Seth Thomas Medbury 4W Chime Out of Sequence

ultravista

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My fathers Medbury 4W is suddenly chiming out of sequence occasionally not playing the hour count chimes.

The clock has been in his possession for +20 years when he brought it home from his fathers house. It has never been out for repair. A former typewriter repairman, my father has oiled the clock and has meticulously taken care of it.

For example, it plays the 1/4 chime at the top of the hour, 1/2 chime on the quarter hour. I can't find a pattern for the hour count chime but it is random when it decides to chime, and when it does chime, it is never at the hour position. The good news ... it runs and does keep time.

Looking for guidance to get the clock chimes 'synched' and to understand why the hour count chime is erratic. Perhaps it is a result of being out of synch.
 

Dick Feldman

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Without pictures and knowing what movement is in the clock, only a general answer can be given.
Clock movements are machines and will wear just like any other machine. The chime trains in clock movements need the most power and consequently are the first to fail. A reasonable lifespan for a clock movement is 20-25 years and yours has surpassed that expected lifespan.
Your symptoms are of a clock movement that has reached the point where the friction due to wear has overcome the power supplied to the movement.
The solution is most likely not simply clean, oil and or adjust. The solution probably is in the realm of a clock repair professional rather than a novice.
Best Regards,
Dick
 
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ultravista

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Dick, I can provide photos.

Is there a process to synchronize the chimes, something like moving the hands to specific positions, back and forth? There is something similar here, different clock though.

It is chiming when it should, it isn't the correct chime sequence - it is out of order.
 

Willie X

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To add slightly to what DF said, your clock is probably worn to a point where it is failing to chime. One skipped chime sequence will go unnoticed. This throws everything out of sync and can not be corrected by adjustment.

If you want to learn more about your clock, take the movement out of the case and make some photos for us. At the same time look up, 'checking for wear' and 'modern movements replacement vs repair'.

This should get you started on the quest.

Willie X
 

Dick Feldman

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In a properly operating clock movement, the chime train normally will correct itself if it gets of of sequence, usually at the hour. With a worn movement, the chime will quit part way through a scheduled run and then resume with the next scheduled time. That will put the chime sequence out of sequence and the music played will not be correct or familiar. As it should, the movement will try to correct which will make the chime activity even more erratic. Any attempts to try to correct by moving the hands or re sequencing the chime train will be ineffective.
If your chime train is unreliable in an old clock movement, you can bet the problem is wear. There is no other logical reason for the chime train to go bonkers.
As was stated earlier, your clock is most likely beyond the point where clean,oil and/or adjust will do any good.
The clock movement has reached the end of its useful lifespan.
The solutions are to replace the movement with new, if available or a complete overhaul, addressing all of the wear points.
This board is populated with repair people of all levels. Some may suggest you address only the worst wear places in the movement but that will result in a short term repair.
Clock repair should not be a matter of "try this" or "maybe that." You would not tolerate a mechanic shop to use those methods on your automobile.
The clock movement you have has given many years of reliable service and now cannot.
Whatever the case, you will be well advised to consult a qualified clock repair person.
D
 

Rob Martinez

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Not sure if you have considerd it but a ST time and strike isnt a bad clock to start your journey if you are looking to get into clock repair as a hobby. You can typically use common house hold tools to disassemble and reassemble. More speclized tools may be needed depending on the repair. However, like many of us you can get them as they are needed. In my opinion the best beginner book is The Beginner's Handbook The Clock Repair Primer by Philip E. Balcomb. It started as a series of articles in the NAWCC newsletter then was later published as a stand alone book. It's now out of print but with 8 or so editions you can find a copy on-line to buy or here in the NAWCC library to borrow.
 

