For the Love of American Clocks

Hello readers! I hope you all are enjoying a wonderful holiday season! David took Steve and I on a little study tour to see some private collections. Partly, this was an attempt to engender in me a love for American clocks. As I specialize in English and European objects, I am not as familiar with American styles and makers. There are more visits scheduled to see clocks by Pennsylvania maker David Rittenhouse and others. American horology has a fascinating history. It’s brief compared to that of Europe, but seems quite rich in ingenuity over a relatively short period of time. From the long case (or tall case) clocks of early settlers, to the Hamilton marine chronometers, Bulova mechanical detonators and the Apollo 11 mission timers, to the first quartz clock and watch and more – there is quite a fascinating story! The NAWCC library is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in delving into American horology. They’ve kept on file all records of Marine chronometers made and sold by the Hamilton Watch Co. – this is just one of the gems hidden in their archives. Nearer to the end of the post are pictures of David’s gorgeous MADE lathe. I couldn’t resist. I’d rather buy that machine than a house (clearly my priorities are in order). They are in the process of completing one at David’s workshop. I hope to post photos of it once it’s finished. There is also a small escapement model David built – quite sweet. We are looking at making some decorated versions and developing a kit for this, so one could build and finish it on their own. Lastly are some little movements for dwarf tall clocks that David’s daughter made.

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7è Partie. A French Horse Racing Game -Conservation (Part II) by Ségolène Girard

Seg is speaking !

I put aside all of the unstuck and bathed papers to dry, and to flatten under a press.

I also prepared a dampening room, consisting of a sort of tiny plastic tent (that you can close perfectly) and bowls filled with water. The cardboard lid was placed higher than the bowls, to avoid any risks of contact with liquid water. I then started to put some unheavy weights on the deformed sides. The idea is to progress gently. Everyday, I would add a little more weight, to flatten regularly the cardboard. When it would be flat enough, I could place a big weight to flatten definitely the side treated. This took me a few weeks, also because I had to treat each side individually, to have it horizontally (simple logic !).


Meanwhile, I decided to treat the mechanics of the game.

I first removed the green felt, that was not really green anymore, nor sticking, and almost “holing”.  I then dismounted the game in order to put it right again in order to work. I gently sanded the pulverulent rust.

Capture d’écran 2014-05-02 à 19.34.20I then applied bicarbonate fluoride with a brush. In order to stop the process from too much action, I cleaned the dissolute residues with a moisten fabric, and dried it right away. On this picture, you can see the action of bicarbonate fluoride in the lower part :

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Here are the results after full treatment :

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 For the red ring, I used Paraloïd B72, which is a thermoplastic resin, used especially in ceramics and metals restoration. It is stable in the passage of time. I first applied it everywhere between the flakes network with a tiny brush, to fill the holes, and when it was dry I applied a second layer in top of it all.

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The insects holes of the wood were treated individually with a syringe and insecticidal.

I could also have used anoxia, that I did not know at the time and avoids using toxic materials. It consists in killing insects by deprivation of air. You can do it at home ! It consists in keeping the object contaminated in a plastic well sealed for at least 72 hours.

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Finally, I mounted all the parts again right at their places. The game was indeed working better. I closed the base with a non acid cardboard to replace the one that was contaminated by mold.

I replaced the fabric with a new felt cloth, antique, but never used, and with unfaded color. It was a hard part. I had to cut it exactly to fit the original place, and to stuck the sides well between the wood and the metallic parts.


Now that the papers were dry, it was time for mending. In fact, each side where separated from each other due to wear and tear, while they used to be just one long band wrapping the box. I also had to figure out how the flaps used to be, as some of them where missing.

I torn some pieces of Japanese papers, to keep fibers on the side that will be stuck to the papers tears. This allows us to naturally extend the paper, as if it had never been torn. Cutting it perfectly would not offer a good adherence. Also, the fibers of the Japanese paper and of the ones of the object needs to be in the same direction to offer a perfect tension. I chose a Japanese paper that would approach the basis weight of my object papers.

I stuck these papers with wheat starch glue, on about 0,1 in, and put it under weights.

There you can see it on each side (top band is the one of the cardboard lid, and bottom part of the wooden base, you can even see the hole for the trigger) ;

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The white parts where painted with acrylic in order to match with the rest, but in a color slightly different to make the restoration appear. I then prepared like-sized strips of Japanese papers that I painted with golden acrylic.


Capture d’écran 2014-05-02 à 20.33.50This is a sketch of the cardboard lid. As a wooden “T-bar” was missing (first arrow on the picture above), I replaced it with a non-acid piece of cardboard, before remounting the papers.

First, the montage of the golden strip, on both lid and base, as follows ; was stuck with wheat starch glue :

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I did an “in situ” retouch on the golden papers to tarnish them a little.

Then, I re-stuck all the pieces of papers again. Oh no I will make you wait a little longer for the final picture. Exactly a year after my first post on this game ! Boy, it’s been a rough journey. I can’t believe all of the things that happened meanwhile !

Until next time !