Why main train/ pendulum of church tower clock stopped?

Discussion in 'Tower, Monumental & Street Clocks' started by pidragos, Sep 12, 2014.

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  1. pidragos

    pidragos Registered User
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    Nov 27, 2012
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    Hello all,
    Time ago I posted some info about a tower clock restoration project from a Lutheran church. The mechanism was completely restored (disassembly part by part, cleaning, replacing the anchor wheel and some damaged pinions), but no time to test in place due to some medical issues that forced my to stop everything for more than 6 month :(
    Than there were some restoration activities (by external company) of the complete floor where the clock is mounted. So again no way to do trials.
    Finally, 2 month ago I started to make trials, including leveling with a precision spirit level equipment the entire clock machine. In this time to consider that a new floor was under the clock mechanism, and one thing that missed at the beginning, the wood was not well dry!!!.

    So, first I started without making connections to dials, in order to check if mechanism was working. for about 1 month the mechanism was working perfectly, no stop, nothing. Than I made the connection to the dials...in few hours stopped, that because of the gearing of the wheels from dials...that was fixed, high clearance on bearings etc. Again I started the mechanism and again stopped in few hours, I checked pendulum, gearing....nothing found. Than the weights: here it was missing some parts of them, felled down, from the quarter striking train and from main train. these were fixed, again started and again pendulum stopped. I thought it is about loosing power, I put more weight on main train, started, worked for about 3 hours, and stopped again. In this time I noticed that somehow the lever that connects the hour striking wheel and the bell through a wire hardly works when the weight is released and goes down, probably too tight connected, I think this cannot stop main train to work, or?

    I have no idea at the moment what is wrong and I am still thinking about the wooden floor replaced (not well dry wood, wood is still not stable at this moment, so no accurate leveling of the floor, balance when walk on...), vibrations when all huge church bells strikes. The anchor wheel was also replaced as it was damaged before, so it is a new one made of brass, but the wheel works perfectly, it is just a replica of the original made on a precision milling machine.

    what else to check now?? why mechanism stops!?
    maybe your bigger experience can help
    thanks,
    Dragos
     

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  2. gvasale

    gvasale Registered User
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    Mar 30, 2005
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    Your going to need to spend quite a bit of time troubleshooting. Run the clock with the hands & bell disconnected & see if there are problems. Don't remember if you said how many dials there are, but if there is more then one, add one at a time & see if any problems develop. Finally add the bell & check again. If you think the floor is not quite right it may be a problem too. Only way is the process of elimination. I doubt any of us here in the States has ever seen a clock like you working on.
     
  3. pidragos

    pidragos Registered User
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    There are 3 dials
    I did this action by elimination and the only problem was when connected 3rd dial, because of the clearance of the bearings, the 3rd wheel was interconnected with one of the others which is not allowed, there is a main wheel which connects by other axes the mechanism to the dials, the problem is that logically this wheel must connect with each of the other 3, but no other relations between them. Unfortunately I have at the moment no picture available with that, but in the attachment is something similar from other clock, excepting the fact that this looks more professional and have that "cover" that reinforces the 3 axes to the dials, in the picture I think there are only 2.
    So I did these eliminations already...have to see what else
     

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  4. gvasale

    gvasale Registered User
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    #4 gvasale, Sep 12, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
    Have you checked to see if there is a problem with the motion works on that third dial, like bent teeth on on or more of the four gears? In what condition are the hour pipe & minute hand shaft? I've repaired several of them with really sloppy fits.

    Do all of the dials mount on the building on the same level? Is that an example of a hand shaft with a star wheel to do the coupling at a right angle to the output shaft of the clock?
     
  5. gvasale

    gvasale Registered User
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    I'll also add that I've had a couple of cases where the minute hand has warped or has stuck on markers on wooden dials.
     
  6. pidragos

    pidragos Registered User
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    some clarifications and apologies that I do not have the right English technical vocabulary in clocks to use.:)
    So enclosed some pictures to detail.
    than answering your questions:
    - there is no problem on the motion on the third dial, these are all tested already in different ways.
    - there is no minute hand, only hour hand, this is how the clock was projected. So no motion work behind the dial.
    - all the dials are on the same level, see pictures
    - the coupling is done like you see in the picture, this is not a nice one or not so professional, but what to say, this is a piece of history more than 300 years old, as understood.
    please let me know if additional info required

    the weights are also not so nice as in time they were damaged and the people in charge at that time did what you see.

    there is also a picture called symbolism, do not know what means !!??