Dick Feldman

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That clock likely does not have a Seth Thomas movement. The Seth Thomas name was purchased by Talley Industries and that company continued to produce clocks under the Seth Thomas name. Like most of the manufacturers, an array of movement suppliers were used in clocks carrying the Seth Thomas name.
An appropriate movement to begin with if you are interested in repairing clocks would be a single train or an American made movement with time and strike. A three train, multiple tune movement would not be appropriate due to its complexity.
If you are willing to pursue this, please provide clear, close up pictures of the clock movement, front, rear and side views. Note anything that is stamped on the rear plate of the movement.
D
 

shutterbug

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I agree with what has been said. A well functioning chime train will correct itself at the hour if it goes out of sync. If it's not functioning well, the stops and starts are too random for the auto-sync function to work. The result is very long periods of silence as the auto-sync is trying to do it's job but is unable to do so.
If you don't have long periods of silence, then you might have a slipping minute hand. The collet in the center can get loose, and the hand will slip when setting the time. That in turn can make you think the clock is the problem when it's not ;)
 

Willie X

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No one knows what you have there until you post photos of the movement, or movement ID numbers, usually on the lower right corner of the back plate.

In short, any worn areas will allow the pivots to wiggle when force is applied (back and forth) at the preceding wheel. The mainsprings will need to be in the 'fully let down' position.

Willie X
 

ultravista

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After a day or so now, it is chiming correctly on the hour, 4 for 1/4, 8 for 1/2, etc. It also keeps time.

The hour strikes however are not working properly. Last night, @ 9:45 it chimes as if it were 10 PM, including the chimes, then again @ 10:45 as if it were 11 PM.

Attached are a few photos.

I noticed that the hour strike hammer (?) is in the 'up' position while the rest of the chiming hammers are resting right above the bars. With the back open, I watched the hour chimes and the hour striker didn't move. I was hoping it would move, but it didn't.

Should this striker be higher than the others?

20210728_174218.jpg 20210728_174310.jpg 20210728_174322.jpg 20210728_192452.jpg
 

Willie X

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Looks like the infamous S-T 124.

Difficult to repair, even for professionals.

You might be able to find someone who specializes in this model.

Willie X
 

Bruce Alexander

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These are not too tough to maintain, but as Willie states, they can be a bear to troubleshoot. This movement does have a self-correcting mechanism but it should rarely need to do its job. The Time Train may be keeping good time still but I wouldn't be surprised to see significant wear on the Escapement Pallets.

Your movement looks like it needs a good, thorough cleaning and full servicing of the pivots, pivot holes and all points of friction. I see a lot of abrasive grunge around some of the pivots which may be hiding significant wear. Just re-oiling it will only accelerate the wear since the oil rapidly becomes a cutting fluid.

I would suggest that you stop running the clock until you can have it properly serviced. To have a professional do the job for you, expect to pay at least a few hundred $. It's not a good movement to learn on, in my opinion.

Good luck with it.

Bruce
 
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shutterbug

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Your description is a bit puzzling. I have a feeling that you mean it struck 10 times at the :45 mark and then struck 11 times at the hour? Or do you mean it chimed for the hour at the 3/4 slot, then chimed again at the hour? We need some specific information on what exactly you are seeing and hearing. A video posted to Youtube and linked here would be perfect.
 

R. Croswell

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After a day or so now, it is chiming correctly on the hour, 4 for 1/4, 8 for 1/2, etc. It also keeps time.

The hour strikes however are not working properly. Last night, @ 9:45 it chimes as if it were 10 PM, including the chimes, then again @ 10:45 as if it were 11 PM.

Attached are a few photos.

I noticed that the hour strike hammer (?) is in the 'up' position while the rest of the chiming hammers are resting right above the bars. With the back open, I watched the hour chimes and the hour striker didn't move. I was hoping it would move, but it didn't.

Should this striker be higher than the others?
Unless someone has fooled with the strike adjustments, a partly raised strike hammer can indicate that there is simply not enough power available to lift the hammer, especially true if the adjustments are a little off and the hammer tries to start the lift before the strike train is up to speed. Your clock obviously needs to be cleaned (disassembled completely and cleaned). While it is apart the pivots and pivot holes can be checked for excessive wear. The described behavior seems to be random so I would suspect wear through out the movement rather than a single problem that might be corrected by and adjustment. As others have stated, this movement is not an easy one to work on and even on a good day these can be a little cranky to get right. It being a "family clock" I suggest to look for a pro and have the job done right. At this point it probably does not matter a great deal whether you run it or not, it will probably need bushing through out anyway.

RC
 

Bruce Alexander

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At this point it probably does not matter a great deal whether you run it or not, it will probably need bushing through out anyway.
I agree with mostly all you state here RC with the exception of the above. I say that because I'm thinking about the Escapement. Some of these movements have those weird triangular shaped pallets. Further wear/damage to those types of pallets may not matter much to a very skilled and experienced professional (but they will and must charge for the extra time, effort and materials), restoring them is an order of magnitude above and beyond simple pivot/bushing work.

