A Dutch collector has kindly allowed me to share some images of his own WT movements. These are both shown in the early stages of restoration but make excellent examples as evolutionary steps between WT movements over time.
Click on the images for larger versions. Back click to return to the text.
This WT movement, No 662, is the same size but a little later than my own. The paint is now overall grey with plated brass parts. The cast iron main frame has developed a sloping section above the power electromagnets. No doubt this offered some improvement in the strength and stiffness of the frame thanks to better triangulation over the earlier curved frame design.
The masking pawl has taken on a curved form on the underside perhaps offering a slower lifting action with less wear on the D-shaped pin. The Hipp toggle damper base has been moved to the very edge of the cast frame. My (missing) damper would have been fixed to a plate screwed to the cast bar just below the bevel gear cluster. The electromagnets are now bandaged and probably varnished or resin coated for insulation and waterproofing.
Only two bevel gears suggest a clock dial (or dials) placed well above the movement and driven by a single lead-off rod via the forked "universal" coupling. Probably with further bevel gears to achieve a horizontal drive to the hands of the clock dial or dials. This would allow the movement to remain easily accessible in a lower room instead of being raised to the clock chamber behind the dials themselves. The other forked universal joint would allow another dial or mechanical drive on the same level. The hand setting dial is on the upward facing bevel gear with a pointer fixed to the main frame nearby.
A metal Gents' label is affixed to the mainframe cross bar below the bevel gears. I have seen this label in this position on other movements of this period and later.
No doubt this movement has been photographed immediately after purchase and will clean up nicely to look very smart indeed. Even a simple wash with a damp cloth and washing up liquid can work wonders on a movement which has simply collected a little dust on its shoulders. After completely dismantling my own 'WT' I used odour free lamp oil to remove the inevitable oily residues. Followed by a soak of of each part in a bowl of ordinary washing up liquid and warm water. The parts were then carefully dried on an old towel, then polished with paper towels. The finish on the painted frame and the brass parts needed no further restoration.
Here is something completely different from the previous model. A C40B. This is the next larger model after the C40A illustrated above. It has a much more solid, modern and functional appearance than the smaller movements illustrated earlier. A no-nonsense, dependable, timekeeping workhorse. One which is still a very attractive and highly desirable, horological collector's item.
Note the much larger wormwheel and bevel gears to match the heavier loads on the hands of even larger clock dials. The much heavier, web-reinforced, cast frame design has a cut-away form to expose the bevel gears and wormwheel. The worm/escape wheel shaft itself is supported on a sturdy plate at the front with a bridging bar at the rear.
The hand setting dial is facing forwards with a long metal pointer on the left at 9 o'clock. There is the usual, small crank and handle on the worm/escape wheel shaft to allow rapid resetting of the hands in the event of a maintenance or power cut stoppage. Or to make the hourly Winter/Summer Time changes. There is very little resistance to turning these handles thanks to the reduction gearing of the worm and wormwheel. The time to the exact half minute is easily set using the small dial on the forward-facing bevel wheel. The electrical contact steady bars are now pressed from strip metal with softer bends rather than being cast brass with the sharper bends of earlier models.
The overall concept remain the same but everything is scaled up and strengthened to cope with the greater loads placed on this larger movement. Here there are four forked couplings for four large dials probably on the same level as the movement high up on a tower. Lead-off rods, with a matching crossbar to fit the slotted coupling, would allow for any slight misalignment. There is also enough linear freedom in the slots to allow for building structural movement and thermal expansion and contraction between the WT movement and the motion work behind the dials.
Note the metal pegs jutting up from the frame casting foot. These are designed to make levelling of the movement easier in the absence of flat surfaces to the main casting. These pegs are fixed to the foot and the very top of the cast movement frame to ensure perfect levelling in both planes. The green cylindrical object just below the wormwheel is actually a wire-wound, spark quenching, resistance coil to protect the main contacts.
The worm shaft has a sprung thrust bearing probably intended to give a little freedom in the event of a total lock up of one of the lead off rods, dial motion work or even the hands freezing solid on the clock dials. The worm will move forwards above its wormwheel instead of rotating it. This may have been a form of mechanical insurance. Since the WT generates such enormous torque it might otherwise damage something in the drive train in the event of a catastrophic lock up beyond the wormwheel in the drive train.
I am most grateful to the owner of these WT movements for sharing these images with me and hopefully a wider audience.
If anybody else has any images of any WT movement I would be grateful for copies by email. Your anonymity is (of course) guaranteed unless you wish otherwise.
