Antique Clock Set Up & Balancing
UK Horology Clock Balancing, Setting Up & Getting Into Beat
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The Longcase Clock
Congratulations on your purchase of a Longcase clock from Uk Horology. Given proper care and conditions, your Longcase clock should give many years reliable service.
Parts of a Longcase Clock:
3) One / Two / or Three Weights
Tools Required to install your Longcase Clock and Fix it to a Wall
2) Wood baton (8inch * 2inch * thickness of skirting (generally 1inch thick)
3) Screwdriver and screw to screw clock into the baton
4) 4/5 thin wooden packing blocks to straighten clock and make it lean against the wall
5) Raw plug and screw to fix baton to wall
It is always advisable to fix your antique clock to the wall. If this is not done then apart from the risk of the clock being knocked over, sometimes if the clock is not firm the clock may stop when the weights are level with the pendulum, as the clock rocks slightly. You can avoid the fixing to the wall by just packing up the front feet up and thus throwing the clocks weight to the wall, which is done when you screw the clock to the wall in any case, but I would recommend fixing. The process outlined below appears very difficult but it is easily carried out by most people. If you do not wish to undertake this process, you can ask any joiner to do this for you. Let them have our instructions if they are unsure of the process.
The first step after receiving the clock, Find the most suitable place you would like the clock to be and place the trunk of the clock against the wall in this position.
The second step requires some assistance from a willing family member. Now you have set the trunk straight against the wall, (by eye is fine) whilst one person takes the movement and places it on the cheeks of the case, the other person brings the pendulum. Do not leave the movement unattended on the cheeks, keep your hand holding the clock until at least the pendulum is connected. Now thread the pendulum up through the crutch (the slot to the rear of the movement) and finally onto the back-cock of the movement.
Generally, it is now safe, if the movement is far back on the cheeks, to let go of the movement now, but do so carefully, making sure the movement does not overbalance.
At this stage put the hood onto the trunk and with your hands under the bottom of the seat board lever the movement into the correct position in the mask, making sure the hood is still firmly back. The dial now should be fitting the mask evenly on both sides. At this stage you can carefully take the hood off and if applicable screw the movement down into the cheeks and so it
is stable and in the correct position. This is an optional stage of the process.
Now comes the time for fixing the clock to the wall or if you do not wish to do this, pack the front of the trunk base up to the backboard of the clock sits straight up against the wall and the clocks weight is taken by the wall, if you do not wish to secure the clock to the wall all you need to do is hang the weights on the clock and follow the latter stages of the process.
FITTING THE CLOCK TO THE WALL
Mark the wall through an existing central hole in the clocks backboard (if there is one about chest height as you open the trunk door) If not drill a small hole through the clocks backboard at this point and mark. Temporarily at this height and to one side of the clock put the baton you are going to use just behind the clock, leave it there sticking out from one side of the clock for the moment while you check the pendulum is free and not touching the backboard. You have now checked the baton is of the correct thickness. If the pendulum is still touching the back of the clock while the baton is temporarily behind the clock and the movement is correct in the mask. (not been pushed back) use a slightly thicker baton and recheck.
Now you are happy with the thickness of the baton, mark the position of where the clock is standing and move the clock to one side. (two people can lift the complete clock to one side or alternatively dismantle in the reverse order you set up. Make sure you know exactly where the clock was positioned. To one side of the mark you have on the wall, make sure you now test the wall so that there is no problem with drilling here. (no cables etc behind) Drill the hole to one side of the mark you have made to the correct length of your raw plug. Attach raw plug and screw baton to the wall. Re-assemble clock in exactly the original place with exactly the correct number packing under the front feet. Screw through the hole in the clock’s backboard into the wood baton now fixed to the wall. Your clock is now secure.
You can now attach the clock weights and wind the clock. The clock should come to you unwound so on winding the lines should follow the grooves in the barrel (if present)
Now you can swing the pendulum and listen to the tick. The clock should tick evenly, I.e. tick, tock. Not tick, tooooooock. If the clock is straight and you are happy with this you need to adjust the beat. You will need to bend the crutch away from the sound of the long tock. If the clock is not in beat even if all the hands of the clock are free and not touching the dial or each other, the clock will stop within a few minutes. If the clock is in beat though and the clock stops at five past one, for instance, the hands may be touching, gently ease them away from each other.
Now your clock is set-up you can now sit back and relax.
The above process may seem complicated but it really is not and should take no more than 20 minutes for a practical person
SET-UP SUMMARY SHEET
1) Decide where you want the clock and fit a wooden baton to the wall, similar thickness to skirting.
