wooden movements

Discussion in 'Wood Movement Clocks' started by jtrknit, Feb 5, 2011.

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  1. jtrknit

    jtrknit New Member

    Feb 2, 2011
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    I have acquired an Elisha Hotchkiss wooden movement clock that is non working. I would like to put it into working order, but can not find any diagrams of wooden gears, or details about the innards to work from. It has two weights and a pendulum, which I know belong to it, but there are also other bits with it that I am not sure are original. Can anyone point me to a print source that would have this information? Or anything that discusses the workings of the wooden gear clock? Thank you.
     
  2. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Hello jtrknit.

    I see your new to the board so welcome to the MB. :)

    A woodworks Elisha Hotchkiss is a sweet aquisition, no doubt. There are those of us who have been collecting for many years would be envious.

    Well, your question is very basic and indicates that you MAY not really understand. So it is my first recomendation that you take the movement to a clock repairperson. What you have is valuable and easily broken.

    But, if your one of those who has the ambition, don't go in blind. First obtain some clock repair books.

    As per tools you will only need basic tools. If you have already taken the clock apart, not to worry, just keep from losing any parts.

    Quite often of these wooden movements, you will have broken teeth and old repair jobs.

    All can be repaired.

    A good start for now would be for you to post some pictures for us to see. Even if links to ebay of completed sale.

    RJ
     
  3. jtrknit

    jtrknit New Member

    Feb 2, 2011
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    Thank you, yes, I am new to the board. I have taken some photos of the clock, which I will attempt to post. It doesn't have the original glass in the door, and over time, it looks like various things have been fixed on it. I took what glass remained in the lower part and cut it to fit the top, now I am getting a piece for the lower part cut from an old 1900's window pane. I will not put the 1879 print back behind it, as I know that was not original to the clock. So far that is all that I have done, although it is evident that there are some teeth missing from at least one of the gears. But, I really would like to take a stab at restoring, although you are not the first to suggest I let a knowledgeable person do it! 83495.jpg 83496.jpg 83497.jpg
     
  4. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Ok then, your one of us :)

    First thing to understand.

    Repairing vs Altering.

    "Do no harm".

    When you moved the original lower tablet glass to be used as the upper glass, you PROBABLY made kindof a no no... :D

    Ah well. We all make mistakes, trust me..!

    A repair is where you try your best to keep everything as original as possible with the objective to have a nice looking and good working clock.

    Altering is not the same.

    See, this is a fine line. On one hand you have the purist, who I sorta subscribe to. But we all have to deal with being practical.

    When you either took out the old putty to remove the glass tablet or removed the nails to pull out the strips holding the glass, you leave evidence -no matter how skilled you are, of tampering. That and you altered it.

    But, as you say "what was left" of the tablet (lower glass). I take to mean maybe it was busted or the tablet painting was flaked off badly.

    So, if busted, you probably made a fair decision. If just badly flaked, well no.

    Strive to be a purist when you can. You can not undue an alteration damage.

    So, the secret is to make slower decisions.

    Your clock is probably in the range of 150 years old. And guess what, it will probably outlive you.

    So, your decisions will effect it's value and hence longevity. Take your time...!

    Get a clock repair book before you begin. You won't regret it.

    About the busted gear teeth. Don't worry. All can be fixed.


    RJ
     
  5. laumeg

    laumeg Registered User

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    Hi jtrknit. I too am fairly new, so welcome. I agee with what has been said by those before, but will add my own comments. Recently my brother and I restored a Seth Thomas wood works clock and learned alot in the process. My Seth Thomas clock had several broken gears. For repairs and replacements we used the service of Donald Bruno who specializes in wood works clocks, he has a web site. I agree that this is a delicate mechanisum and can be easily broken or damaged.
    Now several other points. 1. Reverse paintings in the bottom panel are highly desirable. Even if it has significant loss of paint, it can be preserved or restored. 2. You mention the 1879 print. I assume you are refering to the clock label on the back panel. Intact origional lables are desireable even if not in perfect condition. If it is origional, and it looks like it could be, keep and preserve it. 3. Your second picture shows 2 weights, one round and one square. The round one is about 3 lbs and is used on 30hr movements. The square one is about 9 lbs and is used on 8 day weight movements. Yours is most likely a 30hr movement, but either way, one of the weights is wrong for the clock.
    Nice clock, be careful as you make repairs. Learn as much as you can before making decisions about what to do. I have added several pictures of my Seth Thomas Column Splat clock for comparison. There are many similarities. :)Charles 82225.jpg 82226.jpg
     
