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On 12/6/2020 at 4:35 PM, spectre6000 said:

Curious indeed. What's in it with 17 jewels?

Almost certainly a variant of the Chinese Standard or Shanghai movements.

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https://17jewels.info/movements/s/shanghai/

These are extremely ubiquitous in Chinese watches, although there are a few other possibilities.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_standard_movement

They can be quite well put together and run well... but there are also some pretty terrible versions too.

 

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On 11/12/2020 at 11:42 AM, AndyHull said:

I had a look through my various books and a trawl round the internet.

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The way I understand the Maltese cross stop works is as follows.

When correctly positioned, the stop works will allow the barrel to be wound a complete revolution for each square cut out in the cross. In the case of the one in the diagram above that would mean that the cross allows four complete revolutions of the barrel before the stop works is impeded by the lack of a further cut out, assuming the barrel cam is turning counter clockwise and the cross therefore turning clockwise in this case.

If this is the correct, then the cross needs to be returned to the zero position if tension is let down on the main spring, otherwise, if the spring was previously fully wound, then the cross will immediately impede winding as the stop works would still be in the stop position.

In other words, there may be nothing wrong with the main spring, it may simply be the case that the tension had been let down at some stage before I received the watch, and therefore, with a little light lubrication and the correct re-positioning of the stop works, it may in fact be fully functional.
 

Does anybody know if my analysis is sound?

That Maltese cross helps to keep the torque in the section B. (i took the picture from one of my book written in Hungarian). This cross is also used in music boxes to help the tune so it would be not too fast and not too slow. Mine is obviously not adjusted well, because it is too fast at the beginning and stops before the cross could stop it.

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I thought I'd add my submission to the club. I was lucky to get it for £4.49 posted. I've never heard of "Renown", so if anybody has any info I would be most interested. I've managed to identify the movement as a Durowe 1258, again does anyone know anything about these? Cheers

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  • 2 weeks later...

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The 404 club membership committee (me) debated long and hard, well in to the night and have decided to allow clocks under the extensive 404 club rules and regulations, so here is the first new member under the new rules.

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A relatively early Metamec synchronous mains, brush finished brass and mahogany mantle clock (serial number 60). 

I would guess its age as anything from the late fifties to the mid to late seventies, as this model had a long production run, even sporting a later quartz variant, which looks almost identical other than the Kienzle quartz mechanism and a "Quartz" designation on the dial.

The mains synchronous motor and gearbox mechanism got a good clean and lubrication and the case, woodwork, plexiglass and brass all got treated to a bath and some polish.

I had to re-finish the brushed brass as it was so heavily darkened and the lacquer so badly stained that it looked terrible.

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I should have taken some pictures of the works of this thing as it is a little more interesting than your average quartz mechanism.

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Maybe I'll take some pictures of the interior when I get around to lacquering the brass.

it is virtually silent and has a nice smooth sweeping second hand, on account of the 50hz "tick" from the mains. It should be fairly accurate apparently, but that all depends on how well my local mains frequency is maintained.

As you can see I added a modern two core moulded plug mains cord in place of the slightly dodgy looking existing wires (which were  black and red, suggesting the thing was originally wired before the early 1970s). I should really use a 1A fuse, but I only had a 3A. I'll pick some up next time I'm ordering stuff.

Edited by AndyHull
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On 11/9/2020 at 4:48 PM, AndyHull said:

I didn't do a full strip down, on this one either as I had a bunch of other household tasks to complete, and besides, I need to be "in the zone" with no other interruptions or distractions, to strip down and re-build anything this small.

This is when your 0.5mm screwdrivers finally become handy! ?

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2 hours ago, spectre6000 said:

Interesting. I've never heard of a clock regulated by AC frequency oscillations. Makes perfect sense. Wouldn't be the best for me up here with our janky mountain utilities, but I'm sure it'd be more accurate than many of the movements that have graced this thread so far.

Electro-mechanical clocks are actually not that uncommon in industrial settings for things like lighting and heating controls that come on and off at set times throughout the year (although those are a little more complex than the metamec).

Good old fashioned street lights in the pre-solid state electronics age were often controlled by timers like these directly fed and regulated from the mains. These also use synchronous motors.

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Some even have a "spring reserve" to keep them ticking away if the power goes off. The really fancy ones have a seasonal cam to compensate for day length change. 

Here is a video with a couple of Sangamo branded ones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB1suqosVwo

 

Sangamo have a factory in Port Glasgow in Scotland - click this link for more info.

A few years ago the company I worked for had a bunch of these controlling the car park lights, and although they were generally really reliable, they did very occasionally need a little bit of cleaning  and tinkering to keep them functioning.

The construction of the Metamech did remind me somewhat of the Sangamo timers, although the motor construction of the Metamech is somewhat different.

Edited by AndyHull
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3 hours ago, HectorLooi said:

What lacquer would you recommend for a job like this?

Would you be lacquering the movement plates too?

