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Seth Thomas Westminster Chime Clean & Service

Kieran McCarthy

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Dec 15, 2020
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I have recently purchased a Seth Thomas Westminster 8-day Bracket Clock from an online auction. 3 photographs are attached. It was advertised as "not working, fully wound" and I saw it as an opportunity to acquire some skills on "chimers", I bought it specifically for this reason. I doubt if it has ever been serviced, the oil is hard and congealed, more like Brent crude, so a total strip and clean is necessary.

In terms of stripping, cleaning, milling /turning basic replacement parts, re-bushing, re-pivoting, and reassembling clocks I would be reasonably skilled, no clock has phased me yet, the two remaining "technologies" I wish to master are chimers and platform escapements/hairspring replacement.

Before I embark upon the task, I would appreciate any comments, tips, or major "Do Nots". My main reference books are Practical Clock Repairing by Donald de Carle and An Introductory Guide To Repairing Mechanical clocks by Scott Jeffery, both of which deal with Westminster Chiming, the former more than the latter.

Finally, any idea about the approximate age of the clock? It came from eBay USA.

Thank you in advance,
Sincerely,
Seth Thomas Clock.jpg
Seth Thomas Clock 1.jpg
Seth Thomas Clock 2.jpg

Kieran.
 

John P

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You will need to let down the mainsprings and check the barrels for wobble. They will probably be loose.
The cost of new ones may warrant a replacement movement. Then you will have the old one to learn about chimers.
Butterworth can covert that old part number to a new hermle number.
I would think your clock was made in the late 1970's or early 80's.
 

bwclock

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Feb 17, 2015
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I have recently purchased a Seth Thomas Westminster 8-day Bracket Clock from an online auction. 3 photographs are attached. It was advertised as "not working, fully wound" and I saw it as an opportunity to acquire some skills on "chimers", I bought it specifically for this reason. I doubt if it has ever been serviced, the oil is hard and congealed, more like Brent crude, so a total strip and clean is necessary.

In terms of stripping, cleaning, milling /turning basic replacement parts, re-bushing, re-pivoting, and reassembling clocks I would be reasonably skilled, no clock has phased me yet, the two remaining "technologies" I wish to master are chimers and platform escapements/hairspring replacement.

Before I embark upon the task, I would appreciate any comments, tips, or major "Do Nots". My main reference books are Practical Clock Repairing by Donald de Carle and An Introductory Guide To Repairing Mechanical clocks by Scott Jeffery, both of which deal with Westminster Chiming, the former more than the latter.

Finally, any idea about the approximate age of the clock? It came from eBay USA.

Thank you in advance,
Sincerely, View attachment 732434 View attachment 732435 View attachment 732436
Kieran.
The movement on the clock is essentially the same as the common Hermle 340-020, the main difference being that the Seth has vertical gong rods and the 340-020 has horizontal. For purposes of playing around with the movement, they are the same. There should be a lot of discussion in the Forum under the search term "340-020". It is not complicated to re-assemble and should give you a good introduction to chime train and "chime correction" set up. Regarding "hairspring work", this movement has a floating balance which will not provide hairspring work in the traditional sense.
Bruce
 
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R. Croswell

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1976 manufacture date you might run into the infamous "plated pivot failure" problem. I suspect this one has the floating balance which is usually best not disassembled. This article should help with the balance: Hermle Floating Balance Summary of Inspection, Diagnosis, Cleaning and Repair Procedures..prepared by David Robertson - PDF Free Download (docplayer.net) I believe this ST movement is essentially a Hermle 350-060. Steve conover's book, Chime Clock RepairI covers the setup of of a similar Hermle movement. If you search online you, may find an older issue of the Hermle Service Manual for free, the current version is pretty expensive. If you search this forum for plated pivot problem, you will get a lot of different opinions on how to deal with flaking plating on the pivots. With your skill level you should have no trouble figuring all out. The tricky part is setting it up so the self-correction function works.

This is a better link: hermle_floating_bal_summary.pdf (davesclocks.net)

RC
 
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lwalper

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It looks to me more like a Hermle 350-060. There's one listed on eBay. The pictures on the auction look like that one needs bushings. Fix the one you've got and enjoy it.
 

demoman3955

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I have the same clock, and only because my wife likes it. My main issue is even though i have smaller hands, i cant even get inside to adjust the speed.
 

Kieran McCarthy

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Dec 15, 2020
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Thank you for all your contributions to date. I have totally dismantled the clock, cleaned it thoroughly in an ultrasonic cleaner, further cleaned every plate hole with peg wood, burnished each pivot with a burnisher, assembled each of the 3 trains separately, and tested them under load, then collectively. All move freely. No sign of wear anywhere though I doubt if I have seen such a gunked-up timepiece ever, I suspect there was more than clock oil used, the residue had dried to quite a hardened substance.
However, I may have committed a cardinal sin. Too late did I read that the floating balance should not go through the ultrasonic cleaner. It spent 50 minutes in it at 80 degrees C. I subsequently "bench tested" it using the free-standing procedure and I have got in excess of 4 minutes rotation, not quite the 5 maximum as suggested in one publication, but well over the 3-minute minimum specified.
On assembly, the depth and clearance of the roller pins are good with regard to the fork.
My problem is the clock loses about 2 minutes per day even though I have adjusted the roller disc to about 85% of its maximum travel. (Hermle recommends that you do not adjust right hard up to the stop).
The attached photo clearly shows damage to the slot of the left-hand retaining screw, always a sign of previous poor workmanship but more importantly, the right-hand banking pin has been bent a little as well. The stem of the fork does not make contact with this banking pin, there is minimal clearance, but more than the left side. Would this be sufficient to slow up the clock by 2 minutes a day? Should I try bending it to match the left side?
I have about 320 degrees of rotation 3 days after winding.
I bought the clock for $40 solely to learn about setting up Westminister chimes and floating balances and it certainly has almost delivered totally on that. I want to get it right without resorting to removing some of the weights, thus, my question is, have I overlooked anything else, or has the time spent in the cleaner essentially ruined the balance, despite a good washing afterwards in alcohol with a gently blow of compressed air to clear any possible residue, mindful of not upsetting the hairspring.
Your comments will be greatly appreciated.

