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Who made this tower clock, and seeking advice on restarting it.

kmt

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Hi all. A real estate developer friend of mine has purchased an old building (1908), which he'll be renting out for office space, and naturally one of the first things I did was climb up the clock tower to see what's up there. I was very pleased to find that it still has a purely mechanical movement, which appears to be in very good condition. Of course I immediately told my friend that under no circumstances is this going to be replaced with a Raspberry Pi. ;-)

I have taken numerous photos of the clock, which I have put into a photo album here:
We don't know when the clock was last running, but there is a relatively modern auto-wind system installed, so it probably has not been out of service for a great length of time. I notice that this auto-wind system seems "homemade", and doesn't match the configuration of any of the systems I have read about. This system (see photo album) consists of an electric motor, a control unit, and top and bottom switches about a metre apart on a mast next to the weight, which the weight itself will trigger.

I have no experience working with tower clocks, but I am generally quite capable working with tools and machines, so short of anything that truly requires an expert, I am comfortable with the idea of maintaining this clock.

I have a few questions I hope those of you with a lot more experience can perhaps address:

  • Who made this clock? I cannot find a manufacturer name, or any text whatever, anywhere on the movement.
  • Does it look like it needs anything but a good cleaning and lubrication? To my inexperienced eyes, it looks in quite nice shape, just dirty and no doubt with very old oil.
  • Any specific advice on cleaning and oiling this particular movement? I've read various documents about general maintenance, but if there is anything specific on this movement that isn't obvious, it would be good to know.
  • Does this auto-wind system seem okay? I am a bit concerned since it appears to be a homemade system, and does not seem to have any means of noticing if the upper limit switch has been missed, which I expect could lead to catastrophic failure. (I certainly intend at the very least to verify that this system works properly before I consider leaving it to run on its own.)
Thanks in advance for any sage advice on this delightful old machine! :)

-kari
 

Grant Perry

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Kari,
While I have no expertise to offer, the clock does look in relatively good condition, but until you get into it, you never know. I was surprised to see lantern pinions on a movement of the size. I just assumed it would have solid pinions. Good luck with your research.
grant
 

kmt

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Thanks Grant. I was interested to see lantern pinions myself, although not knowing much about turret clocks, I didn't realise that that was an unusual sight.

Progress on getting the clock running again is slow but steady, mostly by choice, as this is not a pressing project and I want to do everything carefully and in a relaxed manner. So far I have cleaned up the mechanism (not that it needed a lot) and the rest of the space at the top of the tower (which did need a lot!) and while doing that, verified smooth movement of all the parts not under tension from the weight.

Today in fact, I am planning to get back out there and map out the electrical connections for the auto-winding system. I want to be sure that I fully understand the system before considering running it. Since nobody has screamed "don't use that!" about the winder, I'm planning to take the "if it ain't broke" approach and use the existing system. As it has no means to arrest the winding should the weight somehow miss the upper limit switch, I plan to add my own kill switch that will cause the system to cut its own power should the weight travel too far.

After I'm confident in my understanding of the winder, I'll oil the mechanism and attempt to start it up. I'll be sure to be physically present the first time the winder runs, ready to pull the plug if anything goes amiss. :) I'll post an update here when there's anything to report.

-k
 

kmt

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Hi Grant. You picked a good time to respond in this thread again, as I am very pleased to report that as of today, the clock is again running! (Although not right now.) My day job has significantly restricted the time I've had to work on this, but I've finally gotten almost to where I would like to be with this clock.

I never did find anything out about who made it, but after I mapped out all the circuitry that had been installed for the homemade auto-winder system and understood how it works, I finished up giving the clock a good cleaning, oiled all right spots with turret clock oil, set the time, and then gave the pendulum a nudge, and it started running for the first time in who knows how long!

Excitement turned to mild disappointment when the pendulum lost momentum and stopped about five minutes later. I started it up again, and again got about five minutes running before it stopped. So I decided it would be a good idea to make a video of what it was doing, to analyse at home (even with a little heater up in the tower, when it's well below 0° outside, it's not the best place to do my best thinking). So I got out my phone and started recording a video and then started the clock running.... and it didn't stop.

I kept recording for about 15 minutes, constantly thinking, "If I stop recording, that's when it'll stop running." Eventually I decided it was not going to stop, so I stopped my recording and indeed the clock did not stop. I listened to the sounds of the clock change a little bit over the course of these three runs, and it definitely settled down into a much smoother, more comfortable tick-tock. I am certainly no expert on turret clocks, but sometimes you can just tell when a machine sounds right. I'm sure the fresh oil just needed to work its way into some very sticky old bearings.

I stayed with it for about an hour, because it's really quite mesmerising once it is running smoothly, but then I needed to leave to catch a bus back home. I stopped the clock because I definitely do not want the auto-winder system to run unobserved at first. Having looked at how far the weight traveled in an hour (almost none), I honestly could have left it running overnight, but I figured better safe than sorry. More observation can wait for another day.

Before you ask, no, I actually completely forgot to check and see if it was actually keeping good time! I blame it on being far too pleased that it was running at all. I'll check on that next time I visit, which may be tomorrow, if my schedule permits.

I was going to post this in the morning, but you managed to catch me mere minutes before I was going to get to bed.... quite late. :)

More updates will come!

