Waterbury York parlour clock – a fresh approach to addressing a non-functioning strike side

Back in December 2019, I wrote about the challenges of adjusting the strike side of this attractive parlour clock, a Waterbury York, circa 1900. Despite many attempts the strike side refused to work. Though I was close to a solution but I did not realize it at the time. I put it aside to think about it.

Attempt #2. Will I be successful? Read on.

A shot of the clock the day I brought it home.

The time side functioned perfectly but the strike side did not run at all when I first brought the clock home. Typically a good cleaning or a simple lever adjustment is all that is required though once I opened the movement up I saw it true colours. I detailed these surprises in my December post.

The lesson in all of this is to go slow and observe what happens during each phase of the strike procedure

Every mechanical clock has issues, some serious, some minor. Although the clock case is in generally good condition, the movement had suffered the ravages of frequent repairs, some professional but others must have been done in a back alley somewhere. All five pillar screws were well worn, a grim testament to its past life.

Time and strike movement with steel plates (beat amplifier on top of the movement

On a positive side, there was no immediate need for bushing work. The pivots are in very good condition and the pivot holes have little wear.

The levers on this movement had been bent so many times during its many visits to the shop (or back alley) that it was a real challenge to determine their correct positions.

So, here I am, back to this problem movement. Once I was satisfied that the drop lever, cam and count lever were in the correct position the next (and final, I had hoped) adjustment was the locking lever and the stop wheel. The warning lever caught the pin and held the train and released it but it would not lock during the end of the strike sequence, stopping only when the mainspring ran down.

I adjusted the stop wheel, an eighth of a turn or less but I also noticed that I had to bend the locking lever down ever so slightly because the pin was just missing the lever by a very small margin. With those adjustments made, I finally achieved “lock” and thus, warning.

Assorted C-clamps

The above adjustments meant opening the plates to re-position wheels. C-clamps were applied to the mainsprings to restrain their power during the adjustment process. I can’t stress this enough, safety first!

Locking wheel (4th wheel) showing the back of the locking pin

Since this clock did not strike from the beginning, I am chalking this up as a victory.

Trial and error is the key, and, of course, perseverance

On the test stand the movement went through a couple of 8-day cycles.

But my problems were not over. Upon reattaching the dial the clock stopped within minutes. This occurred three times until I discovered that the crutch loop was in contact with the back of the dial. Pushing the crutch loop inwards towards the plate solved the issue.

Strike side is running well, dial and hands reinstalled

In this my second attempt I realized that it is important to go slow, observe the action of the movement, try to understand what occurs during each phase of the striking process and be prepared to walk away if things don’t go as planned. Once I was satisfied that one part of the strike sequence was functioning correctly I moved to the next step, experimenting as I went.

A great help was Steven Conover’s excellent hands-on book, Striking Clock Repair Guide.

This movement had so many issues that I doubt most folks would have bothered to have it repaired. It would have been tossed out. A broken mainspring cowl, repaired teeth, replacement time side mainspring with a new catch, punch marks here and there to close the pivot holes and on top that a filthy movement.

Persistence paid off and now the movement is running well and keeping good time.


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