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Trouble getting a grandfather clock started

begginersluke

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Oct 17, 2022
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First a little bit about me. I love clocks, but haven't had a chance to learn much about mechanical movements, etc. I hope to one day, as the kids get older (and I have more time). I've been into clocks since I was a kid and my uncle, who lived out in the country (in a small village in Poland) got a grandfather clock that he couldn't wait to show me.

Well, some 35 years later, I finally purchased a grandfather clock at a charity shop.

The person at the shop said the clock worked fine, and it seems to... sort of.

We wound the clock (lifted the weights) and tried to get the pendulum going, but it wouldn't keep ticking.

I poked around a bit and realized that the movement required to get the escapement to click (that is the escapement wheel would click over under the anchor -- I am not sure how this is correctly described; I had to look up that the anchor was called the anchor on wikipedia) was outside of where the pendulum could move. That is, the successful movement of the escapement would require the pendulum to swing from just barely to the right of center (when facing the clock) to so far to the left that it would hit the case.

The clock has levelling feet though, so as a test I was able to tilt the clock (to be very much out of level) and get the mechanism going. It kept going for a few hours; I stopped it and I tried backing off the tilt just a little bit... and basically never got it going again.

So I think this is just a balance issue, but I'm not sure where to go from here, especially since just running the clock when it's seriously tilted is not an actually good solution.

So... what should I do?

A couple of side questions:
The clock has 3 weights. One for the time-keeping movement and 2 for chime movements (forgive me if I am totally mislabeling these).

I. The weights themselves do not have equal weight and I'm not sure which one is correctly placed where. Is there a general rule for this (something like: heaving weight for time keeping)?

II. I live in Austin, TX which seems a big enough place where maybe I could place an ad on Craigslist and pay someone a small/fair fee to come help me figure this out. Is that a good idea?

Thanks so much for any help. I was very happy to find this forum!

clock1.jpg clock2.jpg clock3.jpg
 

Mike Mall

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Oct 27, 2021
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That has an auto beat clutch on the anchor.
If you move the pendulum to one side of the case and let it go, it should set itself automatically.
Find it's own center - if all's well with the mechanism.
 
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Chris.K

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Jul 15, 2021
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Look to see if the crutch has a linear adjustment. With the clock level move the pendulum left or right via the crutch adjustment. What is happening when you do this is you're truing up the alignment of the suspension, the crutch, and pendulum. Chris. Ps. I forgot about what Mike mentioned above and is correct about.
 

begginersluke

Registered User
Oct 17, 2022
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Look to see if the crutch has a linear adjustment. With the clock level move the pendulum left or right via the crutch adjustment. What is happening when you do this is you're truing up the alignment of the suspension, the crutch, and pendulum. Chris. Ps. I forgot about what Mike mentioned above and is correct about.
So this clock has the "auto beat clutch" and should not have the linear adjustment, is that right?

That has an auto beat clutch on the anchor.
If you move the pendulum to one side of the case and let it go, it should set itself automatically.
Find it's own center - if all's well with the mechanism.
We tried this several times when we first got it home, but let me relevel the clock and try again.

As far as the weights, how can I make sure the weights are on their intended mechanisms?
 

begginersluke

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Oct 17, 2022
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This manual is amazing. Thank you! I am going to take some time and go through it and follow the setup instructions.

I did notice it said in the manual that the weights were labelled on the bottom, but I just checked and mine are not (they were likely stickers that are just gone). Any ideas on how to solve that? I want to make sure the weights are right before trying to start the clock again.

Thanks so much,
Luke
 
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Wimberleytech

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Jan 27, 2022
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"auto beat clutch"
This post is quite timely for me.

I am an amateur watch/clock-maker, mostly fixing stuff for friends and neighbors (and I stay quite busy!!)
This weekend I visited a home with a problematic grandfather clock. They said it was running fine and then they moved it (carefully) and it quit running.

I noticed right off that it was out of beat (yet level). When I went to adjust the anchor, I could feel that it as very loose--it barley took any pressure from my finger before it moved. I got it in beat, but then after a little while it was out of beat and then stopped.

My theory is that the anchor is so loose that the escape wheel moves it on entry and exit. I have worked on many clocks, but this is my first Grandfather clock with this "auto" feature.

Theories??
 

Dave T

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Dec 8, 2011
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I imagine you have one weight heavier than the other two. The heaviest weight goes on the right side for the hourly strike.
 

