnormally narrow screw slots. What do you all use for screws that are relatively wide but with slots that are too narrow for standard screwdrivers?

I have a Seth Thomas Grandfather clock that we found for $25. I replaced the movement (thanks to suggestions in another post) with a Hermle 1151-053/94 and it is working well, and I think I am now ready to disassemble, clean, reassemble, lube, and test out the old movement. I have heard the guidance of the experts here, and I am ready to try things the "right" way. I have been looking on this site and have found guides for the reassembly part, but are there any guides for disassembly? Most of it seems pretty straightforward, simply unscrew or remove e-clips. But others seem to resist the obvious approaches. It would be nice to know if some parts cannot be removed, or if they just need more force, or if they have reverse threads for some reason. Can I just post pictures to ask how to remove some of the trickier parts?

Also, is there a "right" way for cleaning the parts that don't require expensive equipment like an ultrasonic cleaner? Do I just clean with brushes and toothpicks? Special chemicals?

I doubt that I am ready to learn about rebushing, but I might be able to try polishing.

I have found some guidance on oiling, but I am still not clear on if or when some parts might need grease.

I will post pictures later, but I assume most of the experts will be familiar with similar movements.

Thank you all in advance for your suggestions.

- John
 

roughbarked

Registered User
Dec 2, 2016
4,978
531
113
Western NSW or just this side of the black stump.
Country
Region
I know there are comments to be made about big fingers in the descriptions but
Practical Clock Repairing by Donald De Carle, was the book I started with.
Yes you can file down screwdrivers to fit applications or file bits out of screwdrivers to fit other applications.
This is what makes a clock maker, of you.
The right ways may be many. Particularly on the subject of cleaning clocks.
There are some parts that may not be removed so easily and are often as not unnecessary to remove in the main. These are to be put in the deal with it later and get on with what needs to be done now, box.
The ultrasonic is like all others in the box, a tool. Which is also where you probably need to start learning about types and methods of bushing tools and their usage.
As is the knowledge of of chemicals and reactions, indeed within the environment.
I'm sure it is of north American origin, the phrase; and good old elbow grease.
 
Last edited:

dad1891

Registered User
Feb 28, 2014
604
28
28
Denver, Colorado
Country
John, you don't need an ultrasonic for cleaning. I use a toothbrush and either mineral spirits or Zep Heavy Duty Degreaser, which is available at Home Depot for around $6.00. Mineral spirits would be my choice for heavy duty grease/grime and the Zep for the remainder. Peg out all the pivot holes with either toothpicks or something similar.

The gathering pallet arbor and the handshaft will require pullers of some type to remove the arbors from the front plate. Most people do not remove the handshaft unless the pivot hole needs bushing. If you want to do it, I have found that heating the star cam with a small propane torch while applying light pressure with a press works well to remove the star cam. Doesn't take much, maybe 300-350 deg and they come right off. There are various types of pullers available to pull the gathering pallet off to remove the gathering pallet arbor. Carefully observing and understanding the timing of the chime and strike train will make your life a whole lot easier when it comes time to reassemble.
 

kinsler33

Registered User
Aug 17, 2014
3,491
429
83
73
Lancaster, Ohio, USA
Country
Region
You'll get better with practice. You might start with the original movement, though a three-train chiming clock is a tough one to start with. I agree with Roughbarked and dad1891 on every point. Note that:
Tools needn't be expensive
There's no such thing as a 'clockmaker's screwdriver'
Any light oil will work pretty well: I use a quart of Mobil1 synthetic 0w-20 motor oil that'll outlast me.
Don't oil or grease pivots of parts that don't make complete revolutions
You'll need a cheap digital camera (cell phone is fine) and lots of light to take step by step pictures so you put stuff together correctly
Neither a lathe nor an ultrasonic cleaner is mandatory
But a mainspring winder is, if you're dealing with mainsprings. You'll also need a set of let-down chucks.
Parts will fall into unknown places. I store parts in plastic sandwich bags, because they won't spill out
And you should start a junk box of weird screws, old movements, and bits of brass.