  6. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Looks like you have an interesting project. If you plan to try this on your own, check out Tom Temple's Extrene Restoration at http://www.xrestore.com/index.htm it has an excellent section on wooden works and just about everything else. Most clock repair books will explain how a clock works and how to repair brass movements but wooden works are seldom mentioned. One nice thing about these wooden clocks is that the parts are large and easy to see. They also run well and are not really as fragile as one might expect.

    Bob C.
     
  7. jtrknit

    jtrknit New Member

    Feb 2, 2011
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    Thank you all. Let me clear up the glass in the door bit. Both pieces of glass were broken. Behind the lower glass, which bore no trace of paint or mirror silver, someone had placed a picture. I believe they did this when the original glass broke, back in 1879 (year of the print) to take the place of the painting that was destroyed. As to the weights, the circular one weighs 3.8 oz. and the rectangular one weighs 5.4 oz. What I really am looking for, besides encouragement from you all, are TITLES of BOOKS and web sites that will help. Thank you, Bob C. for the site you suggested. So far, all the books I have found for clock repair do not address the wooden movements. Can anyone suggest a useful title to me? Charles, where did you find the info you needed for your project? Thanks again.
    J
     
  8. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    This web site is the best to ask questions and get answers.You have a really nice clock.I would suggest protecting the label in the case.These get damaged often.It will affect the value of the clock as well.
    RJ has given you good advice like others have here.
     
  9. laumeg

    laumeg Registered User

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    Hi jtrknit, When I first bought my clock, I knew nothing about these clocks. (weight driven). I first just started searching internet sites to identify they type of clock and movement. My brother had the knowledge of clock repair but never worked on a wood movement. He does not do clock work as a business, but is in tool and die work and has repaired a number of my and his own clocks. Donald Bruno became very valuble because of a source to repair or replace gears. My clock had 3 broken gears. Bruno was able to repair 2 and replace one. Outside of gear repair, everything else was pretty much similar to weight driven brass clocks. It now runs beautifully and strong.
    We did have to learn about weights because of a tall case clock I purchased that had no weights. I found out then that some times a heavier weight is need on the time side and lighter on the chime side. My Seth thomas does have a heavier weight on the time side, but it only varies by about 1lb. Also learned that some people may increase the weight on the time side to compensate for mechanisum problems that keeping it from running. This may be the case in your clock.
    Out of all of this, my suggestion is keep searching and reading. Even information and knowledge of brass clocks is going to be helpful. As one person said, "the clock will outlive you" so take your time and dont rush it. Best Wishes. Charles
     
  10. GregS

    GregS Registered User

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    jtrknit, Check your private messages.
     
  11. GregS

    GregS Registered User

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    Hi all,

    I sent a PM to jtrknit to request his email address. I have a PDF file that deals with wooden movements and wanted to send it to him. It's just over 2MB in size. I'm sure I got from this board or a from a site posted here but I just can't remember when or where. If anyone else would like a copy send me a PM with your email address and I will send it to you.

    Cheers!
    Greg
     
  12. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    If it's not copyrighted, you can just post it here and we'll all benefit :)
    Attach it like you do pictures.
     
  13. GregS

    GregS Registered User

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    Hi Shut!

    I tried that last night but the file is too big; just a little over 2MB. Largest allowed for a PDF is 878.9 KB.

    And I'm not sure of the copyright as I'm not sure which book it was scanned from. There are no owner spec. in the files property page.

    But, my offer still stands. :)

    cheers,
    Greg
     
  14. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    Incase anyone is curious, one of the coolest repair methods of broken wood teeth (to even include small pinions) is the resin method.

    Me, this is one of those modern approaches that I feel accentuates instead of degrades.

    Others may disagree. But, it is surely fun to do.

    What you do is purchase a product called "Amazing Mold putty". It is sold at art supply stores such as Micheals and even seen it on ebay as well.

    You can search youtube about the puty and there are pleanty of examples of neat stuff that can be done.

    But for wood clock gears it is amazing. It is a two part putty. One white and the other yellow. You mix/knead it until it's blended well and then simply form the putty over a section of the gear with good teeth.

