Sound board repair

lylepete

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Feb 9, 2003
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I have a kroeber sound board with multiple cracks, but is complete. Should I just glue all the cracks and leave it or take a page from ansonia and reinforce it as in the photo.

20200319_082536.jpg
 

shutterbug

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The sound board needs to be solid to resonate. I'm not sure what glue would do, but kinda think it would be OK as long as it's clamped tightly during the drying process.
 

lylepete

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I talk to my 82 year old mom about the board. She works at a music store. She ask the store's luthier. He basicly said good old white glue would be just fine. Adding the side strips would limit the warping of the board and shouldn't affect the sound as long as everthing is tight and the same type of wood.
 

Jeff Salmon

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Apr 11, 2002
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Interesting topic as I have been investigating the topic of 'tone woods' for a project that I have. If you Google "tone woods for guitar" there is lots of info on this subject. Surprisingly, woods have a different resonance and tone quality and instrument makers are very sensitive to this and have lots of opinions. I don't think a lot of it pertains to clocks as the resonating board is often very small. If you decide to make a new one, I'd recommend Sapele (looks like mahogany) or spruce. Both woods have good tone and are readily available. They make a lot of guitar tops out of spruce for a good reason. The back and sides are often for appearance. E-Bay has lots of these woods in thin stock so you should not have to do a lot of milling.

Just for kicks, for my bracket clock project, I milled up some sapele, walnut, spruce and mahogany about 6" by 8" and did the tap test as the luthiers do. One can really hear the difference. Some are bright some are softer, even lower in frequency. I think the wood should be similar to the original, which was probably poplar, alder, maybe soft birch. If the wood is too hard or dense like oak, or hard maple, the wood can't pick up the vibrations transmitted by the gong.

Try the glue as was suggested. If you are not happy with the result, then go make a new one.
 

lylepete

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I"ve googled it to but this sound board still has the lable attached, and sounds ok now that it is back together. However, i do notice that ansonia's strike is much crisper and loader then kroeber's. I'm not sure if its the wood, as they appear to be different, the thickness 3/8 vs 1/4 in the kroeber, or just the gong itself. However, I do need to replace the on on my toledo as it is some type of oak. My guess is ansonia's are either spruce or ceder. I'm sure its native and nothing to fancy. On the plus side if I buy one with a trashed board I can send it to the US forest department and they can tell me what it is, but they want a good sized piece. No since in ruining a good board.
 

Jeff Salmon

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In opinion, the combination of the gong and the wood make a difference. We have all heard some beautiful clocks with terrible sounding gongs, and some very plain, probably inexpensive clocks with great sounding gongs. A bad sounding gong is always going to sound bad and the sound board may even amplify that. I have even heard bells that sound great and some that have a terrible tone, even though they may look the same and be similar measurements. Sometimes changing the hammer head from old leather to a new material can make a difference. It's personal preference, I guess.
 

AlpineTime

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Sound board material makes a difference! I restored a good-sized European wall clock whose Westminster rod-chime unit was mounted on the original, sizable back board. The chime had been a pleasant, livable volume when mounted on that cheap pine board. Just for fun, I replaced it with one made of Sitka spruce, originally intended for a steel-string dreadnought guitar, and braced much like a guitar top. Now the chimes sound wonderful, but there's no living in the same house with their volume! And they will get louder (and maybe sound better) as the spruce ages.
 

bikerclockguy

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Jul 22, 2017
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View attachment 577311

But, I have wondered what glue or bracing will due to the tonal quality, so I am interested to hear what others think.

Tom
I glued(with clamps)a sound board in an Ansonia iron case clock, and it sounded great afterward. I would think the main considerations there would be 1. No chunks missing or significant wood loss. 2. Minimal glue with tight clamps.
 

S_Owsley

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I'm glad tonal quality is important to some other people too. I remember buying a German box clock years ago. I listened to every clock the seller had in his shop and I chose the one with the nicest tone. It wasn't the prettiest clock he had, but I have never regretted the decision. It's in the hallway just outside my bedroom and was meant to be heard, not seen :). I like to watch YouTube videos of people servicing clocks. What a disappointment to see someone with skill restore a clock and then pay absolutely no attention to any adjustment of the hammers, rods, gongs or bell(s).
 
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bikerclockguy

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I'm glad tonal quality is important to some other people too. I remember buying a German box clock years ago. I listened to every clock the seller had in his shop and I chose the one with the nicest tone. It wasn't the prettiest clock he had, but I have never regretted the decision. It's in the hallway just outside my bedroom and was meant to be heard, not seen :). I like to watch YouTube videos of people servicing clocks. What a disappointment to see someone with skill restore a clock and then pay absolutely no attention to any adjustment of the hammers, rods, gongs or bell(s).
Flat or sour tones are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Even the ones that sound like smacking an empty oil drum with a hammer at their best, still sound better if the tone is clear and resonant
 
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daveR

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Biker, what a deadly accurate description of my box clock chime (smacking an empty oil drum etc). with only a little bit more resonance.
I played around a fair bit with hammer position along the coil and also back and forwards until i got a much more acceptable tone. Afew tries but well worth the effort. The clock then stopped striking but that is not relevant here.
 

bikerclockguy

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Biker, what a deadly accurate description of my box clock chime (smacking an empty oil drum etc). with only a little bit more resonance.
I played around a fair bit with hammer position along the coil and also back and forwards until i got a much more acceptable tone. Afew tries but well worth the effort. The clock then stopped striking but that is not relevant here.
The “oil drum with a hammer” tone seems to be pretty standard in the Ansonia iron case clocks with the large(4” or so)gong. As you have noted, though, with a little work the sound can be made tolerable, almost pleasant. I’m just speculating here, but my guess is that with the ornate gold trim, etc, their target market was folks with big houses, and the idea behind big gong and stout hammer spring was to enable it to be heard all over the house, albeit at the sacrifice of a more melodic tone.
 
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