Welch, Spring & Co. Patti Movement - 3 common problems solved

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
10,652
954
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
This is the Welch, Spring and Company "Patti Clock" that I acquired and rebuilt several months ago. I thought I was done with it but soon realized that it would occasionally "over strike" and sometimes the click wheel on the strike side wouldn't "catch". I knew the click wheel was pretty used up but was hoping for the best. After all it is my clock so there is no warranty to worry about, but just to be safe I stopped winding the strike side until I get around to fixing it. Then a few weeks ago I heard the dreaded sound of a spring suddenly unwinding and Miss Patti's pendulum came to a stop. Got to do something about it now!

For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, this is the B. B. Lewis designed movement that has four main springs and the Club Foot escapement. When all is well they run nicely but are probably in the top 10 of the most difficult time & strike movements to work on. One has to wonder if Lewis was smoking something when he designed this contraption. Two spring are in each brass "can" and wound in opposite directions. The inner coil of one spring attaches to the winding arbor and the inner coil of the other attaches to the main wheel. The outer ends of the two springs are attached to each other with a brass bridge. Nothing is attached to the brass spring can. Because the can is floating, when the spring let go there was no collateral damage. I lucked out, it was the outer spring that busted at the inner coil. I say lucked out, but exact replacement springs are not available. So I decided to do something I have not done since 1967 when I got my first clock (an Ansonia LaFrance) and don't recommend if a replacement spring is available - that is, repair a busted inner coil. I slipped off the main wheel which still had the inner coil. Then with pliers pulled out several coils of spring and clamped the spring can in a vice so the rest of the spring wouldn't all spill out. The inner end of the spring was pulled out enough to get a piece of metal behind it for a heat shield and about an inch or so of the end if the spring heated to red heat and allowed to cool to anneal it. That allowed me to uncoil it enough to grip with vice grips and drill a small hole, which was reamed to fit the spring hook. Being annealed is wasn't hard to reshape the end of the spring and flatten out the coning that resulted from pulling out the inner end of the spring. The main wheel, which has a sleeve with the spring hook was hooked up and everything went back OK. It takes 20+ complete turns of the key to wind the pair of springs after a week run (more from flat empty).

Over striking has been an issue with all of these that I have serviced. There are no helper springs, and as can be seen in the picture below, the count lever is very short and has little weight to keep it in place. I have used regular brass spring wire around the control arbor as a helper spring but it looks so out of place and there is almost no space between the two control arbors. This time I drilled a hole through the strike control arbor and drove in a tapered pin and peened the small end into a head and formed the other end into a hook and trimmed it short. I used a straight section of 0.018" music wire set into a small hole in the brass plate to apply enough pressure under the "hook" to keep the count lever in place if the clock is turned up side down. It is hardly visible and so far Patti is striking correctly.

The messed up click wheel was simply replaced with a new one from Merritt's - #H-13 it is 11.5mm and has 13 teeth. It fit with no alterations. It is a tiny bit thicker so I put a hand washer under the screw end of the click wheel retainer. I plan to order one for the time side as well.

So Miss Patty has rejoined the hourly choir........... at least for now.

RC

Patti service Jun 18 2020 - 001.jpg Patti service Jun 18 2020 - 002.jpg Patti service Jun 18 2020 - 003.jpg Patti service Jun 18 2020 - 004.jpg Patti service Jun 18 2020 - 010.jpg Welch Spring & Co Patti-VP (Croswell) 79.JPG Patti service Jun 18 2020 - 012.jpg
 

Fitzclan

Registered User
Jul 20, 2014
652
25
28
Long Island, New York
Country
Region
Fine job as always RC. Thanks for your well thought out post(s). I look forward to seeing how you weigh in on the issues and I always learn something.
Nice clock btw, but after seeing those springs, I don’t want one! Lol
 

brian fisher

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Jan 20, 2017
1,652
407
83
houston, tx
Country
Region
i have never worked on a patti, but i am told they are one of the worst.

however, i have had to repair a few springs in the same manner that you did for this clock. i have found that i don't bother annealing and drilling anymore. i just use a dremmel with a skinny grind stone to make the hole i need. there are many advantages that i can see. no need to mess up the heat treatment of the spring and risk causing a weak spot that could fail sooner than the rest of the spring.

i just cover the rest that is inside the barrel with a rag so i don't get grinding debris in there.
 

