Waterbury Oak Kitchen Clock with Steel Plate Movement

Here’s a Waterbury oak “kitchen” shelf clock from around 1910 to 1920. It has an 8-day movement that strikes the hour and half-hour. It appeared to be a routine repair job, but turned out to be challenging.

  • Old and new door latch
  • Pendulum

The time mainspring was a replacement that was WAY too strong. Normally a Waterbury clock like this has thin mainsprings, to reduce wear in the movement. Typically, these mainsprings are about 0.015 inch thick. Here, the time mainspring was 0.018 inch thick. Since the force the spring provides is proportional to the cube of the thickness, this spring was providing almost twice the force of the original mainspring. I replaced it with a mainspring 3/4 inch wide by 0.014 inch thick by 108 inches long (Merritt’s Antiques MS301).

During repair, I found that the time second wheel came close to touching the click on the time mainwheel. I adjusted the height of the second wheel, and thought all was well.

I assembled the movement after final cleaning, and started to wind the time mainspring. When I took my hand off the key, it unwound again. Rats! The mainwheel arbor was not tight in the ratchet hub. I took the movement apart, drove the arbor out of the mainwheel. I tried Locktite, but that didn’t hold. I inserted two thin steel wires in the hole in the hub, then drove in arbor, and it was very tight. I reassembled the movement, and it now runs well.

The pendulum takes a wonderfully wide swing, showing that the 0.014 inch thick mainspring is strong enough. The original strike mainspring is 3/4 inch wide by 0.015 inch thick.

See more pictures.

Repair job 8041. I polished the pivots and installed 14 bushings. Most clocks have brass movement plates, but this one has steel plates with large brass bushings having the pivot holes in them. I installed #3 KWM-size American System bushings in the large bushings. I replaced the flat steel clicksprings (which often break) with round steel clicksprings. I installed new wires in the escape wheel pinion. The movement plates were bowed, I flattened them. I made a new brass door latch.


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One comment

  1. At least there were factory-installed brass bushings. There’s a wretched Ingraham kitchen clock whose bearings are good old steel-on-steel, with predictable results. I’ve had two of these, and the first taught me how to repivot, for the holes were just fine and the pivots were utterly shot. Then I went through and bushed every pivot, using the original holes as the center.

    As a substitute for Loctite you might wish to investigate the new fortified cyanoacrylics. The one I’ve been using is called “Rapid Fuse” made by Dap, of all people. This is a gel that holds metal parts together like the hinges of hell. Also ceramics and about everything else. Loctite/Permatex have a version as well, but I haven’t tried it. The stuff has gotten me off the hook in several situations where I couldn’t solder.

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