Seth Thomas Mystery

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by bangster, Apr 10, 2017.

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  1. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    I have this ST 124 that's giving me fits. When it first came in, time side was fine but chimes were really messed up. Since then I've been fussing with various problems, including a slipping locking plate and one thing and another.

    Finally got the chime into satisfactory shape...and now the time train won't keep running. Specifically, it will run for a while and stop...always in the vicinity of one of the quarters. Usually before, though not always at warning. Sometimes after. With a re-start of the pendulum it generally runs some more with no further help, maybe a couple minutes, maybe all the way past the chime, then a sudden stop.

    I haven't been between the plates on this clock, so whatever is behind the stopping is somewhere on the outside. But for the life of me, I cain't think of any way messing with the chime bidness could affect the going train.

    Y'all got any ideas?
     
  2. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    Too much resistance to the star cam.
    That and not enough power or the center shaft
    bushing is too warn.
    All just guesses.
    Thinker Dwight
     
  3. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    Never mind. I was just in the throes of a Dumb attack. It's another manifestation of the same problem I had a while back. :bang:
     
  4. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    Okay, I'm back with this same problem. It ticks along strongly and then quits.
    More often than not, it quits a few minutes before the next quarter...and before the chime warning.
    Here is a list of quitting times over several days:
    4:14
    4:18
    4:41
    4:44
    4:58
    5:13

    5:18
    5:20
    5:40
    5:48

    ...
    6:15
    ...
    4:43
    5:12

    7:48
    ...
    5:50
    6:50

    ...
    1:50
    4:14
    5:14


    This may be coincidence. But it's enough to suggest a connection between the chime train and the going train that causes the latter to stop. However, the only physical connection between the two trains is the star cam. And I can't imagine how friction there could suddenly develop. Thinking that might be the source of the problem, I added an application of precision grease to the cam lobes. Made absolutely no difference. And I yam out of ideas.

    So I'm going to drop the chime bidness out of the equation, and ask you if you can think of any other factors that could cause a clock to behave this way. I've carefully oiled all the pivots. I have NOT had the plates apart, and hope not to and can see no need to.

    Come on all you fine minds; give me some inspiration. I ain't growing any of my own. :bang:
     
  5. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User
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    I'm sure you must have checked, but on this one there are two little spacers that MUST go under the spring box deck or you will have these symptoms. When it does run how strongly does it run - how much pendulum swing?

    RC
     
  6. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    The washers must be the right thickness as well.
    They should be as thick as the plate they are compensating
    for. Not thicker or thinner.
    Make sure the front bushing is not loose. The star cam could
    be shifting it enough to have poor gear mesh.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  7. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    Thanks Tink, but I can't see the washers as a problem, since I haven't done anything in that territory.#Everything I've done is outside the plates.
    Moderately weak pendulum swing. I very much want to get this resolved outside the plates, because of a promise I made to the owner, price-wise.
    But I'm open to any and all suggestions what might make this Spawn of the Devil stop running at seemingly (?) arbitrary times. Inside or out.

    One of the exasperating things about clock repair: It stops, and I cain't tell WHY!
     
  8. wow

    wow Registered User
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    Bang, I'm sure you have checked these simple things, but since the 124 has a long strike lever, it takes a lot of power for the star cam to lift the lever. Are you sure the cam points are not lifting the lever at all during warn? Be sure there is run before the lift begins. Another simple thing I thought of is the suspension set-up. I have seen many of these type movements stop due to a stiff suspension spring. If the adjustment at the top of the spring is adjusted too low on the spring, it causes the spring to put more pressure on the crutch, causing it to stop, especially if the power in the train is weak. Try replacing the SS with a different one with a thin spring and adjust the fast/slow thingy so it is at the top. You can make the final adjustment by using a longer/shorter rod. Another thought: adjust verge as close to EW as possible, possibly creating more impulse.
    Last: check for bad bushings and think about get in between plates.
     
  9. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User
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    but have you checked to see if the washers are actually there?

    If I understand correctly, you haven't been between the plates, the clock stops randomly, and when it does run it has a weak pendulum swing. I think the work you did on the chimes is unrelated to the stopping if it is as you say random and happens at times when the star wheel isn't engaging the lever.