2) Place the case in front of this and fix it to the piece of wood.
3) Place movement in the case and get someone else to hang pendulum on whilst you steady movement.
4) Put the hood on and then slide your hand under seat board to a position in the dial in the mask correctly
5) Remove hood and attach weights correctly to pulleys.
6) Carefully wind up clock making sure the lines are not twisted and winding evenly on barrels
7) Wind the clock to a point where the lines fill the barrel do not over wind. Leave a gap of about 2inch between the underneath of the seat board and the pulley.
8) Swing the pendulum gently and listen to see if the clock is inbeat. Tick - Tock. If the sound is correct, set-up is complete, if not adjust beat of a clock by bending crutch away from the sound of the long tock.
9) If the timekeeping is fast, adjust by lowering pendulum rating nut on the bottom of the pendulum. Roughly one turn down will make the clock go slower by one minute per day and vice versa
10) Always wind the weights before moving the hands of the clock
Proper Care After Set-up
‘30Hr’clocks are generally wound with a rope or chain. This should be done once per day.
‘8 Day’ clocks may either have one weight (typically regulator clocks) or two/three weights. All weights are to be wound by inserting the correct size of key on to the winding arbour. Your clock should arrive unwound, so on winding, the lines should follow the grooves in the barrel (if applicable) ‘8-day’ clocks are usually wound clockwise
Month’ duration clocks typically as above but since these clocks have an extra wheel in the train they are generally wound anti-clockwise
When setting the time never move the hands backwards. If you move the clock hands backwards past a striking section you may cause damage to the movement. Always let the clock strike each hour/quarter etc when setting the time. It is also a good idea to wind the clock prior to setting the time and starting the clock.
As the clocks allow for 31 days per month, when there is less than 31 days, you need to adjust the calendar. Depending on the sort of calendar of your clock, this can be done from the front (hand variety) or the rear (square or lunette variety). The calendar disc on the latter sort is attached to the back of the dial. You can move the square or lunette type from the front but you may leave fingerprints to the dial, that will leave a mark over time. If the calendar does not want to move, wait for a few hours and try again, it may be in the mesh. Generally, the calendar can be moved by hand between 3 and 5pm each day
If you notice a day after set-up the clock is running fast by a few minutes, the only thing that controls the timekeeping is the pendulum. (assuming the minute hand is not loose) Stop the clock by grabbing the pendulum and move the nut on the bottom of the pendulum anti-clockwise, in effect lengthening the pendulum. Generally 1 turn either way would make the clock gain/lose 1 minute per day. Up= Faster, Down = Slower
If your clock is count wheel strike, occasionally the clocks strike may go out of sequence. This can happen if the clock has been left to run out. There is a lever on the movement which you can lift to adjust this. Alternatively, if the clock is striking 4 but pointing to three and the time is 3.10 by the clock, move the clock hands past four quickly and on to five before the clock has finished striking four. The clock will now be in sequence again, striking five and pointing to five.
You should always keep your antique clock in R.H. 40-65%. Never keep your clock in dry or damp conditions. As a result of central heating over the last 20 years, more damage has been done to antiques than at any time in the previous 300 years. Always check your humidity level. It is recommended in dry conditions you purchase a Humidifier or in damp conditions you purchase a DE-Humidifier.
Always use a Beeswax polish every few years, never use spray polishes on antiques.
You should oil your clock movement every 2 years or so with a specialist clock oil. This can be applied with an artists brush. Oil needs to be applied to the pivot holes on the front plate and back plate. (I.e. where the pinions of the wheels go through front and back plate) It is also advisable to oil the pallets and the pulleys that the weights hang on. You do not need to oil any of the gears in the movement. A few drops of oil should oil an entire movement, do not over oil as this will attract dust and cause wear.
We hope that now your clock is all up and running correctly has it should and if you experience any other issues or if you have any other queries or problems then please do not hesitate to contact us on the numbers on the front page, we would like to thank you very much for your custom and hope we can assist you in the future
Mantel Clock Set Up
Antique clocks are very delicate items and have very delicate parts etcetera so a bit of care is needed when handling them, no matter how well the clock works or how good it has been serviced it will always need setting up after moving and may need slight adjustment and may require a professional or experienced person to do these adjustments but there are a few tips below which may hopefully give you the knowledge and understanding to attempt them yourself
When you first receive your clock there may be some parts/figures on the clock case which have had to be removed for safe transport but these are always easy to reinstall by means of threads and nuts which will already be with your parts/clocks. Some movements on French clocks may need to be removed also to ensure safe delivery without damage
If on arrival your clock mechanism is removed then this is quite simple to install, the mechanism will come with the dial and mechanism, back door/brass ring and 2 securing bolts. All you do is install the dial and mechanism into the front clock aperture and install the back door/ring on the back aperture and the two bolts go through the back door/ring and into the brass straps protruding from the mechanism and tighten up when the dial to front is sitting perfectly straight with the number 12 to top.
