James Bucknell Crediton Grandfather Face Restoration

20190426_124342[If google has brought you her because you want to know “how to reset the chimes on a grandfather clock” then skip down to the blue italic text. Note that this fix method only works with countwheel based grandfather clocks]

This James Bucknell from about 1780 (from the look of it) is a superb clock I loved restoring and repairing for a lot of causes. Firstly I like a problem each from time to time. It got here to me in a nasty beauty state, silver oxide blackened chapter ring, corroded spandrels and a face plate that actually wanted some consideration.

Doing these faces is attention-grabbing work with a “good reveal” as you fully change the character of a clock by returning the face to just about the state it left the makers workshop in. I take advantage of conventional hand strategies as a result of they’re the perfect. They provide correct delicate management within the clear up and spinning stage and a way of safety that the job is correctly executed with the correct quantity of plate within the later phases. There actually isn’t any level in hurrying it.

I’m usually not the primary particular person to have refinished the chapter rings on the clocks I do and it makes me weep generally to see how a lot the final goon has skimmed from the face, usually eradicating character serifs and high-quality element. I put this right down to lazyness induced use of energy tooling. Energy instruments and clock faces don’t combine.  However you do need that spun impact so some abrasion is critical if solely to set the round grain. Its a fragile steadiness and all of the extra attention-grabbing for it utilizing the trad strategies though its a bit gradual.

When Im engaged on vintage clocks I cant assist being conscious they are just about engineering historic document. There are usually not many different engineering diciplines which have a preserved evolutionary chronology in the best way clocks do and these seventeenth,18th and early nineteenth century clocks are the historical past ecapsulated. Every genuinely carries a narrative and its not a lot about who made it particularly as it’s about what was occurring on the time and why the clocks have been evolving and bettering. The truth that they weren’t evolving as quick as they may have finished due to the demarcation and guild system can be simply as fascinating if considerably eye rolling.

The explanation this clock obtained the therapy was basically the identical as each different clock we do the identical for. Its a little bit of a “factor” with brass faces usually. I feel that an aged and corroded clock face tends to present the impression of some form of fundamental nature to the machine – a easy and maybe mechanically clumsy look. Whenever you resilver the face, refill the engraving and get the brass and guilding again so far as you may, the clock takes on a distinct persona. It appears each half the scientific instrument it ought to do. It was introduced at its first sale for example of the best engraving and supplies expertise to encase mechanical alchemy.

These clocks, specifically in the course of the actually early interval 1660-1740 have been about as comprehensible to the indigenous inhabitants, when it comes to their workings, as a robotic butler or house matter transporter can be to us. You wanted a church to inform the time usually. So the operate of the clock was actually the place the worth lay. Ornament was conventional and in step with furnishings types of the time. In a while it was finished to a value and the market developed naturally to its varied ranges with London sustaining prime canine influential standing for what was sizzling styistically, which was what was sizzling about 100 years in the past. They made village planning permission committees seem like dynamic brokers of change.

Face design was primarily based on a guild outlined set of design directives and proportions. So what we see at the moment – these hanging commanding standing symbols, will not be what the primary eyes who noticed the clock noticed. They noticed an unimaginable machine with a readout on the entrance that created the time from transferring steel.

So, having bigged up the significance of the face it’s in fact actually only a body for what this clock meant when it was made – accuracy and high-quality engineering; arguably crucial and influential science of the time. The interval in query is just about 1690 to 1800 for many of those effectively made brass faces within the London type.

I feel this clock is perhaps in the direction of the top of that interval because the improvements are fairly “on the market” in clock phrases the place transferring a spandrel 2 inches is perhaps thought of heresy. These deviations from the conservative norm occurred later in total manufacturing historical past and have been extra frequent the additional away from London the clock was produced.

You could suppose I’m, uncharacteristically, exaggerating the significance of the tech inside and what goes into that with a few of these clocks. Absolutely in any case, a clock is a clock and accuracy is vital however the true worth of the clock on the time of its manufacturing would have been within the end and that it instructed the time. Given that each one grandfather clocks are fairly correct just because they’ve an extended pendulum (its 90% of the answer), certainly the emphasis of a very good clock is prone to be appears fairly than any extension to the engineering.

Properly your fallacious! (or proper relying on what you thought). Have a look at this lovely piece of innovation. That is truly a bit too good for an early clock. One clockmaker is unlikely to have give you all of the improvements right here and a few are clearly borrowed from different genres of clock. A few issues on it resembling the best way it lifts its second hammer on the hour in order that it single strikes out the hour and double strikes out the quarters….thats very intelligent I’ve to say and I want I may present it right here however its a bit an excessive amount of.


Im unsure how a lot element this image will present when it comes to zoom however should you can zoom in have a very good look; Ive posted it at most decision. What you may see there’s a quarter chiming two bell grandfather clock working off probably the most complicated and difficult countwheels I’ve had the great fortune to take to bits. I’ve labored on 8 bell clocks however, truly, that is extra ingenious and mixes the mechanical options from a few different clock varieties.

