Do I really need a clock timer?

I have had my eye a clock timing machine for a while but I was recently encouraged to accelerate my plan to buy one. My Timetrax model 50 beat amplifier stopped running for some reason. Okay, I dropped it and it made a strange rattling noise when I picked it up. Now it doesn’t work!

Model 50 beat amplifier, now broken

Do I need a timer? Up to now, I got along fine without it and generally speaking anyone repairing clocks can certainly get by without one. But I can now see that this little device can be quite practical and can save a lot of time and frustration.

Timetrax model 185

What does it do?

It is a Timetrax model 185 made by Adams Brown. It works by analyzing the mechanical vibration of a clock and converting the vibration or tick and tock to an electrical signal that is amplified within the timer producing a readout that is compared to an included clock train table.

It also has a beat amplifier and a balance control that will help determine the beat of a clock. It will certainly ease the process of regulating a clock, detect potential problem areas and perhaps eliminate or certainly reduce the lengthy time it takes to adjust a clock beyond a trial and error approach. I will learn more as I explore its many features.

It runs on batteries and unfortunately there is no way of hooking it up to an external power source. Don’t we have enough things that run on batteries in our homes!

I connected it to my Seth Thomas regulator #2, which is weight driven.

Seth Thomas #2
Seth Thomas #2

I checked the beat. It is roughly set by ear at first and fine-tuned by the machine. A clock is in beat when the time between ticks is even.

Switch the controller to BAL or “balance” to put the clock in beat.

The screen then displays a magnitude of numbers. I am over simplifying things a bit but a new number positive or negative is displayed as the movement ticks and a clock is in beat when the magnitude of numbers is minimized. The ideal reading is a succession of zeros which is almost impossible but the closer one gets to the zeros the better and the clock is now in beat or as close as possible to being in beat. Values under 20 are the goal.

Now for the beat timing. A Seth Thomas #2 runs at 80 beats per minute. So, 80bpm X 60 is 4800 beats per hour. The escape wheel has 40 teeth, so in this case the best numbers for a preset average is 80 (a doubling) and by clicking the beat cycle plus-minus button one arrives at the required number. The result for the ST2 was 4798 beats per hour. I am losing 2 beat per hour and compounded over one week it means a loss of mere seconds per week which in my view is very acceptable for a mechanical clock. It is not surprising that these clocks were originally designed for train stations.

I am sure I will discover other uses for this machine but for the moment I am pleased with its capabilities.


4 thoughts on “Do I really need a clock timer?

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