Seth Thomas Hermle Movement Repair

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by Larry46, Sep 28, 2015.

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  1. Larry46

    Larry46 Registered User

    Apr 24, 2012
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    In 1974 I purchased new a Seth Thomas carriage clock that has the Hermle A403-002 movement. For the first 20 years I used the clock regularly. But, for the last few years I have seldom wound the clock. Mostly because it loses about 5 minutes in a 24 hour period. I've tried regulating the floating balance wheel according to the instructions on the inside of the clock, but that has had no effect on speeding up the clock. I am now 70 years old and I want to give this clock to my niece. But, I'm cautious about taking it to a clock repair person since I can't afford much to have it worked on. But, I don't want to saddle her with the expense of repairing my gift either.

    I suspect that the balance wheel mechanism could be the problem, but I don't know for sure. I would welcome any advice from those on the forum that have time to help me.

    Thanks

    Uncle Larry
     
  2. MARK A. BUTTERWORTH

    MARK A. BUTTERWORTH Registered User
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    We are recommending to customers that when replacing the movement, they choose the short drop 15 cm unit instead of a balance wheel one. The price is the same including the pendulum.
     
  3. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Mark, I don't know that a carriage clock would either fit with, or look good with a pendulum movement.
    Larry, at the very least, your movement would benefit from an oiling, and if it has never been cleaned, it is overdue.
     
  4. Larry46

    Larry46 Registered User

    Apr 24, 2012
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    Harold,

    What do you think a cleaning could cost?

    Larry
     
  5. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I would figure in the $250.00 area. Seems like a lot, but probably good for 20 years ... so pretty cheap. :)
     
  6. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Larry, it would depend on whether bushings are needed, but I would charge around $175 for a two train movement.
     
  7. MARK A. BUTTERWORTH

    MARK A. BUTTERWORTH Registered User
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    That Seth Thomas is a Hermle triple chime 1050-020.
     
  8. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Thanks, Mark, I just went with carriage clock without cross referencing the movement. In this case, yes, a pendulum movement would work. With a three train movement, my price would go up about $150 or so.
     
  9. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    This is a 40 year old clock that has been used for about 20 years. In my opinion, any short cut attempt to solve the erratic time keeping is likely to be only short term. Spending money on a short term solution will likely result in eventually having to replace the movement. Add the cost of a short term repair to the eventual cost of a new movement! And the way prices keep going up on new movements, replacing the movement now is probably the cheapest solution, long term. Even rebuilding one of these results in a movement that is not likely to run as long, or as satisfactorily as a new one! A replacement movement will likely be more expensive than a major repair, but long term, it's the way to go IMO.
     
  10. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    We're not helping Larry very much, because we aaren't paying attention to what he asked.

    He has a floating balance clock that loses 5 minutes a day. He can't afford to put several hundred dollars into it. He'd like to know if there are things he can do to it to make it stop losing time.

    Chronological age of the clock doesn't matter. With 20 years of run time, it's unlikely to be worn to the point of needing replacement.

    Instead of recommending that he put several hundred dollars into it, we might think of things that could make a floating balance run slow, and see if they are things Larry himself could take care of. So far, none of the advice we've offered comes anywhere near answering his request.

    What about replacing the floating balance with a new hairspring balance, for starters?
     
  11. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    The new movement is in the $200 area, not several hundred. Just the balance is going to be in the neighborhood of $50.00 with no guarantee it will be better. The new movement is the best all around 'fix' for someone with no clock repair experience. And, a $200 gift is not out of line :)
     
  12. MARK A. BUTTERWORTH

    MARK A. BUTTERWORTH Registered User
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    Balances do not generally wear by themselves and are the least likely source of trouble. At a minimum the clock will need cleaned and the mainsprings lubed. After 20 years it probably will need some bushings. Can the poster do any of this?
     
  13. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    The OP says he can't contemplate spending a lot of money on the clock. And he's asking us for advice. I guess it would be real nice if we could come up with an inexpensive fix that would guarantee results! Who among us that work on clocks would try to achieve such a solution, spend a lot of time on it, invest in a bunch of parts, and fail to make it run better. Then to send it back to the owner, no charge? Anyone? Not me!
     