Mark Kinsler
 

bruce linde

Technical Admin
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Nov 13, 2011
7,544
997
113
oakland, ca.
clockhappy.com
Country
Region
john - start reading threads in this forum... there are many informative posts from very experienced clock repair pros... and much for you to be aware of so you can feel confident about each step.

take lots of photos as you disassemble, from multiple angles... and write notes about each photo on a notepad as you go. this can help w reassembly.

and, yes, pls post tons of photos to help inform the discussion
 

Tim Orr

National Membership Chair
Director
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Sep 27, 2008
1,344
216
63
Boulder CO
Country
Region
Good evening, John!

You don't say where in Colorado you are, but there are actually 4 NAWCC chapters in the state. Take a look at at the Chapter listing on the NAWCC website: Local Chapters | National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, Inc.

In the Denver area, there is also a clock repair course taught at the Emily Griffith Technical College: Emily Griffith Technical College: Your Next Step Starts Here
Of course, things are tricky right now with Covid, but there is a complete clock repair curriculum, taught by qualified instructors, many of whom are members of NAWCC Chapter 21 in Denver: NAWCC Chapter 21

Chapter 21 is having monthly meetings via Zoom. Chapter 160 is doing Zoom meetings too.

In Boulder, Chapter 160 has somewhat of a watch focus, but clock stuff is welcome, and there's also Chapter 100 in Colorado Springs, and Chapter 138 in the Grand Junction area. You'll find e-mail addresses for the chapters at the link I suggested. You don't appear to be an NAWCC member (YET!), but most chapters will welcome you as a guest and visitor, though as you no doubt know, there are problems with in-person meetings at the moment.

You can also join NAWCC. Your first year of membership is just $52, and includes 6 issues of the Watch & Clock Bulletin, our journal of horology, and 6 issues of the Mart & Highlights, a publication that provides you with information about our chapters, and includes a large section of ads, where members buy and sell all sorts of tools, books, clocks, watches, and supplies.

So, welcome to the NAWCC Forum, and I hope we'll be welcoming you to NAWCC membership sometime soon! In the meantime, continue to ask questions here! This is a great place to find answers from all kinds of experts – all around the world!

Best regards!

Tim Orr
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Vernon

shutterbug

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Oct 19, 2005
44,377
1,367
113
North Carolina
Country
Region
If you're going to take the leap into disassembly and re-assembly, it only makes sense to also learn how to do bushings. Even a very clean clock with worn out pivot holes will not run efficiently, nor will it run for very long. If you go through the trouble of taking it apart, it is logical to do the necessary bushing work at the same time.
 

bangster

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Jan 1, 2005
19,876
443
83
utah
Country
Region
DISASSEMBLY:

Disassembly:

I use a set of assembly legs (assembly clamps) to support the movement. Others use something like a roll of masking tape. I use separate containers or cups for the parts. Others use something like a styrofoam block. Let down and restrain the mainsprings.

I Usually begin by taking off the front matter and putting it in a cup: snail, rack, gathering pallet, long lever, chime locking plate, locking pallet, other levers and bits. Take pics to remember where they go.

Then I take off the back matter: chime drive wheels, strike lever, suspension spring, pendulum leader, spring mounting post, lift out crutch and verge, and put them in another cup

Then I take off the hammer assembly (four screws two on each side), pin barrel, tune selector bits, whatnot. Put them in their own container.

Then I check for helper springs and unhook them, remembering where they go.

Then I remove pillar nuts and carefully lift off the back plate, trying not to disturb or pull out any wheels. If any come out, put them back.

Then I take pictures, from various angles, of the open trains, to assist in putting them back together.

