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Clocks, Watches/Striker chain on sprocket of Grandfather clock


QUESTION: can you send me a picture of the tool you made to life the chain on the sprocket? I am really struggling with this and I know if I had right tool I could make it happen.
Thank you for your help.

Chain installation tool
Chain installation too  
ANSWER: Marcia, what is the make and model of the movement?  Send me the information on the back plate of the movement and I can determine this. Also, is it an outside sprocket wheel or the center one?  You might not  need the tool if it is one of the outside wheels.  I will explain when you let me know.  The picture of the tool is on my shop computer.  I will send it to you tomorrow, but let me know the above information first.

John Newman
Vintage Emperor Clock Consultant
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

Marcia, the following is the procedure for installing the chains (photo of tool attached.  If this doesn't come through, contact me at my email address below and I'll reply with the photo:

Installing chains:

Reinstalling chains depends on the manufacturer and model of the movement and the clock.  I might possibly need to know this. But generally, the outside chains are installed as follows.  Does your clock have side panels or doors next to the movement?  If so remove or open them.  Each chain will have a solid tab on one end and a hook or eye on the other end.  If two chains have hooks and the third has an eye, the one with the eye will be usually be installed on the right side (as you face the clock).  Start by looking through the left side and locating the sprocket wheel that the chain goes over.  Use a pair of long needle-nose pliers to hold the end of the chain with the solid tab, and place it over the teeth of the sprocket wheel.  Use a long thin screwdriver to push the teeth of the sprocket wheel. rotating it so the end of the chain will drop down far enough so you can grasp the tab and pull the chain down a foot or so.  The drop the other end of the chain through the hole or slot under the movement.  That is the end from which the weight will hang.  Now the chain is on the sprocket wheel and drops straight down on both sides.  Repeat the procedure for the right side.  Notice that the two sprocket wheels turned in opposite directions.  The reason for this is that the center sprocket wheel will turn in the same direction as the right one when installing the center chain.  The center chain is the most difficult to reinstall.  Most clockmakers will remove the movement from the case, turn the movement upside down to install the chains.  To eliminate this, I have developed a simple wire tool made from coat hanger wire to use to thread the chain back on the sprocket wheel.  If you will send an email to my shop address below, I will reply with a photo of the wire and show how the chain attaches.  First the pendulum and other weights have to be unhooked from the movement.  Then you have to remove the tab (not hook or eye) from the end of the chain.  This can be done by spreading the end chain link and removing that link and the tab from the chain.  Put them aside.  Now hook the last link of the chain on the wire tool and hold it on the wire tool to insert it up and slightly around the top of the sprocket wheel.  As you observed the rotation of the sprocket wheel, you will insert the wire and chain going up on the right side of the sprocket whee. This almost has to be done blindly, as you have to bend over sideways and backwards inside the clock.  I call it the back breaker method!  Once the chain is in position, you can use a small screwdriver or similar tool to turn the sprocket until the chain goes over the top, while the tool is slowly removed.  Then continue turning the sprocket until the chain end drops down far enough to grasp it and pull it through so you can reattach the tab and open link.

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 ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much John.  My clock is German made with paperwork-crumbled because of age which I keep in plastic bag which I purchased from a couple about twenty years ago.  It is a Mauthe Grandfather clock which I was told was about 100 years old.  I was also told the movement was a Gustov Becker.  I cannot verify that.  The chain I am reinstalling is on the left side of the movement.  This weekend, I will remove the movement again and get pictures and numbers from the back of the movement to see if that helps determine the maker.  Perhaps it is a Maute movement too.  What I do know is that it keeps excellent, accurate time and the westminister chimes are beautiful.
I found a picture of a clock like mine posted by another clock person who had fixed it up indicating it was purchased in 1954 in Germany and shipped to U.S.  
I have always taken excellent care of this clock as I love it dearly and want to pass to one of my grandchildren some day.
I do so appreciate your help with this.  I will attempt the chain again when my sister visits so I have an extra pair of hands to do the work.  I remove the works from case to see inside wearing my magnifying head gear!! Ha-I am a "sight" to see.
Your help is excellent.

Marcia, the clock could be 100 years old. If you could send me a clear photo of the back of the movement, I might be able to determine the approximate date. Send it to my email address I gave you in my first answer.  That way I can see the logo better, and it also frees up the Allexperts question queue of which I have a limited number of questions allowed per day. As far as the connection between Mauthe and Gustav Becker, I had not heard of any. Mauth made there own movements and I don't think they would have produced any clocks with the GB movements in them.  If it is a Mauthe, there would be a logo with an eagle looking to the right and a circle underneath with MF or MFS underneath.  If it is a Becker there would be the initials GB with an anchor between them.

I have successfully installed the outside chains in a clock without taking the movement out of the case.  With a photo I could tell a little better if it might be possible for you to do this.  The photo of the wire tool I sent you was to install the center chain without having to take the movement out of the case.  It is possible that you would not even have to remove the end tab to do this.  Let me know if you can send the photo.

John Newman  

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John Newman


As much as I would like to offer values of clocks, I am not a certified appraiser and will not venture into giving an unresearched guess. There is very little published information on what I consider to be the value of "modern production clocks". 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. It helps if you can send any information on the clock movement which is usually found on the back plate of the movement. I have been a clockmaker for about 35 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.


One of my greatest accomplishments was traveling to China to assist a clock factory in building clocks to the standards which we required. 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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