  14. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    For some 70-year olds, $200 is a lot of money. If indeed there's nothing he can do on his own to make his clock stop losing time, he needs to know that. That seems to be the consensus of opinion. I'm not convinced, but I'll go along.

    In that case, there are only three options: (1) dip into the rent money for a new movement that he installs himself; (2) give it to the niece and tell her it has a problem he couldn't fix; (3) Abandon the idea of giving it as a gift.

    None of them are what he wants to hear.
     
  15. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    I know what he wants to hear! He would prefer an inexpensive repair, perhaps that he can do, and with a guarantee the clock will run well. The three parameters are... Inexpensive, simple, and guaranteed. I don't think anyone is going the be able to suggest a solution that gives him all three! A fourty year old clock that hasn't been maintained is not a candidate for an inexpensive, simple, guaranteed solution, in my view!
    ,
     
  16. Larry46

    Larry46 Registered User

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    I really appreciate the time, attention and thoughtful evaluation of my clock situation. There is a horologist in my town that I have used for years to service various watches. I took the clock to him about 3 weeks ago to have it serviced and he no longer works on clocks. There is another clock repairman in town, but he didn't recommend I take it there. Now that I know the costs could exceed $200, I think he did me a favor.

    The reason I think the problem could be in the balance is because that's the part I've had to touch over the years. On top of the balance wheel is the part one is instructed to move either in the positive or negative direction. Sometimes it moves freely as though it's not attached to anything. Other times it seems to be very hard to move.

    I think I could replaced the balance myself if I had one. But, I don't know where to buy it or what to order. There must be a part number. I definitely could not replace bushings. I don't have the tools for that.

    At this point, I would be interested in knowing where to buy parts for the clock - movement or balance. Then I could decide if replacing these things is possible.

    I have considered giving the clock to my niece "as is" but that seems to be the least likely course. I've collected clocks over the years and I have quite a few, including a Gustaf Becker wall clock that was made around 1880. It is the most accurate clock I own and has never given me any problems. In my younger years I also built a Grandfather clock from a kit. It's solid walnut. The kit, in an unopened box, was 30 years old when I bought it. That clock is my favorite.

    This weekend I'm going to visit my 96 year old mother. Here's her most interesting clock story. About a year ago she opened the door of her grandfather clock to pull up the weights. As she was doing this, she lost her balance and fell backward while still holding onto the chain. She landed on the floor and the clock fell on top of her. At 5' tall, she's wasn't strong enough to get the clock off of herself. Fortunately, she wears a device she can push to summon help. The EMS people arrived quickly and removed the clock. When my brother called me to tell me what had happened he said, "Oh, she was fine once they got the clock off of her".

    Larry
     
  17. Randy Beckett

    Randy Beckett Registered User
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    When you fully wind the clock, how many days does the clock run before it stops? About how many degrees of rotation does the balance have when it is running? Does the clock tend to run faster, slower, or about the same each day,as it winds down?

    These are some clues to tell us whether your movement is likely to be suffering primarily from wear problems, or adjustment problems.

    One cheap/free thing you can do to test the movement to see if "perhaps" the movement is worth spending a little more time on is to remove it from the case, and put a drop of Liquid Wrench solvent on each pivot and wind it up. If it perks up and runs normally for a week, or more, a good servicing "might" be worth it. If not, the new movement would be the best solution.
     
  18. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Larry, if you have the confidence to remove the balance unit, cleaning it would probably make the most difference. All you need is some naptha gas (camping fuel) and a small container for it. Put it in the naptha for a few minutes, swish it, then you are done. Do not oil it. Then put it back into the clock. If you have any clock oil, you could try oiling the pivots on the rest of the movement.
     
  19. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    It might be worth a PM to Mark Butterworth (post #12). He's the Hermle man :)
     
  20. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    Mark Butterworth has posted to this thread three times. The way I interpret his posts, it seems clear to me what Mark considers to be the best solution.
     
