Servicing a Well Worn New Haven Schoolhouse Clock

The clock is a “Canadian made” New Haven Octagonal short drop wall clock. It was assembled at The New Haven Clock Co. of Canada plant established at Brantford, Ontario (Canada) in 1906.

New Haven schoolhouse clock
New Haven schoolhouse clock

The New Haven Clock Company of Canada was a subsidiary of the New Haven Clock Company of America. Both mantel and wall clocks were made in the Brantford plant with Canadian wood cases, but the spring-driven pendulum movements were brought in from the U.S. The Canadian arm of the New Haven Clock Company closed in 1956. More information about The New Haven Clock Company can be found here. This clock was probably made in the 1940s.

The clock was removed from a schoolhouse in Saskatchewan, Alberta (Canada) in the 1960s. The previous owner said that he ran the clock for a couple of years, got tired of it and put it in storage. I hung it up on my kitchen wall for a couple of months and while it ran immediately and kept good time I considered putting off servicing with other projects on the go. However, if I ran it long enough without proper attention any wear would be exacerbated. Now is the time to service this clock.

Day One

The movement was mounted with what looked like the 4 original screws. I wondered if this movement had ever been serviced. Clues began to reveal themselves as I took the movement out for a closer inspection.

New Haven movement #304

The centre cannon arbour was very loose which is not uncommon. A bushing might be required. The pivots were in good shape and had minimal wear but most bushing holes on both the time and the strike side, front and back plates were so enlarged that there was considerable lateral movement of the wheels in both trains but not enough to stop the clock. Not the worst I have seen but clearly a clock that is in dire need of servicing. The clock ran for many years and appeared to have received not much more than basic servicing during that time.

Day Two

The movement was very dirty. The cleaning solution in the ultrasonic cleaner was dark brown in colour and large pieces of crud floated on top, a build up of dried oil and dust over the years.

An obvious example of a previous repair was the drop lever that had been soldered in two places as you can see in the photo below.

Top view of movement indicating solder points
Top view of movement indicating solder points

The lever looks strong and should hold for years to come.

Strike side maintenance lever
Strike side maintenance / drop lever

I took special care to resist bending any parts of the lever to adjust it for fear of breaking it. The helper wire/spring on the drop lever also seemed to have been replaced at some point because it looked crudely made, not something you would see in a factory installed movement. A piece of the helper wire broke off during dis-assembly which meant that I had to make a new wire/spring.

I polished the pivots and then proceeded with the bushing work prior to cleaning the movement.

Bergeon Bushing Machine
Bergeon Bushing Machine

15 bushings were installed, 7 on the front plate and 8 on the rear plate. The centre cannon arbour required one bushing, a much larger one, on the rear plate.

To completely eliminate any issues with the time side I took all the strike train wheels out

Movement on test stand without strike side wheels
Movement on test stand without strike side wheels
Without strike side wheels
Without strike side wheels

Day Three to day Five

All went well while test fitting the wheels on both trains; they moved as smoothly as they should. I re-assembled the movement and attempted to align the levers on the strike side as best as I could with little success. I ran the movement on the test stand even though the drop lever was not positioned correctly. Unfortunately, the clock stopped every few hours. My suspicion was an incorrectly aligned lever somehow stopping the strike side.

To completely eliminate any issues with the time side I took all the strike train wheels out and ran the time side for 3 trouble-free days eliminating any issues with the motion works.

I  consulted Steven Conover’s excellent book on strike clock movements (Striking Clock Repair Guide) to work through a solution. He devotes one chapter to the New Haven movement and  clear instructions for setting up the strike side.

Day 6

After studying Steven’s manual, I reinstalled the strike side and proceeded with the necessary adjustments as follows.

The positioning of the levers are critical.

The 3 levers of the New Haven movement
The 3 levers of the New Haven movement

There are 3 levers in this clock. Knowing how the levers function is key to getting this clock to run. The hammer strike lever (Lever number 1) performs a very simple task and installs on the bottom of the clock and is activated by the hammer lifting pins on the cam wheel. The drop and paddle lever (Lever number 2) does several jobs in unison. It pushes the unlocking lever or the lift lever (Lever number 3) down to release the warning pin to prepare the strike. The top arm of the lever number 2 rotates through the 2 – 180 degree slots of the cam while the bottom arm forms the paddle that enters the deep slots of the count wheel to indicate the strike on both the hour and half hour. The upper arm of this lever must be on the upper rear part of the slot on the cam to work correctly. I found this through trial and error. Needless to say, the positioning of the levers are critical. Once the levers were positioned correctly, the clock ran beautifully.

Post assembly testing

The clock went through it’s full 8-day cycle without any issues striking as it should. The movement was mounted back into it’s case, is being regulated and is now on display in our living room.

This very ordinary clock reflects its utilitarian role as a schoolhouse clock; it is not the best looking or the best sounding clock in the world but like a faithful servant it should run without issues for years to come.




2 thoughts on “Servicing a Well Worn New Haven Schoolhouse Clock

  1. What is the pendulum weight used on that clock as I am repairing a round-top long drop New Haven that didnt come with a pendulum…TY… Chris


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