Watson-KeeLess gravity clock, English, circa 1920’s

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  • #49120
    cazclocker
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    Hi, I haven’t posted here for a while – I’m still a perpetual newbie and I haven’t been working with my clocks for a while. But my new overhaul project has got me stymied! I have an old English-made clock that is so simple (only 4 wheels and a pinion) it’s hard to see why I should be having so much trouble getting it to run. It’s a very simple movement that depends on a “rack & pinion” scheme to provide impulse. The problem is that it DID run fairly well for several years after I bought it just as it is. It quit working when I disassembled it for cleaning/oiling/overhaul! So I’m admitting right up front to being the cause of the problem! :?

    It was made in the 1920’s by an English company named Watson, then kept producing them when the firm changed its name to KeeLess Clock Co. I will post pictures later, after I upload them to my PhotoBucket account.

    …Doug in Prescott Valley, AZ

    PS…psst, hey Bob! Have you ever repaired one of these clocks?

    #58455
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Hi Doug,
    Yes I have. Many years ago I had a friend that collected gravity clocks as well as Bulle, Hip and any other electro mechanical impulse clocks. He would bring them by the shop to adjust and mess around with. I definitely developed a love-hate relationship with all of them! :) At least the gravity clocks being purely mechanical didn’t have all the relays and coils to drive me nuts with. He did have a beautiful collection of gravity clocks.
    Looking forward to seeing the pics.

    Adios for now,
    Bob

    #58456
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
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    Hey Doug
    I should have asked in last nights post if you could put a little info up here about what the clock is or isn’t doing ie: does the clock seem to be binding on the guide rail and track rail or does it want to jump or free fall fall? If it does run for a bit about how long? There are a few things that can be set up incorrectly on that clock such as with the escapement, the little ratchet and spring on the rack driving mechanism etc. so some good close up pics of front and back might be very helpful.

    Thanks
    Bob

    #58457
    cazclocker
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 9
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    @Bob Tascione wrote:

    Hey Doug
    I should have asked in last nights post if you could put a little info up here about what the clock is or isn’t doing ie: does the clock seem to be binding on the guide rail and track rail or does it want to jump or free fall fall? If it does run for a bit about how long? There are a few things that can be set up incorrectly on that clock such as with the escapement, the little ratchet and spring on the rack driving mechanism etc. so some good close up pics of front and back might be very helpful.
    Thanks
    Bob

    Hi Bob! Thanks for responding. First of all, here is a link to a slideshow of my clock: http://s1251.photobucket.com/user/cazboy5525/slideshow/English%20Gravity%20Clock_1

    Also, around the web I found some other photos of the same clock owned by other people – I now realize that a small brass “insert” (not a bushing, per se) is missing from my clock. The purpose of the insert seems to be simply to prevent the front pendulum pivot from wandering too far up the sides of the .186″-diameter hole in the front pendulum bracket. Oddly, the clock ran for over a year as-is, without the insert being there. Making a suitable replacement should be a breeze, but the clock “should” run without it. Here is a photo of the insert I’m referring to:
    [img][/img]DSC01425_withtext_zps8e403e1d.jpg

    I should tell you that I’ve cleaned the movement thoroughly, rinsed with hot water and final rinsed with 99% isopropyl alcohol. No bushings were needed, but I pegged all the pivot holes with sharpened pegwood, and then blown out with compressed air. Finally, I oiled each pivot with an appropriately small droplet of Esyntha clock oil. I cannot for the life of me find any fault with my cleaning & reassembly procedure, but something’s wrong so who knows? Also, I should note that I take dozens of pictures as I disassemble this and any clock, so I am 100% certain of my reassembly.

    In answer to your questions, here are my issues with the clock:
    1. The clock isn’t binding on the vertical guide rails at all…about .080″ or so of clearance. What’s happening is that for some reason it doesn’t want to run AT ALL. The weight of the case with the movement inside seems to be insufficient to make the drive train run.
    2. When I manually rotate the wheels (with the movement out of the case, obviously) with gentle pressure, I can actually get the EW to rotate and engage the pallets. But only for 1 or maybe 2 beats. After that, it just quits.
    3. I am very uncertain about the compound pendulum’s setting. How do I find the “ballpark” spot where the lower ball wants to be?
    4. One variable that baffles me is that I find I can vary the engagement between the pallets and the EW by loosening the twin screws of the pendulum bracket, and pushing one side or the other of the bracket up or down. Very imprecise! How do I know where the bracket should be tightened down? I’ve already found that pushing the bracket upward can’t be right, because then the EW will bind between the pallets.
    5. Can you identify the TYPE of escapement on this clock? Is it a recoil or a reverse recoil?

    If you need more pictures or more information, let me know. For now, I’m stumped!
    …Doug
    Prescott Valley, AZ

    #58458
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
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    Ahhh yes Doug those pics are refreshing my memory. That was a weird bushing if I remember correctly it had something to do with adjusting the verge laterally while the screws holding the assembly to the plate allowed vertical adjustments. I could be wrong though. Let me ponder it for a few hours today as I’m not at home and have a busy schedule this morning. I wish I had one in my hands to mess around with but might remember a few things about it by the end of the day. It does make sense that it ‘might’ run without that bushing though as long as it’s position was close to what the escapement was looking for.
    I’ll try to jog my memory (not always an easy feat :D ).

