E N Welch clock and why helper springs are important

Among common parlour clocks you will find few EN Welch clocks. There is a good reason for this. The company was absorbed by the Sessions Clock Company in 1903 so any Welch clock is 115 years old and older.

E N Welch Parlour clock, The Whittier circa 1897

This E N Welch time and strike parlour clock is the Whittier model. The clock was made some years after Welch established its reputation as a quality clock manufacturer with the Patti series. The Whittier model represents a period from 1897 onward when Welch re-organized following a bankruptcy and produced well made but inexpensive clocks for the masses.

I located the clock in an antique store in Kazabazua, Quebec in 2016 while my wife and I were on a day trip from our summer cottage. The seller said the strike side did not work and we negotiated a lower price.

The clock ran for several days but despite adjustments I was unable to get the strike side to run correctly. The stop/warning lever and the count/lifting lever were intact, so, I was puzzled; it should run. Straightening the levers might solve the problem.

BEFORE: Two years ago; a very dirty movement
AFTER: the movement shines after disassembly and cleaning in the ultrasonic cleaner; Geneva stops re-installed

I wrote about my attempts at repair two years ago but my joy was short-lived. After a few hours the clock began to misbehave, skipping hours during the strike sequence.

Taking a fresh approach I completely disassembled the movement and searched for the root cause of the errant strike side. Bushing work had been performed two years ago and the clock has had little running since then. Despite a thorough cleaning the goal was addressing that strike side issue.

Plenty of life left in the mainsprings

The movement has only one helper spring located on the hammer assembly. Most, but not all, American time and strike clocks have helper springs to maintain tension on lifting and locking levers. The stop lever assembly and the count wheel lever on this movement do not have helper springs. Were there helper springs originally? Yes, and confirmed when I posted the issue on an online clock forum site. They were removed from this movement for whatever reason.

Only one lever has a helper spring

Helper springs are made of thin brass wire but snap when bent too often and in this case they were discarded by a previous repair person.

A very clean movement; bushing work done 2 years ago; hammer not attached, wire tails not yet trimmed and no Geneva stops during testing

I selected the thinnest wire from my supply and wrapped wires around both stop wheel and count wheel lever arbours. Though not quite a textbook example they are functional and provide just enough tension on the levers.

Helper spring photo from a horological manual
Wire are attacked to the arbours but not trimmed in this shot

I trimmed the wires tails and wrapped them carefully around the nearest movement post and gently secured them. Too much tension would nullify their effect.

Wires secured to movement post

The movement was reassembled and mounted on my test stand. After two weeks the strike side is running as it should; the addition of the helper springs was the solution.

Not every American time and strike movement requires helper springs but this one did.

Case closed!


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