Gilbert time and strike – why I am putting the movement aside for now

While antiquing some time ago I came across boxes of clock movements in a shop. Some were fairly new though I found a Gilbert time and strike date stamped 1906 which piqued my interest. In the box was the key, the coil gong, clock hands, pendulum and movement mounting screws. A movement without a case. Hmm, interesting! Here’s what I’m thinking.

You dig up an old clock from the basement. It was your mothers and you were immediately reminded of the soothing sound of the clock when you were a kid. Wouldn’t it be nice to get that old clock running again. You fiddle with it and despite your best efforts you just cannot get the thing going. Why not bring it to the local clock-maker? He takes a look at it and explains that it is worn out. It will cost much more than the clock is worth to repair it, he says. But there is a solution. Take the works out and replace the movement with a reliable quartz one and all for less than half the cost of a repair. It sure would be nice to get that old clock running again and who would know that a new quartz movement is inside. The clock-maker takes the movement out, asks the customer if they want it, puts it in a box on a shelf and uses it for parts on the next clock. I’ll bet I’m close.

It is a Gilbert time and strike with a passing bell strike on the half hour. It has a distinctive 24 hour count wheel meaning that the count wheel rotates just once every 24 hours, each half with slots for 12 hours.

Gilbert time and strike date stamped 1906
Gilbert time and strike date stamped 1906

It sat in a box  in my office for several months. The other day I placed the movement on a test stand to determine its condition, wound the time side and BANG, the mainspring blew apart. A nice clean break! Luckily it did not take me or any other parts with it. The break was so far from the loop end that the mainspring was not salvageable. You can see the snapped section of the left mainspring in the photo above. Determined to see this movement in running condition I ordered a new spring from a clock supply house.

Top plate removed
Top plate removed

When I dis-assembled the movement it was worn but repairable. However, all pivots were in very good condition except one, the second wheel on the time side, front plate. It was worn at the shoulder as you can see in the next photo.

Unusual wear on second wheel, time side
Unusual wear on second wheel, time side

Was this enough to stop the clock and why just one? Perhaps a combination of factors. It is the second wheel and under the most axial load or probably a contaminated pivot hole with enough embedded detritus that would have ground away at the pivot shoulder.

There are only two solutions, fashion a new pivot or turn down the pivot and polish it. Fashioning a new pivot is a lot of work. However, there is enough steel left after it is turned down to give me a strong pivot. I chose the second option and installed a new bushing to fit the new pivot size which is much easier than re-pivoting. I put the wheel on a lathe and ground the pivot down to the size I wanted and then gave it a polish.

New bushing that had to be punched to stay in place
New bushing had to be punched to stay in place

The second issue was an old bushing that had been installed at some point in the clocks life. I drilled out the old bushing knowing that the replacement bushing would be loose. Alas, it slipped out too easily. The solution, two punches adjacent to the bushing to secure it in place. Punching a brass movement is rarely a good idea but this was a solution that was appropriate to the situation.

I installed two more bushings on the strike side second wheel back plate and third wheel front plate and one more on the time side, second wheel, back plate.

With the new mainspring installed and the repairs completed, it was time to assemble the clock and test it. I cannot count the number of times when I have re-assembled an American time and strike only to find that the strike setup was slightly out of adjustment. You know you have a problem when the clock strikes until the mainspring winds down. Placing the lever in the maintenance cam while the count lever is directly into the deep slot and hoping that the warning wheel pin locks at just the correct moment is always fun. I have cursed a few times when I cannot get it right. In this case it was first time lucky, the stop pin was in the right location on my first try.

On the test stand, bell is now fixed in place
On the test stand, bell is now fixed in place
Toothpicks reminding of the location of the bell lever
As an aid in re-assembly toothpicks remind me of the location of the bell lever

The clock has been running but does not seem to be able to get past 5 days of an 8-day cycle. I realize that there are some things I need to address before I get this clock running a full cycle but I have other projects on the go. Since this movement does not have a case I took it off the test stand, put it in a box on a shelf, included some notes, and will address it at a later date when and if I ever get a case.

Gilbert Notes
Notes about the movement reminding me what needs to be done

So, I’ll wait for that illusive case but in the meantime into storage it goes.