Bruce Alexander

Registered User
Sponsor
NAWCC Brass Member
Feb 22, 2010
7,149
704
113
Country
Region
Nice, professional job on your Clock RC, as always. Thanks tor taking the time to pull back the curtain a little on this Welch Performer. :thumb:
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
10,652
954
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
i have never worked on a patti, but i am told they are one of the worst.

however, i have had to repair a few springs in the same manner that you did for this clock. i have found that i don't bother annealing and drilling anymore. i just use a dremmel with a skinny grind stone to make the hole i need. there are many advantages that i can see. no need to mess up the heat treatment of the spring and risk causing a weak spot that could fail sooner than the rest of the spring.

i just cover the rest that is inside the barrel with a rag so i don't get grinding debris in there.
Interesting that you were able to do an inner coil repair without annealing the end of the spring. I'm no expert on doing this having done it only twice - once 53 years ago and now this one. I think it would be hard to form the new inner coil around a small arbor if the spring was left in its original tempered spring state, but haven't tried. I guess if I only have to do one every 53 years I probably won't have to do another one but who knows. Decent new springs are getting harder to find. I mainly wanted to show that it is possible to do in an "emergency". I'd still rather replace the spring if one is available.

RC
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
10,652
954
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
Nice, professional job on your Clock RC, as always. Thanks tor taking the time to pull back the curtain a little on this Welch Performer. :thumb:
Bruce, these are in deed mysterious movements. It looks like they went out of their way to do things differently and failed to achieve any meaningful improvement other than creating an 8-day movement that is smaller than most to put in a case that has plenty of extra room. Anyone with weak hands may appreciate that it takes very little force to turn the winding key but 40+ half-turns after a week run takes a while to wind. That club foot escape wheel works well but once damaged or worn there isn't much that can be done with it and even for one with the right tools making a replacement is a challenge, plus the average clock person who hasn't worked with one of these usually has a problem understanding how it works and how to adjust it. And those tandem springs....... what can I say. Considering that after 100+ years no one seems to have copied B. B. Lewis' design it looks like he went to a lot of trouble to design a better clock and got it all wrong. Or perhaps its like the Edsel - an interesting design that the world just wasn't ready for. Aside from the strange movement these clocks are very collectable and the cases are especially nice if one likes the somewhat over the top styling. Welch, Spring & Co. made several of these clocks named after opera singers. They also used that club foot escapement in several movements with more conventional spring and strike designs. I think every collection should have at least one of these, and repairing one is a challenge that every person who repairs clocks should accept.

RC
 

wow

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Jun 24, 2008
4,480
364
83
75
Pineville, La. (central La.)
Country
Region
Thanks for sharing, RC. I have never had the pleasure of working on one of those. Looks like a lot of FUN. Unique!
 

tom427cid

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Mar 23, 2009
1,663
100
63
Moultonborough,NH
Country
Region
Thanks for sharing the tip on the helper spring. I have done a number of these movements and the strike adjustment was always an issue. Problem solved. Again thanks.
I should also like to add that when selecting springs for one of these movements IMO it is very important to "pair up" the springs so that each spring exerts approximately the same amount of force. They don't seem to balance themselves out and will only operate to the level of the weaker spring.
The 40 half turns reminds me of one I overhauled a while ago that from full wind to stop it took just shy of two weeks. Not to bad for an 8 day clock!
Hope this helps.
tom
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
10,652
954
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
Thanks for sharing the tip on the helper spring. I have done a number of these movements and the strike adjustment was always an issue. Problem solved. Again thanks.
I should also like to add that when selecting springs for one of these movements IMO it is very important to "pair up" the springs so that each spring exerts approximately the same amount of force. They don't seem to balance themselves out and will only operate to the level of the weaker spring.
The 40 half turns reminds me of one I overhauled a while ago that from full wind to stop it took just shy of two weeks. Not to bad for an 8 day clock!
Hope this helps.
tom
Yes, the springs should be replaced with identical pairs, not one old and one new. Thanks for pointing that out. The two springs are in series, so the weaker spring would wind first, and then the stronger. On a full wind it should run on the stronger spring first, followed by the weaker, so both springs would deliver power, just not at the same time. This uneven power over the run time can't help the time keeping. But I think the bigger problem is that the outer ends of the springs are spliced together with that brass bridge. The bridge should float in the slot of the separator sheet between the springs. The stronger spring will pull the bridge outward toward the can while winding the weaker spring will pull it inward. If the springs are badly mismatched, I would expect that brass splice to fail in short order.

RC
 
Know Your NAWCC Forums Rules!
RULES & GUIDELINES

Find member

Latest posts

Staff online

Forum statistics

Threads
161,031
Messages
1,397,095
Members
82,996
Latest member
sherlock04
Encyclopedia Pages
1,099
Total wiki contributions
2,788
Last edit
How to wire a 24 volt secondary for a 12 volt ITR/IBM Master clock system by Toughtool