Then I take out the wheels from the chime train and put them in a cup or stick them in a styrofoam block. .along with their mainspring. If you want to be extra cautious, you may take a picture after removing each wheel
Then I take out the wheels from the time train and put them in a cup or stick them in a styrofoam block.. along with their mainspring.
Then I do the same for the wheels from the strike train.
It can help to take notes during the procedure.

Then with all wheels out of the front plate, I go have a cup of coffee and relax.

Others may follow a different procedure. But that's the one I use.
I don't think I've forgotten anything.

Happy trails, :):thumb:
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
10,651
952
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
A three-train chime clock probably isn't the best first clock to disassemble. In a simpler time and strike movement the strike parts - wheels and pinions - usually have a pin, cam, star wheel, count slots, or other features that clearly identify them as parts of the strike train. The time side wheels are plain. In a chime clock some of the strike train parts and are almost identical to parts in the chime train. There are usually two fan governors but they are often slightly different, so use extra care not to get parts mixed up.

I agree with others, an ultrasonic is not required but is nice to have and a decent one need not cost a fortune. Personally I do not like mineral spirits for cleaning as I frequently find green corrosion a few days later. For hand cleaning (tooth brush and tooth picks) I find it hard to beat good old Dawn dishwashing detergent and warm water, or if you prefer a petroleum based cleaner K1 kerosene (not the synthetic crap sold as lamp oil). La's Totally Awesome Cleaner is also a pretty good water based cleaner. The more aggressive water based cleaners and degreasers often darken the brass with prolonged exposure. Gasoline and other volatile solvents present a fire hazard. Some spray solvents such as throttle body cleaner are safe if used outdoors but if the movement has lacquered plates or plastic parts all bets are off. Even though the label recommends it for clocks, avoid WD-40 around clocks.

A general comment, shortcut methods frequently create short-lived results or create complicated problems that are not easy to correct. Bushing worn pivot holes is the most common required repair and also one of the easiest to screw up, especially when an inexperienced operator attempts to install bushings using only hand tools. A clock movement such as a Hermle 3-train chime movement, or a French (or any other make) movement with tiny pivots and fine tooth gears demands that bushings be straight and precisely centered over the original pivot hole before it was worn. Most hand bushing methods will not reliably and consistently yield this degree of precision.

RC
 

bangster

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Jan 1, 2005
19,876
443
83
utah
Country
Region
RC he say:
Bushing worn pivot holes is the most common required repair and also one of the easiest to screw up, especially when an inexperienced operator attempts to install bushings using only hand tools.
...or when an inexperienced operator attempts to install bushings using newly-bought expensive bushing tools. The only way to become experienced is to do. And inexperienced doesn't mean clumsy or unable to follow directions. I speak for the many inexperienced operators who started out doing hand bushing , were successful at it, and never looked back. (Like little ole me.)
Don't be afraid to try. :):):yoda:
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kevin W.

kinsler33

Registered User
Aug 17, 2014
3,491
429
83
73
Lancaster, Ohio, USA
Country
Region
RC he say:


...or when an inexperienced operator attempts to install bushings using newly-bought expensive bushing tools. The only way to become experienced is to do. And inexperienced doesn't mean clumsy or unable to follow directions. I speak for the many inexperienced operators who started out doing hand bushing , were successful at it, and never looked back. (Like little ole me.)
Don't be afraid to try. :):):yoda:
Yep. KWM introduced their press-in bushings around 1960, and you could only get reamers and a handle--there were no bushing machines. An inexpensive drill press works just as well. Mark Butterworth has some bushing videos worth seeing.

M Kinsler
 

shutterbug

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Oct 19, 2005
44,377
1,367
113
North Carolina
Country
Region
In Marks video's he didn't mention the pre-drill filing to force the press to cut on center. That's a critical step to prevent disaster.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bangster

kinsler33

Registered User
Aug 17, 2014
3,491
429
83
73
Lancaster, Ohio, USA
Country
Region
I thought he'd mentioned that. There may be several videos, but yes, the filing is critical. It's a fairly straightforward operation.