    You push/work the putty into the gear teeth and then let it solidify.

    The amazing part is that the putty does not dry rock hard but retains it's silicone properties. So it comes off easy.

    And this is a nice attribute as you can capture many difficult to obtain places and yet remove the mold and still have the shape.

    Then you place the mold over the broken tooth area and poor in liquid resin with the catalyst. I get the normal fiberglass resin from Lowes etc...

    Most times the repair is soo small that even a couple tea spoons of resin is too much. So it only takes maybe 2 or 3 drops of catylist and the thing hardens up in under an hour.

    The end results are fantastic. The resin is super strong and makes an exact duplicate of the good teeth AND is firmly attached.

    You don't even have to cut out any extra section of the wheel to give the area more strength. This especially applies to small pinion leaves.

    That's one of the greatest features that it can easily repair broken pinion sections of wood.

    Carving that in wood is highly difficult...!

    But, why bother. The fiberglass method is great here. Simply wrap enough arround the section of the pinion and arbor where the teeth are good.

    When dry, poor enough in the empty mold like a small cup and then just wrap the mold over the broken section. Tape it if you like to keep the resin from dripping.

    When hardened pull off. Sometimes there are a few bubbles, but so what, just do the same thing over again.

    Another neat feature is that once you have created the mold, you don't have to throw it away... you can save it and use it again. And if at first you don't succeed, try try again.

    I used clear resin cause I'm not trying to fool anyone on the repair job. But there are methods by which you can colorize the resin (with dry water color paint powder) and then after the resin has cured, rub the results with shoe polish.

    The end result of that is a resin repair that you could not tell was wood.

    The only problem I had when doing this was that after the resin cured the teeth would not slide as well. Wood teeth slide into each other to mesh. I put some wax on the teeth and in some time the resin surface became smooth. It may have been that the teeth where not fully cured, but it's been working now for a couple years or more. The wax I had long since removed.

    The other more traditional method is to carve the teeth out of wood after using good teeth to trace a pattern. This also involves cutting out extra so to fit the new with dove a tail cutout. Not to mention the difficulty of trying to patch up a small small pinion leaf.

    RJ
     
  15. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I haven't tried molding wooden teeth, but can attest that molding solves several issues in clock case work. You can duplicate finials, feet, columns, ... pretty much anything you want. Unfortunately, you can't do mirror copies, but can 'borrow' parts from other clocks to mold :D

    Here's a link to one excellent source for the materials: Alumilite
     
  16. Michael Arthur

    Michael Arthur Registered User

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    I have been using the "casting" method for many years, using liquid latex for the mold and epoxy. I was concerned about the long term adherence of the epoxy to the gear, so I drill two small holes in the gear and put small steel pins in them. The epoxy is then cast around the pins. Touch up the epoxy with some artist's oil paint.

    I have some repairs that are over 40 years old and are still functioning.

    Mike
     
  17. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    It is with interest I've read some of the previous posts.

    Yours is a nice old piece of Americana.

    If you search the Bulletin (must be a NAWCC member), there have been various articles over the years about the repair of wood movements, including various techniques employing molded epoxy, etc.

    The appropriateness of what I'll call the molding techniques is a point of debate and gets to the heart of whether the goal is to appropriately restore or just repair the movement so it runs.

    At the risk of stubbing some toes (gee, would that be my first time, huh?), I would say the molding techniques are generally looked at askance by serious restorers and collectors of wood works clocks, though I would welcome comments.

    It might be worthwhile to enlist the services of someone like a Mr. Bruno to repair or even recut the damaged gears.

    RM
     
  18. JST

    JST Registered User
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    Jtrknit,

    You may want to get your hands on a copy of John Tope's DVD "Wooden Works Movement Repair". It starts with movement cleaning, pivot repair, bushing, etc. He demonstrates the technique of teeth replacement that rj describes. It it might be available through your library or local chapter. His website is

    http://www.ticktockpro.com

    I hope this helps. Good luck with your project.
     