If our O.P. is going to get the clock serviced soon, I agree with you. If they will need to budget for the work, I think it perhaps best to just let the clock serve as a decorative piece. No point in making things more difficult than they have to be, especially since the clock is chiming and striking like it's a little punch-drunk anyway. :chuckling:

Just my 2 cents worth...

Regards,

Bruce

Edit: I mis-remembered. The odd pallets are not triangular, they are diamond shaped.

Here are some photos I took a few years ago. Fortunately, I didn't need to service the escapement on this clock:
Diamond Pallets Back.jpg Diamond Pallets Front.jpg

I know that you know exactly what I'm talking about RC: https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/seth-124-comments.76/post-1326797
 
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ultravista

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The chimes are not synched and playing properly for each 15 minute interval.

The hour strikes are still periodically working. I am not home to listen @ the top of every hour but it seems like the later hours to strike while the early hours do not. It chimes @ the hour, just no hour strikes (well almost none) ...
 

Dick Feldman

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The chimes are not synched and playing properly for each 15 minute interval.

The hour strikes are still periodically working. I am not home to listen @ the top of every hour but it seems like the later hours to strike while the early hours do not. It chimes @ the hour, just no hour strikes (well almost none) ...
The way the clock is supposed to work---
The chime train is triggered every quarter hour by the time train. The chime train goes through a set cycle and completes (and parks).
At the hour, the chime train is again triggered and on completion, the strike train is released to count the hours
The chime train will (try to) auto correct should the chime train get out of sequence. Usually this occurs at the hour.
If any part of the chime sequence does not complete, the next time the time train triggers the chime train things will be out of sequence. That out of sequence situation will persist till the correction. The hour chime sequence will only activate at the hour and will only release the strike when things are proper.
Your problem is likely lack of power to the chime train. Until you address that lack of power, the whole system will be out of whack most of the time. I guess I am trying to say the problem you have is rather serious and the solution is probably not simple. That solution most likely is beyond your capabilities as a clock repair person.
Dick
 

Dick Feldman

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I have added this from another post. I hope it is of some use.
--------------------------------------------------------
There is no fault in being a beginner.
There are certain background things one must know to be successful in this trade. Successful as a hobbyist, as someone who has an interest or as a qualified repair specialist. As one advances, more and more knowledge is added.
My best advice to the OP is to find everything you can written about clock repair and read it. Some of the material can be discarded or saved for a later time. A good starting point might be THIS OLD CLOCK, by David S. Goodman. That is a publication that may be available through your local library and for sale on Amazon or eBay. It is fairly inexpensive. That reading process will get you to the point where you can “walk the walk and talk the talk” There are more good publications. I would caution you about U Tube videos. A lot of misconceptions and poor practices are spread on U Tube.
I would also suggest you try to find a mentor. Even a mentor with bad repair habits can teach a lesson. A good source would be to join the NAWCC, find a chapter and attend a meeting or two. Most people at those gatherings are more than willing to share their experiences.
Jumping into clock repair using trial and error is not necessarily a recommendation. With those hard learned lessons, many times irreversible damage occurs.
A third recommendation is to not get tied into the Clean, Oil and Adjust myths. Those processes are not bad for clock movements but are not necessarily curative. Those are preventative. By the time something mechanical makes a clock stop running, the time for Clean, oil and adjust has long passed.
Best of luck with your interest in clock repair.
We wish you well and look forward to hearing from you,
Dick
 

ultravista

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Anything beyond a simple repair is too much for me. I was hoping it would work things out over time but it appears that is a false hope. This is best left to someone who knows what they are doing.

Alternatively, I can look for a replacement 124 movement and mount it.
 

Dick Feldman

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Any 124 ST movement you find will be from the same era and prone to the same problems.
Clock movements that are offered for sale are normally not running.
People, by their nature, do not surrender working movements/clocks.
Best of luck,
Dick
 

shutterbug

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If you could make a video of it running through each chime and the strike sequence we might be able to spot something you can adjust. Post to Youtube and link to it here.
 

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