Seth Thomas Adamantine Gong Adjustment

Spifflog

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Thanks, as always, for taking the time to help a friend in need out.

To start, I have an adamantine clock, built in January 1898. It's been recently repaired well (and as you know finding a 'guy' isn't all that easy, and is most likely getting harder all the time). It's style is 717 1/2 and it has a No. 44 movement.

Three questions, I hope I'm not being greedy:

1. It gongs about 1.5 minutes after it should, i.e. at 1401.30 and 1431.30. Is there a fairly simple way to correct that? I haven't tried moving the minute hand back, as I presume that could mean the end of the world as I know it, with dogs and cats living together and all that.

2. I recognize the s/f hole at the top of the dial (that hole clearly has a name right?) Do you all use that, or do you just ever so slightly adjust the pendulum only? And related to that, I presume that one could turn this all the way to the right or left to its limits. Is there a way to know when it's right in the middle, so it has the ability to be fully adjusted either way?

3. I purchased two of Steven Conover's books which I find interesting. I thought I might have found a copy of the original instructions but they weren't there that I could see. Do they exist? Did they?

Thanks much. I do so enjoy this clock, and these conversations.

Vr, Drew
 

Willie X

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#1 - There is no easy way to adjust the drop off point. You could try turning the hand over. Don't turn the minute hand backwards, although on most #44 models this is the way you sync the strike to the correct hour. A repair person would have to examine your clock and instruct you on this3 point.

#2 - Yes the rating adjustment at the top has limits and it best not to test them. Just play the safe game and use the nut at the bottom of your pendulum.

#3 - Yes the instructions exist. They are printed on a paper label, glued to the lower ledge at the back, just below the removable back board. Usually it's missing or badly damaged. Someone may be able to post a photo. Willie X
 

bikerclockguy

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Try flipping the minute hand over first. On a lot of clocks, this will make the position of the “pointer” end of the hand vary by a minute or 2, but the angle at the “hub” end is so slight that it’s not easy to see with the naked eye. If that doesn’t work, look in Connover’s book in the section under adjusting the warning position, and that will give you the steps to correct it.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Hello Drew,

You've gotten some excellent advice already. I'll just chime in with the following...

#1 It's promising to hear that the amount of error between the time showing on your clock's dial and the hour/half-hour strike is consistent. This would suggest to me that flipping the minute hand over, as both Willie and Biker have already suggested, may be a quick and easy way to correct the problem. If that doesn't work, please let us know. If there is a lot of slop or looseness in the fit of the minute hand you may be able to shim it.

#2 I agree with Willie that it's potentially damaging to go to the extremes of your clock's through-the-dial regulator. Keep in mind that your double-ended winding key gives you the tremendous leverage needed to wind mainsprings while the regulator is relatively delicate. There should be very little resistance to turning the key in either direction. Once you feel any resistance to turning the key further, STOP turning. If you want to set the regulator to the middle of its range, go all the way in one direction until you reach the limit, then count the number of key turns required to get to the opposite limit. Divide that number by two and finally go that number of turns from the limit to put things in the middle. Then make adjustments using the rating nut on the bottom of your pendulum bob to get as much accuracy in time-keeping as you can. From there, minor fine-tuning adjustments can easily be made (ideally when it's time to rewind the mainsprings) with plenty of extra range left in either direction.

#3 Someone probably has a photo. You can sometimes find reproductions offered on eBay. Diluted wallpaper paste or Elmer's white glue can do a good job of stabilizing an existing label or replacing one.

Bruce
 

Spifflog

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Willie X, Biker, and Bruce, thanks much for taking the time to answer.

Part of the problem that I have is that after reading up on the clocks here, and in the Conover books, what one can do with one movement will brake another, so I'm reluctant to just jump in.

Copy on the instruction's. I've found some photos already, but as noted above, I'd presume they differ from movement and movement.

I'll also take the advice on the small hole pendulum adjustment going back and forth.

I've tried googling, but I may need to search here. I don't know what " flipping the minute hand over" means and it doesn't seem intuitive.
 