LOCATION: Before fitting the pendulum, decide where to display it.
French Mantel clocks with a pendulum like rigidity. And they don't like vibration. So avoid any unstable surface like the television, a table on a carpeted floor or any furniture standing on loose or springy floorboards. A shelf, mantelpiece, bracket or heavy unit on a concrete floor are infinitely better. They should be level but if the place is slightly out of true, the clock may be adapted to suit, as explained below.
FITTING THE PENDULUM: Never move a clock with the pendulum attached
Fitting the pendulum after placing the clock in position is essential to avert the risk of physical damage to the case or glass as the pendulum slams into it while in motion. Moving it with the pendulum attached also places unnecessary strain on the delicate steel suspension from which it hangs and risks expensive damage to the escapement. Further, it could easily knock the clock 'out of beat' - see below.
Hanging the pendulum is simple but do make sure that the top seats correctly on the bottom lugs of the brass tipped steel suspension and that the rod properly engages with the forked crutch. The crutch is the vertical arm at the back of the clock with a fork or loop at the bottom which engages with the pendulum. Driven by the clock, it delivers the impulse that powers the swing of the pendulum. Once the pendulum is fitted correctly, it is well worth a gentle two fingered tug downwards to make sure that the suspension is straight. Finally please ensure that the pendulum can swing freely without hitting anything and that the bob is straight
WINDING: Don't be afraid to wind the clock fully.
Contary to popular belief it is extremely hard to over-wind a spring-driven clock and you’d have to be pretty determined to try. The likelihood is that you’d bend or break the key before you break the spring. Invariably, I let down the springs completely before shipping for reasons of safety so when you first wind the clock, it will take more turns of the key than usual to run for a week. The number of turns can vary from one type of clock to another. If the clock won't run for its due period, you're probably not winding it up fully. So simply wind it until you feel the spring come to a definite stop
CHECK IT'S IN BEAT: Listen carefully to it tick/tock
In beat is the term given to a clock when the intervals between the 'ticks' and the 'tocks' are equally spaced. A clock is termed 'out of beat' if, when placed on a straight and level surface
• the tick/tock is uneven
• it won't go at all or
• it will go but only if the clock is raised on one side
Gently set the pendulum swinging. After a minute or two, when it has settled down, check the sound of the ticking. You should hear a consistent: .... tick .... tock .... tick .... tock .... tick .... tock .... tick .... tock. Think: metronone, or dripping tap!
If it sounds like it's 'galloping' ( ....... tick-tock ....... tick-tock ....... tick-tock ....... tick-tock .......), it's out of beat. A clock that is out of beat is likely to stop because the pendulum is not receiving the optimum impulses to keep it swinging. If it's badly out of beat it will stop within a few minutes. If it's only slightly out of beat it could run for days but will eventually stop earlier than it should. But don't worry, it's not terminal and can be cured:
For mantle clocks with a pendulum, a temporary cure may be to place something under one side of the clock, such as a coin, and listen again to see if it's any better. If it's worse, place the coin under the other side instead and listen again. Add two or three coins if you need to until the tick sounds even.
But for a permanent cure, you will need to adjust the crutch as follows (there are other, simpler, ways to deal with French mantle clocks - see more below for these types)
PUTTING IN BEAT BY ADJUSTING THE CRUTCH
(More Experienced person)
The aim is to adjust the angle of the crutch without disturbing the position of the escapement to which it is attached (the steel bit at the top that stops the brass escape wheel turning). Most French clocks can be put in beat easily if they are not too far out. For the rest, a combination of good hearing, a quiet room and perseverance is required to adjust the crutch.
You won't need any tools but before you begin, you need to determine which side you need to move the crutch. First, stop the clock by holding the pendulum in the central position. Then carefully move it first to the right, until it ticks. (If it doesn't tick, move it to the left, instead). Then do the same on the opposite side. Determine which side requires the least degree of movement from the vertical position. It is in this direction that the crutch needs to be eased. You can repeat the process as often as you need to until you are sure.
