Struck Oil, My first wood movement

Discussion in 'Wood Movement Clocks' started by MDean, Mar 30, 2011.

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  1. MDean

    MDean Registered User

    Jun 7, 2010
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    My First Wood Movement


    I was at the second day of an estate sale. I did my quick rush through the house looking for timepieces not expecting to see much since I missed the first day. I saw nothing so I went to the garage to check tools. As I quickly scanned the garage from the doorway I spotted a piece of wood under a bunch of newspapers and junk. The shape caught my eye because it was shaped like the chimney of a wood case clock. I removed the junk and newspapers and there lay a clock. My first thought was that the owner was keeping it. Then I saw a price tag and the words "as is".
    I immediately pick it up to make the purchase and boy was it top heavy! Well I knew then of course that it at least it still had weights.
    I took it to the estate lady and she said it is not running and they cannot get the door open. I asked why was it covered with junk. She said that there are two bids on it and someone must have covered it so that no one else would see it before they came back to claim it as high bidder. She said I could pay full price and take it. I gave her the $75.00 and took it home.
    When I opened the door I saw a "3 IN ONE OIL" can fortunately closed tight. Also there was a vintage Elgin travel clock. Even more interesting was a card written by the great grandaughter of the original owner. The great granddaughter noted on the card that she was in college in 1911 and mentioned where the family is buried. She did not sign it with her name so the note was intended only for family. At first I figured that there was going to be a brass movement in the clock. When I saw the wood movement I was pleasantly surprised.
    The Seth Thomas label is in very good shape. There was one dust cap over the pulley and it was a Synchron cap. I blew the dust out of the movement and got it working. There is some problems on the strike side. There has been some repair work that does not look too good. The case still has the tin plate on back and most of the original nails with newer round flat top nails added. The top glass is original with putty still in place. The bottom glass is replaced and an old photo inserted.
    A nice find that easily may have not happened it I did not see that piece of wood.


    ( I was working on posting this very recent purchase when I saw this new forum, good timing)
     

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  2. swankyman

    swankyman Registered User

    Nov 5, 2006
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    Now that was a great buy. Way to go!
     
  3. Steven Thornberry

    Steven Thornberry User Administrator
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    Nice find, indeed! Is that a homemade repair to the count lever, or what exactly? Any plans to replace the bottom glass with something more appropriate?

    We now need the experts to weigh in on the movement.
     
  4. cazboy

    cazboy Registered User

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    #4 cazboy, Mar 31, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2011
    What a good find! Congratulations. BTW, this new forum seems a good idea. I don't have a wooden works clock and I wish I did!
     
  5. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Nov 26, 2009
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    Very nice find! And with that can of 3-in-1, you really did strike oil, almost.

    A real period piece of Americana and reasonably bought. See, they're out there and affordable! Gotta be patient.

    Stencilling looks good. Nice crisp label. Gilt and gilt raised gesso decorated dial...what's not to like??

    Lower "tablet" can be just an old piece of mirror cut to fit.

    If this Forum does nothing else but re-excite people about clocks that are antique, it has been of great value.

    Any chance could scan and post the note that came inside?

    RM
     
  6. MDean

    MDean Registered User

    Jun 7, 2010
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    I can easily scan that note and post it. I just was not sure if I should do that with a name on it. The people referred to are gone now so I guess that should not be a problem.

    I got lucky on this one. If it was a different estate sale company they may have overpriced it. That happens a lot around here. If you are a collector you pay a higher price if you really want it.
     
  7. MDean

    MDean Registered User

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    Note inside Seth Thomas Wood Movement

    RM requested I scan the note that was inside the clock so here it is. It provides some ownership history starting with the owner.
     

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  8. MDean

    MDean Registered User

    Jun 7, 2010
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    Yes that is an interesting repair job. A piece of metal wrapped around & soldered to hold it in place.

    I would like to properly repair the count lever and place old glass in the door. I want to maintain the existing look of the exterior, faded columns, nicks and so on but put a coat of wax on it.

    I'd like to see if I can determine the movement. I have a copy of the October 1980 Bulletin no.208 part 1, Wood Movement identification. I picked it up at the recent Mesquite, Tx. regional.
     
  9. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Re: Note inside Seth Thomas Wood Movement

    Thanks.

    I just love the inscriptions and notes associated with antique furniture, clocks, artwork, etc.

    RM
     
  10. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    Mar 3, 2006
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    It is the correct Seth Thomas movement, type 1.513.
     
  11. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
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    Emit,

    That’s a nice find and an interesting project. That Synchron dust cap is a novel use for an old motor shell.

    I can’t tell for sure from the picture, but it almost looks like this movement has brass bushings. If that’s the case, then that’s probably the reason for the 3-in-1 oil. I believe that a few wooden movements may have had brass bushings, and a lot of others have had brass bushings installed later. One of the experts here can probably tell us if the Seth Thomas type 1.513 originally was brass bushed.

    It’s generally not a good idea to put brass bushings in wooden movements unless they were originally made that way (although I expect some may disagree). Brass bushings have to be oiled and the oil usually soaks into the wood and makes ugly stains. I have a movement in my shop now that had brass bushings installed in several pivot holes and most of them have turned green and come loose in the oil soaked wood.

    That is a rather nasty looking repair on the count lever, but my guess is that it probably works ok. A proper repair will require that you disassemble the movement, which could probably use a good cleaning anyway. When you have the movement apart and see what you have there to work with I’m sure you will be able to devise a more reasonable repair. It is not clear from the picture if the original lever is actually damaged or not. It almost looks like someone has wrapped a piece of lead around the end and held it with a gob of solder to weight the end of the lever, possibly to try to correct an over strike (strike not stopping after the count and continuing to strike the next hour) problem.
     
  12. Carlton Davis

    Carlton Davis Registered User
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    Jan 22, 2011
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    WOW! Great find! Goes to show you that they are still out there. Could you share what area of the country you found it? I would expect that the eastern US would be be most likely area to find such gems. Hard to believe that somebody tried to get it for less than the $75 asking price. You could part it out (PLEASE DON'T) for way more than that. I'm certainly no expert but my limited experience with wooden works is that they require (and deserve) extra TLC and the best quality repairs that you can accomplish. Stories like yours are what keeps me looking.
     
  13. MDean

    MDean Registered User

    Jun 7, 2010
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    Carlton,
    I found this Seth Thomas wood works in northwest Louisiana, from the note on the card the family was probably from Alabama. Even though most clocks were built in the New England area (which is where I was born & raised) they of course were shipped all over the country.

    I enjoy the thrill of discovering treasures at estate sales. I do not purchase them to sell at this time.

    Emit
     

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