Sunday, April 30, 2017

Highly Unusual Vienna Clock - Part 2

As you may have noticed in Part 1, the clock was in somewhat shabby condition, with a large chunk of the crown broken off (and missing) in the top left, as well as some breaks to the bottom bracket and a few veneer issues.


Other missing pieces include all the finials (x5) and two top corner blocks (there were square shadows to each side of the centre crest).

The hardest part to replicate was the upper crown moulding piece, but I was able to get a close-enough shape with a few passes of a cove router bit and some saw cuts. The rest was careful sanding. For the bottom moulding, I chose to replace it with a single rectangular piece, rather than rebuild it in 3 sections like it was.


The veneer on the bottom bracket had some damage to both sides. Sadly my camera has been having a hard time lately (it needs to be replaced), so I did not get many good photos of the repairs. This was the worst side. Most of the back edge was badly chipped, so I replaced a full strip. This was difficult to cut and glue. I had to pre-bend the veneer around two forms to shape it into an "S" before I could glue it. The large chip at the top was just puttied. A veneer repair there would have been difficult and unsightly. It was either putty, or remove another inch-wide strip of veneer down the length of the bracket. This is so low on the clock that the repair isn't that visible.



This was followed by a bit more sanding, some dark stain, and a bit of diluted paint to blend the harsh line. I used orange shellac to varnish the area and blend it into the rest of the original shellac. None of the photos turned out so I may try to take new ones later.

After more touch-ups, small chip repairs, a bit of black paint and shellac, this is the finished case:



The clock still has the original old wavy glass with several imperfections.


The clock originally had wall stabilizers, but they were missing, so I installed a sew set. The finials are still being planned/chosen and they'll be shown in Part 3 once they're installed.




For the two little top blocks, I had to make an educated guess as to what they should look like. As I mentioned earlier, there were two square shadows, and a faint circle outline in the centre of the squares indicating finials. I made the blocks from pine and veneered them in some salvaged antique walnut veneer. The ebonized tops were made to match the bottom bracket detail.



You can sort of see the typical German/Vienna case construction detail of the "lock joint" at each corner of the main box.


All it needs now are the finials.


Highly Unusual Vienna Clock - Part 1

Here is a rather lovely clock that I've had sitting around in my "to fix" pile for a while. I bought the clock originally in may of 2009. This was one of those purchases where I bought it largely based on looks and price. The clock was only 99$ USD +shipping, so I thought it was a fairly nice piece (or it could be) with a bit of work.

Please note, these are a mix of newer and older photos.


After it arrived, I started to be really puzzled by it. For the most part, the case seems to be a European product, made from yellow pine or spruce, and veneered in figured walnut with ebonized accents. It also had a bit of woodworm damage, which is something I see frequently in European antiques.

The bottom bracket has beautiful walnut burl veneer.


The movement and the case layout are where things start to get a bit weird.


The case has a false (or double) back, which barely hides behind the dial. This back is meant to hide a spiral gong, which is now missing. The false back is held in place by a single screw into the centre bar (though the backboard).



The movement is unlike any I have ever seen before. At first glance, it looks a lot like a very standard American 8 day movement, but looking closer, a lot of the details are wildly different. As a quick side note: the movement appears to be original to the clock. There are no additional holes anywhere.


I don't know why, but the entire strike train was removed at some point in the past, which is a real shame.


The various parts are all extremely well made. Solid brass, nice thick enamel, etc.


Some chipping around the dial centre was later patched-up.


The dial is all crimped together quite nicely. It just sits over the movement and is fixed in place with 2 small screws.


The screw-fixing method was clearly not an after thought as the enamel was fired with the holes already in place.


Here are more photos of the unusual movement.