Mark Kinsler
 

Rob Martinez

Registered User
NAWCC Member
May 3, 2013
141
10
18
Country
Hold up -- before you consider taking the plates apart make sure you have your spring let-down process in place. I still remember loosing a tooth on a great wheel and a cut finger when the springs still had too much power in them and I opened it up. Yes, take a look at the videos - great info there, and take more pictures than you think are needed (I haven't done it but you might put it on video in addition to the stills for your first time in-case you have a wild part that jumps out - it happens!), but ensure you have your gloves on.... maybe let down inside an old pillow case if you are feeling unlucky... To keep from buying a let down tool you can use your clock key and a pair of small vice grips. Release the click with a small blade screwdriver and let the vice grips slowly...slowly...slowly rotate in your hand until it stops on its own.... then, and only then, think about taking those plate screws/pins out.... Welcome to the world of clock tinkers!
 

Tim Orr

National Membership Chair
Director
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Sep 27, 2008
1,344
216
63
Boulder CO
Country
Region
Did we scare you off, John?

Haven't seen another post from you since the first one.

Best regards!

Tim
 

murphyfields

Registered User
Jun 24, 2020
75
10
8
Westminster, CO
Country
Region
I am still here, and just picked up another clock to play with. I just needed a moment to post.

To start out, I am working on a weight-driven movement, so I don't need to worry about mainsprings just yet. But since I now have two clocks with springs, I will have questions there, too.

But first, here is the back of the first movement I am working on. It has a long hex post sticking out that supports the hammer mechanism. Is there a way to remove it? I tried turning it with a wrench, but it is on tight, and I did not want to apply too much torque and break anything. There is no nut on the inside, but I can't see the inside well, since there is a gear in the way. I don't absolutely have to remove it, since I built a wood support stand that is deep enough to work around it, but I think it would be better if I could get it off.

This is on a Seth Thomas A403-031 movement, which I am told is equivalent to a Hermle 1151-053/94

I am also showing a mantel clock I just picked up (should this be a new thread, or ok here?) It seems to be losing many minutes per hour (set earlier today and already over an hour behind). I have tried turning the adjustment wheel, but not much effect. It could be the movement is just too past it's prime, or it just needs a really good cleaning. But I would love hearing other opinions

What is the minimum tool set required to work on a mainspring clock? I figure that if I get it working, I might take it apart and give it a thorough cleaning once every five to 10 years. I have another spring clock, but will probably wait to work on it. It doesn't make sense to buy a spring winder that I will only use on average once every 3-5 years. I am guessing I could just get some spring clamps and not bother with cleaning the mainsprings...just take them out, clean the movement, and put them back in, and I am also guessing that this is not the best approach. But what do the newbies do in this case?

Back post.jpg hammer mechanism.jpg mantel.jpg mantel back.jpg
 

kinsler33

Registered User
Aug 17, 2014
3,491
429
83
73
Lancaster, Ohio, USA
Country
Region
I always try to avoid disassembling the chime hammers, and generally there's no need to, but you can just leave that hex bar in place. Hang onto your photographs for re-assembly, but failing that Mark Butterworth of Butterworth clocks should have a diagram of the works.

While it is possible to remove and replace mainsprings in barrels by hand, it's a difficult operation that does the springs no good at all, which is why a mainspring winder, which can be expensive, is typically used. The barrels on that clock can be removed separately; mark them so you don't mix them up. The remainder of the movement must be disassembled, cleaned, and then the pivots polished. Use a loupe to check if the pivots might have been chrome plated. If they are, use a coarse (1/0) abrasive buff to remove the plating and then polish the pivot with successively-finer buffs up to 6/0.

I then generally assemble each train individually between the plates to check for wear, installing bushings where they're needed. There are three gear trains in this clock. Mark each part, for some strike and chime wheels look alike but are not. Some bushings will be smaller than 1mm.

In short, you can treat a Hermle like any other clock.

