Help Should I open this old Chelsea...or not?

Spidicus

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Jun 16, 2018
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I recently inherited a very nice US Gvt Chelsea 9" dial, white face, time only clock, Bakelite case. I'm guessing vintage mid-century. It's pristine; looks like new, might even be new...ish. I doubt that it's had many hours of running, and doubt even more that it's ever been opened. My Father-in-law was a Navy flier and collector of...everything, so he just hung it on a nail in his basement where it remained for many a year. I wound it up (spring was smooth) and it kept flawless time for well over a week, then kept running (less accurately) for another week before it ran down. My question is this: should I just be happy and run it as it is, or should I go ahead and open it up and give it a clean, oil, and adjust? I almost hate to fix something that ain't broken, but at the same time the oil has to have degraded over the years, and running it in this condition can't be good for it...can it? It is sealed, but how good were the clock oils back in the 50s and 60s? Thoughts appreciated.

Phil

Chelsea.jpg
 

Kevin W.

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Apr 11, 2002
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I guess my first question is do you have clock repair experience. And can you work on a platform escapement?
 

Shipsbell

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Apr 12, 2010
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I recently inherited a very nice US Gvt Chelsea 9" dial, white face, time only clock, Bakelite case. I'm guessing vintage mid-century. It's pristine; looks like new, might even be new...ish. I doubt that it's had many hours of running, and doubt even more that it's ever been opened. My Father-in-law was a Navy flier and collector of...everything, so he just hung it on a nail in his basement where it remained for many a year. I wound it up (spring was smooth) and it kept flawless time for well over a week, then kept running (less accurately) for another week before it ran down. My question is this: should I just be happy and run it as it is, or should I go ahead and open it up and give it a clean, oil, and adjust? I almost hate to fix something that ain't broken, but at the same time the oil has to have degraded over the years, and running it in this condition can't be good for it...can it? It is sealed, but how good were the clock oils back in the 50s and 60s? Thoughts appreciated.

Phil

View attachment 619523
Phil, Let someone do the repair that has the knowledge and tools. You could damage or destroy a beautiful clock. Yes it cost several hundred dollars but a family clock and a Chelsea. Patrick
 
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Dave T

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I have limited experience in these. But I would say aside from the platform balance which requires careful attention, the rest is fairly easy and pretty straightforward. I'm sure it should be cleaned and lubricated.

There is also good documentation on the service of these clocks printed for the Military. You can most likely find that online.
 

shutterbug

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I think I'd just take a look at the movement and see if it looks dirty. You might get by with a little oil on the pivots for now, and enjoy the clock until it quits working. It's not going to become irreparable by running it.
 

Spidicus

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Jun 16, 2018
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I probably should have mentioned that I'm a working clockmaker with a pretty complete shop. I can certainly manage the COA, but I'd hate to mess with the platform unless it has obvious problems...which it doesn't seem to. I think I'll take Shutterbug and Dave's advice on this one for now, see what it's like in there, maybe clean and oil the movement. (I think I'll probably leave the platform as-is unless I see something I don't like. I've done a few platforms and balance wheels, but it's not my specialty and at my skill level, the risk of ending up worse off than I started has to be considered.)

Thanks to all for your thoughts.

Phil
 

Shipsbell

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Apr 12, 2010
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I probably should have mentioned that I'm a working clockmaker with a pretty complete shop. I can certainly manage the COA, but I'd hate to mess with the platform unless it has obvious problems...which it doesn't seem to. I think I'll take Shutterbug and Dave's advice on this one for now, see what it's like in there, maybe clean and oil the movement. (I think I'll probably leave the platform as-is unless I see something I don't like. I've done a few platforms and balance wheels, but it's not my specialty and at my skill level, the risk of ending up worse off than I started has to be considered.)

Thanks to all for your thoughts.

Phil
Phil, I am happy to hear that you are a clock maker and have the knowledge to do the repair. You were not clear on that in your first posting so I presumed you to be a novice. The first time I opened a clock I had no idea of the strength of the springs and destroyed that clock. I have 7 Chelsea clocks both shipsbell and time and I love them. I do my own repair and the time clocks are very simple repair. Alot is said about the platforms and frankly as long as you exercise caution and don't rush using great light and optics you should be able to disassemble clear and reassemble. Patrick
 

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