  21. Larry46

    Larry46 Registered User

    Apr 24, 2012
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    I'm wasn't looking for someone on the group to work on the clock, especially for free. If I gave that impression, then I'm sorry. I was curious about what the recommendations would be for this clock. If someone can lead me to a source for movements and parts, then at least I'll be able to compare replacing parts vs. cleaning and repair. I still believe it's the balance mechanism.

    In the meantime, I'll remove the movement from the case and clean the balance. When I wind this clock it runs until it needs winding again - at least 8 days. It loses 5 minutes in a 24-hour period pretty consistently. I can't tell if it loses more than that as it winds down - five days and it's 25 minutes slow.

    Larry
     
  22. Larry46

    Larry46 Registered User

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    It loses 5 minutes in a 24-hour period rather consistently. It will run until the springs need winding. It never stops unless I have not wound it. I still believe it's the balance that is the problem. Today I moved the lever on top of the wheel and it moved like it's not attached to anything. Just moved without any resistance. I can't adjust fast or slow with it loose like that.

    Larry

    - - - Updated - - -

    I have clock oil, and I'm confident enough to remove and clean the balance unit. That may also tell me if it's broken (which I suspect).

    Larry
     
  23. dad1891

    dad1891 Registered User

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    Larry,

    Be careful when you remove the balance wheel. There are two pins on the balance assembly that go through a rather fragile sheetmetal fork. You of have to tilt the balance wheel to get it out without disturbing the fork. The fork is thin brass and it's position is critical to proper operation of the balance unit. If you bend it taking out the balance, it can be bent back into position, but it's a bear to get it right.
     
  24. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    #24 bangster, Oct 1, 2015
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    Hey Larry, look HERE for a replacement balance unit.

    BTW, your movement is a Hermle 1050-020
    ---

    Later:
    How the hell did that (battery commercial) happen?
     
  25. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    You have to hold the balance wheel while moving the lever. It will only go so far until you run out of adjustment and locks.
     
  26. scott64a

    scott64a Registered User

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    Larry,

    Your clock needs to be cleaned, inspected and oiled at the least.

    If a movement has 40 years' worth of grunge accumulated on it, regardless of whether it has been run for the whole 40, it isn't going to help anything if the mainsprings are binding and filthy, the bushings have congealed oil and dirt slowing the trains and no telling what shape the bushings are in.

    If you can't afford to have it cleaned properly, and are not well versed in the floating balance, (they can be problematic!) then don't remove pieces in an attempt to short cut necessary service.

    Honestly, a 40 year old Hermle floating balance movement should be replaced. That's just my opinion.

    When you weigh the cost of having someone overhaul and replace bushings for that movement v just buying a new movement from Mark Butterworth and installing it yourself, it will end up to be cheaper and your gift will run for another 40 years. If you have a clockmaker order and install it, there's mark-up, naturally.
    An overhaul may or may not get you another 20 years. It depends on the wear and tear it's had.


    Sorry there are no cheap solutions.

    That's life.
     
  27. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    Like this.

    floating balance annotated copy.jpg
     
  28. Larry46

    Larry46 Registered User

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    Ok. I was successful in removing the movement and then the balance unit. I soaked the balance unit in naptha for a while then let it air dry. Reinstalled it and the movement. Whew !! The clock is ticking away. So, I'll give it 24 hours and see what we have. Thanks . . .

    Larry
     
  29. Larry46

    Larry46 Registered User

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    I was very careful. Once the two screws holding it were out, I realized that the balance unit had to tilt in just the right way to be removed from the unit and to go back into place. The clock is back together and ticking. Now it's a waiting game to see if I've improved anything.
     
