Winding School ...

Willie X

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When I suspect a customer is having trouble winding their clock/s, I take them to Winding School. I give them the key and let them have at it. It is a rare occasion when a customer demonstrates good winding skills!
Many just grab the key and grunt a little, telling me the clock is wound "to tight" already. Others take off, winding their clock like a mad man until they slam it to a stop. I coach them in firm language but I try to be nice about it, explaining to the older folks that they can probably clock going by winding it a few turns every few days, or when the strike/chime starts to slow down. The customers that want to show off and show that clock who's boss get the warning that, there clock won't last very long unless they treat it with a lighter touch and use a steady 'deliberate controlled' motion.

Anyway, if you don't already do this, I would encourage you to start. It's very educational for both parties and I think you will be surprised I'm many ways. It will also cut your comeback rate considerably.

Winding School professor, Willie X
 

MuseChaser

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I hand them a torque wrench and suggest 80 ft/lbs.....

;)


.... OK, yeah, that was a baseless comment. I've never had a customer, nor do I deserve one yet...
 

Bruce Alexander

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This is excellent advice Willie.

I have a customer's Herschede 3-train Jauch Westminster hanging clock. The Chime unwinds about 7/8th of a full turn per day; Time 3/4 per day; the Strike 1/2. The clock has almost completely run down now so I'll be suggesting that they carefully wind the all 3 springs fully and after one day, rewind just the Strike and Chime Trains. From there, let the clock run for about four more days. Then a full but gentle rewind on the Strike and Chime with about three full turns on the Time.

It starts to slow down pretty quickly after day 6. The idea is to keep the Time Mainspring in the flat part of its torque curve while keeping the other two springs with about a 1 day reserve relative to the Time spring. Good matching replacements springs would have needed to come from Cousins in the UK. That option may be in the clock's future. Perhaps not.

I'll also recommend that they slightly relax their grip/wrist before releasing the key. If the click doesn't catch, either snatch the key away from the clock, or turn their face away and pull their hand away from the key as quickly as they can.

The clock ships tomorrow. I'm going to write it all out, print it and send them the file via e-mail attachment.

It's not a high quality clock. There had been a lot of "adjustments" made to the movement, but the clock has a lot of sentimental value to the couple. In that regard it has been a privilege to work on it for them.

Regards,

Bruce

Edit: Almost forgot, use two hands to let spring down if possible when there's a click failure.
 
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wow

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That’s great, Willie. Another thing that needs to be taught is the importance of using the right size key. About half of the customers I have use keys that are too big. Many of the broken clicks or click springs are caused by a key that allows the winding arbor to slip.
 

Bruce Alexander

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About half of the customers I have use keys that are too big
Good point Will. It's rare when a good fitting key comes with an "as is" clock that we buy (from any source)...if there's a key at all.
 

murphyfields

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When I suspect a customer is having trouble winding their clock/s, I take them to Winding School. I give them the key and let them have at it. It is a rare occasion when a customer demonstrates good winding skills!
Many just grab the key and grunt a little, telling me the clock is wound "to tight" already. Others take off, winding their clock like a mad man until they slam it to a stop. I coach them in firm language but I try to be nice about it, explaining to the older folks that they can probably clock going by winding it a few turns every few days, or when the strike/chime starts to slow down. The customers that want to show off and show that clock who's boss get the warning that, there clock won't last very long unless they treat it with a lighter touch and use a steady 'deliberate controlled' motion.
Do you have this written down anywhere in detail. This would be a great addition to tips and tricks.
 

Salsagev

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That’s great, Willie. Another thing that needs to be taught is the importance of using the right size key. About half of the customers I have use keys that are too big. Many of the broken clicks or click springs are caused by a key that allows the winding arbor to slip.
Don’t forget that Asian clocks usually comes with a key too large.
 

wow

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I just returned an old steeple clock that had a worn winding arbor on the time side. Size 5 fit it perfectly and size 6 fit the strike side. He was using a size 7 for both sides.
 

Albert Antonelli

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When my customers come in with a clock repair when the job is done and the customer has a bit of age I supply a wide winged key and so far it has worked for me, and yes I have the customer wind the clock before it goes out the door.
 

Salsagev

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When my customers come in with a clock repair when the job is done and the customer has a bit of age I supply a wide winged key and so far it has worked for me, and yes I have the customer wind the clock before it goes out the door.
Good idea. My thought is always that the key must me good quality for my use. Some old English or French key are always tough but some Indian key or Hermle key will just bend when it meets the right spring.
 

SuffolkM

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On the subject of the winding key size, if the arbors have been rounded off (one of the consequences of an oversized key) you can of course square them up again by filing. If you do this, the arbor will be smaller than it was, but the profile probably tapers a little already. It's an opportunity to pair the clock up with a well-matched key and the square arbors are much more reassuring for the user because even if they don't know why, they like the fact the key has no play afterwards!
 

Willie X

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Winding school (for better or worse) is all about the interaction between the clock and it's owner while being observed by the repair person. Sort of a test. :)

Having the correct key is the responsibility of the clock repairer.

