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Old 05-13-2003, 11:19 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 11,148
Grandfather clock hour chimes not working--how to fix?

Our clock's chimes, both the 1/4 hour and hourly, worked fine for years. Then we turned the chimes off for a while (probably over a year). Now we've turned them back on, and the hourly chimes don't operate.

The 1/4 hour chimes work fine. I can get the hourly chimes to work by either nudging this spinner doohickey inside or tugging on their weight a bit. But they won't chime of their own accord.

The clock is either an Elgin (name on the papers envelope) or a Barwick (name on the operating manual). When I make the hourly chimes work, they bong out the correct number of hours. The three weights are in their proper places. I sprayed a mist of penetrating oil over the mechanisms--in fact, I think that's how I got the 1/4 hour chimes to resume working.

It gives the appearance of something sticking, but I don't have a clue what it might be. I would have thought that the lubricant applied would have unstuck anything, since it seems so close to working. I'm definitely in one of my areas of ignorance here.

Anyone know what I need to do?
Old 05-14-2003, 12:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The down hill slope
Posts: 3,043
My 2 cents: I wouldn't screw with it but would call in a professional, unless of course I did not really give a crap about the clock.

I have had some experience with clock repair. When I was about 18 I thought it would be a good mothers day present to repair an antique mantle clock my mother had. I have always been relatively mechanically inclined and have even been employed as a automobile mechanic and as a machine repair technician in the aluminum can industry, the PET bottle industry, electronics manufacturing, and even in the packaging industry. I though its just a little clock, all I have to do is find what is sticking, unstick it, and make sure it goes back together the way it came apart. Bad idea! I never got it together again. Happy Moms day!

Now, being 15 years older and much, much wiser, I tried to repair a turn of the century (i.e. very valuable) grandfather clock for my wife as a surprise. This time at least I was more cautious. I did not completely take it apart; just one mechanism that I thought was causing the problem (The clock was getting stuck at 6:36). I barely got it back together (it still sticks at 6:36, but other wise works normally).

Maybe it is just me that should not work on clocks (even though some of the machines I have worked on were pretty sensitive and required tolerances better than one thousanth of an inch), but these things are fragile, sensitive and exacting and worth getting a professional with insurance if it has any value. Again, just my 2 cents.
Old 05-14-2003, 05:27 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England
Posts: 56,999
I think that oiling the mechanism was not a good thing to do; mechanical clocks are usually lubricated with graphite or not at all (liquid lubricants can gum up the works).

I second the 'call an expert' motion.

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