This is Part I of a multi-part blog wherein I explore the challenges of repairing a Sessions Westminster A tambour style time, strike and chime mantel clock. This part is the introduction.

RS Sessions Westminster chime circa 1931 (12)
Th Vintage Sessions Westminster A mantel clock

In August 2015 I wrote, “This a good project clock that is not for the inexperienced. As I gain more knowledge I will tackle this most interesting clock.” Well the time is now.

Well, it’s been two years and I have looked at this clock often enough and wondered what it would be like to finally get it running. Time to take the plunge.

The Sessions Westminster A mantel clock was made in Forestville Connecticut, USA. The first year of production for this model was 1927. Between 1903 and 1933 Sessions produced 52 models of mechanical clocks, ranging from advertisers, large and small clocks with logos of various businesses, to wall, or “Regulator” clocks, and shelf or mantel clocks, designed for the home.

Some Sessions clocks from this period are prized by collectors. The Westminster A is particularly sought after though collectors prefer it to be serviced and in running condition.

RS Sessions Westminster chime circa 1931 (10)
Raised Roman numerals and faux inlay
The case is in exceptional condition
The case is in exceptional condition

The clock is tricky to repair and most horologists prefer to stay clear of it

This clock is 21 inches long and 10 inches high, has a mahogany finish with faux wood inlay and raised metal gold-coloured numerals on the dial face. It is a quarter-hour 8-day Westminster chime clock operating on two trains, the going train (time) with the strike and chime train combined. It also has small arbour just below the hour cannon to turn off the chimes/strike and is called “Silent Chime”. Sessions was not alone in producing two-train clocks and other makers incorporated this design later in the 1930’s and 1940’s. However, Sessions was probably the best known for this feature. This clock was sold in 1931 (inscription on label, back of access door). The sale price was $29.95 which would have been substantial considering a working man’s salary in those days.

Sessions Westminster chime drum
Sessions Westminster chime drum

The clock is tricky to repair and horologists will generally try to stay away from it. I will be going through a step-by-step process and relying heavily on Robert Croswell’s excellent instructional manual called Taming the Sessions Two Train Movement February 2016 edition.

In August 2015 I wrote, “This a good project clock that is not for the inexperienced. As I gain more knowledge I will tackle this most interesting clock.”

I have done some bushing work and from what I can see there is certainly bushing work to be done. I have removed the movement once before to replace a bad click which as easy fix since the mainsprings can be removed without dis-assembly. The click holds the tension or power of the mainspring and is identified by a clicking sound when the key is turned. But the real challenge will begin as I attempt to understand how the chime mechanism works and if I can re-assemble it successfully.

Follow me as I dis-assemble, clean and repair the movement in Part II.