-k
 

kmt

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Quick update: I went out to visit the clock this afternoon and started it running again. I stayed for about 2.5 hours, and it sounded perfectly happy the whole time, and it appears to be keeping good time. This time I will leave it running overnight, and I will return tomorrow to see if there has been any appreciable drift, and to see how much progress the weight has made toward the lower limit switch on the winder (which is currently unplugged).

IMG_20210122_163823.jpg
 

Grant Perry

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Congratulations. It sounds like you have made great process and brought this piece of history back to life.
Since no one has commented on a possible maker, I can only assume that it must be of European origin.
Once you have had time to assess the timekeeping of the clock, you may want to take a closer looked at the pivots to see if the clock should be cleaned and serviced, however from your pictures it looks fairly clean, so perhaps someone had been taking care of it. The movement would look better with the rust polished off. As a time only movement, it should be fairly straight forward if you have prior experience with clock maintenance.
Good luck!
Grant
 
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Mr. Time

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Definitely not an expert of any sort but maybe do some research on the building by looking into it's history, builder, county or town records, etc. that just may lead you to some sort direction about the installation of the buildings clock or manufacturer?.....also who had been maintaining it?

Still though, I love reading and hearing about these types of stories such as this, concerning old clocks, restoration of old forgotten clocks, etc.

Again, just a suggestion that I may offer.

Good Luck on your search!

( Hey...how about posting that video that you took, with the clock movement, with your phone? )
 

kmt

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Definitely not an expert of any sort but maybe do some research on the building by looking into it's history, builder, county or town records, etc.
We are actually already doing that because we want to know more about this building. We shall see if that happens to turn up any information about the clock.

( Hey...how about posting that video that you took, with the clock movement, with your phone? )
Sure, why not? I just posted three videos:

This is the very first time I started the clock, and of course it stopped a few minutes later, but no evidence of that in this video! (And in case you spot the drip, no I did not put a bunch of oil in the wrong places. That's some water left over from the cleaning.):

Here's the beginning of the long video. Not much happens, so I clipped this one down to stay within the free tier upload limit on Vimeo:

And here is a short video from down below, showing the pendulum, as I was climbing down the ladders today:

Enjoy! :)
 
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kmt

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It sounds out of beat which is why it was stopping.
Probably so. Do bear in mind that all but the "underside" video are very early runs, before the oil had a chance to get into the right places. The pendulum video is after it's been running for several hours, and it was my impression that the clock was running quite a bit better at that point.

As I've said, I'm certainly not an expert, but later on, it sounded a lot better to me, so I wonder if you agree that the pendulum video sounds "healthier" than the other two?
 

Toughtool

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This is a beautiful clock and the photos are great!

Would it be prudent to inspect the floor and mounts, to see if one side of the clock has dropped, causing the "out of beat" issue? Also would it be easier to shim the low side of the frame to bring it into correct beat if it is out of level? How would you adjust the beat of this type of movement if the frame is level? You can see from the pendulum view that the pendulum stick is not centered in the slot in the floor.
 
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kmt

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Good comments, Toughtool. I'll bring a spirit level with me today and have a look at that. The whole movement is just bolted into the wood base, and the bolts appear to be in good shape, so I expect it would not be difficult to shim up any low corner(s). If there's anything else that should be done to adjust the beat, hopefully someone else has some advice.

As for the pendulum not being centered in the hole in the floor, I wouldn't put too much weight on that. The hole itself is rather rough, and while the entire construction is solid and well built, it's also all clearly handmade and not to particularly precise specifications. I think the hole was "this looks about right".
 

FDelGreco

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All of my tower clocks -- and I suspect all ever made -- have a beat adjuster. You shouldn't have to shim the clock to get it in perfect beat. Besides, the building may shift a little with the seasons and you don't want to shim the clock every time that happens. Post pictures of the top of the pendulum rod and the crutch assembly head on -- not side views -- and we should be able to find a beat adjuster.

Frank
 
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kmt

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Thanks Frank. I'll get photos of those parts when I return tomorrow. I'm not clear on what you mean by "head on" (or rather, I'm not clear what you mean by "side"). Do you mean I should photograph perpendicular to the plane of movement of the pendulum or parallel to it?

In general news... I went back to the clock today, after it was left to run overnight, and the good news is that it ran all night and was still happily ticking away today. The less good news is it had drifted quite a bit, gaining around five minutes in 16 hours.

I played with a couple of programs on my phone (Clock Tuner and TICKOPRINT) and both of them indicated the clock was running a little bit slow, which came as a surprise. Each indicated the clock should be losing around 3 minutes a day. I also made a ~40 second video of the clock running, and based on the timestamps on the audio, computed it to be beating at 1.00081 Hz (bad math fixed below), which correlates with it falling behind a little over 1 minute in a day.

So, I am somewhat confused about a > 1 Hz beat, and yet the faces are moving too fast. Any thoughts on this, or is this something that I might just end up factoring out simply by adjusting the pendulum? Of course, if I'm going to be working on perfecting the beat, I anticipate doing that first, and then doing a new set of observations and measurements.

We got the tower all emptied of the remains of the old trash (nothing of any historical interest was found), and we vacuumed up all the dust, etc. It is a lot nicer now up there now. We also tested out the auto-wind system, and it appears to work just fine. I do still intend to add some kind of a kill switch to it, just in case the upper limit switch should happen to fail sometime.

