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Why not repair old Hermle movements?

Elliott Wolin

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Many folks have said that mid to late 20th century Hermle and similar movements have a 20-30 year lifetime, after that they should be replaced. I'm wondering why. Note that I'm approaching this from an amateur perspective, retired as well, so I'm not trying to make money here and I have plenty of time. Also, my wife thinks the more time I spend in my shop working on clocks, the better! :)

In my limited experience with such movements, I've seen worn pivot holes and some scoring on the pivots. I've heard that some pivots are plated and that wears off, but that the plating can be sanded off and the metal underneath is good enough. And I've seen some sticky balances and springs. I haven't seen any broken wheels or teeth.

In other words, everything I've seen is eminently fixable.

Am I missing something? Or is the replacement strategy mainly applicable to professionals, whose time is money?
 

Willie X

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Feb 9, 2008
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Yes, your missing the part about the very soft steel and the part about 'chaseing rabbits' from one hole to another every few years ...

If your goal is to bide away your precious time ... repairing Hermles will be a good place to do that. Just don't do it for a paying customer and everything will be fine. :rolleyes:

What you plan to do is good practice but working on pre 'planned obsolescence' clocks will be far more rewarding.

Willie X
 
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steamer471

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As just a hobby I too ventured into the world of Hermle with varying degrees of success. A few months back a friend asked me to look at his mothers award clock from 1986. Worn barrels, escape wheel pivot and just more than I could handle I suggested a new movement. Ordered one, checked it, no oil needed, ran on the bench and installed it a week later. To my dismay they called last month and told me it's not chiming right and is hard to wind on the chime side only. To be honest I find it more rewarding and less frustrating working on cuckoo clocks than dealing with the worn barrels, scored pivots and cheap cabinets. Got to admit though, you can get um cheap!
 
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R. Croswell

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The 25 year life expectance isn't really the end of the line, but about how long on the average one can expect it to run before having problems. Like an old car, you can repair it again and again and again, or you can replace it. Now there is a difference between restoration (returning the clock to new condition in every detail) and just fixing it to run again. In a typical clock shop, the cost to cleanup a few bad pivots and install a few bushings is going to be in the same ballpark $ wise as a new movement, plus less headaches and call backs for the shop owner.

Now me, I don't like to throw anything away, so if it's my dead Hermle movement I may spend my own time rebuilding it. I know there has been a lot of disagreement about the steel under the plating of Hermle plated pivots, and whether it can be polished and give a reasonable service life. I believe that replacing the pivot with a hardened steel pivot would be the preferred way if one has that skill and tools to do that, but is t really necessary? I tried to answer that question for myself about 15 years ago I believe it was. I purchased a discarded Hermle movement from the plated pivot period on eBay to see. The flaking pivots were turned and polished and bushings installed. I made a case for it and ran it every day for quite a few years with no problems at all. I guess I should oil it but I no longer run it every day (arthritis limits how many clocks I can keep running now) , but I wound it a few weeks back and it ran just fine. I expected that it would have given up after a couple years and I would tear it down and document what happened, but it just keeps going and in as much as I will turn 80 month, I expect it may outlive me.

RC
 

Kevin W.

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I have hermle movement thats quite worn, I have always wanted to get some Butter bearings and install them in this movement.
 
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wow

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I hardly ever replace movements. I re-bush Hermles and Urgos and polish those plated pivots using the polishing disks I get from Butterworths. I almost never encounter flaking pivots and am able to get the pivots to shine like a mirror. I do not use pivot files on them. On rare occasions where they flake, I remove the flaking with a fine file and either use the steel under the plating if it polishes well or re-pivot. It is much easier to replace these movements, but I like the challenge.
 

shutterbug

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I also repair most of what comes to my shop on the high end of the Hermle's. New movements are priced pretty high when compared to what I charge for repairing them. The lower end movements are close enough to the same price that most customers will opt for the new movement. I usually tell people that they can expect 10 years on a repaired movement. But with the quality of new movements going downhill fast, repairing is becoming a necessity regardless :D
 

dickstorer

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I am another that prefers repairing over replacing. I did my first repair in 1965 while I was still in the Navy. Repaired clocks and watches all through my Navy career of 23 years. I had my own rented repair shop for another 23 years. Now at age 88 I still am quite active in repairs and making cases for orphan movements. I like a challenge but find little in replacing movements.
 

