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An interesting repair to an Hour Wheel

Please discuss freely ...

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Michael Gilligan13/10/2019 12:24:05
16648 forum posts
725 photos

A friend who is a professional Clock repairer/restorer recently shared these photos of an hour wheel, from a long-case clock which passed through his workshop.



My initial reaction was:

“Hideous as it may be ... that hour-wheel repair is rather clever.”


I then obtained his permission to post them here, for your consideration.

This is neither a ‘how to do it’ nor a ‘how not to do it’ thread ... but I will be very interested to see peoples’ opinions.

Feel free to let the discussion include other scenarios; there are no rules !

[ and if you don’t like the way the thread develops, please just ignore it ]


Nicholas Wheeler 113/10/2019 12:44:15
414 forum posts
22 photos

Unsightly not hideous, but certainly clever.

I wonder how long it has been like that?

JasonB13/10/2019 13:21:38
19135 forum posts
2105 photos
1 articles

Better for the "repairer" to work with what they had rather than leave the clock gathering dust and not working.

Is the repair soft soldered to the wheel?

Edited By JasonB on 13/10/2019 13:21:49

Michael Gilligan13/10/2019 13:30:10
16648 forum posts
725 photos
Posted by JasonB on 13/10/2019 13:21:38:

Better for the "repairer" to work with what they had rather than leave the clock gathering dust and not working.

Is the repair soft soldered to the wheel?


Agreed, Jason ... and yes.


Mike Poole13/10/2019 13:32:19
2810 forum posts
66 photos

I love a bit of alternative engineering, I have used it myself on many occasions. It is amazing what you can do with a few bits and pieces that are laying around or can be repurposed..


Clive Steer13/10/2019 13:37:09
27 forum posts

I think this repair scheme, although not orthodox or elegant , should be high on the conservationists score as it neither adds nor subtract material from the original artefact and if adopted using modern super glue could be reversible with no lasting impact on the artefact. The orthodox repair usually required a slot or dovetail shape to be cut into the wheel and a single or multiple teeth usually donated by a similar wheel to be shaped to fit and soft soldered in place. Another accepted approach is to make and fit a new, signed and dated, wheel and leave the old one with the movement. If taken to the limit one could make a completely new movement and leave the old one in the bottom of the case where at least it won't wear out or need servicing again.

Unfortunately the value of long case clocks is so low that, unless they are family heirlooms, they are beyond economical repair. I think a sketch, similar to the well known one about a Norwegian Blue, could be written for long case clocks.


Gary Wooding13/10/2019 13:38:04
767 forum posts
196 photos

I think its ingenious. Not pretty, but effective.

RichardN13/10/2019 13:50:53
117 forum posts
11 photos

I find it quite pleasing aesthetically- but one query for the clockmakers- what is the impact of wheel balance on the movement both rotationally (with that tooth tending to slump to bottom of rotation) as well as altering load on the bearing points?

Ron Laden13/10/2019 13:55:03
2019 forum posts
405 photos

I dont think hideous Michael and I agree quite clever really.

Looking at it from just the tooth side and not knowing anything about clocks I would have probably glanced at it and thought it designed that way and served a function for each revolution of the wheel.


Brian Wood13/10/2019 13:56:17
2287 forum posts
37 photos

Not pretty but quick and very practical.

John Stevenson would have certainly have approved, it is clearly in bodger's territory and presumably it still works as intended.


DiogenesII13/10/2019 14:18:09
147 forum posts
56 photos

That is a clever repair - and I hope will be left "as is" as an example of "folk" engineering - one wonders what, and how many, similarly ingenious examples of lateral thinking and applied empirical knowledge have been lost through the "putting-right" of perceived "bodges" of the past, in everything from watermills to pocketwatches.. cheers to to think that that particular repair would probably be greeted with the same wry admiration by the maker of the Antikythera Mechanism that it seems to elicit here.

roy entwistle13/10/2019 14:21:37
1269 forum posts

I have seen a straight piece of brass shaped like a tooth soldered to the side of a wheel on a thirty hour long case


Neil Wyatt13/10/2019 17:10:02
18322 forum posts
718 photos
77 articles

Ingenious, and not done without skill.


David Noble13/10/2019 18:06:31
218 forum posts
9 photos

Being involved in maintenance engineering for a long time, I think that it's a brilliant repair : )


Nicholas Farr13/10/2019 18:36:19
2480 forum posts
1198 photos

Hi, similar techniques were often used on breakdowns during my maintenance years, when production was imperative, although they were repaired or replace during a suitable ASAP shutdown period. If it works and cosmetic appearance is not an issue, then I think it's fine.

Regards Nick.

Meunier13/10/2019 19:11:34
370 forum posts
5 photos

Handsome is, as handsome does.


Bazyle13/10/2019 20:46:57
5575 forum posts
207 photos

The pinion is of course wider than the wheel and the repairer understood the principles of operation of a cycloidal gear.

Howard Lewis13/10/2019 20:55:18
3783 forum posts
3 photos

Where needs must!

Lantern pinions are used in clocks, so this would probably worked fairly well.

Not necessarily Engineering as we know it Jim, but it does the job. Far better than taking out of service or scrapping an otherwise good mechanism.

You wonder how the original tooth became damaged.


Michael Gilligan13/10/2019 22:08:26
16648 forum posts
725 photos

Thanks for all the comments so far ...

I confess that I am a little surprised [but delighted] to see that everyone takes a positive view about the work done.

... I was half expecting comments like “if you can’t be bothered to do it properly, just put a Quartz insert in” ... but everyone seems to appreciate the sound engineering principle. yes

Sorry, I have no idea how long it was in service.


duncan webster14/10/2019 00:01:38
2853 forum posts
43 photos
Posted by Ron Laden on 13/10/2019 13:55:03:

I dont think hideous Michael and I agree quite clever really.



Pedant alert:

I don't think Michael is hideous, but I've never met him!

and I don't understand smileys or I'd put one in

Edited By duncan webster on 14/10/2019 00:02:21

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