I will return tomorrow to see how the drift looks, and also to get the additional photos of the pendulum and crutch.
 
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FDelGreco

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By head-on I mean as if you were standing in front of the pendulum and it is swinging perpendicular to your line of sight. What I called a side view was your first image in your post #9.

Your video sounds like you have a 1 meter pendulum, which should beat at 3,600 BPH. If you are fast by 5 minutes in 16 hours, then you are fast 7.5 minutes in 24 hours. 7.5 minutes is 450 seconds. If my math is right, your clock is beating 18 BPH too fast, or 3618 BPH.

If you know the threads/inch of the rating nut under the bob I can help you decide how many turns to give it. The attachment is a chart I included in the chapter 134 newsletter. It originally came from Horological News magazine.

Frank
 

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kmt

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By head-on I mean as if you were standing in front of the pendulum and it is swinging perpendicular to your line of sight. What I called a side view was your first image in your post #9.
Gotcha. I just wasn't clear on what was considered the "side" of these things. :)

Your video sounds like you have a 1 meter pendulum, which should beat at 3,600 BPH. If you are fast by 5 minutes in 16 hours, then you are fast 7.5 minutes in 24 hours. 7.5 minutes is 450 seconds. If my math is right, your clock is beating 18 BPH too fast, or 3618 BPH.
That's what you would think, and yet the software and the video I made are indicating exactly the opposite. In the video I made today, the first tick arrives at 0.6916 s, and the 21st at 40.7244 s, which gives me a beat rate of 0.9992 Hz (I did my math wrong in my last post), which is 3597 BPH, which would correlate with the clock losing 72 seconds per day.

I don't think it's necessary to read too much into this right now. I will see what I find tomorrow, and do some more measurements. I'll be over there by myself tomorrow, which will make it easier to take the time to do some more in depth study.
 
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Toughtool

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I have no experience working with tower clocks, but I am generally quite capable working with tools and machines,
KTM, I'm not sure you know what "in beat" means, so here is an excerpt in case you don't. The link has a complete description if you need it. Joe



"More likely, the clock will run, but sound like it is “limping” with an uneven sound. We are going to use both eye and ear to set it in beat, listen first, when properly set up the pendulum should swing from left to right going “tick” at one end of it’s swing, and “tock” at the other.

A clock running in beat goes :- tick - - - - tock - - - - tick - - - - tock, with the four hyphens representing an exactly equal amount of time.

Out of beat, it goes: - tick - - tock - - - - - - - - tick - - tock - - - - - - - - tick - - tock This is easier to hear than describe, the two sounds come very close together, then a longer interval before two more very close together.

You can also watch the pendulum as it swings, the tick should sound at one end of the pendulum swing, and the tock at the other end, just as the pendulum stops to swing the other way. Watching and listening, you will hear the tick (or tock) then the pendulum will continue in the same direction until it stops and goes the other way, and the tick at the other end of the swing will be quieter, until it eventually stops running."
 

kmt

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KTM, I'm not sure you know what "in beat" means
I do admit that when FDelGreco first mentioned it, I did not, but I've done a bit of reading since, and I understand it now. And I agree that even after smoothing out and becoming a lot "healthier", the clock is still not in beat. Looking at my own video from yesterday for instance, I have a tick at 35.9782, a tock at 36.7150, and a tick at 37.9932, so my tick-tick delta-t in that instance is 0.7368 and tock-tick delta-t is 1.2782, which is clearly pretty far out of beat.

It's also quite obvious when looking at the waveform:

Screenshot 2021-01-24 at 10.55.55.png

...and furthermore it's clear when observing the clock that the "tock" is coming before the end of the pendulum swing.

I'll be heading back out there after lunch today, to see how the drift looks, and to get the photos Frank asked for. And now that I know that a beat adjuster probably exists, if I figure it out myself, I may take a stab at adjusting it.

-k
 
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kmt

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I sure was surprised when I hopped off the bus today and discovered that the clock was ... correct? :emoji_thumbsup:

That was unexpected. After getting up atop the tower (where I am sitting right now in fact), I could see that the prediction from the beat frequency in the video from yesterday seems to be just about spot on. Looking closely at the hands from behind the faces, it does look like it's lost around a minute, which is just what the BPH said would happen. So I am without explanation as to why it was five minutes fast yesterday. Some people claim this building is haunted...

It is definitely still off beat, so getting that fixed is probably the next step. As requested by Frank, I've gotten some better photos of the top of the pendulum, and of the crutch assembly:

IMG_20210124_162741.jpg IMG_20210124_161537.jpg IMG_20210124_161513.jpg IMG_20210124_161603.jpg

Looking at the mechanical connection between the crutch and the escapement axle, I see a couple of nuts that may be the beat adjuster, although I'm uncertain, because it looks to me like the crutch and pallet assembly are all one piece, which would make their angular relationship is not adjustable. Hopefully more trained eyes can make a better analysis than I can...

IMG_20210124_161551.jpg IMG_20210124_161827.jpg IMG_20210124_161815.jpg

I don't currently have a proper wrench with me to adjust these anyway, and I'm certainly not going to touch anything here until Frank et al. have had a look at these photos.

Thanks so much for your continued input!

