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Antique Clocks/Seth Thomas Ogee

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Question
Hi Tom,

We took a gamble a few months ago and bought a non running Seth Thomas Plymouth Hollow 30 hour Ogee for $50 from a local antique shop.  We brought it home, pulled off the face and found the weight string on the time strike was wrapped around the gear where it should be. We whipped out the tweezers and got everything unwound and rewound correctly.  The clock was off and running like a top!  The works definitely need to be cleaned and there is quite a bit of slop in the bearings (think that is what they are called).  Anyway it ran great for about 3 weeks and then stopped.  It will run for about a minute and then slow down and stop.  Any ideas? Pendulum seems smooth - no real wobble and has a nice tick tock even sound when running.  I can attach pics if needed. We are off treasure hunting tomorrow and will be gone for a few days...

Thanks for your time,
Debbie Erickson

Answer
The worn pivots, as the bearings are called, are probably causing your problem. The staff ends will bind in the worn area increasing friction until the clock will not run any more. If you have not already lubricated the clock, I would do that first. Be certain to get all pivot points oiled.

Worn pivots are best corrected by drilling them out and installing new bushings. This is rather precision work and requires some fairly expensive equipment although it can be done with the help of a simple drill press. Bushings are available from organizations such as Merritts (www.merritts.com) and Timesavers (www.timesavers.com).

Because I do not have all the equipment I would like to have, I generally use the following procedure.  

1. Disassemble the movement
2. Use a center punch to move material toward the area which has been worn away by the gear staff. Do this from both sides.
3. Select a number drill (buy it if necessary from a tool supply), One to two thousands of an inch larger than the staff journal. Drill out the pivot using this drill, use a drill press if possible otherwise keep your hand drill as perpendicular to the plate as possible.
4. Reassemble and lubricate the clock. Use a household oil such as sewing machine oil.

I happen to have one of these clocks and recently purchased a new dial for it from Merritts. I intend to keep the old dial as the value of the clock sometimes depends on having original parts even if they are no longer attractive. These clocks are very old as, I believe 1913 was the last year these were manufactured by Seth Thomas. As far as I can tell this was their first design using brass plates instead of wood. Congratulations on getting this for $50.  

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Tom Williams

Expertise

I can not think of any questions I cannot answer in regard to repairing antique clocks or radios. However, I am sure there are a few I have not heard and may not be able to answer. If I cannot, I will say so. I have been repairing them since I was a young child.

Experience

My experience includes repairing CooKoo clocks, Westminsters, BimBam, almost all antique clocks. I do a bit of repair on battery clocks where the value is sufficient to warrant working on them. I also repair antique (tube type) radios - all makes.

Organizations
Indiana Historical Radio Society, Illinois Valley Antique Car Club, Military Vehicle Preservation Association

Education/Credentials
BEE from Cleveland State University

Awards and Honors
Four patents.

Past/Present Clients
Friends and family

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