Search
  • Graham Powis Member of the British Horological

Jonas Barber of Winster Number 1298

Updated: Mar 21

I am often asked whether I can repair Jonas Barber of Winster Longcase Clocks? The fact is that my workshop is very close to where the Barber workshop was originally situated at Bryan Houses in the Winster Valley over two centuries ago. There are still quite a lot of these clocks residing in the local area so these lovely old clocks are no stranger to me. It is easy to date a Barber clock', after 1748 the mechanisms were given an identifying number thus making dating easy. This article is about movement number 1298 and as the pictures demontrate this clock hasn't received any 'proper attention' for a very long time. Number 1298 is quite an important clock, for one thing it appears in the book- 'Jonas Barber, Clockmaker of Winster' by the wonderfully eccentric B.W Cave-Browne-Cave; ISBN 0 9506689 0 7. 1298 is dated Circa 1787 making it 235 years young.

Pictured left is a top view into the movement, oil has been poured in there on more than one occasion which has made everything a sticky mess, if we add decades of settling dust to the oil this is what we end up with. Just before this picture was taken the dial was removed so now it's a case of dismantling Jonas into

component form. Pictured below is the front plate after the lever and motion work have been removed. The number which has been engraved with such skill and articulation clearly shows number 1298.





Another great innovation of Barber clockwork is latched pillars {see picture}, this very thoughtful addition makes life much easier for the repairer. Care must be taken because if the front plate is placed onto the pillars when there is a latch in the way the pillar end can easily break the latch off. Cleaning this mechanism properly is vital, there is a lot of build up to remove here and the original clockmaker's marking out could easily be eradicated with the wrong intervention. Ammoniated cleaning fluid and buffing mops will never be used here, sadly this has been the case with some clocks received for repair in the past, {see our blog 'Longcase clock repair a conservation approach}. So as this clock is a great age it must be treated with great care to avoid damage and properly reveal the Clockmakers original finish again. So, with the front plate removed we can see the state of the 'works' {below left}. Each part will be cleaned individually and no aggressive cleaning chemicals will be used in the process. The clock wheel pivots seem to be in reasonable order for the most part. In many individual cases the pivots are scored due to lubrication failure and tungsten lapping a pivot in the workshop's pivot lathe reclaims the surface of the pivot as long as it isn't too far gone. So even though this clock has been awash with oil in the past wear has still taken place!

In clockwork the wheels and pinions run dry, {with the exception of the escapement) it is the wheel pivots where the correct lubrication is vital. The next stage is to examine each component carefully.

Pictured below, the front plate has been removed to reveal the works.The hoop wheel has lost a tooth in the past and a rather poor attempt has been made to replace it. The hoop wheel carries the locking mechanism hoop device for the strike. The probable reason that this tooth broke off in the first place is that the clock's driving weight was accidentally dropped onto the loose driving chain and the sudden jolt has caused the tooth to break off..

Shown in the picture above, the crooked tooth is wobbly and the brass material around it is fractured therfore this wheel cannot be used in the mechanism again. The hoop wheel pinion and arbor are serviceable so a new hoop wheel will be made to take the place of the broken one and fitted to the original arbor. This hoop wheel has 60 teeth and will be machined from 3mm brass cast plate to match the gauge of the other train wheels in the clock, the original locking hoop has also been reused in the manufacture of the replacement wheel .The wheel has now been cut and a collet has been made and then driven onto the arbor then the new wheel has been cold rivetted onto the collet. In the picture below left the old wheel is shown below the newly made wheel.This wheel is now ready to give another 235 years of service! Over the time the new wheel will patinate and will look as if it has always been a part of the clock. So in the name of conservation every effort has been made to use the original components of the clock.

