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Two "new" clocks - I know nothing...

AndyDWA

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I got four clocks today from a chap who was ready to throw them out. I know a bit about 400-day clocks but virtually nothing about other clocks.

I'm interested to know the approximate age and any other interesting information on these two.

One is a Sessions chiming mantel(?) clock. It weighs quite a bit - what is it likely to be made out of? Why were they made so heavy? I have no key, so have no idea if it works. I might try a 400-day key to see if I can wind it at all. Condition is average. Does the style have a name?

[Edit: I just opened the front and moved the hands - and it chimed! Things just got interesting :) )


The other is a Repetition alarm clock. It seems to work, although some parts are a bit sloppy. Condition is average.

Thanks for any info.

Sessions-Mantel-front.jpg Repetition-alarm-back.jpg Repetition-alarm.jpg
 
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eskmill

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Andy. Your Repitition alarm appears to have "Glow-In-Dark" numerals and hands.

More...there appears to be no glass cover.

For your own and others personal safety, Please put the whole clock in a tightly sealed plastic bag.

Small particles of the paint may be radioactive. If the dust inhaled, worst case could be very serious.
 

owen.or

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Someone who has a Sessions book should be able to date the Sessions clock more closely, but I can tell you Sessions came into being in 1903 so we know it's no earlier than that. These clocks were made by many makers usually using wood, iron, or marble cases. Yours looks like an iron case to me. David, Owen.or
 

harold bain

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Tran doesn't show any enamelled iron cases in his book, so perhaps a look at the movement will tell us if more than the dial is from Sessions.
 

Steven Thornberry

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If the "Sessions" clock is enameled iron, I would be tempted to call it the Gilbert National, shown in Tran's Gilbert book from the 1900 catalogue. The decorations on either side of the dial seem like those shown in the catalogue picture, though on Andy's clock, the one on the right seems to have suffered some damage in the center bit. Interestingly, the side handles on Andy's clock also seem like those shown in the catalogue picture, but mounted in an upside-down orientation from what is shown in the catalogue. Tran's Gilbert actually shows four clocks from the 1900 catalogue, all on page 208 with the same handles mounted in the same orientation.
 
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AndyDWA

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Thanks Eckmill for the radium warning. The numerals do glow but the clock is in tact, with front glass. I hadn't read about the radium issue before but I know now not to tamper with it. Just for fun, I'm going to see if I can get my hands on a geiger counter and see if anything's going on. Not sure what I'll do with it after that (I've read one of the radium threads and realise the issue is contentious, so hopefully we can leave it here, for now. Anyone who wants to know more should put "radium" in the search bar.)

Steven wins on the "Sessions" clock. The case is steel. I guess that explains the weight, but not the "why?" The movement is marked "Gilbert" (see pics).

Does that mean it's not a sessions clock at all, just a Sessions dial? Or is this something Gilbert did?

The centre, below the dial, is cracked and there is some floral detail missing on the front-left ornament. The right claw foot is also dodgy, but that was known beforehand. It looks like someone has refitted it too far forward so all the weight is transferred back to the screw, rather than the inside lip of the corner bracket.

I can't find any photos of one exactly like this for comparison of the side ornaments.

I'm sure I could work it out, but from the front, which winding arbor is chime and which is clock? And what is the tiny "winding arbor" at 12 o'clock? [edit: I guess it's the slow-fast adjustment]

I used a 400-day key to wind the left arbor a little but the right arbor wouldn't turn and I didn't want to push my luck with a small key. If I give the clock a bit of a left-right shake, it will tick for 30-seconds or so.

I've attached some photos of the movement which is stamped:

WmL. Gilbert Clock Co
Winsted. Conn.
U.S.A.

It also has a central stamp that appears to be "1911" - would this be the date of manufacture?

It also bears a "Patent April.28.1896" stamp on one part (I can't name any parts in these movements).

The photos might tell you more...

Gilbert-Mantel-gilbertstamp.jpg Gilbert-Mantel-1911stamp.jpg Gilbert-Mantel-patentstamp.jpg Gilbert-Mantel-movement.jpg Gilbert-Mantel-movement2.jpg

Thanks again for any info.
 
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harold bain

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Hi, Andy. This will be a whole different experience from 400 day clocks. Your clock's movement was made in 1911. The dial doesn't belong with your Gilbert clock. It is not a chime clock, it is a time and strike clock. The right side winds the time side and the left side is the strike side. It appears to be pretty much fully wound up. The small wind arbor is your fine regulator for timekeeping. There is no other adjustment to regulate timekeeping on this clock, as the pendulum is not adjustable.
 