    Sounds like it was running poorly before you started on it. In addition to the usual suspects (bent pivot, rough pivot(s), worn pivot holes, dry springs, wrong springs or springs mixed up), missing spacers under the spring deck, and the deadbeat verge locking on the impulse face are common issues. the 124 should run well if everything between the plates is right. There should be no need to change the suspension spring unless you believe it is incorrect. I think you will find the problem in the going train and unrelated to the work you did outside the plates, but without having it in-hand that's just a guess.

    Are there signs of any previous bushing work? Bushings installed by others are always suspect until proven innocent.

    RC
     
  10. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    I think Will may be onto something. When I first took the clock in, it was running fine. In the course of much thrashing around working on the chime bidness, the SS broke. I replaced it without paying attention to thickness, and haven't thought about it since.

    But I'm thinking about it now. :bang::bang:Stay tuned.
     
  11. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User
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    Devil is in the details. That changes the whole picture.
     
  12. wow

    wow Registered User
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    Ok, Bang, I haven't been able to sleep worrying about your clock. Did you figure it out?
     
  13. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    This SS is .004". I have an .002" spring on order. When it gets here, we'll see if it makes a difference.

    If it doesn't I shall be very very sad. :(
     
  14. wow

    wow Registered User
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    We shall all be sad.
     
  15. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    I am very very sad. Now it's back to looking for the hard stuff. :(
     
  16. wow

    wow Registered User
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    You may need to break it down and inspect bushings, pivots and the works. Sounds like power problem.
     
  17. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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  18. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    #18 bangster, Apr 24, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
    Okay, next step:

    This machine has a split front plate, so it can be removed along with the mainsprings, without disturbing the trains.

    With the mainsprings, motion works, and verge out of the picture, the going train seems very stiff when driven by hand pressure on the 2nd wheel. Maybe that's its normal way, but it seems harder to drive than other movements I've seen. All pivots in the train look good under magnification. All have been oiled. All wheels have good end-shake...except the center shaft. If it has any, it's measured in microns. I figured that might be one of the sources of the stiffness; so I loosened the pillar nuts and provided some artificial end-shake to the center shaft. Made no difference.

    For now, I want to leave the going train aside for a while, and check out the condition of the time mainspring.

    And here's where I need some Helpful Hints from y'all. These springs are in cans, or boxes instead of barrels. And the cans are riveted to the plate. See pic.
    [​IMG]
    This design has to be the work of Beelzebub. Because the simple act of letting down the mainsprings is Frustration City. See, the winding stems poke out through the front plate. So the clicks and click wheels are down on the other side up against the back plate, with maybe 1/8" operating room. And often as not, one of the clicks will be over on the other side behind everything, and unreachable by normal means.

    Nevertheless, I managed to let them down and remove the plate and springs. So please consult your wealth of experience, and tell me What the Hey is the received method for getting a mainspring out of a can that's riveted to the plate?

    I'm sure some of you have confronted this a number of times; so how did you solve it?

    I await your advice and sympathy.

    I think I'll also ask this question in a separate thread.
     
  19. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    These came in two ways. In one, the barrels are screwed to the plate.
    These can be treated like any barreled spring but you have to make
    a winding arbor to come from the other side.
    I made one with a piece of metal rod.
    The other ones that are riveted to the plate are anyone guess.
    You'd need to rig a way to get it into a winder. Luckily my clock
    has them screwed to the plate.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  20. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    That is exactly the problem. I could detach the arbor and gear, and put in a substitute arbor from the other side. But how the hell could I secure that three-spring assembly to any known design of winder? :confused:
     
  21. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User
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    It's simple, put a glove on your paw and hold the three-box assembly. Use the substitute arbor as Tinker described and a sleeve as per any other spring barrel. Helps if your winder has a ratchet or lock that can be operated with one hand, or if you have a helper. These springs are not especially powerful and the spring box assembly allows a good grip. I agree it is a devilish design. As for the letdown, when I can persuade the clock to run I prefer to just let it run down and come back to it later.

    RC
     
  22. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    Thanks for suggestions, friends.