  30. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    If the movement, or just the balance, has ever been in an ultrasonic cleaner. That would cause your problem. 5 minutes in a day is a huge error on this movement. If the problem persist, take the balance back off and look closely at the 2 small weights that are cammed in and ouwhen the adjustment wings on top is moved. If the little weigjts are moving and your balance has over 3/4 turn of rotation, the next step would be to knock out a pair of the inner knockouts. Try not to lose the tiny punchings. I would wait for others to confirm the "two out of the inner circle" move, as it has been a long time since I retimed a Hermle balance.
    Any clock repairer will have a box full of these old style balances. A new one will set you back $50.
    And, I agree with others, paying out good money for major repairs and new parts for a 40 year old Hermle is usually a very bad move. Stay at it. If it's running week to week, you can probably solve the rating issue.
    Willie X
     
  31. dad1891

    dad1891 Registered User

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    Larry,

    This should have been pointed out earlier, but the floating balance that is operating properly will have 180 deg rotation in each direction. More is fine, but less indicates that either the balance is not working properly or there is a loss of power in the movement. I usually take a Sharpie and make a mark on the outside of the balance wheel just above the pins. That way, you can look into the back of the clock to see where the mark ends up on each rotation. After starting the clock, give it a few minutes to come to reach equilibrium before you check the rotation.
     
  32. Larry46

    Larry46 Registered User

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    Cleaning the balance unit did not help anything. Clock still runs slow as before.

    I've decided to bite the bullet and replace this movement. The cost of a new movement is much less than I had anticipated. It should arrive on Tuesday.

    Larry
     
  33. MARK A. BUTTERWORTH

    MARK A. BUTTERWORTH Registered User
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    Folks are often very surprised at how much less the cost of the new movement is than the cost of repair.
     
  34. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    The only time a floating balance unit should EVER be cleaned is to rid it of surface dirt. The word cleaning might be interpreted as removing dirt! Certainly that is one purpose of cleaning clocks. But equally important is the removal of old, congealed lubricants. And since floating balances aren't (normally) lubricated, and if they aren't actually dirty, cleaning them achieves nothing!

    In my earlier post, I wasn't suggesting that the OP was asking for someone to do the repair for nothing. I was trying to make a point. When I know for a fact that the answer to solving the problem of a faulty older Hermle movement is to replace it, i refuse to spend a lot of time, effort, frustration, and possibly expense trying to resuscitate it! To, in the end, have to return it, not repaired, for free! Hermle movements are replaceable. Doing extensive repairs to a modern Hermle movement that is replaceable is called salvage! Doing extensive repairs to an older clock that is NOT replaceable is called preservation! Save your talents for preservation. Life is too short to be spending your time on salvage!

    If clock repairs are a hobby for you, your time not important, and you derive pleasure out of salvaging stuff, more power to you!
     
  35. Dave T

    Dave T Registered User
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    #35 Dave T, Nov 9, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
    Just got a 1979 vintage A403-002 in to repair.
    Haven't looked at it much yet, but it does chime and strike. Will not run.
    Based on this thread, a replacement movement might be in order. Not sure yet.

    But, should I consider the 1050-020 or the 1050-02 NB (not bushed)?
     
  36. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    No new movements are bushed, are they?
     
  37. Dave T

    Dave T Registered User
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    According to Mark Butterworth's site he has two versions. 1050-020 and
    1050-020 NB.

    Wonder if there is any difference in the performance when new, and can the NB version be bushed down the road. I would think performance would be the same and the non bushed version could be repaired as normal if and when needed.?
     
  38. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    My own experience with these clocks has been different from what's described in this old thread. They are both cleanable and repairable. A sticky floating balance responds well to a shot of carburetor cleaning spray, and no disassembly is required. The remainder of the movement can be disassembled and cleaned like any other.

    My recommendation would be to inspect the clock a bit more thoroughly prior to replacing the movement. Failing that, you might find that the customer would be just as happy with one of the new QUAD electronic Westminster chime movements that Mark Butterworth sells. It's not a trend that I like, but I'm discovering that an increasing proportion of customers don't regard quartz clocks as inferior to mechanical clocks.

    M Kinsler
     
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  39. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    It is well worth the few extra bucks to get the 6 bronze bushings. This doesn't eliminate the 2nd arbor problems completely but it does reduce it considerably. They will run the same.
    WIllie X
     
  40. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    I'd vote for Butterbearings if it came to that. Why would bronze bushings be superior to holes in the brass plates?

