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Squiffything

Smiths English Clocks Ltd Westminster Chime

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I’ve introduced myself so time for my first proper post. I mentioned that I’d been given an old Smiths clock to play with but it really is too nice to butcher so I set about giving it a bit of a service and clean. 

First up was a bath in something to break down the years of gunk that would have built up. Hmm what could I use? What do I have? Petrol! It may not be the right choice but would it do it any harm? Ok 24 hours in a petrol bath in the shed and it loosened up the gunk nicely. Then a liberal spray of carb cleaner to remove any stubborn hard deposits. A night in the airing cupboard to dry off any remaining fluid and things were loosened nicely. 

The oil arrived so I’ve oiled the wells and checked them all over. Nothing majorly wrong and no overly loose pivots that I can see. I will wait for a real basket case to arrive before I start playing with replacing bushes. 

The case just needed a clean so I resorted to an old favourite used before on my record player plinth renovations, the wife’s best hand cream. It clean and moisturises. Hmm a couple of scratches showed so again out with a goodie, boot polish. Waxed and colours and fills the scratches nicely. Gives a nice shine too. I’m unsure if I want to get the metal polish out for the glass bezel as I want to keep the patina and it doesn’t look to distressed. As I’m writing this the best has been sorted in the clamp and it has been running for some twenty minutes passing and triggering the quarter hour chime so now waiting the half hour to set off. I’m going to let it run for a while before I fit it back in the case. Still got some work to do on the case but I’m pleased with the initial results. 

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Cleaning this type of movement in petrol is fine. For oiling, I recommend Windles Clock oil. You only need this one for clock movements with a pendulum. I would leave the bezel as it is, it is only plated and it is not thick.

Drying it in the airing cupboard, that’s a new one for me.:D

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It did the job :) it has been running but it’s not perfect so I think a full break down and proper clean is in order. It’s what it was given to me to do though as a first clock I’m concerned the Westminster may be a bit of a challenge as a first timer. 

My plan is to take lots of piccies, group each drive train in order, stick the sonic cleaner in overdrive and then finish each piece with alcohol. If it doesn’t do the job I can always add coke and enjoy the process ;)

the case is still waiting for me to do a shed run to get clamps and wood glue but it’s been cold round these parts and I really need light to find what I need. I’m patient and can wait. 

Currently investigating and researching lathes. My top three are

1 A Myford Super7

2 the Emco Unimat 3

3 Sherline 2000

As I require it for the future business (hopefully) I feel a proper investment is in order. I’m aware the unimat is a popular choice but hear it may not be up to the job of heavy duty use. The Myford may be just a little to big and the prices are crazy for old (unknown) machines.

it is fun doing the research :)

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Hi, If you intend to do more movements may I give a few pointers.

Before doing anything to a movement, let the springs down!!

Now you have no tension on the cogs/pivots you will be able to see if they have movement in the pivot holes.

I read how you put the movement in petrol, I hope you took the springs out before you did this, if not you will need to take them out and grease them or they will rust.

I would suggest that you learn to walk before running, as you have jumped many things you should do to get a movement in good order. The 1st is you have not cleaned the movement correctly as the pivot holes and the pivots may still have dirt in them, you need to take the movement apart! Okay, if you are only doing it for yourself that is okay, however later you say something about a " future business" if this is to do with clock repair may I suggest you join a clock club around your area and that way you can learn the right way.

I do not want to sound harsh and put you off, however if it is worth doing, it is worth doing it right. 

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Jim thanks for your comments. It’s good to be told of ones mistakes and I am aware that I am making them. This is my pull it apart, see where things are, work out what goes where and get a feel for the thing clock.

i am jumping in but as mentioned I intend to take the BHI course, invest a reasonable sum into tools and equipment and make a success of it.

i will not be touching anything of someone else’s until I have trained and know what I’m doing and, as long as people don’t mind me posting, I’ll stick a report or two up here to let people know how I’m getting on.

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Hey we all have to learn and I went through it about 30 odd years ago, lots of mistakes, however they are the things you learn from. This is just a suggestion, start with a time only movement, work out what is wrong with it, fix it, nice and easy. Next get a time and strike, do the same process , it is a little harder. Next the Westminster chime same process a lot harder as you have to work out the sequence and every company have their own way of doing it. I will give you any help I can as you go along.

I wish you all the success, as for me, working on my hobby every day is not working at all.

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Starting with a time only clocks and progressing through strike, chime etc is good advice. The second clock that I worked on had a Hermle strike movement with a floating balance. I got it rebuilt eventually but the added complexity of the strike train was nearly a step too far too soon for me. Took me a long while to get everything back in the right place and was a test of patients but satisfying when done.


As far as cleaning fluid, an alternative is the clock cleaning fluid provided by Priory Polishes. Someone on this forum recommend it a while ago, stinks a bit but is not flammable like petrol so is safer to use, is reasonably priced and gets things cleaned nicely.



Sent from my moto g(6) play using Tapatalk

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Thanks guys, the reason the smiths is on the table is it’s what I was given to ‘play’ with and I couldn’t wait to get in there. I’ve not had chance to pick up another fixer yet but I am searching the charity shops for a likely candidate. I did pick up a dusty thing from the office which I was told wasn’t working but it’s an old quartz and just needed the battery terminals cleaning and a new battery installing. Didn’t need anything else other than a good clean and it’s been running days. The course goes into quartz movements so I’m holding fire on doing any more to this until i begin.

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Edited by Squiffything
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Thanks guys, yeah the matchsticks were to get it level as the case wasn’t true, all sorted now though, took awhile to sort the chimes out but worked it out in the end, couldn’t believe how simple it actually is when you work it out!!

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Hi Squiffything, You said in Davey57 thread "The clock is running fine but I’ve got to sort out the chimes. It’ll be taken apart a few more times before I’m done."

You do not need to take it apart to get the chimes right, if the only issue is the sequence/order all you need to do is ...

Take the clock so it chimes the 1/4 past the hour, then on the back of the movement take off the top wheel, now the chimes are not connected to the train, turn the next wheel down till it drops the hammers in 1,2,3,4 order, re-attach the top wheel and now they are in  the right sequence.

I have already posted in the Davey57 thread the way to set up the chime and strike on the front if that is the issue.

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Hi Jimmy, the movement is back in the case and running sweetly. A full day of taking it apart, lots of photos, spring wind downs, cleaning all parts, drying parts, recleaning and picking out hardened gunk, with toothpicks, polishing spindle ends, examining holes and rebuilding. Hours of rebuilding, then little spindles would not go in them holes!

I purposely did not revisit the chimes as I’d been at it all day but I did read yours and OH,s comments and advice on the chimes. I’ll be going back when I get to go back in there again later in the week.

Are you anything to do with the Cookoo clock place in Tambourine Mountain? That looks like a fantastic place to visit.

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Yeh that is me far left in the photo on the front page, they hide me down in the basement so not to scare the customers. Have a look at the clock repair page, I do cases as well as the movements.

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