    Yes, I started a second thread on this specific topic, since I didn't want it to get lost in the longer thread. I'll eventually merge the two threads.
     
  23. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    The glove is probably a good idea but I prefer to be able to feel things. I have always used my apron to help me capture the speed that the mainspring comes out of the barrel and again to help me wind it back in. It is something that will test both your skil and courage.
     
  24. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    The Mystery Deepens...

    When I got the arbor and gear off, I could see two things: it was going to be a major hassle getting the spring out; and in the barrel it didn't look collapsed. Four or five coils in the central void, everything else tight against the barrel. So I decided the MS probably wasn't the cause of low power, and put everything back together leaving out the verge.

    I wound it a couple of turns, and watched the wheels buzz around for a minute or so. Saw nothing out of the way, so I put in the verge, hung it on the rack, wound it up and started it wagging.

    So far, it has been running nicely, good pendulum amplitude, for over 40 hours and counting. Not a sign of a hiccup or hesitation. :clap:

    During this run, only the time train was powered; chime and strike were still completely let down.

    To me, this means that there is no power loss in the time train itself; it has to induced by interaction with something else. The only thing else it interacts with is the chime train, via the star cam and cam follower.

    I'm going to mull on that for a while, and post this account to see what y'all think so far.

    But I'm hoping that a solution is soon at hand.
     
  25. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    You have my thoughts, for this is one tough clock to work on. I guess ST was trying all sorts of improvements (cough) in the last 30 years of their run.

    M Kinsler
     
  26. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    It may have had a piece of lint in a pinion someplace and you
    knocked it out taking it apart and reassembling.
    I've had that happen but I saw the lint that caused the problem
    first.
    Do note that these are strip deadbeats and more sensitive to beat
    than recoils.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  27. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    I've noticed that it's beat sensitive. I've added the chime train, minus the drive gear on the back, and letting it run some more. We'll see what happens.
     
  28. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User
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    I'm sure you know that lack of power can contribute to beat sensitivity. So if I understand correctly (please correct me if I'm wrong) you removed the spring boxes and 'looked at' the springs but did not remove, or clean, or lubricate them. Then you put the spring deck back and let the "wheels buzz around for a minute or so" without the verge, then put the verge back and wound the time train but left the strike and chime trains 'let down'. You noted that there was no, or almost no end shake at the center arbor, but so far you have not split the plates or cleaned or polished the pivot holes or done anything that would require separating the plates?

    One thing I have learned is that problems like this don't fix themselves. Unless and until you identify the problem it is still going to be there to bite you. Buzzing the wheels around for a minute may have displaced some dirt or loosened the grip of dried oil and 'loosened things up', but there's still that tight center shaft that you mentioned.

    If this were on my bench I would get those springs out and clean and lubricate them, separate the plates and inspect and polish the pivots and give everything a good cleaning and go from there. I don't believe you mentioned whether the spring deck spacers are present of not; they are essential. It's not my favorite movement by any means but I don't understand why it seems to be so feared or has such a reputation. The spring boxes are a bit of a nuisance but not that hard to deal with, but the rest of the movement is not that unlike any other chime clock. I predict that you will end up taking this one completely apart and doing a proper cleaning sooner or later and that would take less time than you already have invested is trying to avoid disassembly.

    Just my 2

    RC
     
  29. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    You have your procedure, I have mine.

    Whatever I did (or didn't do) the loss of power disappeared when the time train is the only one under power. Strong pendulum amplitude, etc. I have no idea whether the free run had anything to do with it or not. I did it just to observe the gears, not to achieve any progress.

    So it runs well as long as its the only train under power. Add a variable, and see what happens. If it still runs OK, add another variable. And so on, until trouble shows up. Standard experimental procedure.

    Right now I'm fixing to see what happens when the chime train is added in, without hammer llfting.

    I'll let you know.
     
  30. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    PROGRESS REPORT:

    Powered up the chime train, with the back drive gear removed so no hammer lift.
    Ran for 36 hours without a glitch.
    Added the drive gear & hammers.
    Ran over 24 hours without a glitch.
    Powered up the strike train.
    It has been running for nearly 40 hours without a glitch.