I used to pick up at a place that refused to take in the keys with the clocks. They said it was a source of trouble to take in the keys and something else to keep up with. This made sense to me way back when but now I take the opposite approach. I take in and/or give back the key with every clock. It only takes a few seconds to check the key, if they want to take the key back home, just make a notation on the ticket "good key with customer". I actually make a notation at the bottom of every ticket about the key.

Willie X
 

Bruce Alexander

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Sort of a test. :)
Okay. Just so long as it isn't a "Pop" Quiz! :chuckling:

I seldom get the chance for face to face contacts with my customers.
With Covid, that really hasn't been much of a problem this past year but life goes on.

I like the idea of requesting the Key. I've been leaning towards having folks hold on to their keys. I can understand why shops doing a lot of volume would seek to keep things simple and problem free. I'm going to follow your lead Willie. I shouldn't have any problems keeping a few keys with their clocks.

It's amazing how far off some keys are. Not only the wrong size, but too large to fit into the Dial holes, or too short to clear interference with hands, especially with double-ends. That can all lead to a lot of wear and tear on the face and hands (the clock's and the owner's :emoji_astonished:)

Regards,

Bruce
 

shutterbug

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I have found as many as three different keys in mantel cases before. I usually test to see which one is the right size, and tell them the other two were wrong or bad for the clock. They seldom ask for them back. Most are too worn to be worth saving.
 

Salsagev

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I have found as many as three different keys in mantel cases before. I usually test to see which one is the right size, and tell them the other two were wrong or bad for the clock. They seldom ask for them back. Most are too worn to be worth saving.
That leads me to believe that those were keys to other clocks. Commonly see that happen in listings.
 

FDelGreco

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Also, make sure that the customer knows which way to turn the key, as they could twist the arbor or damage the click -- especially if the clock has not run for years and the customer has forgotten which way to turn the key. I've also found tower clocks with half to three quarters dia. arbors that were twisted because the customer used the crank to turn against the click, just believing that the weight was "really heavy" and it needed to be strong armed.

Frank
 

Dick Feldman

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My standards may be set too high but I feel a click assembly should operate every time and one should expect another 100 years of reliable operation. Success should be defined as the clock wearing out a second time and the click assemblies still being operational and in good shape. The click assembly should be people proof and not need special treatment or training to the person winding the clock.
Although a different issue, loose fitting keys should not be tolerated. When I find one, it may be returned to the clock owner but only after being mashed with a very large hammer. Every clock leaves here with a proper sized key. The keys I use are made from brass because that brass will suffer before a winding arbor. Quality keys are much less expensive than damaged winding arbors.
Again, that is how I feel,
Dick
 
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Bruce Alexander

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I agree click assemblies should work without fail. I have placed a redundant assembly on Sessions movements on several occasions even though the factory assembly was still working just fine. I still instruct customers to wind all mechanical clocks with care. Metal can fatigue and fail without any prior warning and customers may wind clocks I have never seen or worked on. It's a good idea to wind mainsprings with care. That's what I think.
 

Salsagev

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Of course, one should not go crazy with a key. Not fiddling around with it and just wind it the direction it’s supposed to until it stops.
 

wow

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Many clocks come to me from people who have inherited them and they know very little about their operation. Besides how and how often to wind and what key to use, I usually cover how to set each particular clock: forward? Backward? Whether or not to stop and let it strike or chime while setting and how to sync the hour hand with the hour strike if it gets out of sync. I also cover how to tell whether the clock is in beat or not and how not to get it out of beat. How to adjust the time. The importance of it being level side to side and front to back. How the hands must be free and not touching anything or each other. If it’s a wall clock, how important it is to hang it on a nail or screw that is secure (in a stud) and to hang it straight on the wall.

That’s all I can remember about my lesson plan right now.
Will
 
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ToddT

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I have an Emperor wall clock I assembled in 1989. I used to be more of Willie's "mad man" school - turn half a turn, let go, turn half a turn, etc. until relatively tight. Around 1995 while winding something went KA-BANG! and stuff quit working. Because it was relatively new I sent it back to Emperor. End result was a new movement, my cost.

In thinking back (at the time) to what may have happened, I came to two possible conclusions. One is that the spring broke. The other (which actually seemed more likely to me) was that in winding, when I let off the pressure, the click may have JUST been starting to fall into the next notch but hadn't fully dropped. Releasing my hand pressure put extreme pressure on just the tip of the click, it couldn't handle it, and let go. When this happened, the key gave me a pretty good smack on the thumb and fingers.

I didn't know enough about clocks at the time to do any real forensics, and given that I was sending it back for repair, didn't want to REALLY screw things up so didn't do any sort of tear-down.

Since then, while winding, I've always made sure when releasing my hand pressure during each wind, I want to hear a solid "click" and then feel the wheel roll backwards and the click catch before releasing all pressure. If I start to release pressure and don't feel any roll-back, then I go one more "click" to ensure I'm not "on the edge", as it were.

Part of this, too, is having a solid picture in my mind as to what the click and ratchet look like, even if it's generic. It makes it much easier to understand what you are feeling through the key even if you can't see it.
 