Mark Kinsler
 

murphyfields

Registered User
Jun 24, 2020
75
10
8
Westminster, CO
Country
Region
Oh, and you might want to start out/pratice on the time and strike clock instead of the t/s/chime clock... just sayin...
Right now I have a total of 4 clocks, plus one movement from one of those clocks that I replaced with a new one, and all five movements are time/strike/triple chime movements...two are spring driven, and the rest are weight driven, so my only real choice is to work with what I have. But I definitely feel more comfortable starting with the weight-driven movements than the springs.

Unfortunately, I may have to figure out how to work with springs since my mantle clock is so slow. but that handheld mainspring winder scares the crap out of me.
 

kinsler33

Registered User
Aug 17, 2014
3,491
429
83
73
Lancaster, Ohio, USA
Country
Region
Unfortunately, I may have to figure out how to work with springs since my mantle clock is so slow. but that handheld mainspring winder scares the crap out of me.
As well it should: they're rather dangerous. I bought one but have never used it. It's for loop-end springs, which are the open springs (not in barrels) that you'll find on old American-made clocks, and if you're working with those you can use the clock itself to wind the springs. Barreled springs are another story altogether: they really must come completely out of the barrel to be cleaned.

But if your clock runs reliably--that is, with good pendulum motion--but slowly, the movement is not causing the problem. I'd vote for the pendulum being either mounted incorrectly or the wrong one installed. How slow is it?

Mark Kinsler
 

shutterbug

Moderator
Staff member
NAWCC Member
Oct 19, 2005
44,377
1,367
113
North Carolina
Country
Region
On an open spring clock, you can use the plates as a winder. Put the main wheel with spring in the movement, secure the wheel with wire so it can't turn, and wind away. You'll need a let down tool, of course. If the wire is in the way, you can add the second wheel and secure that to the plate instead.
 

murphyfields

Registered User
Jun 24, 2020
75
10
8
Westminster, CO
Country
Region
But if your clock runs reliably--that is, with good pendulum motion--but slowly, the movement is not causing the problem. I'd vote for the pendulum being either mounted incorrectly or the wrong one installed. How slow is it?

Mark Kinsler
I lose about 5 minutes each hour. I just picked up this clock used, and I think the movement is around 36 years old. I am guessing that nothing has ever been done to it. It is, I believe, a Hermle 1050-020 movement with a moveable adjustment wheel for setting the timing. Chimes and strike work fine (although sound a little slow to me compared to my grandfather clocks), and I really like the sound of the chimes. I am sure that at this age I will need to clean it, and may have to learn about rebushing it. And since I have never worked with springs before, I have no idea yet what type of springs this uses. Off to youtube...
 
Last edited:

Kevin W.

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Apr 11, 2002
22,698
408
83
63
Nepean, Ontario, Canada
Country
Region
Be warned Murphyfields.Not all youtube videos are educational and are very poor advice.
 

murphyfields

Registered User
Jun 24, 2020
75
10
8
Westminster, CO
Country
Region
Be warned Murphyfields. Not all youtube videos are educational and are very poor advice.
Thanks for the warning. I have found that to be the case, as well. So far I have watched LOTS of youtube videos on clocks, and I tend to watch many on a topic before I try something. Right now I am trying to find a good video that shows the innards of my movement, and to start planning on what NOT to do. Then, once I think I can start, I come on here and ask some questions. The fun part is figuring out how to separate the good answers from the bad, when anyone answering here will have loads of more experience than I.

At least now I can laugh (and cry) at the videos showing someone spraying a can of WD40 on a movement, and I can call up my local clock supply shop and order the right part or tool. And I know to be very respectful of wound springs.
 

Kevin W.