Bruce Alexander

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I've tried googling, but I may need to search here. I don't know what " flipping the minute hand over" means and it doesn't seem intuitive.
By that we mean that you remove the minute hand a rotate it 180 degrees in such a way that the surface which was facing the dial is now facing away from the dial. Does that make sense? The side of the minute hand that you see when you look at the dial is turned away from you so that you see the other side.

Here is a reproduction of a typical Adamantine Label: It measures approximately 8" x 2"

STAdamantineLabel.jpg

Hope that helps.

Bruce

Note: As Willie warned, be very careful about turning the minute hand backwards past the hour or half-hour strike points. This label states that you can and Seth Thomas had designed a "turn back" feature that allowed owners to do so without damaging the movement but make sure your clock has the feature. Whoever overhauled the movement for you should know.

Here is an explanation of the turnback design with illustrations: https://abouttime-clockmaking.com/pdfs/what_is_it_labounty.pdf

Here's a view of what the turnback counterweight part looks like from the back of a fully assembled movement:

ST_Adamantine_Turnback_Counterweight.jpg

(Note the label remnant)

If you try to turn the minute hand backwards past a strike/chime point (in your clock's case 12 or 6), do so very slowly and STOP if you encounter any real resistance. In other words, do not force anything. When in doubt, only move the minute hand in a clockwise direction. If the clock is striking an hour count not shown on the dial, you can always move the hour hand to the right time. The hour hand has a friction fit and can be reset without affecting any of the movement parts. You can turn it in either direction just be careful not to loosen it by moving it towards the minute hand. That might also cause it to interfere with the movement of the minute hand which can result in the clock stalling. If that happens, it's a very simple matter to properly reposition the hour hand, just be aware of the possibility and try to avoid causing the problem in the first place.
 
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Spifflog

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Thanks everyone. Appreciate the pics and the discussion.

So the advice is to try and flip the minute hand first. If that doesn't work, if I have the turn back lever (and it appears that I do from the attached photo, I an ohhh so gently try and move it back to not past the point when it wants to gong (top dead center or at the very bottom).

Appreciate the instructions as well.

You guys are great. I can't thank you enough.

no.44 closeup.jpeg
 

Willie X

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Usually, you will hear a click between the #8 or #9. There is no need to ever go back past this click point; bad things can happen. This (just mentioned) action is to sync your hour count to agree with the hour hand. This has absolutely nothing to do with the slightly off strike drop off point. Willie X
 

Spifflog

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Usually, you will hear a click between the #8 or #9. There is no need to ever go back past this click point; bad things can happen. This (just mentioned) action is to sync your hour count to agree with the hour hand. This has absolutely nothing to do with the slightly off strike drop off point. Willie X
Thanks Willie X. As I mentioned, I can move the minute hand back 90 seconds at any point right? It could be 6:47 or 10:05. It doesn't matter right?
 

Willie X

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Sure. You can make that move without a problem. The main thing is to move the hand carefully and allow the strike to always finish on the hour. No need to stop rotation at the half. Your clock has an independent 'passing bell' strike. It's an always there thing and works even when the strike spring has run down.
Willie X
 

Bruce Alexander

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Hey Willie,

an independent 'passing bell' strike.
I might be wrong but I think that most 44 movements did not use the passing bell strike. All strikes are handled by the Count Wheel/Strike Train. The passing bell strike is something that is often seen on the 89s.

Maybe I'm missing something in Drew's photo?

I have one or two of these 44 "Hip" movements in my bone yard. My spares are geared for shorter suspension rods but should be basically the same. I'll double check. Edit 2: I just checked a 3 5/8 No. 44 and you're right Willie. It does have the independent passing strike for the Gong all through the one hammer. I'm not sure what movement I was thinking about. Clearly one with more slots on the Count Wheel. :?|

Regards,

Bruce

Edit: Drew, I completely agree with Willie about flipping the minute hand. If you're lucky that will "sync" the position of the minute hand closer to the Strike points. That's all. The turn-back feature of these movements simply allow you to reset the strike train so that it agrees with the hour shown on the dial. The Time and Strike trains should remain "synced" unless the clock's mainsprings are allowed to run down without re-winding. Something that might happen if you go on vacation and forget to stop the clock. If the Strike Mainspring runs out of power first, the Time Train will keep going until it too runs out of power and the two trains will need to be reset.

