Junghans Crispi wall clock and strike woes

Crispi clock back from the horologist
Antique Junghans Crispi wall clock

During the winter of 2017, I restored an antique Junghans Crispi time and strike wall clock, circa 1898.

It came to me as a box of parts. I sensed the seller fully intended to complete the project but never got around to it but at least he reconstructed the case. I saw a challenge in that collection of dusty and dirty parts.

Much of the clock is original; the movement, the pendulum, dial, hands, coil gong, and movement bracket, the bottom base and top section of the case, crown, backboard, vertical columns, and most of the decorative trim. I added glass, smaller trim features, upper finials, and their bases.

Replaced some 40 years ago is the box frame and the front section that supports the right and left columns. Parts of the clock were evidently destroyed beyond repair and the remainder salvaged for later restoration which was never completed.

Junghans clock in pieces
How the clock came to me

While much of the “newer pieces” are hidden, the previous owner took care to replicate woodworking techniques of the period aside from the use of Roberston screws on the back panel.

That aside, the movement was very dirty and had not been running for many years. Perhaps it last worked just before the Halifax Explosion of 1917. The previous owner informed me that the clock was in the family home in north-end Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) and the clock took a significant hit from that fateful blast on December 6th.

Very dirty movement
Very dirty movement, right out of the case

After completing work on the case, I set about working on the movement. During the course of disassembling/reassembling the movement, I not only broke the strike paddle but a retention spring as well. Back then (2017), my skills were not advanced enough to repair it so I had it professionally serviced.

Junghans movement
Junghans movement, broken strike paddle

Three months later I picked up the clock and hung it on my dining room wall. It ran perfectly for over two and a half years. Some months ago the strike became erratic. It would strike incorrectly, not at all, or incessantly till the mainspring ran down.

I had a number of other clock projects on the go so I kept the time side going and left it on the wall until December 2020.

Disassembly and Inspection

Once I took the movement apart I found a slightly bent strike side cam wheel arbor. There were no other bent pivots or worn pivot holes and everything else looked good. Back in 2017 during its stay in a clock shop it had had extensive bushing work done, 6 on the front plate and 6 on the rear plate. There was a small amount of dirty oil around the pivots and after 2 plus years that is to be expected.

During the course of manipulating the plates, I snapped the paddle arbor retention spring, again! This time I was able to repair it.

Junghans movement spring repair
Junghans movement spring repair upper center, Threadlocker Red at the base of the spring

There was enough of the spring to reuse. The wire is thin (0.5mm), very brittle and it does not take much pressure to break it. Using a micro drill with a 0.5mm HHS bit I drilled out the existing hole in the plate, reinstalled the spring, and applied Threadlocker Red to bond the spring to the plate.

Electric micro drill
Electric micro drill

Re-assembly

I cleaned the parts in the ultrasonic, pegged the pivot holes, polished the pivots, and re-assembled the movement.

Junghans movement work
Junghans movement work ready for the rear plate

I took a couple of attempts to line up everything on the strike side; paddle in the deep slot, cam lever in the low part of the cam, and strike paddle aligned between the points on the star wheel while ensuring that the stop wheel pin was in the 12 o’clock (approximately) position. If you have worked on German count-wheel strike movements, all this should sound familiar.

One is tempted to bend a lever or two to correct the strike side behave but in my experience, unless someone has messed with a lever in the past, it is best to leave them alone.

Junghans clock
Junghans movement on the test stand

And now for testing. After several days the movement is running well and the strike side is finally behaving itself. Since there is nothing amiss I will chalk this up to a strike side design that causes it to “wander” over time or that slightly bent cam wheel arbor. One or two cycles on the test stand should be sufficient before returning it to its case.

While it was on the test stand I decided to research this clock. I visited the Junghans archive catalogue site and discovered a few new-to-me details. The clock was available in the 1898 catalog as I suspected.

Four Junghans wall clocks in 1898 catalog; the Cripi second from left

The clock case is described as “old oak” with burnished brass trimmings. The Crispi, as it was called, was designated #1758 and was available with a white or ivory-colored celluloid dial or a white or ivory-colored 5 3/4 inch enamel dial (this clock). The length is forty and a third inches (103 cm) and it is a 14-day strike. Given the description of the length, in inches, the clock was likely marketed for the United Kingdom and Italy as you can see by the above catalog entry.

Overall, a successful servicing and if it “wanders” again, a simple disassembly, reassembly, and re-adjustment at some point in the future should put it right. Let’s hope that is more than two years away this time.


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