Van Slyke self-winding clock

Discussion in 'Electric Horology' started by charlie44gs, Jan 28, 2016.

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  1. charlie44gs

    charlie44gs Registered User

    Jan 14, 2009
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    #1 charlie44gs, Jan 28, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2017
    I acquired this Van Slyke self-winding time switch clock several years ago but recently tried to get it running. Its primary purpose was to serve as a master clock for an external lighting system. The 30-day movement and case were made by Seth Thomas and modified by J. C. Van Slyke and patented in 1922. The clock runs but the self-winding feature, which also activates the external lights, does not work.

    I found the patent documents online but they are confusing. Search US 1413075 A for a PDF file of the patent. My winding motor is broken and was designed to run on 110 volts. I plan to replace the original motor with a 6 - 9 volt one. Presently I cannot tell how the winding switch starts and stops the winding motor. I tried one motor but it did not stop and stripped several teeth from one of the gears. The switch operating the lights is housed in the top of the case but the compartment is lined with asbestos. I plan to remove the asbestos after spraying it with water. I have not been able to find this clock in any of the books on self-winding clocks. It might not have been a very successful product. A lot of thought and effort went into its production.

    Does anyone have experience with this clock? I would appreciate any suggestions or observations.
    Charlie Brooks
    Atlanta
    IMG_2202.jpg V S dial.jpg V S case.jpg

    IMG_2202.jpg V S dial.jpg V S case.jpg
     
  2. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    I've never seen this one.
    I'd need more pictures, of the movement, from some angle to tell much.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  3. charlie44gs

    charlie44gs Registered User

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    Tinker,
    Thanks for reading my posting. I found another link on the patent site that gives a PDF file of the original patent. This does not have all the "typos" that appear on the initial site. I could post more pix but since there are five "hidden" pins that are very difficult to see I do not think they would help. The PDF file gives a very thorough explanation of the way the clock was intended to work. Basically the concentric gears on the right of the movement trip a "make or break" switch which activates the external lights and also winds the mainspring. This happens every twelve hours and runs the motor for 1 minute. At least that is the theory, but I have not been able to get the sequencing of the gears, levers, and pins correct. I will keep trying. I was hoping that someone had seen another example of this clock. Thanks again for responding.
    Charlie Brooks
     
  4. Burkhard Rasch

    Burkhard Rasch Registered User
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    #4 Burkhard Rasch, Jan 30, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2017
    cannot contribute to the clock's specific problems,but:don't spray anything with water,You might spoil the case or damage something on this clock! Get some face masks like they use in the operation theater and work with gloves in free air.Remove the asbestos and put it in double plastic bags and seal them with cabel binders.The yellow pages or Your local city councel will tell You where to bring it.Might cost a few bucks though.
    Burkhard
     
  5. neighmond

    neighmond Registered User

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    That brass disk with the numbers on the hour wheel probably goes outside the dial for ease of adjusting. Looks like a nice piece of machinery! Does the lite circuit change duration with the time of year?
     
  6. charlie44gs

    charlie44gs Registered User

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    I planned on a light spray to keep the asbestos particles from floating into the air. Will handle it properly. The numbered brass disk does alter the on/off timing of the light switch.The patent says the "lamps" come on "at sunset each date irrespective of the season." A lot of work was required to make these clock/timers, but obviously few exist today. Makes you wonder if they ever went into production. Could Seth Thomas be the maker of all the added parts?
    Thanks for the suggestions and advice. I will keep you posted on my progress. Finding a suitable motor is the next step. I tried a portable drill motor but when the timer mechanism did not stop the motor teeth were stripped. I have repaired the teeth. I might mount a belt-driven motor.
    Charlie Brooks
    Atlanta
     
  7. Alan

    Alan Registered User
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    Dec 11, 2006
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    Charlie I was pleasantly surprised to see the image of the movement of your Van Slyke self winding clock. I have had the same movement for years and always thought it was fascinating but never dreamed I would ever learn what it was or how it was used. Thanks.


    I don't have a case and mine is a 120 beat movement.


    My movement has a 6 volt DC motor conversion. 3 winding wheels were removed and a wheel added that the motor drives. All done by a skilled craftsman. I mounted the movement on the wall in my shop and ran it for a few years but put it away some years ago.


    Your post has prompted me to get it out, run it and relearn how it winds.


    The winding motor on the Van Slyke patent drawing looks to be the same as the motor used on Self Winding Clock Co. time switch movements.


    I have attached a photo of my Van Slyke movement and a SWCC movement with a similar winding motor. Alan

    Van Slyke Self Winding Time Switch Clock.jpg Van Slyke type motor on SWCC movement .JPG
     
  8. charlie44gs

    charlie44gs Registered User

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    Alan,
    Thanks for sharing your movement. I like the installation of the winding motor; I will fit mine with something similar. I will also be looking for a SWCC motor. What voltage do they require?

    The on/off mechanism is still a mystery to me. On your movement the spring (46) is disconnected from lever (47). The spring causes the disc (42) to rotate counter-clock wise to open the "make and break" switch. If this system does not operate properly the winding motor will continue to run and eventually damage some gear teeth. Mine did that.

    Yours has the month/date calendar mounted to the movement. Mine is printed on the dial. I wonder which was used first. My dial is also stamped with a "Seth Thomas" logo.

    I will keep you posted on my progress. Like you I have owned this clock for three years but haven't made much progress.

    Charlie Brooks
    Atlanta
     
  9. charlie44gs

    charlie44gs Registered User

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    Alan,
    If you search for "Van Slyke clock photo" you will find a pix of Mr. Van Slyke and one of his clocks. It looks like the same movement as yours. It also shows the on/off switch which operates the lights. In the photo it sits on top of the movement on the right side. I have that switch.

    I am not sure I can mount my winding motor the same way yours is mounted. Mounted perpendicular to the gear train the end of the motor may not clear my dial or the dial surround. I have the pieces of the original motor and the small gear used to drive the winding gears. I may use it and mount the motor parallel to the gear train.

    Charlie Brooks
    Atlanta
     
  10. Alan

    Alan Registered User
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    Charlie,


    The on/off contact arms on your movement are bent out and will not close and then open the winding circuit. The motor must be wired through this contact to properly start to wind and then stop when fully rewound. My movement winds on 6 vdc.


    The picture of Van Slyke is very interesting. I would guess that the movement I have probably was in a metal case originally and the case was discarded.


    I have attached images of the motor wiring, correct switch arm positions and the bent switch arms.


    Alan

    Van Slyke on:off switch.jpg Switch arms bent out.png Van Slyke switch arms.jpg
     
  11. charlie44gs

    charlie44gs Registered User

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    I replaced the broken 110 volt motor with a 12 volt geared motor designed for rc cars. It is a 55 turn motor which means it makes 55 revolutions per minute. I mounted it much like the original but have not wired it to the make/break switch. I attached my charger to the new motor which wound the main spring and operated the make/break switch. I will wire it to a 12 volt gel battery tomorrow. I may actually get this self-winding clock running and then the next project is make two more replicas of Willard's "lighthouse" clock.
    IMG_2221.jpg
    Thanks for reading.
    Charlie Brooks
     
  12. Jeff Holz

    Jeff Holz New Member

    Jan 9, 2018
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    Hello Charlie,
    Alan Bloore sent me the link about the Van Slyke time switch.Is there a number that I can contact you at? I'd like to speak with you about this some more. My name is Jeff Holz 201-845-8445 ( in NJ) I just acquired one of these too and like you I have lots of questions. Thank you
     

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