Wimberleytech

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I imagine you have one weight heavier than the other two. The heaviest weight goes on the right side for the hourly strike.
After reading this thread, I am indeed suspect of this. I am investigating this and will report back!!
 

Dave T

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Dec 8, 2011
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I meant to say the chime train not strike! Sorry, heavy weight still goes on the right side.
However, based on the comments in this thread, I doubt that is your problem. It's most likely a matter of getting the clock 'in beat'.
 
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Wimberleytech

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Jan 27, 2022
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I meant to say the chime train not strike! Sorry, heavy weight still goes on the right side.
However, based on the comments in this thread, I doubt that is your problem. It's most likely a matter of getting the clock 'in beat'.
So under this theory, the heaviest weight might be incorrectly applied to the time train thus causing this problem?
 

Mike Mall

NAWCC Member
Oct 27, 2021
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So under this theory, the heaviest weight might be incorrectly applied to the time train thus causing this problem?
I've seen this done to get a worn clock running, when it needs more weight to overcome the loss of power.
I don't believe it will stop a clock - just keep a worn one running, and wear the parts that much more.
 

Mike Mall

NAWCC Member
Oct 27, 2021
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167
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"auto beat clutch"
This post is quite timely for me.

I am an amateur watch/clock-maker, mostly fixing stuff for friends and neighbors (and I stay quite busy!!)
This weekend I visited a home with a problematic grandfather clock. They said it was running fine and then they moved it (carefully) and it quit running.

I noticed right off that it was out of beat (yet level). When I went to adjust the anchor, I could feel that it as very loose--it barley took any pressure from my finger before it moved. I got it in beat, but then after a little while it was out of beat and then stopped.

My theory is that the anchor is so loose that the escape wheel moves it on entry and exit. I have worked on many clocks, but this is my first Grandfather clock with this "auto" feature.

Theories??
The clutches do wear out - they can get loose and do exactly what you describe.
I think this can happen when the movement is worn, and the owner makes many attempts to set the beat.
The clutch isn't really meant to be used many, many many, times.
 

Wimberleytech

NAWCC Member
Jan 27, 2022
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The clutches do wear out - they can get loose and do exactly what you describe.
I think this can happen when the movement is worn, and the owner makes many attempts to set the beat.
The clutch isn't really meant to be used many, many many, times.
My plan is to pick up the clock and fix it, but I am developing a plan of attack before then. Probably won't know until I get it disassembled. Not looking forward to housing a big clock--my shop has no room left, so I will have to beg for some room from the house manager :)
 

Willie X

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Feb 9, 2008
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Just pick up the movement, dial and seat board all in one piece.

Carry the weights and pendulum all separately.
 

Wimberleytech

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Jan 27, 2022
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Just pick up the movement, dial and seat board all in one piece.

Carry the weights and pendulum all separately.
Well, I thought about just pulling it as you say, but then I have to build a stand to test it. My normal clock stand will not cut the mustard for this big thing!!
 

begginersluke

Registered User
Oct 17, 2022
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Well, I releveled the clock and tried overswinging the pendulum as described in the manual, but no dice.

I've made a short video of the escapement when the pendulum swings. I basically had the pendulum against the side of the case, so it was swung as far as it could go. As far as I can tell (but I know basically nothing) it did not have even one good cycle.



Thanks,

Luke
 

eemoore

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Apr 26, 2008
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Well, I releveled the clock and tried overswinging the pendulum as described in the manual, but no dice.

I've made a short video of the escapement when the pendulum swings. I basically had the pendulum against the side of the case, so it was swung as far as it could go. As far as I can tell (but I know basically nothing) it did not have even one good cycle.



Thanks,

Luke
Luke, this thread has gotten very confusing since apparently Wimberly has started his own thread within your thread. I'm not sure which clock we are talking about. Maybe a moderator can straighten this out. Good luck with your clock.
 

Mike Mall

NAWCC Member
Oct 27, 2021
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Well, I releveled the clock and tried overswinging the pendulum as described in the manual, but no dice.

I've made a short video of the escapement when the pendulum swings. I basically had the pendulum against the side of the case, so it was swung as far as it could go. As far as I can tell (but I know basically nothing) it did not have even one good cycle.



Thanks,

Luke
Can you see both the pallets clearing their tooth in turn?
It should look like this animation.

The angle is difficult to see well, but it looks like the escape wheel isn't getting any power, not trying to move between the pallets..
You've stated it would initially run when tilted far off level - so that would be a different problem.