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Apr 11, 2002
22,698
408
83
63
Nepean, Ontario, Canada
Country
Region
Yes a wound spring can hurt, even the less powerful ones on a 30 hour clock movement. There are many good repair people here that will help out. Always ask when in doubt.
 

murphyfields

Registered User
Jun 24, 2020
75
10
8
Westminster, CO
Country
Region
Does anyone have a YouTube hall of shame list? It would be very nice to know what to avoid. Of course, I would expect some arguments over that, with some saying to never use hand tools for bushings, and others saying there is nothing wrong with trying and learning even it it is not the accepted professional approach, and everyone has their own "right" way. What about a hall of fame for people who do things right?
 

murphyfields

Registered User
Jun 24, 2020
75
10
8
Westminster, CO
Country
Region
I am just about ready to open up the case on my A403-031 or Hermle 1151-053/94 movement. There are still 2 parts on the front that I think I need to remove, (gathering pallet arbor and the handshaft?). Do these need to be removed, and are there any other suggestions or videos with guidance? Dad1891 said they needed pullers. Does this mean basically that they just need force to remove? What kind of pullers do people use?

Thank you all once again in advance
for your suggestions

movement front.jpg movement back.jpg
 

roughbarked

Registered User
Dec 2, 2016
4,978
531
113
Western NSW or just this side of the black stump.
Country
Region
Last edited:

roughbarked

Registered User
Dec 2, 2016
4,978
531
113
Western NSW or just this side of the black stump.
Country
Region
It is a fair comment.
As I said. Usually, the gathering pallet has to be removed because its bearing wears the most.
In the case of the centre shaft, yes this makes it trickier to clean and oil. More difficult yes but it can be done. Since this is the more difficult to remove and replace and it rarely gives problems, most leave it alone unless it is necessary to repair.
 
Last edited:

murphyfields

Registered User
Jun 24, 2020
75
10
8
Westminster, CO
Country
Region
I have now opened up my movement, and will post some of my thoughts and experiences to help others avoid my mistakes and maybe to plan my next steps

I left the gathering pallet arbor and the handshaft on for now, removed the 5 nuts on the front plate (I figured if there were 5 nuts on the front and only 4 on the back, then this is a sign to remove the front plate) but when I went to remove the front plate, the two arbors/shafts I left in pulled out several other gears/shafts/arbors. So much for taking picture in its original pristine state. I think I have them all back in where they were originally but maybe not in their original orientations, and have taken lots of pics, but I think now I will try transferring them all to the front plate for more pics.

An initial check seems to show lots of wear on several spots, and it will need several new bushings. Is there a guide for naming parts somewhere so I can talk with some emulation of intelligence? I see mentions of T1 and S2, and I guess that means items from the time and strike chain, respectively, but how are they numbered? Is the power source (weight or spring) #1, or is #1 the first driven gear?

How do you decide how much wear is too much?

After reading the comments on here regarding Hermle movements, and knowing that all my "new" clocks have at least 30 years of wear on them, I am tempted to jump straight to Butterbearings. Before I get comments about just replacing the movements since Hermle's are not worth the time and effort, I want to say that I am an experimenter, not a repair person, so I can spend a little time, and if I am going to have to rebush them again soon anyway, why not give it the best repair I can, once. But I want to hear from others if I am missing something.

For tools, I have mostly hand tools and a small drill press. so I am afraid equipping myself to do bushings on just a few movements just doesn't make sense.

So, I guess my next question is, if you kept all your knowledge, but had limited tools, a worn hermle movement that you wanted to get running again, and time to do it, what kind of fix would you go for?
 

Kevin W.

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Apr 11, 2002
22,698
408
83
63
Nepean, Ontario, Canada
Country
Region
Hermle movements are good candidates for buter bearings. If you use the search function at top of page , you can read up on them.
 
Know Your NAWCC Forums Rules!
RULES & GUIDELINES

Find member

Forum statistics

Threads
161,013
Messages
1,396,916
Members
82,979
Latest member
Johntw
Encyclopedia Pages
1,099
Total wiki contributions
2,788
Last edit
How to wire a 24 volt secondary for a 12 volt ITR/IBM Master clock system by Toughtool