Edit: Looking at the pictures again from the warm comfort of home, I am less convinced that the crutch and the tubular assembly on the axle are a single piece. Looks like the crutch may be independent, and therefore adjustable if the nut on that end is loosened. If this is correct, I suppose the proper procedure is something like loosen the nut, allow the pendulum to sit completely at rest, center the escapement precisely, and tighten the nut?

-kari
 
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Toughtool

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I did a very poor job of explaining my thoughts about shimming the clock to correct the "beat". I was thinking the floor or mounting beams or whatever is supporting the clock has shifted over the years and probably has lowered one side of the movement causing it to be out of level. I don't believe the clock just got out of beat on it's own. The first thing I would have looked at is; "is the clock level". This could be checked with a good quality level. Then and only then should adjustments be made to the escapement mechanism. If one side is in fact low, shimming under the feet would bring it up to level and most likely correct the beat.

Some clocks allow checking for level with the pendulum but it depends on the clock and how it is configured. The pendulum can be used as a plumb bob and if marks or a scale is provided, putting it plumb will also make it level. Joe
 
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kmt

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I took a level with me yesterday, and as best I can tell, the clock is at least very close to level. Unfortunately the construction of the clock makes it quite difficult to get a level between two points that should be level relative to one another, so I was rather limited in what I was able to check.

It was absolutely level across the tops of the metal body pieces (front to back, using the orientation where the pendulum is in the front). Diagonally between the front right foot and back left foot was a tiny bit off level, but close enough that I wouldn't want to try to shim in out unless truly necessary, because we're probably talking around a millimeter difference here, and even that may be down to differences in the feet themselves, as the frame on this clock does not appear to be of especially precise casting.

Unfortunately that is all I was able to check, due to physical space limitations. I do plan to try to bring over a shorter level to see if I can get some additional readings, but given that front to back seem to be very level, and the other dimension is the one that can hopefully be adjusted with the beat adjuster, I suspect that this can be tuned up without any repositioning of the entire movement.

This clock does not have any markings that would allow the pendulum or a plumb to be used for leveling, but again it is close enough to level that I doubt any such markings would be useful in this case anyway.

-k
 

FDelGreco

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From studying the images, it looks like the way to set the beat is either by loosening the nut in front of the crutch or at the verge and moving one or the other slightly on the arbor. Either way is tough to make small changes. You should scratch a mark before loosening a nut so you can tell how much the crutch or verge is moved. Also make sure that both nuts are tight when you are done. I worked on an E. Howard round top where the verge was pinned to the arbor. The pin had sheared off for some reason so the beat kept changing every day until I grabbed the verge and found I could twist it to change the beat. I replaced the pin

How much slop is in the slot where the crutch tongue goes into the pendulum rod slot? It should not be tight but with a minimal amount of play. If it rattles in there that could be the source of the time varying from day to day. Fix that first by shimming the slot before setting the beat. Looking at the image of the crutch tongue passing through the pendulum slot, it looks like that tongue may be slightly bent. Straightening it will affect the beat.

Frank
 

kmt

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Thanks for the analysis, tips, and questions Frank. I'm a little annoyed at myself now that I haven't actually checked how much the play exists between the crutch tongue and the pendulum slot. I've looked at it so many times, but never actually checked to see how solid the connection is. I've got a hunch it may be loose, because the clock is making a "pinging" sound (which can be heard in my videos), which I've been able to damp by putting a finger on the crutch, so there is certainly at least some vibration in there that probably shouldn't be.

I hope to make it back out there tomorrow if time permits, and I'll bring with me a smaller level and appropriately sized wrenches to adjust the crutch, if the beat isn't fixed by securing the crutch and possibly straightening the tongue.

Incidentally, the Clock Tuner software today was reporting 3595.8 BPH, which is very close to my own calculation of 3597 last night, and comports with the ~1 minute loss seen since yesterday.

-k
 

FDelGreco

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Just remember that the tongue needs to be able to slide up and down in the slot without binding, as the pendulum and the crutch rotate on slightly different centers and therefore the tongue slides up and down in the slot -- slightly..

Frank
 

Toughtool

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Looks like your on the right track. You may want to try a steel straignt edge, (or a builders square ) and if no obstructions between the boards the (front or rear) feet are sitting on, lay the straight edge across these boards on edge, and place a shorter level on top of the straight edge somewhere (or check that the short arm on the square is vertical) . Maybe enough room that way. Thanks for the photos.
 
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kmt

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Today when I arrived, I found that the clock had stopped shortly after I left last night. Hopefully it was just because of being out of beat, and the pendulum just very slowly shed momentum over a couple of days. We shall see.

Two goals were accomplished today. First, the beat adjustment. Here's a before and after view of my beat:

Screenshot 2021-01-25 at 18.48.31.png

The balance between the two halves of the beat is now 1.01:0.99. I think I can live with that. :) It remains to be seen how well it will hold this beat, because it's quite difficult to get the nuts tight without throwing the calibration off.

Interestingly, the swing of the pendulum now seems to be lower magnitude than before. The clock also sounds a bit smoother. The clutch tongue was already straight, and there is very little play in the slot, so I think those parts are fine.

