Seth Thomas tambour case - what would you do?

Discussion in 'Clock Case Construction, Repair & Restoration' started by Schatz70, Jan 16, 2020.

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  1. Schatz70

    Schatz70 Registered User

    Oct 5, 2019
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    I'm looking for advice from more experienced restorers on what to do. This is a Seth Thomas tambour case for a 124F chiming movement. The back of the hammer mechanism is stamped 4610 which indicates October 1946 and there is a penciled date of 4/22/47 on the bottom of the case, visible in the second picture. The biggest issue is that there is a chunk of wood about half an inch wide missing from the floor. What would you do? I think my best option is to replace the floor. The original floor is about a quarter inch thick. Given that the floor serves as a sound board for the chime rods, what kind of wood is best? Is plywood acceptable?

    The second photo shows the two holes for mounting the chime rods on the right. One of the two bolts was missing but I've found a suitable replacement (the one on the left in the fourth photo). The patina on the replacement bolt doesn't match that of the original, but it's the right length and thread size so I'm gonna use it - I'll put it in the back so it won't show as much.

    Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 004.JPG Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 001.JPG Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 002.JPG Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 009.JPG
     
  2. Schatz70

    Schatz70 Registered User

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    The glass is missing from the bezel. There are three brass retainers held in by screws, so it looks straightforward to put a replacement in. Should I buy a convex piece of glass or flat?

    Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 006.JPG
     
  3. Schatz70

    Schatz70 Registered User

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    The finish on the case looks pretty bad - scratches, dents, a splotch of black paint, a couple of splotches of green paint, parts that look very dull. What would you do? Attempt to restore the existing finish, and if so, how? Sand off the finish and start over, and if so what kind of stain would you use and what sort of top coat? I think the wood underneath is pretty nice so this case can be made to look good, but how would you do it? Sorry if I'm asking a question that has been asked many times before.

    Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 005.JPG Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 006.JPG Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 007.JPG Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 008.JPG
     
  4. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    Feb 22, 2010
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    You might do some research on this model to find out what was used originally.
    Just looking at your photos:
    Sure you could use plywood. Spruce would have better sound quality but good luck finding a piece 1/4" thick. You might glue up a strip to replace the missing wood. A long glue joint with the grain should be strong enough to hold. The Gong Block (or Boss) might be a problem again though.
    Check to see if a flat piece of glass would give adequate clearance for the minute arbor. If so, your choice, otherwise convex glass should be used.
    The finish is pretty beat up and weathered. You could go as conservative as possible and apply a high maintenance finish/oil on it like Lemon Oil and Bees Wax. Personally, I think I would clean it up as well as I could, getting all of the paint off and re-evaluate it from there. It might clean up nice. There are "scratch hiding" staining-polishes that often give good results to slightly damaged finishes. If you end up stripping what's left of the old finish, I would try to match the color of the original stain as it remains on the bottom, or other "sheltered" surfaces like the inside of the door or even under the applied brass chapter ring. I would go with a Shellac top coat, finishing with a good paste wax.
    Good luck with it,
    Bruce
     
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  5. Schatz70

    Schatz70 Registered User

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    I took your suggestion and repaired the original floor rather than replacing it. After cutting a straight edge on the broken side I needed a 3/4 inch strip of wood to replace the part that was missing. The floor was originally glued and nailed, but I was afraid of splitting the wood so I used screws and glue to install the repaired floor.
     
  6. Schatz70

    Schatz70 Registered User

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    I went with convex glass, which I think goes best with the Art Deco style of the numbers on the dial. I drew circles on cardboard with a compass and then cut them out to figure out what size to order. 6" probably would not have fit; 5-7/8" would have been too loose, so I ordered 5-15/16" which fit.
    I successfully resisted the urge to strip or sand off the original finish, which was was lacquer over stain, with a lot of the lacquer worn off. I used 1000 grit sandpaper used wet to get the paint off, then touched up the deeper scratches with stain, brushed it with lacquer thinner to even it out, then brushed on five coats of lacquer, let it cure for 8 days and rubbed it out. After cleaning and polishing the bezel I sealed it with 2 coats of lacquer. For the replacement hands I went with a pair of solid brass stick hands, which after a bit of filing I got to fit. So now I have a working clock that looks a bit better than what I started with. I have a one minute video of it ticking and chiming and striking the hour here:
    https://youtu.be/-owcfoYyIGM

    Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 001.JPG Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 001.JPG Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 002.JPG Seth Thomas tambour 124 01 15 2020 003.JPG
     
  7. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    You've been busy! Very nice save. Looks and sounds great! :thumb: I hope that you, friends and family enjoy it for many years to come. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  8. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Yes, it looks great. I'd move that upper note hammer a little further from the chime rod ;)
     
  9. Schatz70

    Schatz70 Registered User

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    Thanks for the input. If we number the chime rods 1-5, with 1 being the rod closest to the back door and 5 being the strike rod closest to the movement, which rod are we talking about? By upper note do you mean #1?
     
  10. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    The shortest one ;)
     
  11. Schatz70

    Schatz70 Registered User

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    Thank you! I bent that hammer up a little and it sounds a bit better now.
     
  12. turboflyer

    turboflyer Registered User

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    Might try Aircraft Spruce in Corona Ca. May still be one back East.
     
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