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Well sh!&... of all the clocks I could've brought home.....

Lori Lovett

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So my dad died on 7/5 and I took a few things from his house (the house I grew up in) including an anniversary clock. But turns out it's not just any anniversary clock...it's an Elgin Halleren Skeleton Anniversary Clock. Yes! I brought home a German Time Bomb! So much for the innocent clock I remember from my teen years...

I'm gonna keep it, so if you all don't hear from me again you know what happened!
 

KurtinSA

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Maybe a moderator can move this to the 400-Day sub forum.

Sorry to hear about your father. From what I've read on the 400-Day forum is that winding them should only done to say half power. Provided everything else is OK, the clock should run fine. Now taking it apart for service is another thing!

Kurt
 
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shutterbug

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Don't even try to service it unless you've read how to let down the spring! The clock is not too dangerous as long as you only wind it a couple of turns and let it wind down. After a couple of cycles you'll get to know how often to wind it. They are beautiful things, and can be enjoyed relatively safely if you keep the power under control. They are powered by a spring similar to a seat belt. People have been hurt by taking off the back plate to explore how it works, and end up with spring shrapnel flying in their face.
 
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Cheezhead

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The evidence to verify the GTB's reputation for being dangerous is scant. Most of what I see on the internet and here on the NAWCC is simply repeated and none of it appears to be from first hand experience. It's not been made clear if someone failed to let the spring down before disassembly which should be done with any clock. If someone can produce a direct experience example of a GTB mainspring spontaneously failing or the winding shaft locking clutch slippping to release the mainspring tension then please post it here.

I wind mine fully now but do keep a firm grip on the mainspring cover. Nothing is impossible so it's an easy precaution.
 
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Wayne A

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Picked up one recently but have not gone through it yet. I'm planning on winding it up completely. Suspect the most of the bad rep comes from improper disassembly but all springs can fail.

Wayne
 
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shutterbug

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I believe the clock was discontinued because of poor design. If they had used metal parts instead of plastic it might have been a good idea. That and the tension style click made the clock unreliable with all of the tension from the spring. The first one I worked on blew up on me due to opening the back trying to find the click. The spring ended up in my lap, curled around itself in multiple kinks. Thankfully it didn't break up and hurt me badly. After joining the forums here I learned that I could have avoided that experience. The "name" appears in many different places on the net, so the reputation was no doubt earned. I'm sure much of it came from repairmen and tinkerers learning the hard way.
 

Lori Lovett

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I believe the clock was discontinued because of poor design. If they had used metal parts instead of plastic it might have been a good idea. That and the tension style click made the clock unreliable with all of the tension from the spring. The first one I worked on blew up on me due to opening the back trying to find the click. The spring ended up in my lap, curled around itself in multiple kinks. Thankfully it didn't break up and hurt me badly. After joining the forums here I learned that I could have avoided that experience. The "name" appears in many different places on the net, so the reputation was no doubt earned. I'm sure much of it came from repairmen and tinkerers learning the hard way.
Wish they'd do a recall!! I'd love a new clock! ;)
 

c09shariwilson

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I just got one of these clocks as well from my grandparents who recently passed. Has anyone found a way to replace the spring with something a bit safer? Does that exist? Or can anyone confirm that if you only wind it a few turns and it fails that it's still pretty safe?
 

tracerjack

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From other discussions on this clock model, there have been no first hand accounts of spontaneous exploding or one exploding from winding. All have been during disassembly from not realizing the mainsprings still contained considerable power. I believe the bad reputation has been exaggerated. Still, most that own one prefer to err on the side of caution and only partially wind the movement. From the time period that this model was made, I have a feeling it was manufactured with a limited lifespan in mind and were not meant to be serviced. Others have commented on them being excellent runners with lovely rotation, so not all bad.
 
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c09shariwilson

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Ok great. That checks with what I've read so far. My plan for now is to just partially wind it. If there was a convenient fix out there that would probably be better but it sounds like I don't really need to worry about it spontaneously exploding. Thanks for following up!
 

shutterbug

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The real important part is leaving that back plate alone! The only way to let the spring down on these clocks is to remove the anchor and control the escapement wheel speed with a gloved thumb as it winds down. I think you are wise to only partially wind it. That will minimize the danger. People who insist on winding it fully might want to think about replacing the glass dome with plastic. That might help contain any explosions.
 
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Cheezhead

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I believe the clock was discontinued because of poor design. If they had used metal parts instead of plastic it might have been a good idea. That and the tension style click made the clock unreliable with all of the tension from the spring. The first one I worked on blew up on me due to opening the back trying to find the click. The spring ended up in my lap, curled around itself in multiple kinks. Thankfully it didn't break up and hurt me badly. After joining the forums here I learned that I could have avoided that experience. The "name" appears in many different places on the net, so the reputation was no doubt earned. I'm sure much of it came from repairmen and tinkerers learning the hard way.
I suggest that the GTB clock like nearly all other 400 day clocks was discontinued due to declining sales.

Did you first let the spring down as must be done with any 400 day clock before removing the backplate and did you turn the winding square backwards (clockwise) to remove the square? If the winding square is not removed then removal of the backplate even with an unwound mainspring will bring the upper drum and attached spring end along wiith the backplate and may start an uncontrollable unwind of the lower portion of the mainspring.

I enjoy my GTB. It is unique among 400 day clocks and is an eager runner. I have owned it for at least 5 years and have never needed to do repair work on it except for a precautionary oiling early on.
 

Ken M

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Some day I'll get one, but they are a little pricey compared to most others. I have to stop spending my grocery money on midgets.
 

tracerjack

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Personally, with thick brass plates held together by solid posts and screws, I don’t see how the mainspring could ever have enough power to rip the brass apart and spontaneously explode. The only possible ways in my mind would be screws the had come loose to the point of coming out or taking off the backplate when there was still power in the mainspring. Even if the internal plastic parts failed, I don’t see how screws could be stripped and the plates forced open. I’m curious to know from those who have one if they see any means that the plates could be torn open. Perhaps we should stop calling them “time bombs” and simply continue to warn that they require a specific method of disassembly.
 

Wayne A

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Personally, with thick brass plates held together by solid posts and screws, I don’t see how the mainspring could ever have enough power to rip the brass apart and spontaneously explode. The only possible ways in my mind would be screws the had come loose to the point of coming out or taking off the backplate when there was still power in the mainspring. Even if the internal plastic parts failed, I don’t see how screws could be stripped and the plates forced open. I’m curious to know from those who have one if they see any means that the plates could be torn open. Perhaps we should stop calling them “time bombs” and simply continue to warn that they require a specific method of disassembly.
Having rebuilt mine its not so much a time bomb as its a loaded trap. If you don't handle it properly you could have a bad outcome. Also the spring clutch is a little bit of a trap, would imagine that if you just let go of the the key it may cause a rapid dewind, but that's not an explosion.

Wayne
 

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