Seth Thomas Empire Crystal Regulator - Tell me everything!


NAWCC Member
Jan 24, 2011
San Francisco
I got a text on a Craigslist ad from a friend Friday evening while eating dinner "you should buy this", along with a link to the ad.. I have been on a short hiatus from "collecting" as I am still relatively new to servicing my own clocks and I'm running out of wall, shelf and table space. As I've learned more, I'm more selective in what I'm interested in actually owning. The tip came in very shortly after the ad posted, the price was very reasonable. I open the ad and I think "hmmmm", maybe? I respond to the ad (in between bites of dinner) on my phone via Craigslist's anonymised email system "I'd like to buy it if it is still for sale, I'll pay cash". You can skip straight to the pictures if you are bored by now.

I check my e-mail continually till I go to bed. Wake up the next morning early, as usual, and after a few hours of no response, send a follow-up email again with my cell # and please allow a bit of drive time because this clock is about 50 miles away. Just as I was finishing lunch and about to give my dog a bath (I already had the towels, shampoo and water running for the dog), a text comes in. He says "what time can you be here". I stop everything, do some furious checking on drive time, tell the spouse I'm raiding the piggy bank of $80 and gotta go - be back in 3 or 4 hours. Keep in mind I have actively been trying NOT to buy clocks...I show up in the driveway after an hour and a half drive that included my GPS initially sending me on the freeway in the opposite direction of the clock. Text that I'm here. Youngish guy comes out, sets the clock on a table next to the front door. I take a quick look, hand him cash, very few words exchanged. He leaves the clock on the table and walks back inside and closes the door. I remove the pendulum, wrap everything up in microfiber towels and I'm headed back home. I get home, receive the evil-ish eye from my spouse and no time to really look at it till this morning.

From web photos it appears I have a Seth Thomas Empire Model 1? Model 101? Model 3? Model 301? The movement is stamped ST 48N. As the Craigslist ad stated, the clock runs, then stops. The original finish is fairly intact, with a bit of patina, especially on the top. Other than having old oil that's turned to dusty, black grease at the pivots, it looks really clean. It really wants to run. It appears to have a lacquer finish in really nice condition on the rear plate. The gilt on the pendulum is hardly worn at all. The porcelain dial is pristine - no hairlines, no chips. The gilt around the dial is also almost like new. None of the screws are mangled, there are no significant scratches anywhere. A few small defects in the glasses where maybe something rubbed up against a panel during transport, minor scratches. No chipped glass anywhere. Hammer on the strike appears to be the same one it left with at the factory. I'm in California, so at some point it has traveled from Cleveland to the San Francisco Bay Area.

My questions:
How to I remove the movement to service? I read on the forum that it is a bayonet twist on mount? Is there a source of general information on how to service these clocks - especially how to properly remove the serviceable parts without damaging the case, anything special about the 48N movement, and things I should be mindful of before I begin servicing it in the future? I'd like to keep the lacquer finish on the movement plates and and elsewhere, if that is at all reasonable, and I just know that if I dunk the parts in my ultrasonic and some Deox007 that lacquer is going to wrinkle right off and I'm not necessarily ok with that. I'd rather know as much as I can about this before I go further than I have in removing surface dirt on the case and glass with a slightly dampened t-shirt. Most of the case got a nice treatment of Renaissance wax after it was cleaned.

My other questions: tell me anything about the Seth Thomas crystal regulators mechanically similar as it references back to my clock. Point me to reference material. I don't think this clock is particularly valuable, but it is well preserved and apparently original, and to me, that means a lot.

Sorry this post is so long - I didn't have time to make it short. And to the fellow NAWCC member who sent me the tip, I am very thankful for that act of kindness!!

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bruce linde

NAWCC Member
Nov 13, 2011
oakland, ca.
pretty… that’s a good friend. :)
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