Attention can now be given to cleaning the clock's dirty components. This is an aspect of the restoration where shortcuts should not be taken. Ammoniated cleaners will wreak havoc with the brass components of an old clock. There is already a lot of information on this site regarding the conservation cleaning of clockwork, wherever you send your antique clock for repair make sure the workshop understands the 'concept of conservation.' So now the parts have been cleaned and the result can be seen below left. At this point make a comparision with the pictures above before cleaning had taken place. No attempt has been made to impart a shiny finish. So at this point the components are

clean and the new hoop wheel has been tested for correct operation. The rest of the clock can now be serviced. Pictured right the hoop wheel is having its pivots burnished with the Rollimat pivot polishing lathe. This tool utilises a planetary tungsten carbide wheel that laps the surface of the pivot. If this process is not carried out properly the pivot could end up an oval shape! Each wheel receives this treatment prior to being planted into the clock mechanism, The other processes necessary have now been carried out, absolute cleanliness is

very important at this stage. The pivot bearing holes must be cleaned out thoroughly to ensure no detrititus remains. Once the wheels and levers have been planted in the mechanism the strike can be set up for correct operation. The warning and pin wheel positions can be a little tricky to set up and 1298 is no exception. When the strike is unlocked a few minutes from the hour the striking hammer must not begin to lift, if this is the case then the mechanism has been assembled incorrectly. Pictured right is a close up of the mechanism partly assembled and the picture below shows a 'Latched Pillar in the latched position. The additional taper pins have now been fitted and the motion work and lifting piece added. The original 18th century finish has

now reappeared from under the accumulated layers .The clock oil {Moebius D3 & D5 is used

to lubricate this type of mechanism, these oils are stable with temperature change and have a long service life. There is one last repair procedure to carry out before this clock repair is completed.

The escapement faces have been worn away by the continuous contact of the escape wheel, over time the escape wheel ploughs a trough in the escapement pallet faces. This means that as the metal of the pallet face is worn away the 'drop' of the escapement increases. pictured below is the condition of the escapement face when removed from the clock.

It's necessary to study the picture to the left carefully to see the wear, the trough in the escapement face can be seen in the centre of the picture. The escapement action will suffer if this issue is not attended to. Reclaiming worn parts on Longcase clockwork is sometimes tricky particularly in the escapement department. Luckily the escapement can be reclaimed using a micro welding process, normal welding procedures will melt this component. The micro welding process fills the gaps caused by wear with an extremely hard metal material which is harder than the original metal.

Pictured right is the reclaimed escapement faces., in this particular case it has been necessary to repair both pallets {entrance &exit}. The pallets will be finished with fine grade wet & dry abrasive paper to impart a smooth finish. With the component re-installed the escapement action is as good as it was the day the clock was first set running. The mechanism can now be tested before it is returned to it's case. Attention will be given to regulating the timekeeping and the correct operation of the striking and going train over a two week period before being returned to it's owner.

It has indeed been a great challenge to return this clock to its former glory. The pictures either side of the text shows the rear of the mechanism which shows the count wheel, pendulum and crutch. This is a very early painted 'white dial' clock, around 1780 the white dial became popular. The brass dial which had been popular for almost two centuries all but disappeared in the provinces. This clock has been restored using museum standard techniques, a clock such as this can easily be damaged if the wrong procedures or shortcuts in the name of economy are taken. This clock is now ready to give another 235 years of service, if it is serviced at the recommended intervals there is no reason why it shouldn't do just that!

More than anything else you own an antique clock is a 'story book' from the past, any maker's or repairers marks are carefully preserved and recorded for the benefit of the Client. Jonas 1298 has some signatures hiding under the layers of dirt and they are as follows:-

H P. June 14th 1829/July 4th 1831/12th March 1834/April 29th 1845/Jan 13th 1847/May 2nd 1851. H P is almost without doubt 'Henry Philipson', the Philipson family worked for Jonas Barber and when the business ceased trading Henry Philipson Jnr carried on making clocks in Ulverston under his own name and continued the numbering system as previously used by Jonas Barber.

An additional signature was noted 'M R Weston'- April 20th 1887, I have no knowledge of this repairer.




















































































88 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All