If the mainsprings are both powered and the Strike Train gets out of sync with the Time shown on the dial with some frequency, your movement may need timing adjustments made by someone who knows these movements inside and out.
 
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Spifflog

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Bruce, Willie X, others, thanks much! Wish I was in a position to return the favor.

Best to all, Drew
 

bikerclockguy

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Bruce, Willie X, others, thanks much! Wish I was in a position to return the favor.

Best to all, Drew
Does that mean you got it fixed? I guess I’m “others”, sort of like the professor and Mary Ann were “and the rest” on the early episodes of “Gilligan’s Island”:emoji_joy:. Just kidding, hope you got ‘er going!
 
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Bruce Alexander

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Well, the smart money is always on Willie and biker is always a big help. I too am curious. Did flipping the minute hand fix the issue for you?
 

shutterbug

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I'll just note that flipping the hand is the only part of the advice that will correct the issue you describe. The other parts will help regulate the clock so it keeps time, and similar helpful hints. I just didn't want you to think that the S/F or pendulum nut had anything to do with the late strike.
 

Spifflog

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Bikerclockguy, very funny!

And yes to all of you that helped, flipping the minute hand did help, and has it within 30 seconds, so I'll take that. I presume that if it was more than that I'd have to take it to clock repair guy (that clearly isn't me unfortunately).

Thanks again. You all make this an amazing resource!

Spiff
 

Bruce Alexander

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That's good Spiff,

Very generally speaking if the minute hand is within a minute of the strike times, that is considered by some to be normal for an antique, mass produced clock like this. There's a certain amount of "slop" or wear and tear that's to be expected. Thirty seconds is really pretty good in my opinion.
 

Spifflog

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That's good Spiff,

Very generally speaking if the minute hand is within a minute of the strike times, that is considered by some to be normal for an antique, mass produced clock like this. There's a certain amount of "slop" or wear and tear that's to be expected. Thirty seconds is really pretty good in my opinion.
Funny you should say that.

My great grand parents were married three months before this clock was made in January, 1898. Was either a wedding gift or one of the first expensive items they bought. I was talking with my wife over a glass of bourbon just last night pontificating that I have a clock that's been in my family for close to 125 years that was made in the 1800s. It's gong is off by a minute, and it sometimes runs a tad fast, and sometimes a bit slow.

But it runs, I love it, and I'm lucky - very fortunate - to have it. No more bitching over a minute, I'm grateful!
 

Willie X

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To add to your opinion, my opinion is that the 44s are the best high production clocks ever made. I overhaul most of them that come in, even though they still run. Many have never been taken apart and they made the LAST one in 1902!
The big wheels allow using one less wheel in the train. This makes the trains more efficient and allows the use of a lighter spring. All this adds up to very low wear rates and easy winding. The large wheels required a big robust framework and this made for easy repair.
It's one of those things that was great "way back when" and still great today.
Willie X
 

Spifflog

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Thanks Willie X! Really appreciate the info on the clock. Glad to know I have a keeper.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Glad to know I have a keeper.
The heirloom provenance alone makes it a keeper. It's a lucky clock. So many end up unwanted. Tossed or dumped on the market as junk to get rid of.

Can you please post a front-view photo of the clock? I'm not familiar with a "717 1/2". I saw a "715" in Tran Duy Ly's Seth Thomas reference, but I couldn't find your clock.

I find the 700 series to have some very nice designs. We have a 787 with black and "Brazilian Onyx" patterned Adamantine veneers. It has a "Swigart" replacement dial which was placed at some time in its maintenance history.

Front.jpg

Seth Thomas evidently produced a very high number of model 722's as "Premiums" offered by the Larkin Company to customers who had bought a certain amount of their soaps. You see these models all the time on eBay.

