Making a drop door for an Ansonia Drop Extra wall clock

Regular viewers may recall this post in September 2018. Added are new photos and additional information on this project.

I wrote about this Ansonia Extra Drop wall clock barn find in a previous article. It has been a test bed for case restoration techniques I have never attempted before.

A barn find clock in pieces (next photo) is a challenge for anyone. It was missing some parts and as I began to take an inventory of what I required to get this clock running after so many years I discovered that I had enough to make something of it and whatever was missing could be easily sourced. Those key parts? Not so simple, as I will explain later

Ansonia Extra short drop wall clock
Ansonia Extra short drop wall clock, a barn find
Ansonia Extra Drop barn find
Ansonia Extra Drop barn find, drop access door is missing

There are a number of variations of the Ansonia Drop Extras and the one most sought after is the time, strike and calendar version. This is a time-only version and would fetch a price in the lower end of the range.

This clock was manufactured by the Ansonia Brass & Copper Co. around 1880. It is 26 inches high, 16 inches wide and 5 inches deep. It has a 16 inch round wood door bezel on a large 2-inch hinge. The drop section has serpentine sides and teardrop finials. The bottom access drop door which I was missing, opens downwards. Other Drop Extra variations have access doors open to the side. Mine will also open downwards.

Drop door in open position
Drop door from another clock in open position

I assembled all the pieces I had from the barn find. Missing were small trim pieces, the pendulum bob and leader, the clock hands and verge. But two key pieces are required, the brass dial bezel and the drop door. During the course of making inquiries concerning the missing pieces, the movement was serviced and installed in the case. It is  running reliably and maintains a full 8-day cycle.

Regarding the drop door. This is obviously not a piece I could buy from a clock supplier. The first step was to take the measurements and construct the frame. I cut pine wood from an old Ogee donor clock. I began with a door frame. The frame is about 7 inches wide by 4 1/2 inches high leaving a snug fit between the top and side opening.

Using my table saw I cut the appropriate lengths, assembled the frame and then glued the ends together (next photo). I put a weight on the frame for 24 hours to prevent warping. Pine moulding sits atop the frame to accommodate the rosewood veneer.

Pine frame is 7 X 4 1/2
Pine frame is 7 X 4 1/2 inches
Missing drop access door
Test fitting the door frame

I cut a single 1 inch piece of doweling with a 3/8 inch crown. The result? Too wide and the crown was too high. The wide trim and high crown meant that the hinges would not function properly and it looked odd.

Mitered corners
First attempt; the trim is too wide and too high

I wanted to duplicate the one in the next photo.

Ansonia door from another clock
Ansonia door from a similar clock in closed position and also showing a narrow molding

I discarded the moulding, kept the sub-frame and made smaller pieces which looked quite a lot better.

I cut a section from 1 1/4 inch doweling resulting in a 3/16 inch crown. My stock Rosewood veneer is only 6 inches wide which I then cut into strips. I veneered the entire 26 inch piece using medium strength pearl hide glue. I used foam blocks to press the veneer into the moulding clamping at each end of the section.

First part of a 26 inch strip
First part of a 26 inch strip after gluing and clamping
Veneering the moulding is just about complete
Veneering is just about complete
Clamping each section
Clamping in stages using sponge blocks; the wood strip allows equal pressure along each section

The veneer was applied in stages since I had only two clamps that were appropriate for this project. After applying the first strip I learned that wetting the veneer on the top side allowed it to take the shape of the moulding. I then cut the strip into 4 mitered sections, glued the sections onto the frame and applied 2 coats of Brazilian Rosewood stain. At first I was reluctant to stain the veneer but using a test piece and applying two coats of shellac I discovered that the shade was too light in comparison to the veneer on the clock case.

Test fitting the 4 pieces
Test fitting the 4 sections, prior to gluing
Glued (Hide Glue) and weight placed on moulding and frame
Glued (Hide Glue); weight placed on the moulding and frame
Finial and knob
Finial and knob

Two 1/2 inch hinges were used plus a knob salvaged from an Ogee donor clock.

Knob and hinges
Knob and 3/4 inch hinges
Knob from Ogee clock
Knob from Ogee clock
Glass added and door in place
The 3/4 inch hinges allow the door to drop down
Ansonia Drop Extra wall clock

It is certainly not perfect and there is much I could improve upon in the next project. I have a door knob that will fit with some modifications (see above) but that is a small project for another day. A glass decal would also be a nice addition.

Beyond this I can go no further with this project. The brass bezel still alludes me though I might have a lead on one from an antique shop owner in Connecticut (USA).

This Ansonia Extra Drop is an attractive but incomplete clock with a interesting story and a test-bed for case restoration.