Tower Clock Oil

Discussion in 'Tower, Monumental & Street Clocks' started by SamS, Apr 22, 2009.

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  1. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Feb 16, 2008
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    I am looking for advise on what type of oil to use in a Howard tower clock. I would be interested to know what any of you that own or maintain tower clocks are using.

    Thank you,
     
  2. gvasale

    gvasale Registered User
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    Mar 30, 2005
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    FWIW,I use Windles, # 503 from Merritts. There are others too.
     
  3. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
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    Sam,

    Speaking as someone who maintains two tower clocks in a climate which (at times) has been known to drop to - 40 degrees, I use a light grade of synthetic motor oil. It works well in all temperatures, but it is particularly suited to very low temperatures. That may be a factor in your neighborhood. I have seen a readily available "tower clock oil" available from some horological suppliers which I feel is far too light for clocks that have the stresses that tower clocks encounter. My 2 cents worth.

    Doug S.
     
  4. Schwalbachfan

    Schwalbachfan Registered User

    Jan 21, 2008
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    On our recently restored 1906 Schwalbach Tower Clock I was told to continue using 0w-30 Mobil 1 Synthetic Motor Oil. One drop per month in all the right places and to wipe away the excess.
     
  5. SamS

    SamS Registered User
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    Feb 16, 2008
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    Thanks everyone, so far it sounds like Mobile 1 synthetic motor oil. My wife and I installed the clock in our Mill today. I'll post pictures soon.

    Sam
     
  6. gvasale

    gvasale Registered User
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    #6 gvasale, Apr 26, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2009
    One last thought. While many of you extole the merits of Mobil 1 etc, one thing to remember is that in automobile engines there is an Oil Pump to maintain usually 40-60 psi to keep the crank and rod bearings separated. No such thing in a tower clock. Hope I don't appear to be a grinch.
     
  7. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

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    An automobile engine requires an oil pump. At last report, tower clocks didn't! Did I misinterpret your meaning?

    Doug S.
     
  8. gvasale

    gvasale Registered User
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    #8 gvasale, Apr 26, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2009
    The question I don't have the answer to is how thick the fluid film is in the bearings of a tower clock, or any other. An auto engine again uses an oil pump to keep metal to metal contact, well, without contact. I'm not prepared to say what the running clearances in a clock is, except the tilt method which is somewhat vague. Sorry, I never used a pin gage to check the hole and compare it with the arbor. In other words I know what the typical clearances in an auto engine might be, and they are set up that way because there is an oil pump. Now, an auto bearing journal might be 2.00 inches, and have a spec of .002 clearance because ther is a oil pump to insure proper oiling. What is the thickness of the film in a clock? The drop or two on a tower clock arbor... does it puddle on the bottom of the bushing, and how much is swept around the bushing, which can vary from say .215" inch to about 1 inch on the winding drum of my Howard timepiece. Again, engine oils are meant to flow. clock oils are meant to stay put, so to say. Fwiw, I've heard, putting synthetic eninge oil in a engine with many miles will turn it into an oil burner because it cleans out everything so well. I get the same arguments wrt machine tools where the question is "can engine oils be used in the headstock of my lathe?...or what's the difference between engine oil, R&O oil, and hydraulic oil, spindle oil?' What do you say?

    Note: early auto engines used splash oiling like many small 4 cycle engines.
     
  9. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
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    Tower clocks have been around since about the 14th century. They have been lubricated with whale oil, mineral oil, synthetic oils, greases, and maybe even vegetable oil for all I know. Regardless of the difference in lubricants, maker, vintage, design, size, application, counry of origin, climate, etc. etc., to the best of my knowledge there's never been one with a pressure oiling system force fed by an oil pump.

    Doug S.
     
  10. gvasale

    gvasale Registered User
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    The fact that clocks have not used oil pumps shows you have missed the point. Engine oils are intended to be pressurized so they may do their job of keeping metal surfaces separated. And to deal with the products of combustion and condensation. Engines without oil pumps don't generally last for 1,000s of hours. Clocks, on the other hand use oil to minimize friction/reduce wear. If any oil from the begining of the availability of clocks is sufficient, then for what purpose are all the varieties of oil produced? This is not to say that any synthetic oil or other oil can't be used, but I'm asking the most direct way now: is oil for a tower clock, yes, Tower Clock Oil, not a superior product? Superior for Tower Clocks as compared to engine oil? The answer is perhaps too long of a study. Maybe I'll hold on to a quart from the old Briggs and save a buck. Gee, diesel is kind of thin, has some lubricatin' properties, but it smells a little... but so did whale oil when it was time for an oil change in the old Timex....

    What was the question anyway?
     

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