Second, I rewired the power for the auto-winder, to create a "poor man's kill switch":

IMG_20210125_165857.jpg

Hopefully this will never get used, but should the upper limit switch ever fail or somehow be missed, the weight will come up through the hole and unplug the motor. :)

-k
 
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FDelGreco

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To ensure that the autowinder shuts off when it gets to the top of its travel, not only do I have a micro-switch at the top, but I also have a high-high switch, located a little higher up and wired in series, in case the first switch fails. There are commercial adjustable micro-switches made for exactly this sort of thing. In the image below, the ones I used is the top one. It is made by Allen Bradley and retails new for around $275, but you can find them on eBay cheaper. They are rugged and built well. The lower one in the image I bought on eBay from China for $13 delivered! It is sloppier but I haven't tested it.

CIMG6184.JPG

Frank
 

kmt

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I went out there this afternoon and was disappointed to find that the clock had once again stopped.

I decided to give the escapement a thorough cleaning, and I am very pleased the results:

escapement.jpeg

What I am not pleased with is the fact that the clock now will not run for more than about 10 minutes. I did put a dab of oil on the pallet faces, and just in case my cleaning fluid had managed to end up in any of the bearings, I re-oiled all of those. But it just doesn't run.

When cleaning the escapement, I also cleaned up the reachable parts of all of the gears, and got a lot of grime off of them. My understanding is that these should not be oiled. (Is this still true when one has lantern pinions?)

What's very strange about it is when it stops, the escapement is not trying to move. i.e. if I move the pendulum manually, the escapement doesn't turn. The power from the weight just isn't getting there in sufficient quantity.

When the clock is stopped, if I grab the cable spool and manually give it a twist in the unspooling direction, it does unspool, and the escapement rotates, and if I start the clock up, it'll run for another 10 minutes or so before it just runs out of power, again leaving the escapement with no power getting to it. Very confusing.

I'm going to be out of town this weekend, so I can't get any work done until next week, but if anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

Edit: It occurs to me that there's some aspects of the cable spool power train that I haven't fully comprehended, because when I turned the spool by hand, I was not expecting it to turn, since it normally turns very slowly during operation, and I was a bit surprised that the inner portion of the spool did turn. (But of course it does need to work this way, since there isn't a direct connection between the spool and the rest of the clock, to allow for winding.) So possibly I wiped out the oil somewhere in there, and didn't get that reoiled, because I didn't know there was more to that mechanism than meets the eye. And of course I never would have reoiled this part in the first place, not realising it existed, and therefore it's potentially the cause of the stoppages all along.

-kari
 
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FDelGreco

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Kari:

It looks as if it is difficult to set the beat of your clock exactly. Here is a solution for you that requires a slight modification of the pendulum top block but works great.

I have this English tower clock movement. It’s at the top of my stairs and runs continuously.
clock.JPG

It has a really simple way to set the beat. In the image below, the top pendulum block sits between two supports, like yours, and it has a side hole with an internal thread. A threaded rod passes through it that has the threads turned off where they sit on the fork. The ends have squares filed into them. To adjust the beat, you simply turn the screw with a wrench on the square and the block moves to the left or right. The effect is that by moving the whole pendulum, the beat is changed. It works perfectly.
pend support.JPG

On your clock you would have to remove the pendulum, perhaps a tough job as the bob is probably very heavy. Remove the horizontal pin from the block and save it near the clock. Get a full thread hex head bolt long enough to span the fork. Turn the threads off on a lathe where the bolt will sit on the fork. Drill out and tap the block to match the thread size of the bolt. Reassemble everything. You can now adjust the beat with a wrench on the bolt head.

My block is drilled and tapped on top for a small bolt to lock the threaded rod in place. However, I never use it because the beat doesn’t change. But it’s a nice touch.


Frank
 
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kmt

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I got back to work on the clock today, and now I have a much better understanding of how the various parts of the cable spool work. (Forgive my lack of proper terminology here.) The problem seems to be in the transmission of power from the cable spool, through the spring, and into the gearing of the clock. Specifically, the cable spool is not turning reliably under the pull of the weight.

I can manually "charge up" the spring thusly:

IMG_20210201_143657.jpg

And the clock will run just fine until the spring discharges:

IMG_20210201_144359.jpg

Sorry for all the extra oil there. I'd just recently attempted to oil the bearings above, and some excess has run down. I cleaned that up after the photos, and I also cleaned up and reoiled the spring mechanism itself.

The only explanation I have for why this worked before and then stopped is that my cleaning fluid de-oiled the bearings in there, which is why I added fresh oil today. In my early testing today, I was getting no better performance, but of course I do realise that I can take some time for the fresh oil to get into the right places.

I've been concerned all along about the extra torque that the winding motor applies to the whole thing, and I imagine that is why an extra weight has been added. However, if this is what is preventing the spool from turning on its own, it wouldn't explain why things were working okay (for a couple of days at a time at least) until I cleaned things.

I loosened a screw that I believe disconnects the motor from the winding axle, and the clock ran fine for about 30 minutes, which requires that the spool was turning. (I didn't actually verify this, but since the spring holds only about 10 minutes of "charge", it must have been.) In order to take advantage of an offered ride home, I retightened the screw and departed. When I got home about 30 minutes later and checked on a little webcam I setup, the clock was still running. But then it stopped again just a few minutes after I started looking at the video. (Some corollary to the rule about watched toasters and pots of water no doubt applies here.)