    Whatever mysteriously caused the earlier power loss seems to have mysteriously gone away. I'm not about to question good fortune. If it's still running tomorrow, back into the case it goes.

    Thanks y'all for help and suggestions. This MB is a priceless resource. :coolsign:
     
  31. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    stephen conover has a discussion of dealing with these mainsprings in his 'book 6: seth thomas', page 33. essentially, he removes the arbor/gear assembly and then uses a scrap 124 winding arbor mounted in his spring winder. he's also got a photo of how he dealt with the riveted barrels. hope that helps, if by chance you need to go back in...
     
  32. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    Thanks. I do have the Conover book; but I would have had to make the substitute winding arbor, since none of the ones I have lying around would fit. So I elected instead to coast, and see what would happen. :clap:
     
  33. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    "Coast?"

    Please elaborate. It would be a great service for anyone (say, me) who strives to take the easiest way out.

    M Kinsler

    currently straightening the escape wheel teeth of the Worst Clock. I think it'll need an orthodontist.
     
  34. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    Coast = what I did. See previous posts. Put everything back together, wound the time train, gave it a brief free run to watch the wheels, put in the verge and set it running. After a day or so, added the chime without the hammers. After a day or so added the hammers. After a day or so added the strike. After a day or so, put it back in the case and declared it Fixed.

    If it had failed at any point, coasting would have been over and I would have had to go back to work. :(
     
  35. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    I am by no means a master machinist. I mean I can turn
    a washer from brass and some minor work.
    It took me about 20 minute to make a winder.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  36. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    My machine shop is a Marshall watchmaker's lathe, a drill press, and a Dremel. What you can do easily, I could do only with great difficulty. And please don't tell me, "get better gear". I have what I can afford.
     
  37. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    I made my winding arbor from a piece of rod from the hardware store,
    a drill press, a drill bit, a 4-40 screw, a 4-40 tap and a file. I think I used
    a hammer as well.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  38. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    wouldn't any arbor of approx. similar size work?
     
  39. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    Tink: No doubt I could have made one from a piece of rod: drill it for the hook, then file the end of it square. I decided I wouldn't go to the trouble until it became necessary. It never did.

    Smike: Similar size and hook direction would surely work, if I but had one. :(
     
  40. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    bangster

    I was just sharing… and intrigued… by the solution. I remember a science fiction short story by Clifford D Simak called 'the big front yard'. Basically a tinkerer (not Dwight!) finds out his house has become a portal to other dimensions. of course the military wants to control it, but our protagonist ends up interacting with the aliens and makes a country deal with them, trading their antigravity devices for the idea of paint… not paint, the IDEA of paint... putting a protective coating on something... not a bad deal

    this made a huge impression on me as a kid. :)


    Glad your clock is working, no aliens involved
     
  41. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    hey Bangster


    I was just reading JE Coleman and he responds to someone who asks about the mysterious loss of power in a seth Thomas 124. He cites missing washers on the lower posts holding the spring barrels as a common problem.


    I rushed here to make sure that no one had mentioned that yet and of course RC was all over it! :cool:


    I did see the back-and-forth, but I never did see a confirmation from you that those washers are actually in place. If they're not, it might slightly change the angle of the arbors and possibly affect power. your cleaning the movement might have made of the problem go away... at least in the short term

    so... are they there?
     
  42. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I had one 124 that did not need washers. Not sure how many they made like that though. It must have been an issue for many.
     
  43. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    I tuned new ones for my 124. It has a nut as a spacer on one side
    and a wrong thickness spacer on the other side.
    The fellow obviously realized it needed them but didn't have the
    slightest idea as to how thick they should be or why they were there.
    I guess even wrong thickness ones where better than none at all.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  44. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User
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    I seem to recall encountering one that didn't use the spacers but all the others I've seen did. One should check the length of the pillars and avoid getting them mixed up. If there are two longer ones then these go to the bottom and no spacers. If they are all the same length then two spacers the thickness of the plates are required. If the spacers are missing there will be problems.

    RC
     
  45. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    Yes, we've seen that. It is good that you mentioned it!
    Tinker Dwight
     
  46. bangster

    bangster Super Moderator
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    The spacers on mine are in place. But thanks for the reminder.
     
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