Salsagev

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Don’t forget about the trusty crank. Not only does it provide leverage for tougher springs but also winds clocks pretty fast. Finally, most importantly, if the click spring fails, you’ll have a second chance to release the tension to prevent shredding your hand. Those (even one or two) 50 cent ST no 2 cranks are more than satisfactory for winding almost all my t/s American clocks. (4 clocks) all are wound in two minutes without your hands tired.


My chime clocks are different story as they have strong chime springs.
 

novicetimekeeper

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The guy who restores most of my clocks hates crank keys for spring clocks, he feels they cause undue wear.

Personally I love it when a clock comes with all it's keys, but that is unusual from an auction.

I couldn't work out initially some of you were saying about not winding till the key stops then realised it's because all my spring clocks are fusees so there is a fusee stop. I always wind them to the fusee stop. The longcases I know where the weights will be when the pulley is near the seatboard.
 

Paul Statham

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While you are talking about keys I have purchased my first fusee clock with a key are they normally two keys one for the time and one for the fusee because the key won't fit the fusee arbour.Thanks
 

Mike Phelan

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But surely winding the fusee is for the time? :???:

Or maybe this is a USA vs UK spelling, like is saying 'arbor' whereas our USA folks say 'arbour' - here an arbour is something in a garden!
OK, I'll shut up now! :)
 

Paul Statham

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Sorry if Mike if i upset you i didn't know i accidently slipped a u in will be careful in future. Do you know the answer to my question
 

novicetimekeeper

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I always say arbour, it takes a while to understand the difference across the Atlantic. When I first came here I was amazed how many people had verges which I had always thought of as very desirable but in the US everybody had them.
 

Salsagev

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The guy who restores most of my clocks hates crank keys for spring clocks, he feels they cause undue wear.
How so?
Personally I love it when a clock comes with all it's keys, but that is unusual from an auction.
I would LOVE LOVE LOVE for clocks to come with DOUBLE ENDED keys. Super rare occasions. Especially if your clock is a chime clock and you have to turn an arbor to silence or change melody.....

It won’t let me type Arbour or it changes it to at our (I think).
 

novicetimekeeper

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How so?

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE for clocks to come with DOUBLE ENDED keys. Super rare occasions. Especially if your clock is a chime clock and you have to turn an arbor to silence or change melody.....

It won’t let me type Arbour or it changes it to at our (I think).
If you use a conventional key you exert a torque evenly on the axis of the arbour. If you use a crank you exert a more complex force. The net result is still the turning of the arbour but not all the force is evenly distributed.

I don't have any clocks that need double ended keys, just door locks and winding.
 

Schatznut

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It's not a high quality clock. There had been a lot of "adjustments" made to the movement, but the clock has a lot of sentimental value to the couple. In that regard it has been a privilege to work on it for them.
Bruce, I admire this statement. It's easy to get hung up in the "hard" monetary value of clocks and overlook their other "soft" sentimental and intrinsic value. I have a lot of clocks and tend to accumulate the "stray dogs and cats". With the exception of a couple of Atmos clocks, none of them have "hard" value. I look at my role as a hobbyist as a preserver and steward of history, as embodied in these mechanical devices.
 

Salsagev

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If you use a conventional key you exert a torque evenly on the axis of the arbour. If you use a crank you exert a more complex force. The net result is still the turning of the arbour but not all the force is evenly distributed.
Oh, ok. In my opinion, I think winding with a key would do the same damage. I agree it may be more even but you are still exerting pressure on the bushing. It would only be perfect if you wind the key absolutely parallel to the center of everything (which is near impossible). If your referring to wear to its bushing, it shouldn’t happen in the span of many years.
 

novicetimekeeper

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When you wind with a key you put equal pressure on either wing of the key so that you do produce an evenly distributed torque.

That is not possible with a crank.

Yes of course the wear takes years, but we are dealing with clocks that even in my modest collection are up to 300 years old.
 

Salsagev

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Yes of course the wear takes years, but we are dealing with clocks that even in my modest collection are up to 300 years old.
In that case, more care should be used but I am only referring to crude and cheap American clocks that I would gladly remove from my collection to make way for rare and amazing chime clocks :) . Jealous of your 300 yr old clock.
 

Mike Phelan

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Sorry if Mike if i upset you i didn't know i accidently slipped a u in will be careful in future. Do you know the answer to my question
Don't worry, Paul, it takes a lot more to upset me! I just find it interesting to see the changes that take in our ever-changing language. Now than, what was the question again? :D
 

novicetimekeeper

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I do have a double-ended key from an Ansonia that we've had for years - AFAIK it's the original key.

As an aside, I didn't know that you came from this side of the pond!
Like the Queen I don't do long haul any more and nor do I sail now so I'm unlikely to be found on the other side of the Atlantic again, nor change Atlantics.
 

shutterbug

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People who work on clocks usually have a bunch of keys they keep in stock. Both standard and double end. People have a way of losing keys, and I couldn't even guess at the number of improper keys being used to wind clocks that I've found and replaced.
 

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