Given that things definitely did improve, I hope that the oil still hasn't gotten into all the right places, and that maybe running it for a while with the winder motor once again detached will help improve things tomorrow.

As always, comments or suggestions are most welcome.

-k
 

kmt

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Here is a solution for you that requires a slight modification of the pendulum top block but works great.
That is quite a clever solution indeed. :) When I last set the beat on my clock, I seemed to get it set quite well, but if I find that I need to be making frequent adjustments in the future, a solution like yours looks ideal. I do have access to the necessary equipment to build the pieces.

For the moment of course, my primary goal is to get the movement running reliably, but I'll certainly bear this in mind as a possible future enhancement to make maintenance life easier.

-k
 

Jim DuBois

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Interestingly enough, I have a regulator I am working on right at the moment. It allows the setting of the beat the same way, but it has a screw on each side that allows very precise movement side to side and also allows it to be more or less locked down. The regulator has a NYC provenance and is thought to have been made thereabouts. It is not one of the more common Conliffe's found in these NYC regulators, but its maker remains unknown so far.

20210201_114341.jpg 20210201_114335.jpg 20210201_114330.jpg
 

Toughtool

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I think kmt solved his "out of beat" problem, and I for one hate modifications to a beautiful old movement. Once the escapment is locked in, it should not need readjusting very often, if ever. Unless kmt found a screw loose, or a part with a lot of wear, the clock was probably adjusted wrong trying to fix a different problem. Looks like he has discovered a drive problem and he is working on that.
 

DanJeffries

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Sounds like you are doing a great job investigating this clock, and I have enjoyed reading and following this thread. If it was mentioned before, I don't recall seeing it.....
But have you checked all your cable pulleys for wear/play? Pulleys can be more of a power hog than a worn pinion in my experience..... so check the pulleys as it looks like your cable goes up to the ceiling from the movement then down through the hole in floor, and maybe compounded at the weights, type set up. So make sure the pulleys aren't worn and at least lubricated well, since it seems that your power from the weights is not getting to the clock movement. Especially since you have discovered it will run well for about 10 minutes on maintaining power it seems that the movement is ok.
Again, that may be redundant info, but the pics were dark when it came to the weights etc.
Good Luck and keep up the good work!
Dan
 
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DanJeffries

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Sounds like you are doing a great job investigating this clock, and I have enjoyed reading and following this thread. If it was mentioned before, I don't recall seeing it.....
But have you checked all your cable pulleys for wear/play? Pulleys can be more of a power hog than a worn pinion in my experience..... so check the pulleys as it looks like your cable goes up to the ceiling from the movement then down through the hole in floor, and maybe compounded at the weights, type set up. So make sure the pulleys aren't worn and at least lubricated well, since it seems that your power from the weights is not getting to the clock movement. Especially since you have discovered it will run well for about 10 minutes on maintaining power it seems that the movement is ok.
Again, that may be redundant info, but the pics were dark when it came to the weights etc.
Good Luck and keep up the good work!
Dan

And now I have went back and double checked, and see there were 10 more images to download in the album. So I was able to see the weights and pulleys better. I would definitely check them carefully, these are one of the most ignored components in a tower clock when not properly maintained. And it sounds like your clock has sat for quite some time. Again pulleys can definitely steal power away relatively easy. And Please use Franks book as a guideline for dealing with heavy weights lines etc.
good luck!
Dan
 

kmt

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Thanks for the advice Dan, and the document Frank. I think I ran across this pdf before, and to Dan's point, I filed it away as "this probably isn't important right now", which may indeed have been an error on my part. :)

I have inspected the pulleys in place both yesterday and today, but of course as with so much else here, I am not an expert in knowing what I am looking at. They do all look to be in reasonable shape, and I lubricated them all yesterday. This clock is young enough that it has always been a cable system, so the pulleys are of the correct type. It is still tempting at some point to let the weight down, so that I can properly inspect everything safely, and perhaps even install some new pulleys if appropriate.

Today was a bit of a vexing day. I spent much of the afternoon with the clock (being able to work remote sometimes certainly helps me with some multitasking here!), and I did see some improvement. Today the cable spool was actually turning, and seems like it was doing so consistently, so I was no longer restricted to the 10 minutes run I could get out of the spring. However, I was still losing momentum after around 25 minutes.

I am still trying to figure out how exactly the auto-wind mechanism interfaces with the clock. In front of the motor is a standard 24V magnetic brake which appears to be working fine, and in between that and the winding axle on the clock is a mystery device that I figure almost has to be a one way clutch:

IMG_20210202_173043.jpg

It looks like it's seen better days, but without any easy way to free up either side of this, it's impossible to verify if it actually is a one way clutch, and if so, how well it still works. The only way I can free it is by disconnecting the entire motor assembly, which I'm not really keen to do unless it's necessary, as it's a rather large motor, and its centre of gravity is in a perfect spot to drop it all the way down the tower if one is not careful when disconnecting it. :)

Since this probable one-way clutch has a couple of screws in it which presumably tighten down onto the axles coming from both sides, I loosened the one on the clock side, figuring this would remove the motor and/or clutch from adding any torque to the system, and sure enough, once I did this, the clock ran for a couple of hours. It never did stop, so I decided to retighten the screw, and, you guessed it, the clock stopped after 25 minutes. Very interesting.