    Bob

    #58459
    cazclocker
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 9
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    @Bob Tascione wrote:

    Ahhh yes Doug those pics are refreshing my memory. That was a weird bushing if I remember correctly it had something to do with adjusting the verge laterally while the screws holding the assembly to the plate allowed vertical adjustments. I could be wrong though. Let me ponder it for a few hours today as I’m not at home and have a busy schedule this morning. I wish I had one in my hands to mess around with but might remember a few things about it by the end of the day. It does make sense that it ‘might’ run without that bushing though as long as it’s position was close to what the escapement was looking for.
    I’ll try to jog my memory (not always an easy feat :D ).

    Bob

    Thanks Bob! Looking forward to hearing more from you.
    …Doug

    #58460
    willofiam
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 75
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    Hey Doug, thanks for posting this, cool clock…. I am enjoying, Now I think I have to find one 🙄 , I do have a gravity clock I picked up some time ago, nothing fancy but interesting, It hangs on the wall and rides down a single rack, cant remember right now who made it. some day I might get to it.

    I have not worked on a clock like this so I am just interjecting my thoughts….. when reading this I would lean towards escapement. If you have photos of it before taking it apart can you see if it is all back and adjusted the same? and if so then have you tried to run it in the exact same spot you have had it for the last year? Looking at the photos of the bushing or insert your missing for the pendulum/verge pivot, I see that one is a bit snugger (if thats a word) of a fit than the other photo, could this help with accurate function / adjusting for beat?. Interesting and cant wait to learn more about this.
    Hope all is well, William

    #58461
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Hi Doug,
    Sorry for not getting back sooner but have been swamped with work and just not enough hours in the day. Should slow down soon I hope.
    Anyway I haven’t made much progress coming up with a solution. I’m with William about it most likely being the escapement. My feeling is that there may be some point where the vertical adjustment on that platform allows for a good enough depth with the escape wheel teeth and possibly a slight lateral adjustment for the beat to allow the clock to run without having that bushing in place and when you removed everything for cleaning that exact adjustment was changed. I think at this point I would just make a new insert piece so that you have as much as possible in your corner going for you. Might find it much easier to make an adjustment that works.

    Bob

    #58462
    cazclocker
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 9
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    William & Bob,
    Thanks for getting back – I am beginning to agree with you both about the problem being in the escapement scheme. The movement itself is so dead-simple that other than failing to peg the pivot holes well enough, there’s really not much that could go wrong. So – that leaves the escapement and to a lesser degree, how the movement engages with the vertical rack teeth. Currently, I’m doing just what you suggested – making the tiny insert that fits into the front bracket hole, which will confine the pendulum pivot to a very tiny range of motion…just like a pivot hole would do! Actually I made one yesterday, but I ruined it so today I’ll make another. Between my workhorse Rivett watchmaker’s lathe (boy I sure like that baby) and my mini-mill from Little Machine Shop, I should be able to turn a useable insert out fairly quickly…especially since I have the recent practice of making the first attempt.
    Pictures & report to soon follow…stay tuned!
    Thank you all, guys…
    …Doug

    #58463
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Hey Doug that’s sounds like a good plan.
    I think that piece is for fine escapement adjustment rather than just to keep it from climbing the walls of the hole. Otherwise they could have just put a hole in the plate. Not sure why they wouldn’t have just put an adjustable bushing with an offset hole though. Maybe to keep the hole from wearing out? Or possibly to keep people like us wondering what the heck it is! :D
    Anyway I think you’re on the right track.
    Let is know how it goes.
    Adios
    Bob

    #58464
    cazclocker
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 9
    • Total Posts: 85

    OK, over the weekend I made a prototype of the little brass “insert”, which fits with a slight friction fit into the pendulum bracket. In the next day or two I plan to re-assemble the movement and see what happens. If I find the insert helps the clock work a bit better, I plan to ditch the prototype and make a final version – just because I never have enough to do…NOT!
    Pictures coming soon!
    …Doug

    #58465
    cazclocker
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 9
    • Total Posts: 85

    I was going to post pictures all at once once I got done, but as usual life gets in the way of shop time! Too many chores around the house etc. So I’ll just post-as-I-go. Here are some pictures of making the little brass insert – I forgot to take pictures of the stage where I use my milling machine to remove enough material to allow the pivot to slip under the brass. Oh well – by the way, I set my cross-slide for a slight taper as I cut the part that press-fits into the bracket…it was set for about 1 degree, maybe a little less. That made for a nice firm press-fit.
    …Doug

    Here ya go…





    #58466
    Bob Tascione
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 38
    • Total Posts: 1559

    Nice job on the part Doug!
    Thanks for posting the pics. Nice lathe setup too. Is that a cookie sheet that the lathe is mounted on? If so that’s really clever!
    Let us know how the part works out when you have a chance.

    Adios,
    Bob

    #58467
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
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    Really nicely done on the part. I would be interested also in the cookie sheet under the lathe.

    #58468
    cazclocker
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 9
    • Total Posts: 85

    Hi, thanks guys. Yes, that’s a cookie sheet under my lathe. It’s the smallest cookie sheet I could find, I found it at my local K-Mart. It makes a nice place for chips & swarf to collect so I can later vacuum it up. The lathe is a Rivett that I found at my local flea market for $50.00! Little did I realize how much I’d spend to outfit it with accessories. The compound slide and the countershaft are made by Rivett, as well. The motor is a homemade thing, though – I bought the motor itself from Surplus Center for $15.99, I think. I made the mounting brackets from cheap plywood, sprayed with shellac. The motor did not come with a reversing switch so I had to make my own, that’s what the black box is for that you see.

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cazclockerWatson-KeeLess gravity clock, English, circa 1920’s