    M Kinsler
     
  41. Dave T

    Dave T Registered User
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    Yea, I'm trying to understand the difference too. Wouldn't a new clock perform well without the bushings? Or, would a new clock have 2nd arbor problems? And, if and when they wear couldn't they be bushed?
     
  42. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    The bushings are about 50% thicker than the plate and would probably last at least 50 years, if they were kept oiled. WIllie X
     
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  43. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    And that's why I don't worry too much when I install a bushing that's thicker than the clock plate. It looks strange to the experienced eye, but you do get the extra thickness there. AWCI and them disapprove, but from a technical standpoint it's not clear just why.

    M Kinsler
     
  44. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    The technical reason is that in cases where the pivot is not long enough to reach completely through the extra long bushing only part of the bushing will wear. Over an extended period of years something called "tunneling" can occur that can eventually reduce the end shake to zero and cause the clock to stop. I've never seen an actual example but this is the expressed reason for using bushings the same thickness as the plate. Aside from the unprofessional look there is no mechanical reason that I can think of that would cause a problem as long as the pivot extends all the way through the bushing.

    There is one situation where a longer bushing would be beneficial and that is where the original plate had no oil sink. If a commercial bushing with oil sink is installed at plate thickness there will be less support for the pivot. The extra length places the oil sink above the plate. Looks like heck but is probably better from a mechanical perspective.

    RC
     
  45. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    The OP isn't going to get into re-bushing, so forget that.I think his choice to replace is wise.

    The recyclist in me always says: "DON'T CHUCK IT, FIX IT." But quite often, circumstances
    override that principle.

    The OP has limited clock repair experience to fall back on.. He wants to give his niece a working
    clock at a price he can afford, within a realistic time frame. He's found an acceptable solution for him.
    Why try to talk him out of It?
     
  46. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Yes.

    I generally do try to get the bushings flush with the plate, but only for reasons of conscience. Often enough when I've had to use a riveted bushing I find that the job looks better if the bushing forms a bit of a mound on the outside of the plate. As for oil sinks, there lies yet another can o' worms, for many clocks don't have them at all, and I've seen no evidence that they prevent wear. They _look_ functional enough, especially on French clocks, but my sense is that they're more for decoration than anything else.

    I read that discussion on tunneling sometime in the 1960's, and I too have never seen a case where it actually happened. I would think that by the time the shaft had tunneled deep into the bushing the afflicted pivot would be way too loose in any case.

    Mark Kinsler
     
  47. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    I have seen tunneling severe enough to stop the clock. These were Black Forest clocks with long brass bushings in the wooden plates. The bushings are much longer than the pivots. These clocks are very tolerant with regard to bad meshing but when a pivot tunnels enough, it can get stuck at the end of the tunnel. I haven't seen tunneling in a clock with solid brass plates yet.

    Uhralt
     
  48. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Hokay, Black Forest clocks.

    This is the second time I've heard these mentioned lately, and it occurs to me that the term isn't clear. Are they, like, cuckoo clocks with wood plates, brass bushings, and perhaps wooden gears? Or are they just wooden-words clocks, either cuckoo or non-avian, from the Black Forest region of Germany? The cuckoo clock websites aren't a bit of help.

    Mark Kinsler
     
  49. Dave T

    Dave T Registered User
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    Dec 8, 2011
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    Wonder if the pivots are longer in the bushed version compared to no bushing movement.

    1050-020 and
    1050-020 NB.
     
  50. Uhralt

    Uhralt Registered User
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    Sep 4, 2008
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    The Black Forest clocks have been made in the Black Forest region of Germany for centuries. Very early examples have movements completely made from wood. These are very rare today. More common are clocks that have wooden plates with brass bushings and wheels that have wooden arbors, brass gears, lantern pinions and steel pivots. Very mild steel in most cases. The most common are the latest type with wooden plates, brass bushings and wheels with steel arbors/pivots, brass gears, and lantern pinions. All types could be plain clocks or cuckoo clocks but there were also animated clocks and clocks with musical movements, some of them quite complicated.

    Uhralt
     

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