Sessions Westminster A mantel clock Part III – re-assembly and cursing the chime drive

Do you like the challenge of working on a mechanical clock? This one might have you ripping your hair out. These are not the best clocks to start on and can be a headache for the experienced clock-maker.

You will find Part I of this project here and Part II, here.

Refinishing the case
#1 Refinishing the case while movement is on the test bench

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 fascinating clock.” Well the time is now

With a little experience under my belt it time to tackle this vintage circa 1931 Sessions Westminster A chiming clock.

I had removed the movement from it’s case in 2015 to replace a bad click since the mainsprings can be easily 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 on the winding arbour. Although I have not run the clock much since then the click is holding up well.

Six bushings on back plate
#2 Six bushings on back plate, 7 total (one not shown)

The movement required a total of 17 bushings. There was some movement of the pivots in the pallet arbour bushing holes, not enough to be overly concerning but they were addressed during servicing.

I was unable to pull the centre cam off because I do not have a puller which was unfortunate as the hole might have called for a bushing.

Centre shaft cam
#3 Centre shaft cam
Gathering pallet pins
#4 Gathering pallet pins, also showing two racks

I was also unable to pull the arbour for the gathering pallet pins. It also might have needed a bushing though luckily I was able to bush one end. I mentioned in Part II that parts that are pressure fit on any movement are frustrating when said parts cannot be removed without special tools. Fortunately I was able to hand pull other chiming/striking parts off this movement.

All parts in except the minute / hour canon
#5 All parts in except the minute / hour canon
Old and new brass spring
#6 Old spring on rack and new brass spring ready for the second rack.

There are two racks on this clock (see photo #4). One rack was missing it’s retaining spring.  I made a new one out of brass wire. The clock was not striking properly and this small, seemingly inconsequential part might be the reason.

It shows very well for a vintage 86 year old clock

Between re-assembling the movement and testing of the time side I had an opportunity to address the finish on the case. I used a wood stain to hide scuffs and nicks, applied 5 coats of Minwax Satin Wipe-on Poly using 1500 grit emery cloth between coats to bring up the finish. Although not quite the deep luster of a clock coming out of the factory it shows very well for a vintage 86 year old clock. Purists might argue that I am using a modern finish on a classic clock but I don’t mind since the clock was found in a dusty old barn and cost me only $25.00.

Robert Croswell’s guide for the Sessions Westminster A clocks is excellent

The dial bezel was polished using Brasso.

Re-finished case
#7 Re-finished case

Five Days Later

The clock has been running for a few days and I am satisfied that the time side is functioning well. I can now proceed with the strike and chime side, following Robert Croswell’s excellent manual.

One Week Later

The time is running well and I am getting a full cycle (8 days+) however I am still having issues with the strike side. It manages the quarter hours as it should, 4 strikes on the quarter, 8 on the half, 12 on the three quarter and 16 on the top of the hour. However it is obvious (to me) that I do not have the hour strike sequence set up properly. Robert Croswell’s guide for the Sessions Westminster A clocks is excellent but I am having difficulty understanding how the racks, and there are two, and the snails, again two, are set up.

Stay tuned, I know I will solve this little annoyance eventually.


13 thoughts on “Sessions Westminster A mantel clock Part III – re-assembly and cursing the chime drive

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