Wooden clock winding procedure

Discussion in 'Wood Movement Clocks' started by clocksiam, Aug 4, 2011.

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  1. clocksiam

    clocksiam Registered User

    Aug 24, 2006
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    I have this wooden movement in for repair (Seth Thomas - Thomaston on dial on wooden painted dial).

    How do you wind the clock? I have two ropes, one at each end of the drum. One is to hold the weight on a hook (no pulley). The one is to wind the weight up again. How do I get it wound initially after re-assembly? What is the configuration for winding?

    See photos.

    If anyone can confirm that it is indeed a Seth Thomas and give the circa, I would greatly appreciate the info. The case was made out of chestnut from the family farm in NC. The clock has been passed from generation to generation. Case stands about 8' tall - I had to stand on a ladder to remove the hood & movement. The weights are tin wrapped around lead weight and soldered, then filled with lead & shot. No top on the tin, but there is a bottom on it.
     

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  2. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    #2 Peter A. Nunes, Aug 5, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
    I will attempt to answer a couple of the questions at hand. First of all, most, if not all, Seth Thomas wood tall case movements are signed on the dial. The "Thomaston" on the dial is spurious, as Seth only manufactured these movements between 1813, when he broke with his partner Silas Hoadley, until about 1820, when he dedicated his factory and production to wood movement shelf clocks. This was all in Plymouth Hollow, and his dials are generally signed "Plymouth". Plymouth Hollow was renamed Thomaston, in honor of Seth, around 1865, and officially in 1875. The dial may be repainted, but there is no picture of it here, so we can't tell. Better pictures of the movement, without parts cropped out, would help too. The three movement post extensions on which the dial is mounted is a Seth Thomas feature, but many other makers did the same thing. With better pictures, I can compare this movement to other known S.T. movements and maybe give a definitive answer.

    As far as winding, nothing could be simpler. These are known as "pull-up" movements- when the weight (on the hook) is all the way up (that is, all the cord wound on the barrel), the clock is wound, and the other cord(with the tassel weight on the end) will be fully extended. To set this up after repair or re-stringing, I simply wind as many turns of the cord on the drum as necessary to have it in a fully wound state (taking care to have it laid evenly and smoothly on the barrel), leaving the hook maybe an inch or two below the seatboard, and secure the cord with a rubber band wrapped around the whole business, so it doesn't come loose or get tangled. With the winding cord just hanging, not wound at all, I reinstall the arbors and wheels in the clock, hang the weights, cut off the rubber bands, and it's ready to go. Once the weight is at the bottom, after a day of running, just grab the tassel weight end of the winding cord (which is now all wound onto the barrel, with the little weight now up under the seatboard), and gently pull up the weight with it. It is not recommended to help the weight along, as that leads to the cords departing the barrels, and it is a mess to get them back on (just an inconvenience, really).

    I'd love to see a clear, well lit picture of the dial.

    Do you have the missing pieces, such as the calendar drive pieces, and the lifting wires and arbors?
     
  3. Bill Ward

    Bill Ward Registered User
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    #3 Bill Ward, Aug 6, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2011
    And also, a picture of the case?
    Perhaps these clocks weren't as common in the US south as in the north (humidity problems?)
    They're hardly ever seen in Europe or Britain, and maybe that's why, until recently at least, they got little respect. But they're an icon of American industry. However, a new book on them has recently appeared, by Dr. Philip Morris:
    "American Wooden Movement Tall Clocks, 1712-1835". It's available from his website, or the NAWCC Library. It's a beauty!
    Interestingly, both Dr. Morris and his mentor, the late lamented Ward Francillon, were Southerners.
     
  4. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    #4 Peter A. Nunes, Aug 6, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
    Actually, Ward was born in Maine, and grew up near Buffalo, New York. His career took him to California for many years, thence to Atlanta.
     
  5. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    #5 R. Croswell, Aug 6, 2011
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    I to would love to see the case and the finished clock. I've been saving a place for one of these but I'm afraid they are out of my reach.

    Thanks Peter for the clear and precise explanation of what was understandably a confusing task to those of us who have never faced it. Like most things, it becomes as clear as day when someone takes the time to explain rather than criticize.

    RC
     
  6. Scottie-TX

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    #6 Scottie-TX, Aug 6, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
    Isn't this called a "Huygens endless loop" system? If so, I'll post a diagram later today. I couldn't find it on a search altho we've discussed it before.
    "No, Scottie it is not a Huygens" (talking to myself). Huygens doesn't have a loose end.
     
  7. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    No, this is entirely different. The Huygens system uses one continuous loop of cord, rope, or chain, and one weight to drive both the time and strike sides. This system uses 4 different pieces of cord, 2 weights, and 2 tassel weights.
     
  8. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    #8 Peter A. Nunes, Aug 6, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2011
    A note on the cord used on these clocks: I generally use clock cord, as supplied by most of the usual suppliers. It is a very strong nylon cord, tan in color, which is just the right diameter for these clocks. There is a slightly lighter version of this cord available too, and I use that exclusively in wood movement shelf clocks, brass movement ogees, etc. Great stuff, and quite cheap. Early on I messed around with hardware store cord, and never really found anything suitable. Some folks have recommended certain fishing line, which is what this stuff that I use may be in another life- I know it is produced right here in Rhode island.
     