Steven Thornberry

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Here is a link to the April 28, 1896, patent.

I can't explain the use of the Sessions dial; quite likely, a dial of convenience when the original went missing. Sessions, of course, took over the bankrupt E.N. Welch Manufacturing company on January 1, 1903. In 1899 Welch had suffered fires in both their movement and case factories. We know they bought movements from Gilbert until their movement factory was rebuilt. Did they perhaps also buy cases as well? That would seem to entail that when Sessions took over, this case and this movement were left over stock from Welch, and Sessions just slapped a dial on the thing. That's probably a bit of a stretch; some of Gilbert's movements that were sent to Welch seem to have found their way back to Gilbert.
 

AndyDWA

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Hi, Andy. This will be a whole different experience from 400 day clocks.
It's already a different experience - I've got muscles I never had before just from carrying it to the dining table to take a closer look! :)

The Sessions paper dial is worn away from 8-11 o'clock - I assume from adjusting the hands. I wonder if the same thing happened to the original dial and a repairer replaced it with one from stock. I do know it was in for repairs at sometime in its life, but I don't know what for.

If I decide to keep it and turn it back into a Gilbert, should I but a repro paper dial off ebay or is there a better option?

If these movements aren't adjustable, is there a trick to get them going? I've been tipping it slightly up then down again and it runs for about 30 seconds every time. Sometimes it baulks a little in that period, but then keeps going until 30 seconds, then stops abruptly.

The hands advance during this time so I assume the fundamentals are in tact and the spring is driving the movement.

Do I have to remove the movement from the case to oil it? Or can I remove the hands and go in behind the dial?

It's weird... I just look at this and see headaches in any sort of repair work and yet 400-day clocks seem so straight forward. Meanwhile, the local clock repairer could probably work on this in his sleep - but despise 400-day clocks.

Thanks again. It's after midnight here so I'll catch up again tomorrow.
 

harold bain

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You could use a replacement paper dial, which likely would be easier to find than a replacement Gilbert dial and bezel. Yes, the movement should be removed to both oil it and examine it for any possible problems. Take the hands off first, then look for 4 mounting screws holding it to the case.
Listen for it being in beat (an even tick tock) by lifting the bottom while listening to see where the best sound is.
 

AndyDWA

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Since I've never looked inside one of these before, I put it back on the dining table so I could stare at it. As I carried it, I must have tipped it back a little and the pendulum fell out of the bracket.

I opened the back of the clock and put the pendulum back - but I don't know exactly how high it's supposed to sit, so I took a guess. I've attached two pics. In one you can see a "blob" of that looks like solder. I assume this isn't normal - but I believe the clock has been dropped at some time in it's history.

Gilbert-pendulum-hanger.jpg Gilbert-pendulum-escape-solder.jpg

I pushed the pendulum to view the action. It rotated for around 30 seconds each time then stopped for no obvious reason. So I put a drop of light oil on all the rear pivots and a drop on two escape-wheel teeth (which is pretty much what I do with a grubby 400-day clock that stops for no obvious reason).

After a few more pushes, I marked the escape wheel to see if it stopped in the same place every time - and the clock kept going for around 15 minutes on the next push. I restarted it and it's now been going for 45 minutes.

Having watched the movement, I'm feeling more confident about taking it out to get a better look and do a little clean and oil.

After reading another "Sessions-Gilbert" thread, I can see now how this dial doesn't exactly align with the extruding arbors.

Looking inside, I can see the broken section below the dial has been welded from behind. I can't weld at all, but I'm pretty sure this isn't a very good job since the front is clearly not straight. I also see one movement bracket doesn't align with the threaded hole, so the movement is held by only three screws.

My first major task, however, is to get the dust out of this beast. I can barely walk past it without sneezing. I considered blowing it out but assume that would just fill the movement with dust. But I'm not sure what Plan B is.

EDIT: It's been running, striking and chiming for over two hours now. I also just found one on Youtube that I assume is the same model and the dial is very different. I also notice the ornaments are very bright (and the "handles" are inverted as Steven noted). Are the ornaments brass or spelter - or something else. Can they be polished as per usual?
 
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harold bain

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I can see a bad tooth on the escape wheel just left of the anchor. Might be a few more of them. With care and a good eye you can straighten it with a pair of smooth jawed pliers.
 

AndyDWA

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Wow, well spotted Harold.

