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What did I just buy? - Belly Clock?

AndyDWA

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Dec 26, 2013
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I picked this up at a salvage yard as "with key but not working". It was fully wound and ticked with a bit of a shake. It's been running for an hour now, including eye movements.

I assume it is cast iron as it weighs over 1.8kg (around 4 pounds) and has GERMANY 1858 cast underneath.

But what did I buy? Is it trash or treasure, original or repro?

I want to call it a "belly clock", but Google disagrees and I can't find what it is called.

Also, how would I access the movement to clean and oil (and straighten a possibly-bent minute arbor)?

belly-clock-front.jpg belly-clock-side.jpg belly-clock-base.jpg
 

ClipClock

Deceased
Jun 20, 2013
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I think if you type automaton clock into fleabay you will find other examples. As to whether its original or not I really cannot help, but I'm sure others will know!
 

AndyDWA

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Dec 26, 2013
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Thanks Clip,

I did manage to find some similar clocks after trying several search phrases. I think I ended up with something like "cast iron clock with moving eyes"

It looks like even if it's a repro, I still may have snagged a bargain given it's still ticking after five hours. If it's original (whatever that means in this case), it could apparently be quite valuable. I'm going to guess it's not that old.
 

shimmystep

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Mar 5, 2012
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Sure you have a repro there Andy. Take a look at the movement, examples I've seen have plastic motion works.
 

AndyDWA

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Dec 26, 2013
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@Shimmy, I wish I could work out how to get to the movement. I assumed the bezel must be threaded into the iron but, if so, it's stuck tight and I don't want to try too hard and risk breaking something.

There are two screws behind his arms. I guess these either hold the two halves of the casting together, or maybe hold the movement in place.

The dial is porcelain (I believe) and looking through the winding arbor hole, I can see two gears that appear to be brass and a typical brass "plate" with that stamped grid pattern plates seem to have. The cannon pinion is brass.

My biggest concern is that the whole centre arbor is sitting very loosely. I can wiggle it around. But it is keeping time.

The paintwork is fairly sloppy and it's possible the red pants, in particular, have been repainted - or it was the end of a long day when it was painted originally.

If anyone can point me to some history of this style of clock, I'd appreciate it. This is only the second one I've actually seen, the first being an Aunt Jemima at the local auction house.

Here's a few close-up shots.

belly-clock-back-screws.jpg belly-clock-dial.jpg belly-clock-gear-peek.jpg belly-clock-eyes.jpg belly-clock-head-hole.jpg
 

John Arrowood

NAWCC Member
NAWCC Gold Member
Dec 14, 2001
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There is a possibility that the clock may have been sold by Charlie Terwilliger who had reproductions of some old novelty clocks made during the 1960-1970's. I used to have a 'Dickory-Dock Mouse" clock from him that I bought at a Regional meeting in that time period. He also sold reproductions of the 'flying pendulum' or Ignatz clock and I have one of those in a it's original box stuck away somewhere. I think he may have issued repros of the Briggs rotary pendulum clock also. There may have been some newer reproductions from China.
The clock resembles a "John Bull blinking eye" clock. If you use the search function on this site you should find at least one string of posts about them.
 
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AndyDWA

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Dec 26, 2013
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I'm in the far-flung reaches of the lower-west corner of Western Australia, but I guess it's possible for any clock to have found it's way here somehow :)

I've looked at lots of similar clocks on eBay tonight and there's no reason now to assume this is anything other than a repro. There are two early models on Youtube, on Antiques Roadshow - they are twice the size and look up and down whereas this one, and all those on eBay, look side-to-side. (There is one on eBay claimed to be from the Gucci estate, with a price tag to match. It looks similar at first glance, but is 39cm high. My clock is only 23cm high.)

Searching "blinking eye" on nawcc turned up threads I was unable to find while I wanted to call it a "belly clock" and I can now see that the iron case has to come apart to access the movement. But it looks scary in there.

That still leaves the actual age up in the air.

EDIT:

For those who come across the thread in the future...

It would seem the original clocks (c1800s) had the winding arbor at 3 o'clock whereas the reproductions tend to have it at 6 o'clock.

The originals have a timing adjuster at 12 o'clock on the dial. Repros like mine have no adjuster.

The originals are over a foot high (I don't know if this is always the case).
 
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rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

NAWCC Member
Nov 26, 2009
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I picked this up at a salvage yard as "with key but not working". It was fully wound and ticked with a bit of a shake. It's been running for an hour now, including eye movements.

I assume it is cast iron as it weighs over 1.8kg (around 4 pounds) and has GERMANY 1858 cast underneath.

But what did I buy? Is it trash or treasure, original or repro?

I want to call it a "belly clock", but Google disagrees and I can't find what it is called.

