Friday, January 17, 2014

Horology Update

So the movement I previously talked about finally came in. I unboxed it and found that it was exactly what I expected. As is unfailingly common with my projects, I immediately hit a roadblock. It seems that when I previously gave up on this project, I failed to preserve both the back panel of the clock or the clock hands. Oddly enough, the screws that hold the movement in the clock body were still available.

Knowing that I can get hands from a local clock shop, and that the back of the clock is not really that important as I can make another one, I wasted no time screwing the new movement into the body. A couple of things were immediately evident. First, the striker would need to be adjusted so that it would hit the spring to make the hourly 'bong'. While this is no major effort, I was loath to do any adjustments until I verified that the new movement would function. Thus, the second part of the effort - getting the new movement to run in the old clock body.

Now I was assured by the seller that this movement was working flawlessly so I had confidence that actual functioning could be achieved. That being said, when I attached the supplied pendulum and gave the movement a few turns I was disappointed when I got a few ticks, then nothing. After running through my rather limited store of choice curses, I unscrewed the movement and proceeded with some rather futile efforts to determine why the damn thing wasn't working. After playing with it in my hand for a while, I decided that I would need to put it back in the clock, then attempt to level the clock so the 'beat' was correct.

Getting the beat correct is something of an art. For me it consisted of getting out a level, and shimming up the clock until the it was perfectly level in all respects. Once this was achieved, I got a little longer run time (almost 30 seconds) but still no success. The next thing I attempted to to do was to adjust the tension, which either makes the clock run faster or slower. I tried to get it to run slower, and predictably, it would stop ticking after a few more seconds. Aha! I was onto something! I adjusted the tension all the way in the other direction and the clock would run for just over 60 seconds before stopping.

That got me to thinking. the tension adjustment basically expands or restricts the swing of the pendulum. I was currently using the weight shipped with the movement from the supplier. That weight wasn't necessarily the weight that the supplier used for testing the movement and had a long loop where the weight attached to the swing mechanism. This effectively increased the moment arm of the swing. I still had the old weight, which had an adjustable loop, so I thought if I used that one and shortened the loop, that might just work.

The rest as they say, is history. The clock ran all night and is still ticking away. Here's a picture with the old and new movement:

There is something comforting and calming about a ticking clock. Both the cat and the dog settled down in the living room where I had the clock running and laid down facing the clock. I think it put the dog asleep, while the cat was trying to figure out how to play with it. For myself, once I stopped listening for it to stop working, it faded into the background noise of the house. Whenever I listen for it though, it is there. I think the memories that the ticktock sound evokes is something imprinted on my earliest memories. With a ticking clock, I see my grandparents home on their farm, taste my grandmother's fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, and see my grandfather joke about eating them for breakfast. Through that small sound, I can once again can go back there. Well worth the effort I think.

Update 01/19/14:
So it is back to not working. I adjusted the ding and the dong so they actually worked, placed the broken hour hand in and set the minute had as best I could. After watching it run for an hour or so, determined that it was running fast. I went to adjust the tension, using the front time adjustment and things went to hell. The gear on the back adjustment broke off, meaning the only way to adjust it was with the weight and manipulating the adjustment gear from the back. In the process of trying all that, it stopped running for more than 4 minutes at a time. At this point I am willing to pass it along to a real clock guy for repair and adjustment.

One place I will not be taking it is the clock place in Vienna. We stopped by there Friday to try to pick up some hands. Now I have admitted to not knowing that much about clocks, but I am not an idiot. Here's how the exchange went:

Shop Owner: How can I help you
Me: I've got a Seth Thomas Amatitine clock
Shop Owner: That's Adamdine - go on
Me: It's got a 4 1/2 movement, which I replaced..
Shop Owner: With a different or same movement? Just tell me what you want...
Me: I'm looking for hands for for it
Shop Owner: I can't help you. <snidely>

Then he goes in the back, gets a box of hands, and says that when I bring in the clock, I can sit in the corner (with or without a dunce cap) and try to find a pair of hands that will fit the clock. Now granted, I wasn't dressed nice, and in fact had little mud spatters on my shirt from slipping a bit from doing a the aptly named "Billy Goat Trail" rock scramble, but that was no reason to be rude or condescending. That guy will not get my business again or recommendation. I'd rather ship the whole thing off to the other regions of Mongolia for repair.

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