Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Longcase Clock Overview

Before I start on any major project or restoration, I like to take detailed photos of everything, and noting down as much information as possible.

On this longcase, I took over 200 preliminary photos, so these are just the more important ones (around 50), along with some quick notes.

Overall view of the case "as-is". Note the huge bubble in the glass.

Unusual triple cove profile under the hood. Reeded 1/4 columns on trunk.

Both back feet are broken, and will need to be repaired.

All the trunk and hood mouldings are solid all the way through, and are each made of two laminated boards. This particular moulding is loose, and will be removed and reglued.

Here you can see that the backboard was slotted into the bottom board. The entire back is mainly one large board, except for this bottom rectangle, and added narrow side pieces on the top.

Note 2-piece laminated block for moulding.

I am usually very confident in identifying woods, but I'm not 100% sure what this clock case is made from. This is the only clear view of the wood grain, which is on the interior of the trunk door. From a distance the wood resembled mahogany, and it is stained/coloured like mahogany, but it doesn't have the open grain and characteristic markings of mahogany. It almost looks more like poplar, but it's not greenish/pale enough to be poplar. It's not heavy enough to be birch (and birch is not a common wood used on longcases). Any thoughts? Is this just a very poor quality mahogany?

The trunk door is missing its lock.

I am now certain that these hinges are not original.

The seatboard mounting blocks are also very suspicious looking. They are held in place with large clot head screws. Also note old candle wax drippings.

Here are details of the hood. The entire thing is in very rickedy shape currently. You can partially see the 4 holes caused by incorrecty chosen hinge screws.

Right hand fretwork.

The left side has a different fabric.

Unusual door hardware (missing).

Very sturdy door construction.

Sewing pins are the only thing holding this small piece in place. The upper crack cannot be repaired without disassembling the entire door (including removing the original glass and putty), so it will only be wax-filled to minimize the defect.

String inlay detail.

Same problem on this side.

Evidence of a column base (both columns and all associated hardware are missing).

The entire right side dial surround is missing and will need to be recreated.

Original coloured putty around glass. Also note how the door was made. It's too difficult to cut a square corner in a sheet of glass, so a gentle curve was used.

The pendulum was dropped and/or mishandled at some point, resulting in several issues. The rating assembly is bent/mangled (but not broken), and the tip of the rod is broken inside the lower assembly.

The original suspension spring (which fits perfectly in the bridge notch).

Hands "as received". Note the repair to the hour hand, and the snipped-off tip of the minute hand.

The hands have beautiful "carved" details filed into them.

Original crank key with slight bend in the narrow shaft.


Current pieces are glued crooked (this is how it lines up at the moment). Note shadow of correct location.

The entire corners of the cornice (on both ends) has been chewed/broken away, and will need to be recreated, as will the bottom 1/4 of this moulding.

Detail showing poorly aligned previous repair.

A very nice detail is that the centre plinth fits into the upper crest with dovetails cut into the edges. These are TINY (maybe 1/8" deep)!

Parts of the main (top) cornice.

The arrow shows a tiny remaining sliver of the string inlay to the front (sides are plain).

Evidence of column, as well as marks from a swivel hinge.

Front (left corner).

Hood lower side mouldings (I'm very glad I won't have to recreate these from scratch).

Dial details.

Upper foot is bent and loose, and lower foot was torn out (I have it, and it's another piece that I'm grateful wasn't lost).

I also suspect that this clock could be a marriage. Note how the door doesn't line up with the dial.

So there you go. The clock has definitely had a hard life over the past century, but hopefully I can put it back together in a way that makes it fairly presentable.

Stay tuned for additional posts soon (hand repair, pendulum repair, seatboard repair, and some photos of the movement).

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