Saturday, January 14, 2017

Some Artsy Photos to Pass the Time

The sun was shining through my bedroom window in such a way that the light was especially pretty. These photos were taken about a week ago, and they show a range of clocks from different countries: France, Germany, and America, and from the periods between 1840 to roughly 1910.






If you liked this, please let me know in the comments, as it's content that I can continue to add from time to time, since I love photography, and I have a lot of interesting clocks photos from the past decade of clock repair.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Scottish Longcase Clock - Repairing a Calendar Hand

This was a longcase clock that I cleaned and repaired for a client. The clock had several small problems, and it badly needed cleaning, but I wanted to show how I repaired the calendar hand. I find that a fair number of clockmakers can do simple hand repairs like this, while a lot don't. There is nothing really too difficult about these repairs, but you do need a bit of patience and a small bit of artistic talent to do a nice filing job that isn't too lumpy or crooked.

As received, the clock had the original second hand, and part of the calendar hand (the centre) with both ends poorly patched-in. The hour and minute hand are later replacements.

Before. This shows the original second hand at the top, the current calendar hand (as received, with ugly patches on both ends) and some newly cut pieces of brass for the repair. All I did was find brass sheet that was the same thickness (or close) and then trace it and cut the pattern using a jeweler's saw.


The second step is to de-solder and clean up the existing hand. If this hand did not have a tiny threaded centre, plus some decorative punch work, then I could have cut an entirely new hand, but the chances of matching the old threading are slim to none. Once the hand is ready, the new patch pieces get trimmed to fit, filed to size, and then soldered in place with two small patch pieces on the back.



I just used regular solder. There is no real need to use silver solder here.

I did not try to copy the punched design on the repaired section, but I did antique the brass to make everything blend nicely together.


Also note that the original hand is quite roughly cut, so you can get away with quite a bit of small mistakes.




I'm proud to say that the client was very happy with the repair.

PS: the taper pin in the two photos above was just a temporary one. I don't leave them that long, and the finished one was steel, not brass.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Month-Going Longcase Clock Project Part 3 - Making a Bell Stand

Part of the restoration of the passing strike components involved replacing the missing bell stand. This is a shaped piece of steel that carries the bell.

Replacements are commercially available, and while they can look okay for certain clocks, the specific design needed for this particular clock means that it needed a custom stand. I prefer to make my own parts whenever possible, because I find that they look a lot nicer than factory made replacements.

Here's a typical mass produced replacement bell stand:

The first step in creating the bell stand is to find a suitable piece of steel, and cutting the blank. I use regular 3/4" x 1/8" steel bar stock from the hardware store. This is fairly mild steel, and it is easy to work with. The blank is cut using a hack saw. This short video shows how I cut the blank.

The rough-cut blank is then further shaped on a bench grinder, or alternatively, with coarse files.

The shape of the bell stand continues to be refined with smoothing files, and then eventually with sandpapers.

To round the stem portion, I begin by coarsely filing the corners, then filing those secondary peaks.

Once the bulk of the shaping has been done with the files, I switch to cloth-backed sanding papers, and I use this technique to round and polish the surface:

With 90% of the shaping and polishing done, I turn to the fitting of the bell stand to the movement. Normally a bell stand has a pointed teardrop shape that sits flat over the backplate, but this one has the style where the end of the tip turns into a locating hole in the plate. To form this hole, the blank is heated, and bent over an anvil.

The bulk of the excess metal is carefully filed away until the profile works with the plate holes. The screw hole will be cut last.

For the top of the stand, where the bell must sit, I use just a cross-shaped design that I came up with. This is a simple design, and it has worked well on the last bells stand I made. Not shown is the threading of the top. It is simply filed roughly into a cylinder, and threaded. A square brass nut is then cut, sanded, and tapped to match.

Here you can see the bell stand fitted to the clock plate.

You can also see the bell hammer, the bell stop piece (attached to the pillar), the hammer cock and a bit of the lifting piece. The hammer spring and spring pin had not yet been fitted.

Month-Going Longcase Clock Project Part 2 - Small Parts & Repairs

In this post, I cover the repair of the motions works post, the fabrication of the passing strike components, and the fabrication of movement mounting bolts.

A small repair was made to the motion works post, because the tip had broken off at the end where the taper pin slips through. This was done with a simple half-lap joint (hand cut with files), and soldered in place.

The hammer arbour cock was fabricated with brass sheet, and the pieces were hard soldered with silver solder. The process makes for a very scary looking mess, but once everything is cleaned up, filed, and polished, it looks and works beautifully.

The hammer arbour itself is simply a stem with a pivot shaped on each end. The arbour carries a hammer stem, a lifting piece, and a stop pin for the spring.

The lifting piece was cut from 1/16" steel, sanded, polished, and drilled to fit the arbour stem.

The hammer stem was cut from 1/8" thick mild steel bar stock (available at any hardware store). The basic shape was cut out, and the stem portion was rounded and shaped. I will cover my process for rounding the stem in the next post showing the fabrication of the bell stand.

The mounting bolts were a bit fun to fabricate, but ultimately, because I changed the design of the seatboard, they will be useless. I will need to re-make longer ones. The bolts are made from 1/4" mild steel rod, ground/filed slightly thinner at the threaded tips. They are then threaded to fit the pillars (the pillars had to be re-tapped to fit a modern threading), and then square brass tips were fitted and silver soldered to the ends.

Unfortunately, I don't have all my photos in order, so I don't have all the detailed secondary photos of parts like the hammer head, and the hammer stop piece, etc. Stay tuned for the next installment of this ongoing project.