This thread is in general discussion - maybe you can get a moderator to move this to the repair section. (you can click the report button and request that)
 
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begginersluke

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Oct 17, 2022
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This thread is in general discussion - maybe you can get a moderator to move this to the repair section. (you can click the report button and request that)
I've reported and asked as you suggested. Sorry for posting in the wrong place.

it looks like the escape wheel isn't getting any power, not trying to move between the pallets..
You've stated it would initially run when tilted far off level - so that would be a different problem.
I played around and this was right on.

It's been a while (like 2 months) since I last messed with this thing. When I read this, I remembered that I had suspected that it might not be getting enough power and done 2 things:
  • Put the heaviest weight on the time movement
    (I didn't know which weight went where, so this was a way to test the 'underpowered' hypothesis.)
  • Added a bit of manual pressure to the weight to see if that helped.
Long story short, after reading your message I tried to restart the clock again while adding some weight with my hand (to the not-heaving weight, which I had put back on the time movement).

The escapement wheel began to click over! The clock ran like this for about 5 minutes, then stopped.

Undeterred, I again put the heaviest weight on the time movement and this time was able to restart it without any extra weight and the clock ran fine for 20+ minutes until I stopped it.

(I think I must have provided a little extra power when I had the clock tilted and it "found it's beat" at that angle, but was unable to do that without the extra power once I releveled it. In other words, the fact that it ran tilted 2 months ago had nothing to do with the tilt, but I was a bad scientist that applied two interventions to one experiment without realizing it.)

I'm now wondering if this is just a clock that hasn't been lubricated in decades and that's all it needs...

I'll hear what you smart folks have to say though.

Thanks so much everyone! This progress is so exciting. (Plus I'm learning, which is also what I'm after.)
 

Mike Mall

NAWCC Member
Oct 27, 2021
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I've reported and asked as you suggested. Sorry for posting in the wrong place.



I played around and this was right on.

It's been a while (like 2 months) since I last messed with this thing. When I read this, I remembered that I had suspected that it might not be getting enough power and done 2 things:
  • Put the heaviest weight on the time movement
    (I didn't know which weight went where, so this was a way to test the 'underpowered' hypothesis.)
  • Added a bit of manual pressure to the weight to see if that helped.
Long story short, after reading your message I tried to restart the clock again while adding some weight with my hand (to the not-heaving weight, which I had put back on the time movement).

The escapement wheel began to click over! The clock ran like this for about 5 minutes, then stopped.

Undeterred, I again put the heaviest weight on the time movement and this time was able to restart it without any extra weight and the clock ran fine for 20+ minutes until I stopped it.

(I think I must have provided a little extra power when I had the clock tilted and it "found it's beat" at that angle, but was unable to do that without the extra power once I releveled it. In other words, the fact that it ran tilted 2 months ago had nothing to do with the tilt, but I was a bad scientist that applied two interventions to one experiment without realizing it.)

I'm now wondering if this is just a clock that hasn't been lubricated in decades and that's all it needs...

I'll hear what you smart folks have to say though.

Thanks so much everyone! This progress is so exciting. (Plus I'm learning, which is also what I'm after.)
This is not good news. Your movement is losing power to the escapement.
Most likely scenario is - the oil dried up long ago, and the pivots are worn.
Just adding oil usually doesn't give a long term fix, but might possibly get it going for a short time.
A teardown for inspection, and repair, is the minimum that should be done.
Most here would recommend a replacement movement if you want a long term solution.

Three realistic choices
1. Bring it to a pro, and let them give you an estimate.
2. Buy a new movement, and learn how to install it.
3. Go all in, learn how to repair a movement yourself. (this isn't a good one to learn on)

If you want to learn about clock repair here is a good place to start.
 

begginersluke

Registered User
Oct 17, 2022
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This is not good news. Your movement is losing power to the escapement.
Most likely scenario is - the oil dried up long ago, and the pivots are worn.
Ah... that makes sense.

This clock cost something like $35, so I don't think it would be worth having serviced. :D

It seems like getting a lubrication kit and trying to do that job myself might be worthwhile, if only for the experience. (Honestly, I almost feel better messing with it knowing it's already not great!)

Thanks for the link. That looks like some great info!

I'm curious what about this movement makes it a not great one to learn on?
 

Mike Mall

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Oct 27, 2021
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I'm curious what about this movement makes it a not great one to learn on?
It is a weight driven, pendulum movement - which are the better ones to learn on.
But it's complicated with 3 trains of wheels to tear down, and reassemble correctly..
And many of these have a plating on the pivots that fails, making that a whole 'nother complication, long story.
 
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