Ansonia 30-hour parlour clock with a very worn movement

I acquired a number of clocks at auction this past winter (2022). All were antiques and all were in poor to fair condition but each one had potential. The auction notes simply said the movements were untested which can mean just about anything from a failed, irreparable movement to something that might have been serviced recently.

One of the four from the auction is an attractive clock with nice clean lines and from the look of the case, which is in decent shape, I would have expected a well-cared-for movement which turned out not to be the case when I removed it.

Those with a keen eye will notice something missing on the case – the topper or crown, but no worries, I have all the pieces, it is just a matter of gluing them back on.

Auction photo

I located a clock exactly like it online with a description that was no help at all other than the fact that it was made by the Ansonia Clock Co. However, the design of the base is identical to the “Alaska” found in the 1886 Ansonia catalog so, I would estimate the clock was made around that time, give or take a year or two.

Beyond a well-worn movement is that it has a 30-hour run time. A clock with a 30-hour movement is a tough sell based on my experiences these past 10 years. The alarm feature might attract some buyers or others might be simply looking for a decorative piece.

The movement

The one-day or 30-hour movement with alarm is made by the Ansonia Clock Co. The date June 13, 1882, is stamped on the front plate and refers to a patent date. Digging a little deeper I found Letters Patent No. 259,505 by W.D. Davies for a striking mechanism for clocks, registered in Brooklyn, New York January 31, 1882. Naturally, the clock could not have been made before that date.

Davies patent

The patent has a unique lifting lever, called a “turn back” (fig 4) that allows the hands to be turned back past the hours eliminating a second spindle that would otherwise be used by other manufacturers to allow the hands to be turned back.

The movement

It is a run-of-the-mill 30-hour movement. It is as small as one would expect for the run time. It has been worked on in the past as there are plenty of punch marks around the pivot holes, more so on the time side than the strike side which I will explain later.

I have spring retention clamps for all sizes of mainsprings but none that would fit this movement exactly. My smallest would not fit because there is a steel post in the way on the strike side but wire works just as well though I was able to get a clamp around the mainspring on the time side.

Strike side wheels, a wire holds the mainspring

As it is a 30-hour movement the mainsprings are not as powerful as one would find in an 8-day clock although I always use care when working with mainsprings and wear thick work gloves.

Every pivot on the strike side looked like the one below. Dirty yes, but very little wear.

Strike side pivot before polishing

The time side was an entirely different matter.

Every pivot was in very poor condition, the worst is shown below.

The escape wheel pivot is too thin to be salvageable

The worst pivots were both ends of the escape wheel and the third wheel. I was able to grind down most of the pivots, including the 3rd wheel since there was enough usable steel to carry the load through the train. Not so for the escape wheel.

New escape wheel pivot, front plate

It required re-pivoting.

The third wheel pivot on the time side, this one is salvageable

A sizable portion of the brass was chewed away on the escape wheel bushing, backplate. As wear accelerates over time, the clock would eventually “grind” to a halt.

Escape wheel pivot hole backplate

As for the difference in wear on both sides, there are two possible reasons. Some folks do not like the sound of a striking clock in a home. The clock will still run with only the time side wound but the result is disproportionate wear. The second is that the patented design does not allow room for error during setup and perhaps it was too frustrating getting the strike side to run reliably.

The new pivot

Using a mini lathe I began with a centering bit and then with high-speed bits drilled holes in both ends of the escape wheel to a sufficient depth to anchor the pivot wire. I have a good supply of pivot wire and it was a matter of selecting the correct size, which in this case is 1.35mm wire.

The shot above shows the new escape wheel pivot supported in place and it will remain on the lathe in this position until the Permatex Threadlocker Red has cured (24 hours).

Bushing the escape wheel bridge

With that kind of wear, I am surprised the clock ran as well as it did although American clocks will typically continue to run despite being well worn, wear that would certainly stop a German or French clock.

Assembly and testing

The strike side wheels are left out for testing (beat timer is attached)

Normally I would assemble the entire movement after completing the bushing work but since I installed two brand new pivots I realized that I would have to make minor escape wheel/pallet adjustments and having fewer wheels to deal with makes it less frustrating taking it apart again. A new suspension spring and leader also replaced the original one.

After 30 hours the movement continues to run strongly. I tested the movement a day or two more before installing the remaining wheels and levers.

Now to refresh the case.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.