Some of the differences:
- HUUUUGE verge. This strip verge is not only wider than the escape wheel, but it's also unnecessarily deep
- Suspension spring post for a double leaf European style spring
- Crutch loop for pendulum rod in an unusual "U" shape
- Unusual motion works setup
- Unusual bridges and brackets
- "I" shaft for minute hand (which is not all that common on this style of 8 day movement (American or otherwise)







The movement seems to point to an Asian manufacture, but it's hard to say for sure. It doesn't feel cheap and flimsy, so if it is Asian made, it is most certainly an older make. I would date the clock to around 1890-1900 but again, it's hard to say. I have found no inscriptions, scribbles, stamps, or any other kind of identifying information on it (aside from the two "30" crayon marks on the 2 backboards). I have also never run across another similar clock since buying this one.

I seem to have a knack for finding rare and unusual pieces. I don't think this one is particularly valuable or desirable, but it's still a rather nice piece. I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this clock. If you have a similar example, please contact me.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rosewood Seth Thomas (Thomaston) Ogee Clock - Part 2

Apparently I've forgotten all about this series (there will be at least 3, maybe 4 parts to this clock restoration), so here is an update on this clock (which is currently finished and running quite nicely).

The previous part 1 is here:

The only part of this clock that I had posted about so far was the restoration of the movement. This is a somewhat in-between to late model Seth Thomas ogee. It has a Thomaston label, but a Plymouth Hollow movement. I would guess that it's as late as the 1870s. This would mean that it would have a decal style glass (fairly detailed/printed). Probably flowers or a Victorian style scene. However, I wanted to install a somewhat earlier stenciled tablet. They are nicer to look at, and they look more convincing that buying a reproduction tablet from a supplier.

For this tablet I dug into my Fenn Stencil books and picked out a design that I've seen used on Seth Thomas clocks. I've seen this pattern on column and cornice clocks. It is also similar in style to a few other patterns of the period. The nice part of this specific pattern is that I had photos of a popular colour scheme for it which looked quite nice. Largely dusty grey and red.


A similar tablet in black and gold:

Ives St HillsG

Two ogee clocks with the blue/gold/black theme:

Ogees 01

This is more or less the exact tablet I wanted to copy (as far as colours go):

ST Column1

Different pattern, same colours:

Terry Andrews Four-Finial Steeple (Sold 1100 USD) 01

I cut all my stencils from chemical-proof plastic. Anything that won't melt or dissolve in lacquer thinner. I have used thin plastic file folders as well as Mylar for this. This was actually a stencil that I had already cut a few years ago. Initially the size of the pattern was a bit smaller than I wanted, but I assumed it would look alright. I went ahead and stenciled the glass with bronze powders using my usual method (see Mirror Clock Project).


The finished glass didn't look TOO BAD, but I hated how the blue-grey turned out. It was far too blue, and too bright.


I decided to scrap it and restart. I took the glass out, stripped all the paint off, and I decided to enlarge the pattern also. These patterns are incredibly tedious and difficult to cut, so on something like this I actually only cut HALF the pattern, and I stencil it in 2 parts. All tiny dots are painted in freehand.


Stripping off all my hard work:


Here's the new stencil before cleanup. You can see some of the thin streaks of varnish across the glass. The arrows point to all the goof areas that need to be cleaned up. I use a toothpick to just scrub the glass clean in all these spots and to clean up any rough lines.


Before cleaning up (note centre of flower):


New bouquet stencil. You can probably see where a lot of the dots are missing (centre of flowers and ends of stems etc).


Bouquet and red border done. At this point I really didn't want to mess up the grey so I did over a dozen colour samples.


Here's the finished tablet. The gold pattern sort of disappears depending on the viewing angle, but it turned out beautifully and I'm very happy with it.




Month-Going Longcase Clock Project - Updated Dial Photos

Here are a few up to date photos showing details of the dial. In the last post the dial and hands were largely finished, but I had not yet done the chamfer on the winding square hole, or polished the dial plate.


Here you can clearly see the detail of the winding hole as well as the end of the brass screw fixing the spandrel in place.


Here is what the back of the dial looks like. I plan to completely blacken and antique it at some point. The backs of dials are never normally cleaned, so they are usually completely dark and brown with oxidation. Alternatively they are painted brown or black on painted dials. In either case the reverse is usually very dark, and the clean(ish) brass doesn't look right.