I've had good results with your typical rattle can lacquers and clear coats but there are actually specialist lacquers for brass, both spray on and brush on. I even used pound shop rattle can lacquer for the brass fittings on the windows and doors in our previous place, and that lasted for years. There are specialist lacquers for brass musical instruments for example, but they tend to be a little pricey. You will also find lacquers for brass bullet and shell cases, however I don't think they are necessary for this, as the item will see very little contact wear, so pretty much anything will probably work. 

The lacquering process is typically fairly easy, if you are careful. 

As with most finishes, a few light coats gives a much better finish than one heavy coat, but more important perhaps is the removal of any old finish first. You can boil the item up with some baking soda which works reasonably well, as most varnishes and lacquers will then simply peel off, if the underlying material is not too pitted or tarnished.

Avoid caustic paint strippers as they may well react with the metal. I've not tried the "green" citrus ones, they may or may not react with the brass. 

Alternatively  you can remove most finishes and tarnish with acetone and/or abrasives.

Once the item is clean, then polish, brush finish with fine emery or 000 wire wool or shot finish depending on the effect you want, and then really importantly thoroughly clean the surface with acetone and wear gloves to ensure that no oils or dirt get on to the item while you are lacquering and blow off any dust with a puffer or canned air.

If you don't do this, then you may end up with some perfectly preserved finger marks spoiling your mirror finish, and have to start again.

Don't be tempted to blow the dust off with your breath as this may cause problems with moulds or other contamination from the moisture in your breath getting trapped under the varnish. Wipe it off with a lint free cloth or blow it off with clean air.

When drying between coats, hang the item in a dust free area. A large cardboard box sat on its side works well as a space to hang small items in if you are working in shed or other area where there is likely to be a lot of airborne contaminants.

If anybody has any other tips they want to add, then feel free.

Also, no I wont be lacquering the movement plates in this clock, they are pretty industrial looking and nobody will ever see them anyway, so its not really worth the effort.

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Nice to see a Metamec here ?

I've got a couple of dozen Metamecs of various types, many mains synchronous, but also quartz and clockwork. My Metamec habit pre-dates my interest in watches by about 15 years!, even have a book about them somewhere. Many rooms in my house have a Metamec. I have a fair few wooden ones, but I like the 'mid century' plastic and metal best. Selection shown here (including a crazy 'eye' clock with built in lamp), most would fit the '404 club' rules (having been bought very cheaply 15-20 years ago).

Mains synchronous is a clever method, basically, you allow the power generator to keep the time for you ? (they are required to keep the average at 50Hz in the UK, there can be a little drift depending on demand, but they put it right again later in the day if that is the case) there is little to go wrong with the movements (most you pick up will still work) and the clock will stay super accurate (especially compared to clockwork or pre quartz battery movements) Easily within 60s/year. Also, they are very quiet, and you get a super smooth sweeping second hand as the movement doesn't 'tick'.

British houses in the 50's and 60's often had outlets for them high on the wall (about 1.5" square) which would be hidden behind the clock. This went out of fashion as clocks became cheaper and quartz came on the scene. The technology still works just fine and for a 'sideboard clock' is still useable, but for wall clocks you end up with an ugly trailing wire from a normal socket. Which isn't so good! 

For a few years I have been modding the mains synchronous wall clocks to use generic £3/£4 chinese quartz movements to get them back into use, the ones I use are smooth sweeping despite being quartz to keep the original look as best I can. The spindles are not compatible with the old hands though, so I select hour/minute hands that match the originals as well as possible, the original second hand can be reused by replacing the tubes with one from a new hand.

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Metamec Clock 004.jpg

Edited by Pauly
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Found my book, yours looks to be a '946' made from September 67 - August 83, for the wooden clocks, the number stamped into the base, is sometimes, (but often not) the model number. Interesting the photo from the catalogue shot in £ s d shows that the mains synchronous ones were way cheaper than the clockwork ones when new.

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Thanks for the info. I wonder if the '60' stamped on the base might then be the model number for a slightly different version of the 946. The style of bakelite case used on the mechanism of one I have is very reminiscent of 1950s and early 1960s electrical items.

Typically off white urea formaldehyde and epoxy resin fabricated items had replaced most of the brown bakelite ones by the early seventies, however I guess since the model looks to have been introduced in 1967, they were still using brown bakelite even then.

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Its not that brown was the only colour for bakelite, but it was presumably the cheapest, and the dull brown stuff was used extensively for electrical items like plugs and switches. Anybody who encountered Bayko Toy construction sets will know that you could get bakelite in a wide variety of colours

Edited by AndyHull
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Yes, datewise, I was puzzled by the fact yours had an older bakelite cover version of the movement too, you are quite right, I thought they were using plastic covers on a more compact movement revision (like the one in my picture of the wall clock) by the mid sixties, so maybe yours isn't a '946' as described but a preceding variant, I don't think it can be just '60' though as so far as I can tell, they never used 2 digit model numbers at any point, they were always at least 3. I think the stamped 60 is more likely to be the number for the 'pattern' of the wooden case parts. Another possibility is that the book could be wrong on start date for the 946... the data I think is compiled from loads of annotated sheets saved from the factory, but this often relied on cross referencing descriptions to pictures that weren't directly linked, and I think the running dates for models is just done by seeing when they appear/disappear on the sales sheets. I have found mistakes or irregularities before! (and clocks that don't seem to be in the reference at all). I have (or at least had!) one the same as yours, I found its picture and entry in my spreadsheet! My Picture is from January 2004, it might be in the attic... possibly... or maybe I moved it on, but mine was clockwork (so a '6' 946)