No_763_1900.jpg

Here is an illustration of the clock in a Larkin Company Premium Catalog which was available for "free" with the purchase of a $10 selection of soaps. Ten dollars in 1900 was the equivalent of over $300 in 2021. That must have been a lot of soap. but those were nicely designed clocks with the No. 44 Movement and a LOT of them survive to this day. We've had several in our personal collection from time to time. They are "Keepers" for sure.

Larkin_722.jpg
 
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Spifflog

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Bruce,

Regret the delay. I wanted some natural light in my office. I agree that I'm amazingly fortunate. I think my Maine family was pretty frugal because, well, it was their only option! So when they had something nice, they were gentle with it.

Seth Thomas Clock 717..5b.jpeg Seth Thomas Clock 717.5 a.jpeg Seth Thomas Clock 717.5 a.jpeg

Here it is again. It's the same size as all the other adamantine clocks. I placed the key in the corner.

Seth Thomas Clock Instructions.jpeg

Instructions. I often wondered if there was a manual as we have today, but I guess not. Perhaps it was too expensive to print (which I doubt) or perhaps men were expected to understand how a clock would work.

Seth Thomas Clock Number.jpeg

I always thought this number was '717 1/2' but the more that I look at it, perhaps not. I'm more than willing to be corrected.

Thanks for the interest in this clock of Robert Bruce Stewart's! I'd like to think he'd be happy that we are still talking about his clock 123 years later!
 

Bruce Alexander

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No regrets necessary Spifflog. Thank you for taking the time to post such nice photos. That stamp looks like "717 1/2" to me, and there's no arguing with an original model stamp on the case. If Tran Duy Ly hadn't retired several years ago, he might have been interested in adding this model to his book on Seth Thomas clocks.

The finish looks like "Brazilian Onyx" to me. As I leaf through Tran's book, I see that there was a "Mexican Onyx" pattern too but I can't see any difference between the black and white illustrations.

One thing about Adamantine, it normally ages well but it doesn't hold up under strong light. Sunlight will make the colors fade and can even cause the surface to break down from smooth to a rough, bleached out appearance. Sometimes the finish can be restored with automotive rubbing/polishing compounds but the veneer is not that thick. Ideally, it should only be cleaned with non-abrasive agents. Hand cleaners like GOJO (without pumice), or GOOP carefully applied with clean, soft cloth rags and Q-Tips in hard to reach areas works very well. Once clean, a coat or two of good quality auto wax will help restore and protect the finish.

Your clock has obviously been well cared for. In my experience, intact original labels are rarely found.

Here's a photo of a clock we used to own which is similar, in some ways, to your family clock. The colors are a little darker. Perhaps it's "Mexican Onyx". Who knows? Maybe it was just a darker batch of Adamantine. In any case, I always thought that the background used in the Auctioneer's photos really complimented the Adamantine Pattern.

SethThomas.jpg

This model is also not listed in Trans' Seth Thomas book. I think that most of his reference catalogs for Adamantine clocks may not have gone back this far. I'm not sure but many of his model circa dates seem to be in the 1910 +/- 5 year range. This clock's date stamp indicates it was manufactured in July of 1894. As you can see, the label had not aged as well as yours but it was still there!
July1891.jpg

Unknown to me at the time of purchase, this clock was actually a "Marriage". Someone had fit a Sessions Time & Strike movement to this case. A lot can happen to a clock over the course of a 120+ years. Unwelcome surprises too often come with the territory. I found an orphaned model/age appropriate Seth Thomas No. 44 movement on eBay and replaced the Sessions with it.

I sold this clock a couple of years ago. Of course I disclosed the non-original Seth Thomas movement to all prospective buyers and still had no problems finding a new home for the clock. Hopefully it won't find itself back on the Auction block anytime soon.

Regards,

Bruce
 

Spifflog

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Thanks much for adding to the history of the clock. I didn't know the color name or the additional history you provided.

Your clock was beautiful! It must have been difficult to part with. I also have hobbies (stained glass in my case) and there is only so much of one thing you can have around the house, especially if I want my wide to stay with me! We have three clocks now that gong and chime, not sure she'd tolerate another.

Thanks again for this info, and the history of your clock. I have more stories to tell now!

Drew
 
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