Viking grandfather clock chime rods

Last Edited By Krjb Donovan
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2014 07:40 PM GMT

Question

i have a viking grandfather kit clock i purchased & completed in 1978. i just moved it from my home in nj to my daughter's home in northern michigan. we built a wooden crate and packed the clock in styrofoam, but that didn't stop the chime rods from vibrating for 2 days in the back of the truck. when we unpacked the clock 2 of the chime rods had snapped off at the base where the bushing screw holds them into the block at the back of the movement. those little screws are about a half inch long, brass, with the rod fixed in the center of them. what i'm wondering is if those screws can be replaced before my husband attempts drilling the broken end of the rod out. that's a really small screw...i'm thinkin' drilling them out is gonna be a real pain. if they can be replaced, can you suggest where? thanks for helping.

Answer

Jan, when moving a clock, no matter how well you pack the case, the inner workings and components have to be protected. The construction and tuning of chime rods is rather critical, and replacing them is a procedure that has to be done with precision, or they will sound terrible. It is virtually impossible to repair them. The rod is tapered to a very thin diameter and then expanded. This is cast into a brass plug which is threaded to be inserted into the cast iron chime block. Drilling the centers (into tempered steel) and trying to insert the rods would be very difficult and the pitch of the repaired rods would change. Any alteration upsets the qualities of the rod. The good news is that there are replacements readily available. However, certain criteria have to be met. The rods from suppliers all have about the same steel characteristics, but sometimes the variations in material, temper and diameter will change that. There are three ways to go. The first is to buy replacement rods of the same length as the broken ones. The second is to buy a complete set of tuned rods. The third is to buy a complete replacement chime rod assembly, which includes the chime block. In choosing to buy the individual rods to replace the broken ones, consider others that have weakened from the stress of the continuous vibrating during the move, as the might be ready to break also. In replacing any or all the rods, they have been screwed in at the factory using constant torque to tighten them, and most are very difficult to remove. I use a heavy duty vice and special tools to remove them. Last night I was replacing some and even then one of the plugs split and I had to clean it out before inserting the new one. In replacing the complete assembly, it is very likely that the mounting holes in the iron base will be different, as the suppliers have to accept what the manufacturers provide. So, my suggestion would be to have a clockmaker experienced in replacing these do the job for you. Even with the "tuned" sets, they sometimes have to be retuned. I had to do that on one a couple of weeks ago. Also, the manufacturers are now making these assemblies with tapered plugs which are staked (pounded) into the holes. Trying to replace and tune these is even more difficult than the threaded ones. If you decide to proceed with any of the above methods, contact me for some further suggestions. My shop email address is below. Oh, BTW, when the assembly is put back in the clock, the chime hammers will most likely have to be realigned. I have instructions for that or can walk you through it.

Advertisement

©2017 eLuminary LLC. All rights reserved.