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Clocks, Watches/Grandfather clock chimes erratically


Rack detail
Rack detail  
Front of Movement
Front of Movement  
QUESTION: I have inherited a clock made by a family member.  
It has a 3 weight, cable driven, triple chime  Kieninger MSU13, no (0) jewel unadjusted movement from 1981, as far as I can tell.
Serial number is 81 K 116cm  26,9-8.  The 26, 9-8 is a sticker applied to the back plate.

It was crated and has been shipped twice in the past 5 years.  I do not know how it was handled.    It was on its back for an extended period of time.  
It was set up about a year ago and after some trial and error I got it in beat and it has kept very good time.  
However, about 6 months ago it started chiming erratically, sometimes the correct number for the hour but many times only 1 chime.  I purchased a cleaning kit online, removed and cleaned & oiled the movement per the instructions provided.  
It seemed to chime correctly for a few weeks, however the chime weight was never all the way down at the time of winding.

It seems like the adjustment for the mechanism that releases the rack for chiming has shifted somehow.  The snail seems to be positioned properly.

The  lower armature that deals with hour  appears to work properly.
The upper armature that releases the rack never seems to get enough lift to allow the pin to clear the rack. (Please see photo)

Is this an adjustment problem or has the movement worn in a way that would require replacement?

Thanks in advance for you help.

ANSWER: Brad, you are correct in your analysis.  The way this works is that there is a star cam on the minute arbor behind the snail.  It has 4 points.  Three of the points actuate the lifting arm to start the chime but the forth point sets up the chime and strike sequence.  The forth point is higher and has to do with the strike.  As the chime locking cam (on the right side of the movement) rotates on the hour it progressively lifts the strike lever.  That lever has two functions.  It releases the strike locking wheel in a "warning" mode which is like cocking a gun prior to firing.  This is done with the tab on the lever that goes through a hole in the plate and engages the warning wheel stop pin.  When it is lifted it is now ready to strike.  The second function is to lift the rack hook to allow the rack to drop to the number of teeth to strike the correct hour.  When the lever drops into the slot in the chime locking cam, the chime stops and the strike starts.  As you stated, the pin on the rack hook is not lifting enough.  The lower part of the strike lever that rides on the chime locking cam can be adjusted (slightly spread)so the upper part of the arm (with the pin at the end) lifts enough for the pin to clear the rack.  The reason I explained the two functions of the lever is that when the lever is formed to clear the rack, the warning function can be affected.  It has to be a precision adjustment.  This adjustment also affects the way the chime lift lever lifts the strike lever.  Sometimes the mechanisms have to be readjusted, as they are interdependent of each other.  I will have to say that there might be other causes, such as wear, but let's just concentrate on the lift lever right now.  Let me know what you find.

John Newman
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama


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QUESTION: I will try to adjust the armature as suggested.  There is also an idler arm that is attached to the shaft that the upper armature pivots on.  It is attached via brass fitting at the end and has a set screw to position it on the shaft.  Can this be adjusted for lift for the strike?  I have a picture of the armature in question.  How can I send a copy to you for review.

Thanks again

Brad, I am sure the screw adjustment on the lift arm will not affect the lift, only the position, which would take another function out of adjustment.  But send me the photos.  My shop email address is below.

John Newman
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

(Due to the number of Allexperts questions and
the workload I have at my clock shop, I regret
that I cannot answer personal email questions on a timely basis
other than Allexperts follow ups.)

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John Newman


As I am not a certified appraiser I do not give values of clocks over the Internet. There is very little published information on what I consider to be the value of "modern production clocks". However, considerations are what the clock originally sold for, the condition of the case and movement, and particularly the area in which you live, the demand and the economy. ALSO, WATCHES ARE NOT MY FIELD. However, I can advise the clock owner on proper maintenance of a clock to keep it running, small corrections and adjustments and how to move a clock without damaging it. I can also advise on obtaining parts for clocks. As clock case model label numbers are difficult to relate to the movements, it is helpful if you can give me the information usually found on the movements themselves. Modern clock movements usually have the information on the back plate of the movement. I have been a clockmaker for about 40 years and was plant engineer in the mid 90's and later operations and engineering consultant at Emperor Clock Company in Fairhope, Alabama. I now have my own clock shop in Prattville, Alabama.


One of my greatest accomplishments was traveling to China to assist a clock factory in building clocks to the standards which we required at Emperor. With the proper specifications and quality control, some beautiful clock cases were built. The factory people from the wood carvers to the plant manager were very congenial, friendly and I left a lot of wonderful friends when I returned from my trips.

NAWCC (National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors) 30 years Prattville, Alabama Chamber of Commerce

Horological Times, a publication of the American Watch and Clockmakers Instute. Collaberated column author, with Photos and ideas for clock movement conversion article.

Associate of Science Mechanical Engineering Technology Emperor Introductory Clock Repair (Eventually taught a portion of the class after becoming employee)

Awards and Honors
Small Business of the Quarter (Prattville, Alabama) Leadership Class of 2009 (Autauga County, Alabama)

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