New Haven Sharp Gothic (Steeple) clock – Part II – a poor solder repair is the culprit

This is Part II of a two Part series on a New Haven Sharp Gothic (Steeple) clock. This blog-post is about servicing the movement.

My recently acquired New Haven Gothic Steeple 30-hour clock is an online auction win.

New haven Gothic Steeple clock
New Haven Gothic Steeple clock

The case is in very good condition apart from minor veneer issues on the base and the columns. The clock is missing the tip of the right finial although it might be hard to tell from the photo. It measures 20 1/2 inches tall with a 5-inch dial. The movement appears to be original to the case.

The dial is original and has some loss that would be expected in a 135-year-old clock. The tablet, likely original, features a sailboat against Greek (?) temples surrounded by gold foliage on a black background. The design of the tablet was used in other New Haven clocks of the time. Though intended for European export the clock found its way to Canada.

Servicing the movement

I took the movement out of the case and proceeded to examine it. It did not take long to discover this.

It might have worked for a short period but eventually soft solder will fail

The drop lever might have worked at one time but the solder weakened and the power of the cam wheel caused the lever to bend, scraping on the outside of the cam. Bending the lever into position is not an option and certainly not a re-solder job and the lever must be replaced. Why anyone would use soft solder for a lever repair is a puzzle.

Soldered drop lever that cannot be bent back into position and must be replaced

I cut off the broken lever and using my metal mini lathe and a high speed drill bit I drilled through the arbour. A pendulum rod is the exact diameter for the new lever and because it is relatively soft it can be easily bent. I inserted the new rod into the shaft and although it was a good fit I secured it with Permalux Red, a commercial threadlocker. I measured the lever for exact length and cut it prior to re-assembling the movement.

During the course of orienting the count lever towards the centre of the main wheel I managed to snap off the paddle
New lever not yet trimmed to fit

During the course of orienting the count lever towards the centre of the main wheel hub I managed to break the paddle. It happens. It had been bent too many times. Using the leftover pendulum rod I fashioned a new count lever and hammered one end of the soft steel into a paddle. A 90 degree angle was achieved by placing the rod in a bench vice. I could have peened the rod protruding from the other end of the arbour but left it as-is.

New paddle and drop lever

The movement required two bushings, the strike side cam wheel and the escape wheel located on the back plate. There had been a previous bushing install on the back plate and it was done well. The lantern pinions were in like-new shape and the pivots had minimal wear and polished easily. The fact that the clock required just two bushings tells me that it was either well cared for or had little running.

New drop lever and count lever

The sins of the past are always revealed when taking a movement apart. The poor solder “repair” was one “fix” and it was not a good one. Soft solder and brass movements are not a good marriage. The 1 oz pendulum does not have a rating screw. Instead the threaded end is bent behind the pendulum bob, hence the clock cannot be regulated. A new threaded insert with a rating nut was ordered.

The hands are likely replacements as the original would have had “moon” hands. The verge and crutch also seems to be a replacement.

Replacement hands

Numbers scratched into the brass on the inside of the back plate told a story. The corresponding wheels were also marked. It appears that during one service the repair person was unfamiliar with the gear arrangement and numbered each one. An experienced repair person would not have been confused. Otherwise, the time side mainspring had been replaced at one point in the clocks life.

Setting the stop wheel in the correct position to achieve warning was the only minor frustration in that it took more than a couple of attempts. Otherwise, after several days of testing it is running and striking as it should.

A clock that had not been striking in many years now has a new lease on life.

2 thoughts on “New Haven Sharp Gothic (Steeple) clock – Part II – a poor solder repair is the culprit

  1. Nice job! I’m having difficulty visualizing how you held the shaft and count lever on your lathe while you drilled the hole for the maintenance lever. Did you hold it with a vise somehow with the drill bit in your headstock? Looks like it worked well and I would repeat this process if I can figure it out. Always satisfying bringing back a clock that has been still for a long time.


    1. Using clamps I secured the arbour in the carriage cross slide. The arbour is soft steel and drilling into it with a high speed bit was quite easy. I used a centering bit prior to using the high speed bit.



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