The countwheel was used an inexpensive quantity on British clocks however we favoured a distinct (and the now prevalent) stepped cam on the canon pinion. Countwheels have been standard within the USA the place they appear to be used completely, and in Europe the place you usually see them used on slate mantle and boule bob pendulum clocks. What is completely unusual (Ive by no means seen one) on a countwheel system is to try 1 / 4 chime. I’ve seen internally and externally mounted countwheels however nothing with this degree of segregation.

The system is arguably not match for goal as it’s so weak to put on nevertheless it works brilliantly with the one issue being setting the zero level on the countwheel and consequently then checking and whole 12 hour sequence of chimes for every try. I wasn’t ready to consider that the hand slicing might be so consitent that there was not going to be an error tollerance that may creep out on a full run; so I needed to do one each time to make certain. I did discover the candy spot after just a few makes an attempt by working from the mid-point of the ditch outwards on every adjustment.

The issue from a technical perspective is that the system works like a punch card. Every time the clock strikes an arm faucets down on the countwheel which is all the time rotating whereas the clock is chiming. When this arm comes down it hits both the sting of the countwheel or goes into one of many carved out sq. trenches. If it falls right into a trench then this further distance the arm travels is sufficient for it to decrease a lever linked to it right into a blocking place for the chime mechanism as an entire. The chime system locks and the arm is about within the trench able to be lifted into motion on the following quarter hour.


So, faucet the lever on the countwheel edge and the clock retains going, and drop the lever into the countwheel trench and the chiming stops. Thats basically the important thing course of.

[As an aside, this also means on this particular type of clock you can advance the chime without moving the hands just by sticking your hand round the back of the movement and lifting the lever out of its countwheel trench. If the clock is out of sync e.g. it reads 10 o clock but strikes 11 times then its probably been jogged and the lever has jumped out of its trench and carried on until it hits the 12 o clock trench. To correct this just keep on lifting the lever until the chime catches up with what it says on the face. If you do this, firstly advance the minute hand to 5 past the hour to avoid the lift cam on the front of the face clashing with your movement of the lever at the back.]

So the countwheel is a factor of surprise and true engineering prowess contemplating it was all finished with hand instruments. For me at the very least, there’s one other spectacular consider all this which I used to be educated in when organising the countwheels “zero diploma level”. If you happen to work out what number of chimes occur in 12 hours you’ll come to the determine of 468 together with quarter chimes. That subsequently needs to be your commencement around the wheel. A handy 0.7692307692307692 levels. I imply at the very least its and precise quantity.

To know how a countwheel sequences take a look on the the wheel within the image. You’ll discover the identical trench sample repeating on the sting, however separated by a bigger diploma arc of edge on every repetition. What you might be seeing are the cease trenches for the primary 3 quarters adopted by the primary sequence of flat rim that continues till the wheel turns and the following trench is reached. Because of this the wheel needs to be reduce to an accuracy of lower than a level completely persistently. Any deviation at any level will throw the complete sequence out because the chime system is totally linear.

I work with brass so much and issues like this are a horror. You cant right it should you get it fallacious and brass is like butter when you get the cling of issues with a very good file and another enjoyable instruments. Whenever you take a look at the wheel it does look complicated nevertheless it a lot worse than it appears!. When you think about every of these gaps is a minimal of two chimes and the brass on the lever is 1mm you realise how tight issues are.

You cant make any errors in calculation or execution when fabricating this merchandise. Sure there are jigs and suchlike which might be used however even then its actually a single stroke to many together with your abrasive of selection and its recreation over and doubtless a guild flogging adopted by excommunication. Working with this clock has made me respect the chap who made it, its so simple as that.

“Glorious, so simply mark out 3 of these 468/360th extensive segments on an arc accounting for the lever edge presentation arc from its spiggot, lever thickness, and useless straight connecting edges. Oh and dont neglect you might be fired fired fired into the gutter should you get it fallacious.”

Other than the challenges in manufacturing there’s additionally the overall customary of engineering required to maintain an instrument with transferring elements tight sufficient to keep up this very inflexible tolerance within the countwheel. There’s a secondary gear that connects the primary barrel arbour with the countwheel gear so the countwheel is pushed as straight as potential from the ability supply. This is smart as any put on on the enamel will consequence within the countwheel setting additional and additional again from is synchronised cease/begin place correct to that rediculous fraction of a level I quoted earlier. The much less enamel and cogs within the gear prepare the much less probability there’s of play growing and there being “choose up” within the gearing earlier than energy is transferred.

It was a really attention-grabbing refurb and a pleasure to get to know this explicit adaption. The face actually took the restoration course of effectively and got here out spectacularly effectively when in comparison with its prior state. Marvleous!.