    02_tower.jpg 09_weights (2).jpg 08_weights.jpg 07_ghearing_dials (2).jpg 06_ghearing_dials.jpg 05_hour_strike_side.jpg 04_mechanism.jpg 03_dial_one_handonly.jpg
     

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  7. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    Is it possible that the fame is twisted because of uneven
    support of the floor? I notice a window slit below the
    pendulum. You might try covering that in case it is
    a wind problem.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  8. pidragos

    pidragos Registered User
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    What do you mean by "the fame is twisted" ?
    As I know there was no issue related to wind, but good to check again.
    I have to post later new pictures, the ones with floor taken from bellow (2nd, 3rd and last pics with cables and weights) are not updated, the floor is new as said, these are pictures taken in 2013.
     
  9. Jim DuBois

    Jim DuBois Registered User
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    Pidragos,

    First, very nice tower clock and it is nice to see it in a clean environment. Looks like you have done an excellent job of saving this clock and are certainly to be congratulated on a job well done.

    There are only a couple of things that will keep a mechanical mechanism, like a tower clock from running, assuming worn parts have been properly repaired, broken parts replaced or repaired, clock is in beat, points of rotation properly lubricated, etc. My comments below are not intended to question anybody's work or skills, but I am assuming that an experienced tower clock repair person has not been involved at this point

    The 2 most obvious problems that can occur and may well be affecting this clock are 1)too much friction and 2)sympatric vibration from an unstable mounting / floor / structure.

    You do comment that the new structure "still thinking about the wooden floor replaced (not well dry wood, wood is still not stable at this moment, so no accurate leveling of the floor, balance when walk on...), vibrations when all huge church bells strikes." This suggests it may well be part of your problem. The floor has to be stable and not bounce or move as the clock runs or bell strikes and the like. It must be rigid and solid….if the clock is to run reliably.

    It is not apparent from the photos how much work was done in the repairs done recently.

    1. There is a tendency for machinists to fit bushings /bearings /arbors in clocks entirely too tight. This results in too much friction in the train as it is loaded by the weights and normal running stresses are applied. That could be tested in part by carefully removing the verge and letting the clock spin down under control (hand on escape wheel shaft preventing it from spinning wildly) looking for spots where the mechanism might seem to slow down or struggle to transmit power up the train. Correcting "hard spots" in the train is perhaps a bit out of the range of email discussions, easier done than explained in text….
    2. It appears from your photos the points of friction in the motion works are running "dry". If so, they all require lubrication. Your comment about the clock running until the motion work is engaged tends to suggest the dial drive mechanism is consuming too much power. It could be as simple as correct lubrication
    3. Were the weight pulleys inspected /cleaned /repaired / re-bushed in the repairs done? They are always suspect for wear and are on occasion overlooked in repairs.
    4. How is the lubrication in the various pivots and bushings? From your photos it appears more "dry" than most tower clocks. Also, have the 2 faces of the verge have just a bit of lubrication applied?
    5. Not necessarily part of your current problem but worth mention are 2 more things in my opinion
      1. The additional weights added on to the what I assume to be original weights are an issue, it should not be necessary to use more than the original weights in most clocks. Their presence suggests problems in the trains that have not been resolved.
      2. Condition of the cables are very suspect. From your photos it appears as though they are quite rusty. If so, they become subject for safety issues, rust suggests they are past their end of life. Cables should be lubricated for a number of reasons besides preventing rust. See http://homepages.sover.net/~donnl/cables.html for more details.

    Again, good job, it sounds as if you are close to getting this running reliably, good luck with it and I hope the above points are of assistance to your effort….
     

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  10. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    If the clock isn't supported evenly from all 4 corners, the
    weight can twist the frame of the movement out of square.
    This would increase friction.
    I might add to Jim's mention of the cables. Besides increasing
    the likely failure of the cables, rust will constantly flake off
    the cables as it runs. Some of this will end up in the bushings
    as grinding grit.
    You might say that dust will also fly there as well. If dust
    were a useful grinding grit, people would use it instead of
    rust for grinding grit. They used rust ( often called jewelers
    rouge ) to grind glass.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  11. pidragos

    pidragos Registered User
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    Hello Jim, Hello Tinker
    I appreciate your words but especially the advices that shows your experience/ skills in tower clocks.
    Just some notes or explanations from my side to you comments. Than in few days I will come back with news and recent pictures.

