wooden gear lubrication....yes, no.......what to do

Discussion in 'Wood Movement Clocks' started by Valkie, Jul 9, 2015.

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  1. Valkie

    Valkie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2013
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    I have several wooden geared clocks that I have built over the last 5 years.
    In nearly every case they are both temperamental and after a couple of years just stop.

    The clocks are Clayton Boyer clocks and I have made them out of the best quality fine ply plywood.
    I have left all gears un painted/lacquered or contaminated in any way
    I use brass shafts and have brass bushes in all holes,
    I lightly lubricate these bearings and there is no binding in any at any time
    All teeth are polished as good as possible .

    I understand that high humidity affects these clocks, but why after a few years are they virtually non functional?

    Should I lubricate the gears?
    If so what should I use?

    Any suggestion, guidance or help would be greatly appreciated
     
  2. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
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    It is always helpful to see the clock we are discussing if you can post a few pictures. The one thing I see in your description that is not so good is "brass shafts and have brass bushes in all holes". Generally the best bearing is one soft metal and one hard metal. (or in some cases one hard metal in wood) Polished steel running in brass is a good combination. Two soft metals such as brass on brass tend to gull and wear rapidly and become rough. The metal on metal "bearings" will need periodic oil. Generally one does not oil gears or other wooden parts. Have you contacted Clayton Boyer and asked if the problems you are having are typical? I believe these designs are more or less novelty clocks and to some extent temperamental probably "goes with the territory".

    RC
     
  3. Tinker Dwight

    Tinker Dwight Registered User

    Oct 11, 2010
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    Ply wood is pressed when manufactured. When cut, the edges expand over
    time as a result of moisture and the tension in the wood.
    It may be necessary to resurface the teeth faces on the contacting
    faces with a sanding board and fine sand paper.
    You will find the the end grains will be lower. This is the desired surface
    of the tooth. Sand off anything that is higher.
    It should be noted that the non-contacting faces of the gear teeth
    serve no purpose in a clock ( they don't run backwards ). There only
    purpose is to no interfere. The careful contour on them is only for looks.
    If there is any binding after cleaning the contact surfaces, feel
    free to remove anything you wish from the non-contact sides.
    As RC mentioned. Brass on Brass will gall and fail over time.
    Tinker Dwight
     
  4. Valkie

    Valkie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2013
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    It seems that I have made a rod for my own back using brass bushes as bearings.

    Today I disassembled one of my clocks and replaced the main shaft bearings with ball races.
    This shaft takes the full weight of the weight running the clock so I figured this one would be most adversely affected.

    The others will have to wait until I find the time to drill out the brass, plug the hole and redrill straight into the wood (no bearings)

    Just replacing the main bearing has made the clock better, it runs, but in so doing I have created other meshing issues, Ill have to fix as I go.

    The Boyer clocks are good for me as they are quite easy to build, have clear instructions and all seem to work.
    If there are other clock plans that you suggest, please do so, Im happy to take on more difficult work now.

    I have attached a couple of pics for you of the clock Im currently fixing,
    Please don't laugh too hard, It took me several months to build and get functioning.
    Thanks again for the info, you have given me some to meditate on. v83cwl.jpg



    View My Video
     
  5. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
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    That's quite an impressive contraption. Looks like a variation of a grasshopper escapement. I don't have Flash Player on this computer for security reasons so can't see the video. Will try viewing on my tablet later. I notice that everything is varnished. Looks like the escape wheel, and several others have "end caps". Just guessing, but I would suspect that varnish surface to varnish surface would tend to create more friction than smooth wood. Any possibility of varnish under those end caps? In regular clocks that seem to have "power/friction" issues we often assemble the clock with just a pare of wheels and check how free they move, then the next wheel etc. one pair at a time, then everything together with no escapement. Have no reference point for a clock like this other than if one pair of wheels is less free than the rest that would seem to be a problem.

    If you have a lathe to turn your bushings, you might consider making the bushings from Delrin-AF. It is an acetal polymer with 13% PTFE (Teflon) fill. I have used it to bush antique wooden clocks (with steel arbors) and often find that a clock that originally had 3.5 lb. weights will run reliably on 2 lbs. or less. The product I use from www.mcmaster.com is a brown color and the 1/4" rod works well but is available in other sizes.

    RC
     
  6. john e

    john e Registered User

    Apr 23, 2015
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    Remove the escapement, and test the meshing by using friction on the escape while pulling on the weight cord (without weight). edit: many times, it will run very free if there is no load on the escape, but immediately bind once the train has any load on it.

    You may find you now have a meshing problem as a result of long term warp.

    Also, check the roundness of the wheels. If you used a scroll saw, that goes without saying. If you copied the orig plans, tisk tisk.. you may have ellipses for wheels.

    I would recommend hardened drill rods from the base.

    For my tempo, I sized the tubes one up, and soldered inserts at both ends, drilling it out to match the rod. I was not happy with the problem of straight tube/straight rod, as neither really are.

    Later, I installed butterworth bearings.

    John
     
  7. Valkie

    Valkie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2013
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    Hi Guys;

    The faces of the gears are all varnished, I was careful not to get varnish on the gear teeth. but after varnishing I re-sanded the gear teeth just to be sure.
    It is a grasshopper escapement and its a beautiful thing to watch, when its going.

    I have spent today disassembling and gradually assembling the gears in various groups, I didn't think of pairing them, will have to try that tomorrow.
    I do not have a lathe, and with my recent retrenchment, will not have one in the near future, brass shafts will have to suffice for the time being.

    I have small brass washers under the end caps to prevent issues with the friction and individually, the gears spin like a dream, I timed one from a fast spin and it was 2 full minutes to stop.

    The gears are cut from patterns and there may be some ellipse, but that does not explain how the damn things run for 12 months to two years and then become non functional.

    Ill try the pairing of the gears and see what that brings

    Thanks for the ideas guys, I have one working well and one that's just being obstinate.
     
  8. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

    Apr 4, 2006
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    Be sure to check all the pivoting parts of the escapement as well. Is that a wood pivot point in the canter of that large piece that carries the two pallets?

    RC
     
  9. Valkie

    Valkie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2013
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    separating the gears into sets of two I found my problem, When I put the new bearing in I must have moved the centres 1/2mm
    This caused a clash with the two gears sufficient to add just a little friction.

    I moved it down 3/4mm and now the clock runs like a dream.

    1/2 mm what an annoyance, but now two of my clocks now are running for the first time in over 12 months.

    I have even reduced the weight required to run them.

    In future I will be checking each pair of gears as sets of two every time, it solves so many issues.

    Thanks guys.
     

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