  19. Dave B

    Dave B Banned

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    If you really are determined to try repairing this clock yourself, before you begin the process of replacing any teeth on your wheels, get yourself a piece of scrap cherry or birch, about 1/4 inch thick, and saw a slightly tapered slice off one side. (That tapered piece is going to be your practice tooth blanks.) Turn that slice 90 degrees, and make an insert along one edge of the scrap piece, so that you have a piece sticking out from the edge. Cut off the piece sticking out, and use it to do the same thing again. The object is to get the inserted pieces to fit so tightly that the joint is just a clean straight line, without using glue or fillers of any kind. That is the most difficult part of replacing broken teeth on wooden wheels. I know it sounds relatively easy on the face of it, but you'd be surprised how just a slight tilt of the file making that last pass can mess up the blank you were going to insert. Before I did one tooth on the clock itself, I would make at least five inserts on the practice piece. Even now, although I have done probably fifty teeth over the past thirty years, if I got one in the shop tomorrow, I'd do a practice piece, just to refresh my "muscle memory". In my head, I would hear my grandfather saying to me, "Make haste slowly." The last thing you want to do is mess up an otherwise good antique.
     
  20. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    No argument here. However, when you can't find an original part no matter how hard you look, you too will find the temptation to do something to much to resist. Call it temporary. No one will fault you for that :D
     
  21. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    You correct, but unless one has, and is able to reattach, the original broken tooth, anything else would not be original to the clock. If the clock in question truly is a rare museum piece, conservation would be another option where preserving is original state might take priority of making it operational by incorporating non-original material.

    If the original piece is missing and the decision is made to make the clock run again, I think the neatness and durability of the repair are probably more important than the choice of material or method used. It really depends on one’s objective. A butchered repair is what it is, and I’ve seen some awful ones, but to me (for most clocks) a neatly cast tooth or a neatly inserted wooden tooth would both be an acceptable repair.

    Bob C.
     
  22. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    100% agree Bob C. Also it is my understanding that many museums have a policy to clearly identify with paint etc.. parts that have been replaced.

    RJ
     
  23. jtrknit

    jtrknit New Member

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    Well, I thank you all for taking part in this conversation. I think that what I have learned is that before I proceed any further, I have a lot of research to do. Everyone is so generous with ideas and hints--I am making copious notes. I know that when the actual work begins there will be specific questions, which I will supplement with photos. It is very stimulating!
    J
     
  24. Bill Ward

    Bill Ward Registered User
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    Hi JTR:
    Perhaps you won't be surprised that, in this age, there's an organization devoted to your subject of inquiry. It's called Cog Counters; they publish a Journal, which is available, bound in volumes or on DVD, from the NAWCC Library (by mail to members for a nominal postage fee.) A search of the NAWCC Library catalog at
    http://www.nawcc.us/winnebago/search/search.asp
    on "wood movements" gives 7 pages of titles, including some videos by Mr. Bruno on gear repair (but strangely omitting Mr. Topes's- perhaps he doesn't sell to libraries, or the staff felt it was too expensive for what it is).
    Tope's video does seem to give all the important data, and to recommend the traditional methods embraced by conservators. (Note that the more conservative conservators wouldn't do anything at all- least of all, run the thing!) The reason conservators frown on epoxy or plastics repair is that they're not usually reversible. From an engineering standpoint, repairs with contrasting materials (e.g. epoxy vs wood) are sometimes incompatible from a materials standpoint (e.g. differing rates of expansion with changing temperature or humidity) which makes for a short-lived fix.
    If you're at all serious about clocks (and if you're contemplating wood movement repair, I'd imagine you are) the NAWCC is definitely the place to start. The membership cost is less than the price of just a few books or videos, and it opens many more vistas (you'll be agog at the sight of your first big Mart!) But watch out- it's addictive!
     
  25. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I just want to note that our comments regarding molding does not reference repairing a wheel. It's about replacing one. With that in mind, the original wooden wheel should be retained with the clock. Thus, it's completely reversible :)
     
  26. Jay Fortner

    Jay Fortner Registered User

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    Hey guys, As y'all know I'm new to this clock restoration scene also.
    Would it be taboo for him to cut a gear blank from a period piece of lumber, lay his gear on top and trace the exsisting teeth then rotate the original gear to trace in the gaps. Cut a new gear and still have the original gear.
     
