Welch Marine clock – let’s call it a work in progress

Last week (January 20, 2023) I wrote about a wonderful little marine clock that I have just not had the time to service completely. A few weeks ago I cleaned the movement and polished the pivots and left it. All that was left was the bushing work. I spent a few hours on it today and it was worn as expected. Eight bushings for a time-only movement is a lot.

It is a 30-hour brass movement made by E.N. Welch in the 1860s. It has a balance wheel or hairspring lever escapement to use a more exact term. The movement is accessed by removing the dial and bezel (4 screws) and releasing 4 screws that hold the movement to the backboard.

Time only with balance wheel escapement, prior to cleaning

A balance wheel escapement should be no surprise to anyone who knows the purpose of this clock. It is a marine clock, designed to be used on ships and trains, not a ship’s bell or watchkeeper’s clock but a marine clock that simply tells the time.

I suspected part of the reason the clock was so slow was a combination of factors, a kink in the hairspring, the general wear of the movement plus all the dirt and grime that had accumulated over the years.

The arrow shows a little bit of kink after my best attempt to straighten it

I separated the plates to discover that the movement had been worked on previously. Sometimes the work is done well and other times questionable shortcuts are taken. In this case, a glued regulating cup screw and punch marks around some of the pivot holes. You play the cards you’re dealt.

A screw is glued, stripped no doubt

It is a pretty simple clock with not many parts.

The arbour with the lantern pinion in the middle is the “seconds” bit, before cleaning

As mentioned, the balance wheel adjustment cup screw in the rear is glued in place and there is only one reason for it, it is stripped. I am going to leave it as is as there remains a front adjustment screw on the front of the movement which also has the speed regulator wire.

Next, I am preparing for the first bushing by centering the bushing hole. You will notice that I am bushing from the outside of the place. The center wheel did no allow enough space to work from the inside of the plate.

Centering the hole on a Bergeon bushing machine

And on to the bushing work.

Using a reamer on a pivot hole

The only tricky bushing was the mainspring arbour which required a 5.5mm bushing, otherwise, the bushing work went smoothly

Mainspring and new arbour bushing

There was more bushing work than I realized. Yes, it was quite worn but I have seen worse.

Cleaned and in place, the lantern pinions and pivots were in excellent condition

The movement is a little tricky to put back together because of the small plates and how the wheels are close together but it went back together without much of a fuss.

Now for the fun part and that is remounting the balance wheel. I am not a fan of balance wheel escapements. If you have worked on old alarm clocks you know what I am talking about, getting the clock in beat. The problem I am having is lining up the impulse spring with the fork. Every time I try the spring is twisted.

Does the clock work? Yes but not well. It’s well out of beat and I suspect there is not enough impulse from the hairspring. This will take a little more time to figure out but I am not in the testing phase as yet.

Let’s call this a work in progress.


4 thoughts on “Welch Marine clock – let’s call it a work in progress

        1. I would say a range of sizes can be made to fit a particular movement. Not a great fan of hairspring escapements, I must admit.


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