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Seth Thomas "Helmsman" Ships Clock ......Need some Advice

digitalblsphemy

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Dec 15, 2020
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I picked up this Seth Thomas ships clock today. Found a key that fits. Here's what I found so far;
Time side was completely unwound.
chime side was wound tight.
That being said after winding it up there's no movement what so ever on the sideways suspension spring that drives these things.
Moving the clock hands around the dial there is no strike, (movement) in any position 6 or 12.
It appears to be frozen solid. It's not unusually gummed up, or dirty. Nothing I haven't seen before anyway.
I've never attempted to take one of these apart before, so proceeding frustratingly slow. I removed the movement from the housing but have yet to pull the front plate and dial off.
Now units like these that I have usually have a timing accuracy or a wrong chiming pattern.
Here's the question;
Being that everything appears frozen is this more of a Pandora's box than a repair?
If the chime hammer triggered, fly spun or the spring ran for a minute maybe.
I'm beginning to think maybe move on to something else.....lol
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Dick Feldman

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no movement what so ever on the sideways suspension spring that drives these things.
I think what you are referring to is the balance escapement. That type is called a platform balance. in actuality the balance spring is driven by the clock train, not by the balance pulling or some magic. Balance escapements seldom go bad unless an novice has "adjusted" the balance.

The strike pattern is foreign to normal people. Click the following link.
Platform balances are delicate and very expensive to repair or replace.

The same trouble shooting methods apply.
Make sure FIRST AND FOREMOST that the escapement has power. Check for wear in both trains.
Those clocks are not impossible to repair.

If you feel it is beyond your capacity, maybe put it aside till you advance to the level of the clock.
Good luck with your clock,
Dick
 

digitalblsphemy

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Dec 15, 2020
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Thanks for the input Dick. I've been fiddling around with it . I can get the the escapement to turn briefly and the spring will contract and expand. It's not that. Something is holding the entire movement in place. Even the chime train won't complete a sequence.
The only thing that comes to my mind is to fully let down both springs and then go from there. They are fully wound at the moment. I see nothing visibly that would cause this condition.
Like I mentioned before , this clock for it's age is "too" clean. I see no signs of lubrication anywhere. I've used tooth picks, cotton swabs around certain pivots and I get absolutely no residue of any kind, There's always residue but not on this one...lol
I'm going to let down the springs with my tool tomorrow and see what shakes loose, so to speak.
 

R. Croswell

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Thanks for the input Dick. I've been fiddling around with it . I can get the the escapement to turn briefly and the spring will contract and expand. It's not that. Something is holding the entire movement in place. Even the chime train won't complete a sequence.
The only thing that comes to my mind is to fully let down both springs and then go from there. They are fully wound at the moment. I see nothing visibly that would cause this condition.
Like I mentioned before , this clock for it's age is "too" clean. I see no signs of lubrication anywhere. I've used tooth picks, cotton swabs around certain pivots and I get absolutely no residue of any kind, There's always residue but not on this one...lol
I'm going to let down the springs with my tool tomorrow and see what shakes loose, so to speak.
Before you let down the main springs, use a probe like a small screwdriver or tooth pick and, starting at the top of each train, gently try to rock the top wheel back and forth, then the next wheel down, then the next etc. You are looking for a wheel that will rock back and forth and stay where you move it. That wheel has no power getting to it. Looking carefully at that point you should be able to discover what is preventing the rest of the train from getting power. If possible, it is always best to determine what the problem is before trying to fix it. Look for broken gear and pinion teeth, especially at the spring barrels and 2nd. wheels, and any signs that the clicks may have failed and caused collateral damage. Unless someone "oiled" it with super glue it should not be totally frozen.

RC
 

digitalblsphemy

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Dec 15, 2020
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Thanks RC
I've been doing just that and so far I know the balance spring good. I know the butterfly, (fan) will spin if it's encouraged. I've tried to rock various wheels starting from the top down. Many layers to this movement. I can't get at the clicks without removing the last cover plate so that's next.
I still don't see any damaged teeth broken or worn. Personally I think this movement is running dry if indeed it could run.
There are a lot of springs, (not spring steel) attached in various places. None look damaged, bent or out of place. I dont have access to a lot without removing the next cover plate. As I said before I've never looked this close at one of these before. I have a 1/2 dozen around and they just work.
I'll know more once the plate is off. Stay tuned












































i've tried to ro
 

bangster

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I shall be castigated for this, but the first thing I would do, before removingn parts or anything, is flush i t out
with carb cleaner. That may not help anything, but it won't hurt anything if you don't direct it at the platform
balance.