Also, how would I access the movement to clean and oil (and straighten a possibly-bent minute arbor)?

221556.jpg 221557.jpg 221555.jpg
This type of timepiece is typically called a "blinker". Yours is a very modern reproduction.

With regards to the originals, the cases were of painted cast iron. They are believed to have originally been made by Bradley & Hubbard. I think that the timepiece yours it attempting to imitate was called the "Continental". There was a "Sambo", "Topsie" (see below), "John Bull", "Organ Grinder", "Gambrinus", "St. Nicholas", a dog and a lion. I'm sure there were other's that I'm not recalling.

They had brass 30 hour lever movements, probably Waterbury products, with a linkage to the painted lead eyes which caused them to move up and down as the clock ticked.

The originals were made in the late 1850's-1860's, I believe.

As mentioned, yours is a modern repro. I know there is a supplier of these based in Ohio who is admired for the door prizes he supplies to the NAWCC. This may be one of his products which he states are produced to high standards by old world craftsmen or something like that. I apologize if I have paraphrased him incorrectly.

For a bit more, google "blinker" and also search the MB with that key word. I have a little bit about them on this thread: https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?108314-Marine-clocks You will have to scroll around a bit. There is in fact a great deal of information out there. You can also find some other examples of these repros and the real ones.

For the original ones, the figure should be cast in 2 halves and screwed together. The figure is then screwed to the base. You need to basically dismantle the case to fully access in the innards.

RM
 

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AndyDWA

Registered User
Dec 26, 2013
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Thanks RM.

One great thing about deciding to buy this clock is I've learnt something more about clocks in general - and some auction houses seem to place a decent value on the reproductions, as much as 10-15-times what I paid (of course, there may well be different standards reproductions ). Whether they sell at those prices is another matter, I guess. Although eBay seems to have a history of fairly high selling prices on similar repro clocks too.

While you were answering, I was busy pulling this one apart. The two screws behind the arms is all that holds the case together.

The loose centre arbor is due to it not being attached to an internal wheel, as I'm used to in anniversary clocks (the only clocks I really know a little bit about). It just hangs through the front plate and could probably benefit from a pressure washer, though I'm not sure one could be fitted (without taking the movement out, I can't really see what's going on at the front).

The bezel is well-and-truly epoxied in, so that's not going anywhere.

belly-clock-open-back.jpg belly-clock-movement.jpg belly-clock-movement-side.jpg
 

Tinker Dwight

Registered User
Oct 11, 2010
13,666
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Calif. USA
It looks like the regulator arm is all the way over.
This is usually an indicator that it was running
fast. That would indicate poor rotation and poor
power.
Before undoing anything, you already know to
restrain and let down the power.
You should also release the hair spring and undo
it from the regulator. There is usually a small tapered
peg holding the end of the hair spring to the
frame. Pull it out and then carefully bring the hair spring
through the slot of the regulator.
You can then safely disassemble like any other clock.
Many make the mistake of leaving the hair spring attached
out of fear of damaging something. Of course, once the
plates are separated, the balance wheel falls out and they
damage the dangling hair spring. It is much safer to
keep it with the balance wheel.
Don't put the hair spring in the ultra sonic. Make sure it
is demagnetized and degreased of oil.
Tinker Dwight
 

AndyDWA

Registered User
Dec 26, 2013
621
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Thanks Tinker,

Hairsprings are a whole new area for me. I've avoided doing anything more than oiling any movement that has one.

This clock did stop last night but still feels almost fully wound, so something needs attention.

I assume I would proceed as follows

  1. Remove hands
  2. Open back
  3. Bend wire to unhook eye lever from movement?
  4. Undo two nuts on mounting posts
  5. Restrain mainspring & let down (tie wire?)
  6. Release hairspring attachment point
  7. Slide spring through the regulator slot
  8. Remove back plate
  9. Put balance/hair spring carefully to one side
  10. Proceed as usual to disassemble and clean
  11. ... Reverse procedure

I really could use a fully-broken movement to practise on first :)
 
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Tinker Dwight

Registered User
Oct 11, 2010
13,666
94
0
Calif. USA
As a time only movement it shouldn't be too bad.
The balance wheel movements are fussy about having
enough power though.
It sounds like you have the right sequence.
Tinker Dwight
 

AndyDWA

Registered User
Dec 26, 2013
621
6
18
Western Australia
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I looks reasonably straight forward, just smaller than I'm used to.

If I'm going to do this, I'd like to replace the little brass surround missing from the winding arbor hole in the dial. I assume I need to access the rear of the dial to fit it properly (although maybe these were glued in and that might be why it's missing)

Does that part have a name so I can source one?

EDIT: "Grommets"

Ta.
 
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