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Clocks, Watches/re: Seth Thomas Westminster Chime Defect


QUESTION: I am sorry but I need to revise my question.  It is chiming the same very long Westminster sequence on every quarter hour but increases the strike count by one every hour.  The 11 strikes comment was misleading.

"My Mother's mantle Seth Thomas with the A401-003 movement was non-working for years.  I have succeeded in getting it to run very well after a light partial oiling.  I am disappointed to find the chime sequence is totally wrong.  It chimes a long sequence of Westminster notes followed by 11 strikes afterward.  This happens every quarter hour without change.  Please tell me this is fixable."

ANSWER: I have been answering my questions in sequence and had just answered your previous question.  So, I'll answer your revised question.

Let me ask for a clarification on the first part of your question.  When you say "very long Westminster sequence", do you mean it is not normal? The normal sequence is that it chimes 4 notes on the quarter; 8 on the half; 12 on the three-quarters, and 12 on the hour.  After the hour chime, the strike counts out the hours.  When you say, "increases the strike count by one every hour,"  Do you mean that the strike count is 5 at 4 o'clock, 6 at 5 o'clock, etc, for every hour?  If this is the case, let the clock strike. For example if it strikes 5 at 4 o'clock, carefully slip the hour hand from the 4 to the 5 and use the minute hand to reset the clock.  Let me know what you find.

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

(not a mailing address)

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

QUESTION: Thank you John.

As crazy as this sounds it is playing a 40 note Winchester sequence every 15 minutes followed with a chime of the hours; the chime is every 15 minutes!  The chime count increases by one at the 60 minute mark (that being the only thing that seems normal).  The hands during all this are not synchronized whatsoever but I guess that could eventually be remedied.  I would love to learn the mechanics behind this as I am usually good with this kind of thing.  I have more oil to do on the reverse (using synthetic) but I want to make sure that I have something fixable before I attempt to remove the works.  It is running and keeping time like a champ.


Back to the original explanation, and in addition, the movement possibly needs a complete service or overhaul.  The means the movement needs to be completely broken down, the parts cleaned and inspected.  Any wear to parts that affect the operation must be repaired. Adding synthetic oil before this is done is not going to make it work if there are other problems.  

Again, in answer to you question on "fixable", if you remove the movement and lubricate the "other half" of the clock, making sure you oil and grease all the necessary points, it might work reliably.  However, if it does need more than that and you do not have any clock repair experience, it would be rather difficult for you to fix it yourself without taking an introductory clock repair class or interactive Internet instruction.  Some people have done this by purchasing clock repair books and tools.  Any experienced clockmaker could do what was needed to adjust, repair or replace parts.  If this costs more than replacing the movement, then a new movement might be the option.  The Seth Thomas movement you have was manufactured for them by Hermle and they do have direct replacement movements.

Again, this is about all I can offer.  If you have other questions, could you contact me at my clockshop email address below, as this will help free up the Allexperts question queue, as I have a limited number allowed per day.  Thank you.

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

(not a mailing address)

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
up questions.  

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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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