Tuesday, May 24, 2016

William S. Johnson Bevel Case (Ogee) Clock

This is another clock I'm currently working on. This one has also been on the waiting list for a very long time. I got this clock as part of a trade with my first clock collector friend and mentor Larry. I forget where he bought it, but I think he had picked it up very inexpensively due to the mediocre condition of the clock. The best feature of the clock is the painted tablet, but unfortunately the tablet split in two during shipping.

The following photos were taken recently (in nice lighting), but the dial has had some work done to it since I received the clock. Down below are some older photos of the clock.

Sometimes I'm so focused on the project details that I forget to even talk about the clocks I'm fixing. This is a wonderful "bevel case" clock by William S. Johnson of New York. I normally refer to these clocks as "ogee" clocks simply because they are nearly identical to ogee clocks in every way, but because they lack the actual ogee mouldings which give those clocks their name, they tend to be referred-to as "bevel case" clocks instead. I tend to use the terms quite loosely. As far as we can tell from research, it isn't known if W.S.J. actually manufactured clocks himself, or if he simply assembled them and sold them under his name. He was mainly active between the years 1841-1861. This clock is pretty early due to the bevel case. Bevel case clocks first appeared with wooden movements in the early 1840s, and very quickly went out of style in favour of ogee clocks by the mid 1840s. I have a nearly identical W.S.J. clock already in my collection with the same address, but different fonts on the label. Both are within the 1840s due to their wood dials and hand painted tablets. My other clock can be seen here: http://www.angelfire.com/me5/clockman/wsj.html

I was very sad to see that the tablet broke during shipping, but at least it's a nice clean break. I plan to buy some expensive specialty adhesive (used by museums) to repair the break.

The original label is quite dark, but 90% present. Note the mangled (and broken) gong, as well as the additional holes for the dial.

On top of being broken, the tablet was also stuck into the frame along one edge with caulking. Dial glass is also broken.

The movement is filthy, but otherwise in not too poor condition. The verge is not missing, but rather the post on which it sits has fallen out.

Here was the dial "as received". Someone had decided to go over the numerals (poorly) with some sort of marker.

After removing as much of the marker and excess paint (newer paint) this is what was left. Normally the base paint has a bit more gloss, and any newer paints will come off fairly easily (even if a bit of the original paint goes with it). In this case, however, the base white seemed chalky, and as a result a lot of the marker has permanently stained an outline around the numerals. Coupled with the fact that 4 holes had to be patched, and there's a fair amount of flaking, I was left with the decision to repaint the dial. I tried pretty much everything to avoid this, but it's a bit too butchered to salvage.

Here are 3 older photos of the clock (after Larry had first bought it):

Why yes, that *IS* a coping saw blade being used as a suspension spring. I can't imagine that this worked as it's far too stiff.

Now for the list of necessary repairs:

- Hide glue repairs to the door and case corners
- Small veneer patches and filler repairs to the case
- Shellac and hand polish the case
- Remove and repair backboard (split glue joint which had previously been repaired)
- Glue-down loose sections of label
- Repair dial and repaint
- Repair dial mounting holes
- Reinstall movement/dial support braces to backboard
- Replace dial glass
- Repair tablet
- Repair movement
- Repair movement
- Replace suspension wire
- New weight lines & hooks
- Replace missing weights, key, and hands
- Make new pulley covers

Currently the case is restored (chips and veneer patched, and new hand polished shellac), the dial glass has been replaced (with antique wavy window glass), and the verge pin has been fixed. I still need to redo the dial, work on the movement, and complete the rest of the items listed above.

E. N. Welch Ogee Clock Restoration

This restoration has been complete for a few weeks now, and I thought I would post it. The clock was in fairly good shape, but the movement and case needed a few small repairs.

Here are a few details of the label while I was working on the clock case (gong base and alarm removed):

Note the dial mounting holes. These had been plugged with toothpicks and yellow glue, and the current dial setup used two screws at the bottom.

The printer's name is hard to make out. The place is Hartford Connecticut. First part looks like ?athoan Printing ???

The movement needed only cleaning, 2 bushings, and a re-repair to this lever:

Rather than a splice repair, and complete new lever was made.

Here is the repaired and running movement:

The case needed 2 small veneer repairs. The missing veneer areas had been stained to hide the light pine secondary wood, so the two areas were hard to see in the photos (very visible in person).

I made a very quick caul to clamp the curved veneer patch, and the veneer itself was whetted and taped around a circular form to dry, before cutting them to shape. They were glued with hide glue.

Sanding to level the patches.

After putty (for tiny gaps) and staining. The patches were coated with low gloss lacquer just to seal and protect them. If the finish had been more even and smooth, I'd have used shellac and blended-in the whole area.

The only other repair that I wanted to make to the case was to fix the way the dial was attached. The dial had 2 screws fixing the base, and bent L wires at the top corners. The dial was originally set crookedly as well, which showed against the centre door stile:


The holes were plugged, puttied, and painted to camouflage the patches. The dial was then set up for mounting with bent L wires at the base. The two screw holes were so close to the edge of the dial that I was able to turn them into small notches for the pins. I find that this is the simplest and most correct arrangement for zinc dials. Especially on ogee clocks.

There was also a bit of lifting to the rear edge of the veneer on the right side, so that was also a very easy fix. Some hide glue on a palette knife, and a bit of painter's tape, and once the glue was dry, the veneer was solidly in place again.

And that was it. The clock came out wonderfully.