I just checked through the magnifier and I think it's just the tooth with the drop of oil on it. The oil is reflecting a bit of light on the tip and magnifying some dirt/tarnish on the leading edge, making the tooth look quite distorted. I watched the wheel rotate few times and the teeth look pretty uniform.

Running almost four hours now, which I suspect is the longest it's run for many years.

The downside is... my wife likes this clock too - so now the collecting bug grows larger. Although I'm not sure our house is strong enough to hold too many of these beasts :)
 

Kevin W.

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Looks like a complete teardown is needed and when you see solder, maybe more surprises, and likely bushings needed as well.
 

AndyDWA

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....and 13 hours later, it stopped and refuses to go again :) Not bad considering I only oiled the back.

I'm sure I will take the movement out at some point and do what I'm able. I can't do the fancy stuff like rebushing, but I can at least wiggle everything to see if anything is out of whack and I can get the dried oil out of the wells and freshen everything up.

How do I let down the springs in this?
 

harold bain

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....and 13 hours later, it stopped and refuses to go again :) Not bad considering I only oiled the back.

I'm sure I will take the movement out at some point and do what I'm able. I can't do the fancy stuff like rebushing, but I can at least wiggle everything to see if anything is out of whack and I can get the dried oil out of the wells and freshen everything up.

How do I let down the springs in this?
First thing is to restrain them. I use electrical tie wire twisted around the springs. Others use c clamps made for this. Then you will need to let them down, the same way a barrelled spring is let down. I'm assuming you have a letdown tool for the job.
 

Attachments

AndyDWA

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Excellent Harold, thanks for the pics. I have a homemade letdown tool I use on the 400-dayers.

@Kevin,

I just took the top off this one to get a better look inside and - well - interesting.

The anchor arbor does not run parallel to the other arbors. Is this adjustable (easily)? Or is it possibly correct as is? (see photos)

To me, the arbor with the lantern pinion doesn't look 100% straight.

There's solder on the front end of the anchor arbor too. I assume it's holding those bush extrusions?

There's also bits of thin wire wrapped randomly around a few other parts, but I can't see that they are achieving anything.

The whole movement sits at an angle. I noticed this when adjusting the time, as the hands almost touch on one side, which probably explains why that part of the dial is worn away.

The whole front "plate" (the flat iron section that everything mounts to) leans back at an angle - more on one side than the other. This appears to be held by just two side screws, so it may be adjustable... unless the welding job at the bottom prevents it.

Anyway, I used some lighter fluid and an artist brush and cleaned some excess oil off pivots and the top lantern pinion. I re-oiled and it's running again.

Gilbert-Mantel-movement-topview.jpg Gilbert-Mantel-movement-oddstuff.jpg Gilbert-side-view-front.jpg
 

harold bain

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That is a nasty looking bushing job, in an area that just about never needs bushings. Make sure there is some end play on the anchor arbor. If those bushings are too tight, that will stop the clock. The little wires are helper springs for the strike levers, providing just a little tension to give gravity a boost.
 

AndyDWA

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Thanks Harold. There is a little end play on all the top arbors (the few I tested) and it's now been running and striking for over 30 hours. I think that despite the obvious issues, it's fundamentally sound.

I have three 400-day clocks awaiting parts at the moment so I don't want to start doing anything with this until they're all finished. Then I'll try to set aside a weekend to see how far I'm willing to get into it.

I would like to do something about the case but I suspect the large cracked piece below the dial will be beyond my abilities except to fill it with auto body filler then prime and repaint. Alternatively I might have to find a friend who's able to re-weld it. I assume it's cast iron - which I understand is not so easy to weld? If I could remove the current weld, jig it all up nice and straight and get it re-welded, that would be a great start.

There is also a large chuck of "paint" (is it paint or something else) missing on top of the clock so there's a one inch patch of rust. It's tempting to treat the whole case like a motor vehicle and strip, fill and respray it. If I can get a good enough finish, then I can keep an eye out for a Gilbert dial.
 

harold bain

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Andy, you could fill the crack with something like JB Weld, which can be sanded and painted, easier than welding. I use a black enamel gloss paint to touch up cases like yours. It blends in well with the original finish.
 

AndyDWA

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Weirdly, I was thinking of using JB Weld as a filler if the remaining crack was small enough after welding - but I didn't even think of using it to do the actual job it was designed for. :whistle: Over-thinking things, as usual.

If I can grind the current weld off, I'm hoping the pieces will fit back together properly as I suspect that is where most of the bad geometry is coming from.
 

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