  27. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    What is or is not taboo is largely a matter of one's perspective. Replacing a wheel, if needed, would not be taboo, but hand cutting three or for teeth is a heck of a lot easier than cutting several dozen, removing the original wheel (which may be threaded or glued) and getting the the new wheel secured and running true. If I planned to replace the entire wheel, I would considedr having Bruno make the wheel unless I gould find a good one in the "junk box". Some believe that once a wheel starts loosing teeth (for no obvious reason) that it may be prone to loose more teeth. I don't know if that's true or not, but that might be a consideration as well. Me, I would just replace the borken teeth the first time and if additional teeth fail, I would consider a replacement wheel.

    Bob C.
     
  28. Jay Fortner

    Jay Fortner Registered User

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    Bob, No disrespect intended, I was taught to do it right the first time so you wouldn't have to do it again. In the time it would take to find a good used one(most times this is a contradiction in terms) he could whittle one out with his pocket knife. I have no experience in wooden clock movements but I do have knowledge in gear cutting and I've never seen repaired teeth be a permanent fix. One thing I am concerned with is lubes that have saturated into the wood keeping any putty's,glues or apoxy's from adhereing.
    I imagine these gears were made by hand so why couldn't they be reproduced the same way. Just my stinky opinion, J.
     
  29. shutterbug

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    It would be interesting to know. I rather doubt it, although the machinery used, by today's standards, would be primitive.
     
  30. harold bain

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    A couple of things, Jewels. First, a wooden movement should not be oiled, unless it has brass bushings (most don't). Also, these movements were machine built, not whittled by hand with a pocketknife. If you do a search for Eli Terry, and the Porter contract, you will find a lot of interesting reading about the beginning of mass production (around 1806), and interchangeable parts (machine made to be identical, and interchangeable from movement to movement). A good read is the book "Eli Terry and The Connecticut Shelf Clock", by Roberts and Taylor.
     
  31. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Here, here!!! Absolutely correct.

    No, Eli Whitney and certainly Henry Ford don't deserve credit for mass production techniques. To my way of thinking, it's what makes the American clock industry so incredably important. It was there some of the first applications of machine made parts manufactured to relatively close tolerances such that they could be made en masse and were interchangeable and permitted for the mass production of a mechanical object, the humble wooden works!!!

    RM
     
  32. Jay Fortner

    Jay Fortner Registered User

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    [QUOTE= Also, these movements were machine built, not whittled by hand with a pocketknife. [/QUOTE]
    I didn't mean the original builders. I had heard the early wooden clocks were lubed with lard, apparantly I was misinformed.
     
  33. R. Croswell

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  34. RJSoftware

    RJSoftware Registered User

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    #34 RJSoftware, Feb 19, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2011
    Excellent description Bob C.

    When I did my first wood teeth repairs I used wood. It was a struggle to cut the larger main wheel gears and I have a nice small scroll type saw.

    Later I had to fix a broken pinion. Trying it with wood was pure dread.

    I ended up splitting the arbor and had to reglue. Was not a happy experience. I got it to run but it would stop itermittenly. Frustration...!

    But, later I read about the mold/epoxy method.

    And sure enough another mainwheel tooth busted. So it was time to try.

    It was quick..! And it was fun...! And it did such a great job, I was stoked..!

    So I went back and repaired the pinion.

    I cannot express to you how nice it was to see that arbor with perfectly shaped pinion leaves back on it again.

    The resin pinion leaves had all the delicate curves of perfectly carved teeth as though manufactured.

    Put it this way, the prior work looked like some kinda patch work on Robinson Corruso camp, tied together with bamboo poles and palm frons.

    The resin teeth came out stunning. No lie.

    Also, the Amazing Mold Putty cost much less than other silicone options. I checked into that prior to learning about the AMP. I'll take slightly less than $10 rather than a gallon of high quality silicone that I have to vaccume out air bubbles for near $100 a gallon...

    Another thing, the resin teeth are much much stronger than the original teeth. Wood teeth repair you have to concearn yourself with grain direction. Apply pressure allong the grain direction and the wood splits. The true strength is when the grain is perpendicular to the force of pressure.

    Soo, the best way to use wood for repairing teeth is to create a laminent (layers) glued together with grain running in many directions. The only real way to do that is to create a laminant with grain pointing perpendicular in 360 degrees.

    This would assume you have thin enough wood to have 360 laminant layers. But, lets be practicle. The best you might be able to make is a 4 layer so you have grain facing perpendicular in 8 directions.

    RJ
     

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