Regards, Kieran McCarthy.

Floating Balance.jpg
 
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R. Croswell

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50 minutes in the ultrasonic is a long time. What sort of cleaner did you have in the US? The floating balance center tube has a small jewel bushing in each end and rotates around a thin wire through the center of the tube. I'm concerned that the liquid from the US may have gotten into that center tube. I don't know of any way to tell for sure, and there is no easy way to remove it. Attempting to remove the center wire and "blow out" the tube is opening a can of worms that is best avoided. I would try other things first and let it run for a while and see if it changes over time. Soaking the balance in acetone while rotating and slipping up and down along the wire may or may not help, is just a thought. Acetone will mix with water and water-based cleaners as well as with oil and it evaporates quickly. Others with more experience with these may have better advice. Yes, you may have damaged the balance and removing weight may be the only option.

RC
 

Willie X

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Feb 9, 2008
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The work you've done has probably screwed up the balance and all the pivots.
IOWs, it's time to be looking for a replacement movement.

Willie X
 

JTD

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The work you've done has probably screwed up the balance and all the pivots.
IOWs, it's time to be looking for a replacement movement.

Willie X
I agree the balance may be finished, but why do you think all the pivots may be damaged?

JTD
 

Kieran McCarthy

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Dec 15, 2020
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50 minutes in the ultrasonic is a long time. What sort of cleaner did you have in the US? The floating balance center tube has a small jewel bushing in each end and rotates around a thin wire through the center of the tube. I'm concerned that the liquid from the US may have gotten into that center tube. I don't know of any way to tell for sure, and there is no easy way to remove it. Attempting to remove the center wire and "blow out" the tube is opening a can of worms that is best avoided. I would try other things first and let it run for a while and see if it changes over time. Soaking the balance in acetone while rotating and slipping up and down along the wire may or may not help, is just a thought. Acetone will mix with water and water-based cleaners as well as with oil and it evaporates quickly. Others with more experience with these may have better advice. Yes, you may have damaged the balance and removing weight may be the only option.

RC
Thanks, RC, I used a proprietary cleaning agent from Meadows and Passmore, an English Horological Supplies company, rinsing in water and drying thoroughly with a hairdryer. I have used it several times before very successfully on other cleaning projects. To be sure that no residue remained in the tube, I immersed the balance in alcohol for 5 minutes and carefully blew the tube out with air pressure from a fine-nosed compressed air supply.
The fact that the balance passed the desktop test, which is, removing it from the clock mechanism and placing it on a level surface, rotating the wheel through 270 degrees by hand, and releasing it. If the wheel continues to oscillate for between 3 and 5 minutes under its own inerita it is deemed to be free of contaminant and in good working order. In my case it oscillated for over 4 minutes. In addition, when back in the mechanism, I am getting over 310 degrees of rotation three days after a full winding, also an indicator, according to Hermle, that the balance is "good".
My intention is to do nothing for two weeks, let it run through 2 full winding cycles and evaluate then, perhaps it might improve. Unless of course someone identifies some other glaring oversight that I have overlooked .
Regards, Kieran
 

Willie X

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All of these older pivots are plated with something. For me any flaw in the finish indicates the need for re-pivoting, or a replacement part. Trying to 'burnish' these soft pivots can only lead to a big mess. The second wheels are available with hard steel pivots and a better design for 8 bucks.

I use a cotton cloth with a dab of mineral spirits to clean these pivots. Harrold used 4-0 steel wool. I think both are good but the 4-0 steel wool is quicker, when a lot of poop is present.

Any material that is inside that tube is there from now on. So that, along with the now etched hairspring, declares that balance as toast, no matter about the run down time.

Willie X
 
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R. Croswell

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My intention is to do nothing for two weeks, let it run through 2 full winding cycles and evaluate then, perhaps it might improve. Unless of course someone identifies some other glaring oversight that I have overlooked .
Regards, Kieran
That's probably a good idea. Willie said "Any material that is inside that tube is there from now on" and I believe that, at least any solid or suspended material. I don't think I have much confidence in blowing out the tube unless you removed center wire, and I doubt that the alcohol circulated into the tube, and we can only guess how well heat evaporated the water. But your spin down test is encouraging. If it is stable for a couple weeks, we might conclude that the time keeping error is primarily due to damage of the balance springs by the US. If so, the damage is permanent, which also means that it isn't going to change any further. The fact that the balance runs with good amplitude suggests that you may be able to salvage it by removing weights. I'm not ready to call it toast just yet. You may have lucked out with that balance tube. Remember, it was full of air and the holes in the ends were mostly plugged by the center wire. It is possible that nothing actually got in.
 

shutterbug

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David LaBounty is a wiz at rebuilding those balances. Give him a call.
 

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