There are a couple of extra ~10 kg weights sitting on the second level of the tower, so I temporarily hung one of them onto the extra weight that has already been added to the main weight, and the clock ran pretty well for maybe half an hour. I didn't give it more time to see how long it would actually run, but it sounded fairly strong the whole time, and I can definitely hear it as the clock is beginning to weaken.

It was starting to get late, so I decided I would remove the extra weight, not wanting to leave things unattended that way, manually activate the auto-wind system, unscrew the motor screw again, and unplug the winder, so that hopefully the clock would run all night, to further assist with the oil distribution. I waited about 30 minutes before leaving, and all seemed well, and then by the time I was home about 45 minutes after that, the clock had again stopped. I really thought it was going to run this time, but alas.

We are seeing nighttime temperatures of as low as -15°C in Finland right now, and even the daytime temperature has been around -10° recently, so I have wondered if it is no coincidence that the clock has been taunting me by stopping shortly after I leave for home, since I turn off the little heater I have up there, which causes the temperature to drop quickly, which certainly will raise the viscosity of the oil somewhat.

Of course the most aggravating factor here is that the clock was working, at least for a couple of days at a time, before I cleaned the gears up, potentially displacing oil. I really thought that discovering the extra bearing on the cable spool and getting that oiled would solve my problem, but unfortunately not. Of course, with that bearing tucked inside the mechanism, I may still be failing to get it sufficiently oiled, and perhaps it is still just a matter of runtime. I did add some more oil today, since the clock has run long enough to get that bearing turned about 60° around. Maybe it just needs more time.

Hopefully I can head back out tomorrow. It's very easy to get pulled back out there to spend a few more hours, and at least if I bring my laptop with me, I can at least pretend to be doing other useful tasks at the same time. ;)

-k
 

DanJeffries

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KMT,

I love your persistence in trying to figure out the problem with the clock. I may need to recruit you to America to help me with some projects! haha.

Its sounds like after loosening the rewind motor you may have discovered the heart of the stopping problem. There must be friction being caused either from pillar block, motor, clutch again as you have already discovered. Another problem encountered in my experience is autowind systems and this one being Homemade does not help. I have several clocks that I am caretaker, that the only issue we have ever had is with the auto wind system.
Maybe you should try leaving the screws out of the winding system overnight to see if it will run? Also that will allow you to see how much travel your weights make in a day.
Looking at the clock movement, it appears to be set up as an 8 day running tower clock with 4 wheels, its not a one day as those usually only have 3 gears in the drive train. So I'm guessing it having 4 gears and the amount of compounds in the pulleys, it should run at least several days before needing winding. Not sure why an auto wind system was installed other than they had no one to go up in the tower to wind it and maintain it. As often as you have been visiting the clock and love to check on it, it may be feasible just to go back with manual winding. Being the town clock keeper is great! That also keeps a close watch on the clock movement, and makes sure the clock is well maintained.
Just a thought, and keep up the good work! Keep us posted on progress, I'm enjoying following this adventure
Dan
 
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kmt

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Thanks for the encouragement, Dan. :) I have indeed pondered moving this back to a manual wind system if the auto-wind gives me too many problems, but as I am really more of an electronics nerd than a mechanics one, I am fond of the idea of running the auto-wind system if possible, and it definitely won't reduce my interest in visiting the clock to take care of all the physical maintenance.

Actually last night I did leave the screw out on the mystery black coupling and the clock stopped, which surprised me. Today I put a mark across the coupling and ran it both with the screw out and in, and the two halves of that coupling do not move independently, so I believe now that I must be wrong about what its function is. However, I'm still in the dark as to what function the screws serve, because loosening or tightening the screw does not appear to affect the rotational relationship between the clock and the motor axle at all, but tightening it does seem to make the clock more prone to stopping, so I think perhaps those screws are affecting the joint's ability to gimbal and not its ability to rotate.

I started the clock again today, with no changes made to anything, and it ran fine for a couple of hours, so then I screwed the mystery screw back in, and while I heard a little bit of inconsistency from the clock for a little while, it seemed to settle back into a consistently strong beat. So I moved on to today's task...

All along I've been concerned with the fact that the motor mount for the (rather large) winder motor has sagged a little bit over however many years it's been there, causing the motor axle to be maybe one degree out of alignment with the winder axle, which is certainly going to make that joint put more torque onto the clock than necessary, so today I brought up a jack to try to jack up the low corner of that whole assembly and see what effect that has. Unfortunately, because the motor mounting plate is actually quite well made, out of rather thick steel, this lifted the whole motor assembly, not just the low corner, which caused the clock to stop almost immediately. While unexpected, this told me a couple of important things:

- Under normal operation, the spring in the cable spool assembly isn't storing much energy. The extra binding on the winder axle stopped the clock in a matter of maybe 20 seconds, nowhere near the ~10 minutes I know the spring can store under full compression. Given that the auto-winder can traverse the whole distance between the two switches in about 10 seconds, this may not actually be a problem, but it's an interesting data point.

- More important, I learned that a bad angle between the winding axle and the motor axle can very easily affect the clock to the point of stopping it even when everything else is working well.

