Clocks, Watches/1050-020


QUESTION: This movement is driving me crazy.  It was running a little fast.... 5 minutes a week or so. I tried to slow down the balance and damaged it. I ordered a new balance.....cleaned the movement in gas and lots of grungy stuff was removed. now the dam thing is running 15 minutes fast per hour.....What the heck did I do wrong.

ANSWER: Cheter, I would assume that your original regulator is what we call a "balance wheel". It has a horizontal hairspring like in a watch.  Or it could be the first type of "non-pendulum" regulator Hermle used which we call the floating balance.  It has a vertical coil spring rotating around a thin wire.  The original was very reliable and easy to adjust.  Long story, but the company that manufactured it went out of business.  The balance wheel is a direct replacement regulator,  but it sometimes goes off on a tangent and is temperamental.  The process of diagnosing and correcting the eratic problmems involves making sure the power from the mainspring to the actual osillation of the regulator is consistent within a certain range.  Any non-standard resistance to the running of the gears (we call it the gear train) must be eliminated, and the balance wheel has to be in proper configuration.  However, in your case we are not talking so much as being eratic, but just running fast.  We use a clock timer to insure the oscillation of the balance wheel is at 18,000 Beats per minute.  If it is running fast, we check the adjustment along with any coils of the hairspring touching, oil between them or magnetism that somehow got into the regulator.  A new one should not have any of these characteristics.  Other common causes are the escapement pawls skipping teeth or the regulator not lined up with the lever that rocks back and forth.  

As you can see, I have not been much help in telling you what went wrong or what to do.  We have a different approach to servicing a movement, and that is to completely break down the movement and clean with a non-volitale cleaning solution (for safety)and inspect every part for wear or damage and correcting the problems.  

To tell you how to correct the problem is almost non existent, as it takes quite a bit of repeated fine adjustment to get it just right.  But as I mentioned, the movement has to be in proper order.

Let's make sure you are adjusting it in the proper direction.  The diagram on the balance wheel assembly is rather difficult to read.  Here's the way I determine the direction.  Looking from the back of the clock, the hands (you can't see them of course) are running in a counterclockwise direction, or visulizing the top portion, going from right to left.  To increase the speed, turn the screw in the same direction the hands are moving.  To slow it down, turn the screw in the opposite direction the hands are moving.  One complete revolution of the screw should result in a difference of one minute per day.

If you cannot regulate it satisfactorily, get back with me.  It might be that you will have to take it to a clockmaker that is experienced in regulating these balance wheels.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

John Newman
Vintage Emperor Clock Consultant
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

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         Thanks for the response so quickly.  I have tried rotating the balance adjustment to the max in both directions..... Thats the crazy part of the problem. I do not understand what you mean when you say adjust the screw..... my adjustment is on the ring around the floating Balance. I have moved the 3 prong star (in between two pins)in both directions. Still racing out of control. Please Advise ?

ANSWER: Cheter, you see what happens when I "assume"?  You have the floating balance (FB) regulator.  You said that you ordered a new balance.  I know of no supplier with new FB's.  They have not been manufactured in many years.  I do not know of any new manufacturers.  I would like to know where you bought it.  If you would like, you can reply to my clock shop email address below.  For more information on the adjustment, check out "Hermle Floating Balance - Howard Miller Bracket Clock - Gulf Coast Clock Co" and you will receive a lot of information on the unit. It could be that there is debris, water, oil  in the jeweled tube that rotates around the music wire.  This foreign material will shorten the swing of the oscillations, resulting in less time between the swing which increases the speed of the movement.  I have cleaned them by putting them in a small container of denatured alcohol (I put than in an ultrasonic cleaner) and then gently blowing it out with an air hose.  Care must be taken in doing this so the spiral spring is not damaged.  It is recomended that no oil be used, as the tube contains jewels on which to rotate.  If the FB is in good condition, the normal adjustment would be to slow it down by gently holding the balance wheel firmly and rotating the prong wheel (has three prongs for easy access toward the (-) imprinted on the back plate, or clockwise looking down on it.  If you notice, there are holes and plugs on the perimeter of the balance wheel.  For reference, they should only be removed and replaced by an expert.  The prong points to those holes.  Moving the prong the distance from one hole to the other should change the ratea apporximately 1 minute per weeek.  Let me know if the adjustment works.  And I would really be interested in finding a source for "new" floating balances.

John Newman
Vintage Emperor Clock Consultant
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

Note concerning questions not related to Allexperts:  Because of my commitment to answering Allexperts questions within a prescribed time limit and the large backlog of clock work at my shop, I regret that I cannot answer personal email questions on a timely basis, other than Allexperts follow up questions.  I will try to answer these emails as soon as I can. Thank you for your patience.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

    I purchased the FB on ebay from a dealer who said it passed the spin test. I also clamped the fb in a vice and spun it to see how long it would run on its own... moved for about 2 minutes. Help me understand how this movement could have sped up so much. I soaked the balance in gas and let it dry out and used nothing to lubricate it at all. Since yesterday the clock is about 3 hours fast. Crazy.....I cant believe this.

         HELP Me !

I cannot verify what the dealer said was a spin test.  When I test them in a holder I turn the balance wheel one complete turn (in the "winding up" direction, clockwise)and release it.  I have one not that oscillates for 180 seconds before stopping.  As I explained before, there are many factors that can cause a clock to run fast, not all being in the regulator itself. One is the escapement pawl entry being out of adjustment or short escape wheel causing it to skip, resulting in fast running.  I will say that this rarely happens on a balance wheel type regulator.   

I cannot really help you more, as there are too many factors involved, and I would have to see what is happening myself. The adjustments on the interaction between the balance wheel, escape wheel and the fork are critical and again, I think it would be better to have an expert look at it.

If you do need to get back with me, would you reply to my clock shop email address in the previous post, as I have a limited number of Allexpert questions allowed each day and it will help free up the question queue.  Thanks.

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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