  9. Jim Hartog

    Jim Hartog Registered User
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    I ran into this winding system on the Twiss Brothers, Montreal, wood works tower clock movement that I posted in this forum. Totally messed my head (and embarrassed me in public) because I had not seen this system before. This was compounded by the fact that my reference book showed Twiss dials with winding holes. It had to be pointed out to me (public part) that the winding holes are painted on fakes. Can't tell in the book's photos and there was nothing in the text to tell you. The tower clock's winding rope may have extended down out of the tower into the main floor so that the winding person wouldn't have to climb into the tower for the daily winding. Jim
     
  10. clocksiam

    clocksiam Registered User

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    Thanks to everyone who has offered helpful suggestions. Peter, I actually thought it might be as you have described, but wanted confirmation from some "experts." I "inherited" the repair of this heirloom from the owner who was very unhappy with the so-called repair from a local clock "butcherer" approx. 14 years ago, according to the scrawling on the back of the dial. According to the owner, he collected his check, swung the pendulum and hastily left. By the time he got out of the driveway, the clock had stopped and never ran again for all these years.

    One of the problems that I did see from the beginning was that both ropes were tied to one hook on the weight (both time and strike).

    My questions now are: 1) what weight for the windingtassel? 2)Is the tassel the same design as a drapery tassel?

    By the way, I have had as many as 10 clocks in my shop at one time that were reruns from the "butcher." My wife siad to me one day "he needs to be put out of business!" then she quickly remembered that he actually keeps us in business!!

    I am adding more pictures of the movement and dial. The case, of course, is at the owner's house. But when we deliver and set up the clock, we will ask permission to take pictures of the case.

    Again, thanks so much for your help.
     

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  11. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    Good, it looks like you have most of the pieces. The calendar mechanism seems to be missing a couple of important components, all of which are available from Don Bruno, as are reproduction tassel weights, which are lead and look more or less like fishing sinkers, but different. I have actually seen fishing sinkers used. I have some original examples that are cast iron, and some lead.

    The tin can weights are likely original to the clock, in any case they are correct. They would have originally been filled with scrap metal, then fine river sand was used to fill the voids and make a level surface for the wooden cap to be supported on while the edges were being peened over. If you are lucky, you will be able to refill the weight that has lost most of its sand without disturbing the wooden top. They are a bear to get off, then put on again without buggering up the top edge of the tin- they never really look right again unless great care is taken. Make sure you fill whatever holes there are in the can first, so the sand doesn't just drain out again. I have seen interesting old repairs where a hole was drilled in the wooden top, sand poured in, then a cork stuck in the hole! Not recommended in our enlightened restoration age, of course. I'm not sure why there is a piece of heavy wire wrapped around the base of one weight...

    Good to see that the beautiful original dial is intact, and it does indeed feature Plymouth as the town of manufacture, not Thomaston. Thanks for posting these great pictures, and by all means keep us apprised of your progress.
     
  12. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    Now that is novel- a rope pull-up winding setup on a tower clock. Very unusual.
     
  13. clocksiam

    clocksiam Registered User

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    Hi, folks!
    This is the calendar mechanism. How do I install this?
     

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  14. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    If you have all the pieces, which it looks as if you may, you simply mount the wooden spool with three wires protruding on the thick wire stud on the front plate. The thin tin lever just sort of sits on the three thin wires protruding from the front plate below the thick wire- the wire projecting down from the wooden spool goes through the little hole in the tin lever. The whole thing just sits there, the tin strip held in place by the bent wire you see protruding from the front plate close to the minute arbor. There should be a pin protruding from the back of the hour wheel that pushed long wire protruding from the spool twice a day, thereby advancing the calendar hand a half day, twice a day, so it stays accurate, at least until the end of the month. There is a little wire spring that extends up into the whole mess, as depicted in your pictures- that is the return spring for the tin lever or pawl. It is a very simple and unmysterious mechanism. There may be a picture of the complete mechanism on our website, cogcounters.org .
     
  15. clocksiam

    clocksiam Registered User

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    Thanks, Peter. I will digest this in normal working hours :}
    tony
     
  16. Jim_Miller

    Jim_Miller Registered User
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    As long as we're on this subject, I'll throw out my question. First though let me say that I bought 2 wood works movements at an auction, but have no idea what they were out of. In this thread the GF & Tower clock were both brought up. Is there some characteristic that determines the type of case the movmement belongs to, or can any wood works be used in any type of clock? I hope this isn't to confusing.
    Thanks
     
  17. clocksiam

    clocksiam Registered User

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    Well, friends,
    The S. Thomas Plymouth was released from the "hospital" this week and is resting at home now. Here are some photos...the last one will give an idea of how tall the clock case is. I am 5'11" and the case towers over me. I had to stand on a ladder to install the movement.

    Just a little history, according to the family...the case is made of chesnut from a North Carolina tobacco plantation. The owner felt that the case was most likely made by hand by some of the farm workers. The plantation is still owned by the same family.

    Thanks again for all the help.

    Tony
     

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  18. Peter A. Nunes

    Peter A. Nunes Moderator
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    Very nice. Did you get the calendar set up okay? They are simple enough, once you delve into it.
     
  19. clocksiam

    clocksiam Registered User

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    Rgarding this wooden movement, the gut that carries the weight is winding off the back of the drum closest to the pendulum and going between the drum and the plate. This has happened on two occasions and only when winding, not when running.

    Any ideas? Maybe I have the gut going in the wrong winding direction?
    Thanks!
     
  20. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Tony, if your customer is "helping" the weight up while winding the clock, this can happen. Or if the case/movement leans too much to the back, the gut can pile up and run off the drum.
     
  21. taroy1

    taroy1 Registered User

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