Monday, June 17, 2013

Mini-Project: Cannibalizing a Clock Movement for Parts

So I finally got my hands on a full-sized clock movement. I've taken apart two small vintage (broken) alarm clocks and some modern gear-powered alarm clocks, but this was my first time taking apart an antique clock movement.

 Before anyone tries this themselves, it's important to do your research because this can be dangerous. The springs can be under tension and are dangerous if you're not careful. Here's a video about safely taking apart a clock movement. Otherwise, general advice is to go slowly and be cautious.

 Here is the clock movement before I did anything to it.
I find taking clocks apart to be incredibly fun. My general strategy is to unscrew everything I can find and unbolt everything, one piece at a time. When something gets stuck, I move onto something else. And bit by little bit, I get the pieces off. Eventually you will resort to brute force to get some pieces apart, although it was mostly force applied by needlenose pliers and my weak-ass hands, so it wasn't A LOT of brute force. Again, just be careful. You can start the springs unwinding and the gears turning, which can cut you. Or in my case, eat the skirt I had on while I wasn't paying attention. A LOT of my skirt was eaten by the gears before I caught it and it was really difficult to get it out again.

 Here's what I had when I finally got everything apart. It took me a couple of hours of fiddling.

 The springs in this type of movement are in those large gold barrels. I was afraid to mess with them, though I believe they are mostly or completely unwound. Most of the gears are still on their pinions, which are really difficult to remove. But they limit the usefulness of your gears. So I was thrilled to find this video and learn that it's actually pretty simple to get the pinions out. It just takes the right base and some pounding with a hammer. It wasn't quite as easy as it appears in the video, and I wasn't able to do it myself. My husband did the actual hammering.

Here's the haul after removing the pinions.

I love my gorgeous gears! Seriously, this is steampunk porn. I have plans for at least some of them which I will probably be posting about soon.

I still intend to take the springs out of the barrels, but I only just found any instructions on how to safely do this.  The instructions I found were here.  If anyone has any more info about this, please share!

Finally, it seems like anytime a steampunk talks about taking a clock movement apart, someone feels the need to comment and tell them it's a sacrilege and a waste and people need those clock parts. First of all, if they were so in demand, we wouldn't be able to buy them from clock repairers and makers in the first place. And they wouldn't be affordable to take apart for use in art. Some clock movements ARE valuable and you should always do your research before damaging a clock. But those movements sell for a lot more than the ones we destroy. And finally, let's just not have that fight, ok? Value is in the eye of the beholder and these parts are GOLD to steampunks because they make such beautiful art.

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