Forestville mantel clock
My Forestville mantel clock
Tick-Talk Tuesday is about the letters and comments I have received from you, the reader, concerning your clocks, issues you might have had and challenges you face and my responses to your questions with advice on your  particular clock concern(s). For those comments and questions that stump even me, I consult within my clock circles for the best possible response to your question

AM writes, “I am writing in hopes you can help me figure out how to safely set and wind my clock !

It looks pretty much identical to this one of yours I found online. Exactly same roman numerals. Forestville name in gold appliqué at top. GERMANY appliqué near the VI at bottom. Two key holes. Wing shaped box. Mine has darker brown wood glossy, and only one gold trim line. Same little feet. It has a silver colour key. I tentatively tried winding the left side clockwise, and it wound, but seemed tight. So I only wound it twice.  Scared to try the left side. Please let me know if you would – what each wind is for, and whether to go clockwise or counterclockwise. Thanks in advance for any clues you can give me.”

Roman numerals, Forestville name
Over winding a clock is a myth

My response, “Hi, These Forestville clocks have German movements. The movements are quite robust and will last for years. The left side is the strike side and the right side is the time side. You should be able to wind each side as tight as possible. Over winding a clock is a myth. If the clock does not run after you have wound each arbour to the limit, the springs are rusty and have seized the clock. However you should be able to safely wind each side several turns. The strike side will not function unless the time side is wound fully. You can get a feel for how the clock is wound. These clocks wind clockwise and the strike side might be a little tighter than the time side, I know mine is. The clock sounds like an old wristwatch because it has a hairspring or a floating balance wheel escapement not the usual pendulum ( I gather yours is the same). Anyway, do not be afraid of your clock. Wind it and enjoy it.

AM writes back and says, “Hello and thank-you for your reply. I took the plunge and wound each side about 4-5 X. No ticking as yet !  It must be seized at you said…Not sure what to do now cuz we live in the XXXXXXX and I doubt a clock expert nearby (within 300 km). Prince George is 3 hr drive west, and Grande Prairie Alberta 2.5 hr east. Will start asking around for sure. It is quite funky and reminds me of my Aunty Jane… so I will use as décor for the interim.”

My reply, “Open the access door. Locate the escapement at the top of the movement. If it is exposed give the wheel a little push. If it is in a plastic enclosure, tap on the plastic a few times. That might be enough to free the escapement. If it runs you have power through the clock. If it does not your power issue might be elsewhere i.e. seized springs, bent wheels etc. Unfortunately a repair would be far more than the clock is worth but that is a decision you will have to make.”

Hairspring escapement in my clock

AM managed to get the clock working but it will not strike despite plenty of whirring.

Balance wheel or floating balance escapement
Closer look at the floating balance escapement

AM says, “Well now I’m thinking maybe I can fix the chime myself ?  Particularly with your help.  So this one last attempt will show you how it sounds.  I also need to know:

  1. During the weekly wind, if I just do not wind the chime… will it stop the click and whirr without affecting the clock time?
  2. Here’s what I see at the back during non-chime time – one hammer is a ‘two in one’, and it was up, but the one at the back was down touching the rod.  So I tried lifting it, and realized that the little black metal stopper that holds the ‘two’ works well, but the front stopper wouldn’t hold the back hammer.  I gently bent that front black stopper (horrors? !) so it will hold it up. But still no chime.
  3. Then I decided to take a wee video of the strike during chime time.  At 11:00 that morning, this is what happened in the back of the clock:
  4. It seems to me by the length of whirring, that the chime is out of whack in that sense also.  Not sure tho how much whirr = one chime.”

I took a look at the video and the strike rods are way too high above the rods.

My reply, “There are three hammers. Your clock is not a chiming clock – it is a striking clock. A chiming clock makes a musical sound and typically the musical sound is the Westminster chime on the quarter hour. You have what is called a striking “Bim-bam” clock. The rear hammer hits first followed by the two front hammers to make that bim-bam sound. The hammers should be just above the strike rods. Yours are too high to strike the rods therefore you are not getting the sound of the strike. Lower the rods by slightly bending them past the rods to the side and bend them so that they are just barely above the rods leaving a gap of about 1/8 inch. They should now work as designed. I can only surmise that someone in the past bent the rods upwards to quiet the clock.”

AMs Forestville clock
AMs Forestville clock, a very attractive Art Deco clock

AM replies, “Ok!  Well that makes sense, and even the bending of the hammers.  I can hear and see my Uncle Bill … first swearing, then getting in there and bending those hammers!  He was dear soul really. Thanks for all your help”.