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Metamec Clock 016.JPG

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Actually, scratch that comment, looking at your picture again, that IS the 2nd gen movement started in the mid 60s, so that would be consistent with those model dates, they made them with brown and ivory bakelite plastic covers (and later in coloured plastics). The earlier movements were even more 'bakelitey' if you see what I mean, many of those had the option to have an artificial tick too! (that is the one function that often doesn't work though)

With the 1st gen movements, you had to 'start' them by hand (just turn a small knob) after plugging in, the 2nd gen like you have there will self start as soon as power is connected

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2 minutes ago, AndyHull said:

The advert shows three model types, "Electric", "Automatic"  and "8 Day jewelled".
Electric and 8 day jewelled are obvious, but what does "Automatic" mean in this case, since it clearly doesn't mean the same thing as a self winding watch.

Model numbers starting '5' are battery operated, there are reprints of price lists on the book, all state 5946 as 'battery' 1979 price list number below by which point there was a 4946 quartz too but the '8 day jewelled '7946' had been deleted

946 = electric £24

4946 = quartz £37.80

5946 = battery (non quartz) £33.80

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According to Hansard, that £8 15' 0d  price would have been roughly half a weeks average wages in 1967

https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/written-answers/1967/dec/05/average-weekly-earnings

So two and a half day's graft would have bought you a fine new mahogany and brass, electric clock for the living room mantelpiece. That Metamech was a bit of a status symbol in that case.

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3 minutes ago, AndyHull said:

Assuming your prices are from around 1967 (and obviously pre decimal), that wasn't a particularly cheap clock back in 1967. If we take a rough price for the "Automatic" model at £8 (and ignore the 15 shillings).

 

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No... and ultimately, this is what 'did for' metamec, they were making something that was crafted and traditionally expensive, then all of a sudden they were competing with far eastern imports that were a fraction of the cost (and quality) but they told the time just fine... Latterly metamec tried to compete with lower end product and reduce costs, they invested in their own quartz movement manufacturing line, but it was a failure, for reference, evolution of the 5946 pricing for the years the book has lists (all later than the picture!) the 70s had some monster inflation! Hence regular new price lists! By the 81 list, the battery option is gone and only the quartz remains

May 1973: £11.55

Jan 1974: £13.05

Aug 1976: £19.95

Oct 1977: £24.95

Apr 1978: £26.50

Jun 1979: £33.80

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The 1979 price of £33.80 translates to  £157.11 in 2020 so the cost as a percentage of the weekly wage would be about the same, however as you say there were much cheaper options, and tastes were changing, you just need to look at some of the 1970s watches to see that.

Having said all that if you look at the price of a new Seiko brass mantle clock today, they are not a kick in the pants away from £200, so if the quality is there, then people will still pay those kinds of numbers.

You have to be careful when you go down market, because you need much larger volumes to make the same kind of profits. Perhaps if they had gone the other way, and produced something akin to what Seiko is offering they might still be about. 

Quality sells, even in a recession, and there is a lot of truth in the adages that "if you buy cheap, you buy twice", and "I buy quality, because I'm too poor to afford to be able to buy tat".

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9 minutes ago, AndyHull said:

 

That is such a cool find. Possibly not to every bodies tastes, but it is a design classic.

 

 

Yep, it is cool! I also have the same one in baby blue... (the 2nd thing I ever posted on Instagram back in 2012 and remains my insta thumbnail to this day) and I have a 3rd eye shaped one in a plain white/black (no lamp) I did say I had a metamec problem ? 

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Edited by Pauly
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19 minutes ago, AndyHull said:

You have to be careful when you go down market, because you need much larger volumes to make the same kind of profits. Perhaps if they had gone the other way, and produced something akin to what Seiko is offering they might still be about. 

Quality sells, even in a recession, and there is a lot of truth in the adages that "if you buy cheap, you buy twice", and "I buy quality, because I'm too poor to afford to be able to buy tat".

Yeah true, I think it was a massive swing though (sort of reflecting the quartz crisis in watches but in a way even more extreme) They were making clocks from mahogany, oak, even fairly sturdy bakelite, and chrome and glass, with mechanical or battery movements (and we can see from the price differential that the movements were a significant part of the cost). Even cheap watches have to be robust enough to last a while on your wrist at least, but in the late 70s, early 80s (through to even today) there were kitchen wall clocks coming to market that were literally a thin blow moulded disc with a carboard face/dial and super cheap movement. Added to that clocks in general stopped being something that people bought, I guess your oven or microwave had one, or your VCR? They continued selling carriage clocks and mantel clocks at higher costs, but I think with their wall clocks they were stuck in the middle, they couldn't sell cheap enough or add enough value to sell high enough. Some of Metamec's 80s and 90s output is fairly grim! 

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