S_Owsley

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I have hermle movement thats quite worn, I have always wanted to get some Butter bearings and install them in this movement.
From what I have read, Butter bearings are the preferred and permanent solution to the problem, if you want to save the movement.
 

TEACLOCKS

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As you can see they have introduced stainless steel Arbors/ Pivots

HERMLE DATE CODES AND YEARS


A=1988 N=2001 AA=2014
B=1989 O=2002 AB=2015
C=1990 P=2003 AC=2016
D=1991 Q=2004 AD=2017
E=1992 R=2005 AE=2018
F=1993 S=2006 AF=2019 (STAINLESS STEEL PIVOTS INTRODUCED)
G=1994 T=2007 AG=2020
H=1995 U=2008 AH=2021
I=1996 V=2009 AI=2022
J=1997 W=2010 AJ=2023
K=1998 X=2011 AK=2024
L=1999 Y=2012 AL=2025
M=2000 Z=2013 AM=2026
 
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chorisia

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As you can see they have introduced stainless steel Arbors/ Pivots

HERMLE DATE CODES AND YEARS


A=1988 N=2001 AA=2014
B=1989 O=2002 AB=2015
C=1990 P=2003 AC=2016
D=1991 Q=2004 AD=2017
E=1992 R=2005 AE=2018
F=1993 S=2006 AF=2019 (STAINLESS STEEL PIVOTS INTRODUCED)
G=1994 T=2007 AG=2020
H=1995 U=2008 AH=2021
I=1996 V=2009 AI=2022
J=1997 W=2010 AJ=2023
K=1998 X=2011 AK=2024
L=1999 Y=2012 AL=2025
M=2000 Z=2013 AM=2026
I buy several of these a year very rarely see wear (unlike that seen on kieninger late 20c viennas with weights over 3k each why? My lenskirch vienna has 900 gram weights no visible wear an antique clock). I guess many of the clocks I buy stand idle for years. If they are a bit tired slightly heavier weights suffices ,I know one I sold five years ago still working well. Given what horologists charge here in the UK not a surprise so many are written off or end up converted to drinks cabinets with quartz movements :-(
 

Dick Feldman

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Something else to be considered.
The quality on new movements is not what it was some years ago.
I received two new Kieninger movements yesterday and neither was in operating condition out of the box.
One was a simple fix in that one hammer was in the air when the chime train had parked at all four quarters.
The other (Concerto) chime train stops mid way through the hour chime sequence. It stops every time on all chime selections. I am quite sure that is not shipping damage.
The supplier had a note in the box that said: "all Kieninger movements leaving our warehouse are tested 100% before shipping." This week, I am batting zero on new movements.
I have not checked the pivot holes in these movements for looseness but from previous experience, I would bet there is more side play in these two new movements than I would allow on any movement I built in my shop.
Someone above mentioned stainless steel pivots/arbors.
How about ceramic verges acting on brass escape wheels?
Can anyone tell me how to adjust the pallet distance on a ceramic verge?
Dick
 

Willie X

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Feb 9, 2008
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You don't.

And SS isn't very machinist friendly either.
I'm not sure where the SS is exactly. I'm guessing they changed those little hard steel needle bearing inserts, they've been using on the improved 2nd wheels since anout 1988, have been changed to SS ??

One thing for sure, when it comes to clocks, 'Things ain't like they used to be'.

Willie
 

NEW65

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Nov 17, 2010
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Kieninger as well now ?? ! Hermle have been promising for years that things are going to improve , not just sloppy pivots which incidentally I was told are fine and built like that for a purpose, (apparently I was told that the settings on the machines have not been changed for the passed 45 yrs !), but quality control too!
I invested in some of hermles new floor clocks. 50% of them messed up when the night silence was selected ! Another job I have had to sort out myself ! And I always feel uneasy working on the new clocks in case I accidentally scratch the dial etc!
I also have to oil them as the movements are very slow chiming and on inspection apoear to look bone dry! I honestly don’t think they are oiled before leaving the factory!
All jobs I shouldn’t have to do so I know how you feel Dick. Do you intend repairing that Kieninger movement yourself? I just find it easier to fix the faults myself!
Thanks chaps :)
 

Willie X

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Feb 9, 2008
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Yep, they have made some improvements over the years but overall it seems to be a 'one steps foward and one step back' thing. The poor assembly, lack of adjustments, and obvious loss of quality control, seems to have started about 5 or 6 years ago. Before then the movements were nearly always good, right out of the box. I guess that is to be expected, when you're the only company left standing.

Willie X
 
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