Many movements have a simple friction joint, which allows the crutch to be adjusted on its shaft (arbour) without bending. To adjust these, move the crutch in the desired direction to the limit of its free travel and then apply slight pressure. If the movement is fitted with a friction joint the crutch will turn slightly on the arbour. It only needs to move the tiniest fraction; you can always adjust it again after you have retested the pendulum swing. If the swing of the crutch is restricted (say, by pins protruding from the back-plate), the escapement will have to be held at the top with one hand while the crutch is repositioned. If the crutch starts to flex, let go at once.
Where no friction joint is fitted, the crutch arm may need to be bent; this may sound a little drastic but it is the recognised (and only) method. But be gentle, and never put any firm pressure on a crutch against the escapement as this may snap the pivot or cause other serious damage. Instead, bend the crutch against the resistance of the other hand or between fingers of the same hand. Only make a very small adjustment before re-testing. As it is not possible to measure the alterations you are making, it is largely a matter of trial and error and several attempts may be necessary.
Antique French clocks will often have metal straps holding the movement in the case. By slackening the two screws on the back door and rotating the whole movement from the front bezel one or two degrees to the left or right, it may be possible to put it in beat. But if this puts the dial visibly out of true vertical, you'll have to adjust the crutch as above. Don't forget to re-tighten the screws to prevent the clock from rotating when being wound
REGULATING: For accurate time keeping
The quality of the movement will have a major influence on a clock's ability to keep good time. But construction material, temperature, the earth's rotation, height above sea-level and even the day of the week can also affect its performance. The longer the pendulum, the slower the clock will tick so high temperatures in Summer can slow a clock down through the effects of expansion on simple steel pendulum rods. Wooden and bi-metallic rods and mercury-filled pendulums compensate for this. The gyroscopic effects of the earth's rotation can also affect the truth of the swing of the pendulum. And if wound at weekends, most spring-driven 8-day french clocks will run faster on Mondays than on Friday because the mainspring delivers more power when fully wound.
No matter how well a clock movement has been overhauled, some final adjustment is almost always necessary. But before making any adjustments, give the clock time to settle down - a fortnight at the very least.
After that, a clock can be regulated by fractionally raising or lowering of the bob weight on the bottom of the pendulum. Raising it will shorten the swing and so make the clock run faster. Lowering it has the opposite effect. Most pendulums have a rating nut under (or in) the bob and adjustments should be small and infrequent. Because of the way the power reduces as the spring unwinds, there is no point in making adjustments every day or the adjustments you make on Monday to slow the clock down will have to be unmade on Friday to speed it up again. An eight-day movement might well run for 12 or 14 days before it finally stops but timekeeping after a week tends to fall off drastically so there is no point at all in adjusting the pendulum on a clock after eight days. Ideally, you're looking for a compromise across the whole week.
On French clocks with a Brocot suspension, it is possible to alter the swing of the pendulum with a small watch key by turning the arbour that is just visible in a tiny hole above the Twelve on the dial. Turning it clockwise direction shortens the effective length of the pendulum, thus making the clock run faster.
SYNCHRONISING THE STRIKE: Never wind the hands backwards.
When a clock winds down (as it will before shipping), the strike train may stop before the going train and the strike therefore gets out of sync. i.e. it strikes the wrong hour or the half hour on the hour. Transit movement by road can have the same effect as an almost completely run down spring can still turn a strike wheel when it's placed on its side.
To correct this, you can slowly move the minute hand FORWARD with one finger. As you approach the 6 or 12 slow down to allow the strike train to engage. You will hear a 'warning' just before it is due to go (a short whirring sound that quickly stops). As the minute hand crosses the 12 there will be a click and the strike will activate. If you hear only one, continue moving the minute hand forwards and repeat until you hear more than one. If the minute hand is on the 6 when this happens keep turning it while the strike is running until the hand is just past the 12. Then turn it round to the 6 again and the half strike will run (1 strike of the gong or bell). Finally, move the minute hand just past the 12 and count the number of strikes. Then move the hour hand to correspond with the number of strikes. It is only a friction fit on the arbour so it will turn quite easily.
If you miss, try again until you succeed. When you need to turn the clock back an hour (to BST) in the Autumn, if it has a pendulum try just stopping it for an hour and then restarting it again. When setting the time on a striking clock please stop at the 12 o clock and 6 o clock position for the clock to strike then carry on advancing stopping at each ½ hour interval
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