Is what I think
 

R. Croswell

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Thanks RC
I've been doing just that and so far I know the balance spring good. I know the butterfly, (fan) will spin if it's encouraged. I've tried to rock various wheels starting from the top down. Many layers to this movement. I can't get at the clicks without removing the last cover plate so that's next.
I still don't see any damaged teeth broken or worn. Personally I think this movement is running dry if indeed it could run.
There are a lot of springs, (not spring steel) attached in various places. None look damaged, bent or out of place. I dont have access to a lot without removing the next cover plate. As I said before I've never looked this close at one of these before. I have a 1/2 dozen around and they just work.
I'll know more once the plate is off. Stay tuned












































i've tried to ro
I'm not sure what you mean when you say remove "the next cover plate"? You will need to remove the dial to get access to the clicks. You said, "I know the butterfly, (fan) will spin if it's encouraged", and that's an important clue. The tests I described earlier were to search for a point in the going (time) and strike trains beyond where there is NO power in the train indicating that something is broken or physically binding. Your observation that the fan or fly as it is sometimes called will spin when encouraged indicates that power is present through the entire train, just not enough power.

At the risk of "being surgically altered" I agree with Bangs, spraying with carb cleaner, or mass airflow sensor cleaner of other solvent can serve as a diagnostic tool and may loosen things up enough to get the wheels turning. Of course if you expect the clock to run for any length of time after the cleaner evaporates you will be disappointed. It is obvious that this movement needs to be disassembled and cleaned, including removing and cleaning the mainsprings. Once it is clean you may discover worn pivot holes that should be addressed while it is apart.

RC
 

digitalblsphemy

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Dec 15, 2020
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RC
Thanks for the input. For clarity sake, this is a multi platform, (plate) device. The one I was referring to does nothing more than act as a base to mount the dial. It covers things I need to get at. I've been bouncing back and forth between this and a very old GB that will stay in beat and then likes to stop once mounted back in it's case.
I'll leave the carb cleaner idea on the shelf for the time being. I still think this thing has been running dry for too long and at the risk of repeating myself again, it's just too clean looking for any gunk to have accumulated unseen.
I'm going to remove that mounting plate, check the pivots that were hidden, and maybe oil everything and see if it frees up anything.

Regards
Bill
 

JimmyOz

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If you think it is seized up get some penetrating oil and spray it on and leave it for a while, however I am with the rest of the guys I think you will find a few bent teeth on the spring barrel that are jammed against the pinion somewhere. looks like damage to the teeth in photo 3?
 

digitalblsphemy

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Dec 15, 2020
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Just an update on this Seth Thomas "helmsman" I finally got a chance to look at again.
Seeing nothing visibly wrong, I was hoping that maybe it was just running dry and stopped.
I went around to any visible pivots and cleaned them. (Really was nothing to clean). I oiled all all the pivot points I could get to, both sides when possible.
While I was doing this the platform escapement magically came back to life and started running. It's been running about 30 hours without a hitch.
So today I looked at the entire striking mechanism, made sure everything was lubricated. I could never get it to trip the sequence that started the 2,2,2,2 by rotating the minute hand. Nothing..
Long story short I finally noticed a 3rd lever, behind all the others dropping but not as far as it should. That was the one that started all the others in sequence. Oiling that pivot that holds that particular lever, freed up the entire train.
I apologize for not knowing the nomenclature of every part on this ships clock.
It's now running, keeping time, and striking the 2,2,2,2 sequence as it should.
Once in a while we get lucky....
I'll post a picture once the case and clock are cleaned up and re-assembled.

Thanks for all the suggestions
 

JimmyOz

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The reason that the lever was not dropping would have been that someone had oiled it in the past and the oil had become sticky. If you take the affected levers off and clean the post with 0000 grade steel wool and clean the hole in the levers it will work without adding oil and as I said it was the oil that made them stick.
 

shutterbug

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Jimmy is correct. Levers should not be oiled. Rule of thumb: oil only the parts that turn 360°.
 

digitalblsphemy

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Thanks shutterbug I learned something. I never heard that before now.
It's above my pay grade to disassemble a multi-platform Ships clock. I would never attempt it so this was my shot in the dark remedy. Luckily it worked for me.
The picture shows the lever in question. It was luck finding that was the strike issue to begin with.
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JimmyOz

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You did well to get it up and running, however, at least you know if it happens again how to fix it.
 

digitalblsphemy

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Dec 15, 2020
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So I have this aforementioned Ships clock running for a while now. Unfortunately the chimes are off a tad. It loses 10 minutes/day which is nagging at me. I know, I know I'm lucky it runs at all.
Question;
Can the escapement platform be speed it up at all beyond the adjustment lever on the front face?
 

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