I have studied the way the motor mount is constructed, and have a plan to straighten it out by adjusting the distance between the top and bottom plates of the mount, which will not require trying to bend any steel. Once that is done, I will add another support between the mounting plate and the floor, so that there will be no further sagging.

In the meantime, the clock is once again running, and aside from the failed straightening attempt, ran all afternoon. I turned off the heater and left for home around 1.5 hours ago, and so far so good. By this point the temperature should be mostly settled back down to ambient, and the clock is still running. Whether it will run all night is anyone's guess, but with the discoveries about the motor angle, I am feeling pretty confident that things will only get better from here. :)

-k
 

FDelGreco

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I'd disconnect and physically remove the auto winder from the clock so it was back to manual, then run it and see if it runs until the weight hits the floor. If it runs, then it's the autowinder; if it continues to stop then the clock is still out of beat or something affects the clock when it cools down. You might also disconnect the clock from the hands at the motion works. Unbalanced hands could cause the clock to stop. Or maybe a rough spot in the motion works or the distribution gearing if running more than one dial. Get the clock running consistently first, then look at the autowinder and the dial works.

Frank
 

kmt

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I agree with all your thinking, Frank, but unfortunately the way this winder is installed, it's nontrivial to remove. The motor is substantial and it appears that the entire motor and axle assembly, including steel mounting plate, were all installed as a unit, and cannot be removed except as a unit, which means moving around something that I'm guessing weighs around 30 kg, is a bit unwieldy, and is right next to the access hole in the floor, making the whole process somewhat challenging to perform safely.

Pulling off the winder entirely is certainly doable if a reasonable amount of maintenance and troubleshooting don't otherwise solve the problem, but I want to exhaust other options first, and since things do seem to be moving generally in the right direction, I'm hopeful I'll get there without having to perform any major surgery.

As for the balance of the hands, I'm pretty confident there's no problem there, because the faces on this clock are fairly small, just about a meter in diameter, and the hands all move quite smoothly when I've been manually setting the time.

I've now been away from the clock for over 2.5 hours and the clock is still going. :)

-k
 
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mbc

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  • Who made this clock? I cannot find a manufacturer name, or any text whatever, anywhere on the movement
Hello,

the clock was made by J.F. Weule in Bockenem.
A picture of a catalog printet 1925 is attached.

Tschau Matthias
Weule Turmuhren 1925 042.jpg
 
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kmt

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the clock was made by J.F. Weule in Bockenem.
A picture of a catalog printet 1925 is attached.
Wow, thank you very much! Mystery solved! :nutjob:

I just went to look at the pendulum and verify that it has no traces of the lettering seen in the catalog photo, and it does not. It is completely blank.

So as not to tempt fate, I was probably not going to post again until tomorrow, but as of this afternoon, the clock is running for two days non-stop, including a full winding, and seems to be doing just fine.

I do still wish to straighten up the motor mount a little bit, but it seems not to be causing enough problem at the moment to cause the clock to stop. I am sure it was one of the contributing factors though, and it does need to be fixed before the mount sags any more, because it will eventually damage the clock.

Once the clock has a few more days of successful running, I'll tackle the accuracy problem. As anticipated, after I was away for a couple of days, it had fallen behind by about four minutes.

Thank you again mbc. Your detective work is most appreciated!
 

Toughtool

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Fantastic! It's good to know who made this clock and it's possible age.

I want to point out that your motor winding system does have a flexible coupling. The two hubs shown has a rubber insert which allows a small misalignment of the two shafts. I agree, it is best if the alignment is as close as possible.

flexibleCoupling.jpg
 

kmt

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I've been following along since your first post. I'm very happy you have the clock running again. Is there any feedback from the community noticing the clock in operation again?
At present there's not a whole lot of community to notice. When I first posted about this clock, I never mentioned where it is, because I wasn't sure if the owner of the building wanted it public, but then the other day he told me that he thinks I definitely should talk about where it is, since it's actually somewhat interesting, even to an international audience, so I shall...

This clock is in the original Nokia (yes, that Nokia) headquarters building in Nokia, Finland. (This is where some people will be saying, "Nokia is a city?" Yes it is, and the company was named for the city.) The building was completed in 1908, when Nokia were involved in making rubber and paper products, long, long before they found fame and fortune (and eventual near demise) in cell phones.

The building is on an island in Nokia, called Tehdassaari (which literally means "factory island"), along with a now disused factory complex. The only real activity on the island these days is a culture/art centre called Tehdas 108, which of course has seen less activity than normal in the past year.

So, there really aren't that many people to notice the clock is running. I know some of the people at Tehdas 108 have been pleased. One of the directors over there said that he remembers the clock running years ago, but it's been long enough that he doesn't remember when.

My friend's company which bought this building is involved in circular economy, zero emission and clean material building, and their longer term plans are to turn the old factory complex into a new business, residential, and cultural centre, bringing some life back to this part of town, at which point hopefully we will have many more people to enjoy the clock. :)

want to point out that your motor winding system does have a flexible coupling. The two hubs shown has a rubber insert which allows a small misalignment of the two shafts. I agree, it is best if the alignment is as close as possible.
Ah right, that is what that is, sure. Of course, that does not permit much flex, and given that the connection onto the winding axle doesn't have a lot of room for play, it's still a good idea to straighten up the motor, and definitely a good idea to shore up the mount to prevent future damage.

-k
 
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