A very large WT:
Here are two images of a very heavy duty 'WT' movement which I have scanned from an old book. Note the huge wormwheel and bevel gears. Obviously intended to handle the loads involved with huge and heavy hands on very large, exposed, public dials. The pendulum bob looks suitably massive while the contacts look very complicated indeed. This WT uses a crutch to connect the pendulum to the movement whereas all the smaller movements act directly on the pendulum rod. It may be that the crutch is only to connect the pendulum to the electrical contacts.
Unfortunately the original illustrations are not sharp enough to be certain of the exact details of this very complex movement. Not even when enlarged. It is likely that the contacts were self-latching to ensure firm contact without bounce or chatter. They would carry considerable current at higher voltages. Dealing with the problems of sparking and back emf, from the electromagnet coils, would require special arrangements completely unnecessary with the much smaller WTs.
The table or bench on which the movement sits does not look as robust as those seen with smaller WT movements. Suggesting (perhaps) that this is a Gent's assembly or factory workbench. Rather than one intended as the final support for such a serious movement. The reaction forces from the pendulum alone would be likely to make a bench like this sway rather dramatically. Perhaps this particular support bench is of welded steel or even cast iron? Making it considerably stronger and stiffer than the usual wooden benches associated with smaller WTs. Such large movements tended to be installed on masonry or low concrete pillars to provide a suitably rigid and massive support. Any movement in the supporting structure would rob the pendulum of power requiring many more driving impulses than otherwise necessary. Any swaying might even endanger the building structure!
The standard WT movements were listed as running from C40A (the smallest) to C40E. (the largest) Capable of driving the hands on four dials of 5' diameter right up to a truly colossal four x 28' diameter! In some cases several large movements were employed for the largest clock installations. This was the case in the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool.
Here is another scanned image from 1911 of a very large dial from a Gent's Waiting Train installation in Liverpool being used as a formal dining table. There are 39 people seated and one standing. With plenty of elbow room for each. Probably intended as a publicity photograph but it speaks volumes about the pride surrounding such a large clock installation. A WT was cutting edge technology of the time. It met a strong desire by big business for conspicuous new architecture. Not to mention the largest possible clock dials to emphasise their importance to world trade. Public timekeeping was also an important service. Electricity was a relatively new and exciting form of energy. The combination of electricity and reliable timekeeping produced orders for WTs from right around the world.
There is a fascinating and detailed account of the design and construction of the record breaking WT clock installation in Liverpool. Written by Colin Reynolds FBHI. A former managing director of Gents of Leicester and leading expert on the history of the company and its products:
The Great George Liver Clock : Reprint
A weight driven clock to move the hands of four dials on this scale would have needed to be far larger than that at the Palace of Westminster. (usually going under the name of 'Big Ben' but which actually refers to the large bell used for striking the hours. The Westminster Clock is its official title. The regular rewinding of the huge weights involved would have required a whole team of strong men. The WT needed no winding and could be scaled up to almost any size.
A very rare appearance of a WT movement on eBay has produced some remarkable bids with some hours still left to run as of this entry: A difficult object to value with so few appearing for sale. Somebody obviously wants this one and is willing to pay for it! I wonder whether this auction will draw more WTs out of the woodwork? A high auction price is often an incentive to have a second look at a previously unloved object. This one looks complete and original and in fair condition. The earlier curved frame over the electromagnets bodes well for a high auction price. It should be relatively easy to restore.
GENT MASTER CLOCK WAITING TRAIN MOVEMENT on eBay (end time 23-Nov-09 19:37:38 GMT)
The auction was won with a bid of £2400! (UK Pounds)
Another privately owned C40A, in complete and fine condition. Early enough to retain the curved frame over the drive electromagnets. Probably from just after WW2.
Pulsynetic C7 master clock, "bell ringer" contact device, charger and batteries with a WT over on the right. Does the bell ringer suggest a Pulsynetic bell ringing machine is active somewhere above? What is the purpose of the case hidden by the ancient wooden pillar on the left? Original battery storage?
A contact has kindly suggested that these leaning "pillars" are actually rope chutes to the bell chamber above. The ringing chamber would be on the floor below and the chutes would avoid slack in non-vertical rope runs. I am always grateful for such expert advice.
A larger WT movement in an English church. Possibly a C40B? It is hard to judge the true scale from the image. It shows features from around WW2. It is also remarkably similar to the bright green WT above. (onamission.org)
chris. b at smilemail. dk