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Clocks, Watches/Clock running fast.


QUESTION: Father in-law has a Howard-Miller Model # 610-202 with No. 155 triple chime movement.  Rate screw has been adjusted to lowest position. Gains 1-2 hours in a day. Yes, wow! Possibly a part is worn and pendulum swing is limited by wear.  Do you have suggestions?

ANSWER: Richard, from your description, I am assuming the pendulum has has not been changed out.  Under normal operation, the regulation is determined by the location of the pendulum bob, shorter (faster) and longer (slower.)  Sometimes a clock owner will lower the rating nut but the pendulum bob will not drop with it. Therefore the clock would still run as fast as it was before lowering the rating nut.  I always recommend that the bob be checked to make sure it is resting firmly on the rating nut before and after the adjustment.  If all of this has been done, the most common cause for a clock to run fast is that the escape wheel is skipping.  This can be caused by the rear plate (we call the bridge) that holds the the verge in position.  The verge is the part that looks like an anchor that rocks back and forth, allowing the teeth of the escape wheel to escape (moved) one tooth at a time.  If the bridge is too high it will allow more escape teeth to skip.  The bridge adjustment usually does not slip in an upward direction, so this is probably not the problem.  The more common cause is that the escape wheel teeth have worn and they are skipping.  Depending on how often this is happening you can listen for the "tick tock" sound and see if you can detect any unusual extra sounds other than the even "tick tock."  Unfortunately, either cause would have to be corrected by an experienced clockmaker, as the parts and adjustments are rather delicate. If you want to listen and get back with me, let me know what you find.

John Newman
The Village Clocksmith
Vintage Emperor Clock Consultant
Located in Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

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QUESTION: Hello John:

Thanks for your response.  No extra sounds are reported: "Tick tock" seems normal.  Crafty old father in-law wants to fix it himself.  If he had the parts and instructions, I would trust him with brain surgery.  He's an excellent mechanic and machinist from the sewing mill era: Rebuilt entire sewing factory's machinery after a flood.  Built his own house, RC aircraft and wood furniture.  Repairs his own cars.  This request for assistance has social science implications.  So, if you do not wish to pursue this further, it's understandable.  If parts and diagrams/instructions are available, he can do it.

Best wishes,


Rich, it would be a delight to help someone with the attributes of your father-in-law to repair his clock.  However, it is a hands-on type of learning, either by an apprenticeship interaction or by written instruction.  The problem with this is that there are a lot of preemtive steps to get to the problem such as diagnostics and determining the correct parts, if needed.  As there are revisions to the different movement models and times of manufacture, one has to know the exact parts by convention or by measuring certain dimensions of the parts. The model of the movement would have to be known by the information on the back plate of the movement, not by the numbers given by the company that built the clock. Sometimes the numbers can be cross referenced, but very seldom are they available outside of the manufacturers.  You can probably see the information on the back of the movement, but if not and you have the serial number of the case, it is possible that Howard Miller might be able to tell the movement used in the 610-202.  Companies did sometimes change the movement models in a given case.  I do know that the 610-202 was offered somewhere between 1980 and 1985 and did have a chain driven movement.  I don't know if they ever offered it in a cable driven unit.  I have catalogs starting in 1990 and it is not listed in any of them.  The parts are probably available, but as far as instructions go, it would be difficult to find a set just for one procedure: they would be found embedded in a series of procedures in a book.  There are books available on clock escapements, but they usually cover all types such as an excellent book, "Practical Clock Escapements" by Laurie Pennman, and the cost of such a book might not justify a one-time use.  Fortunately, there some excellent instructions on the Internet.  Just Google "Clock escapement adjustment".

Good luck and I'm certainly sorry I cannot help more.

John Newman  

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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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