    You are right, no clock maker or expert in tower clocks was involved, I just learned about turret clocks from Mr. Chris McKay, from UK, he has some courses at the British Horological Institute in London about turret clocks and he provided some brochures that can be found, some of them, on internet. Also let's say I have some experience in wall clocks, doing maintenance to my owns or small repairing.
    In most of what you express above you are right, some of concerns I was thinking about. My mistake I did not checked the pulleys and cables too much and did not think about twisting the frame (My friend did last week and it was concerned about this phenomena) .
    My reason...already said at the beginning, serious medical problems stopped me for more than 6 month to do any job, especially physically. I have a friend expert in mechanics and dealing with milling and turning machines (the "big" man in the pictures). He did not continue without me, only when I was present at the place.
    Lubricating is not shown in a conclude manner as some pictures are taken in 2013, before restorations and the new shown are immediately after re assembly, so I did not put oil in the required places at that time, but did it before trials. I will come back as said with new pictures and after I will apply all your advices.

    thank you very much and see you soon.
    Dragos
     
  12. pidragos

    pidragos Registered User
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    Nov 27, 2012
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    Hello all again,

    now the the clock mechnaism is workig again. Following your advices and also based on my feeling :) , I realized that too much stress was applied into the gearing, as described by you before. The mechanism is placed into a metal cage, all the components of the cage are fixed by cotters (is this the right word?) and they were very tight causing too much friction in gearing, arbors . I released a bit of stress from all the cotters on the main train. Now there is no stop, after more than 3 weeks testing.
    The problem of wooden floor stability is also valid, as described previously. Because of that, sometimes the stroke pendulum goes too much and hits the sides of the cradle on which cage is fixed (see old image before restoration, follow the pendulum bar. In the wooden cradle there is a groove or cut where the pendulum bar oscilates ).


    I am wondering if this is the real cause, as in this way the clock is running faster. Or maybe the attachments on the weigths are causing running too fast. Have to investigate more.
    that is all until now, hope to come back soon. All the best from sunny Sibiu.
     

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  13. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User
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    If there was any work done on the dials and/or hands, some thought should be given to whether the hands were properly counter-poised (balanced). If you find the clock stopping AFTER the half-hour (say, at about 20 minutes or 15 minutes to the hour), if could be that checking the poise on all dials will be necessary. If and when you find the clock stopped again, check the backlash (freedom) of the gears in the dial trains. The mesh of those gears should never be TIGHT as may be found if you have a counter-poise problem. If your pendulum is striking an obstruction as it swings, that will most certainly cause the clock to gain time.
     
  14. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

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    Glad to point you in the right direction.
    As a recoil, it will be sensitive to drive strength.
    Adjust the weight to get a safe over swing and
    then adjust the rate. The weight may have been
    adjusted over time to compensate for wear.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  15. pidragos

    pidragos Registered User
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    this clock has no dial gearing, it indicates only the hour, no minute hands.
     
  16. pidragos

    pidragos Registered User
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    Last Saturday I was checking the weights again, I took out 2 metal parts that supposed to be additional weights on the main train. Then what happened in 24 hours: the pendulum still strikes the wooden cradle only in right side; the hour hand, (as there is only one, no minute hand) was showing a 2 hours retard, but interesting that keeps good time between strikes on quarter train. I counted each time 15 minutes between each quarter strike. So the strikes notify you that 15 minutes passed but when look at the dial, time shown is wrong.
    I will go to analyze again by the end of this week.
     
  17. pidragos

    pidragos Registered User
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    Nov 27, 2012
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    Greetings to all from cloudy-rainy-warm Sibiu city, Romania!
    Hope you remember this thread about my restoration project.
    The clock was running fluently for about 3 month, when something happened to the bells. They were almost to collapse and the administration stopped using them and the clock until the issue was solved. But after that let's say the clock did not work very well, was striking chaotic and the time shown was wrong...nevertheless the clock was not used anymore.
    This year, I mean 1 month ago I said is time to restart the engines. So I went to the place.
    I just impulse the pendulum and the whole huge mammoth started to work again. Have to remind that the clock was showing the time on 2 of the dials, as the third one had problem with the gearing. Now I fixed the problem and the time was working on all 3 dials.
    All OK, from Friday (when was restarted) until Monday morning when the clock blocked itself (clock has to be manual winded at each 23-24 hours). This was in June.
    Checked and nothing wrong at the first view. all gearings were working smoothly, no hard friction, clock was oiled regularly by myself.
    I started again the clock. Until today the clock was running only few hours, about 8-9 or 2 hours. Just stopping.
    Last Saturday I did a deep check. One dial was showing 5 o'clock, second dial 5:15 and third one 5:30. The strike works fine, at each quarter there is a small bell + the big one for the hour.
    I did some research and dismantle the going train, pendulum, the anker and anker wheel. I tested without pendulum and realized that the going train loose power, if I was trying to apply a hand force on the cable barrel, the pendulum hanger was running. I did what was done time ago (before restoration including full clean part by part), on the stone weight I attached additional weights.

    Now the clock runs with no stop, strikes OK, just few minutes in advance, that can be fixed, plus the delayed time shown on the dials.

    It is not normal to add weights to push running, but I see no friction anywhere and this solution solved only the effect, not the cause...
    I am not sure if the dials are the problem (only hour hand available) or the coupling in the attached pictures.
     

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