Hall clock mystery is solved

Welcome back. The mystery is solved!

In the spring of 2021 I responded to an ad on a local online for sale site for what appeared to be an antique hall clock. It was inexpensive and I now know why. The seller bought it 20 years ago and in the midst of downsizing it had to go.

I knocked on the seller’s door, she answered. The clock was a few feet from the front door. It looked quite a bit larger than I imagined. Will it fit in our wagon?

Prior to loading the clock into the car, I noticed that the weight cans were very light. The seller said the weights were fake. She gave me a key and I inserted it into the winding points to discover mainsprings, something I was not quite expecting for a hall clock. Okay, I’ll take a chance on this one, and the price is right.

The base and the top crown lift off, presumably to ease relocation. My wife and I loaded the clock in the car. Everything fit nicely. The case is very solid and unbelievably heavy. The clock just fit into our station wagon. On the way home I thought, how strange, a clock with faux weights.

When I arrived home my curiosity got the better of me. I removed the hands, then the dial which was, interestingly enough, quite heavy. Once the dial was removed I saw a large spring-driven New Haven mechanical movement.

Why is there a spring-driven movement in a hall clock?

Did this clock have a weight-driven movement at one time? The spring driven movement is mounted on a raised platform, interesting. Later, I will remove the platform to see if there is any evidence of a seat board as weight-driven movements almost always sit on a seat board.

The ladder chains are crudely screwed onto the backboard to simulate a weight-driven movement, hence the empty weight cans.

The next day

I removed the raised platform and could not see any evidence of a seat board ever being in this case.

I do not believe this is a New Haven factory clock. As far as I can determine it started life as a grandfather clock with a spring-driven movement and fake weights. Spring-driven Mission style hall clocks were made with fake weights by some makers many years ago so, they are not so rare and New Haven did sell mechanical packages to case builders.

I have no idea why the cord is tied to the strike lever as it serves no useful purpose.

Next steps

I am not overly concerned, it was cheap.

Are both the case and movement antiques? The movement is stamped 27. This could be a date stamp but it is more likely the length of the pendulum in inches. The movement plates are pinned rather than held with screws or nuts suggesting an older New Haven movement. My research tells me that it is referred to as a square-aperture movement and appears on occasion in Anglo-American clocks.

I removed the movement from its case and mounted it on a test stand. It runs for a short period and stops. The movement runs at 72 bpm, not quite the 60 bpm one would typically expect from a hall clock but still, it looks like a weight driven clock. Yeah, fake!

My take on this clock? The cabinet was made separately perhaps in a shop along with others, and a New Haven movement, dial face, numbers, hands, chains and weight cans were acquired as a kit and installed in the case. That is the only thing that makes sense.

In the meantime, I intend to service the movement and clean the case. Check for articles on movement servicing and cleaning the case in the next few days.


2 thoughts on “Hall clock mystery is solved

  1. Once owned a Mustang. The fake and utterly useless hood scoop drove me nuts. At least this model, ( 2001 “Bullitt”) didn’t also come with standard fake rear fender scoops. Obviously marketing gimmicks been around a long time. BTW… putting on flame decals out of engine compartment gained me thirty horsepower. Not.

    Like

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