Repairing a loose hour hand on a weight-driven banjo

The hour hand is loose on my unmarked circa 1840s banjo clock. It is an unusual problem and I can’t say I have ever come across an issue like this in my years of clock repair. It is supposed to friction fit on the hour pipe but the hand is definitely quite loose.

I have attributed this fine precision-made weight-driven banjo timepiece to John Sawin or one of his apprentices or associates. John Sawin, who apprenticed under Simon Willard, made clocks in the Boston area in the early 1800s and it appears that this clock was made in or around 1840.

It is not the usual ornate clock with reverse-painted tablets, gilt features, and an American eagle finial that one would envision as a classic banjo clock. This mahogany-cased clock is simple with timeless lines.

Back to the hour hand. I posted the issue on an online clock forum site and the consensus seems to be that I must stake the hour hand in several places on the inside so that it would fit tightly on the hour pipe.

The hour hand is on the right

On most American clocks the hour hand has a collet and the hour hand/collect friction fits onto the hour pipe. No so on early banjo clocks.

Collet on the hour hand

The staking went well, the hour hand fits snuggly and I am pleased.


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