|A Monthly Sample of Clock Repair Projects
.....With quarter strike & Alarm?!!!
You don't see this variation come into the shop very
often so this month I'm focusing on this one - if for no
other reason than to document the operation of this
unique clock when another like it comes in.
Morbier is a village in eastern France - not a particular
maker. These provincial clocks are also called Comtoise
named after its region: Franche-Comte' and were all
handmade by various country craftsmen throughout the
1700's to the end of the 1800's.
It is believed that the heavy "birdcage" design>>>>>>>>
was inspired by (or certainly based on) tower clocks
from that region - unlike the dainty mantle clocks with
silk suspensions being made further down the road in
While our subject has some "extra features" which will be
mentioned later the typical Morbier clock has an hour
strike with a twist: at 2 minutes past the hour the clock
strikes the hour again!!! No one knows for sure why this
unique feature was built in; there are those who think
that it was to time hourly prayers, others think it was
simply a "re-run" in case the household hadn't heard the
hour call the first time around while out mowing the
And so we'll begin with this: What is it that triggers this
The design of this clock is far different than any other
you'll run into - but, the basic principles are the same:
there are lifting pins which lift a "lever" to lift a "2nd
lever" to release the warning pin, which - when the
levers eventually drop - sets the strike train into action.
And that is where the similarities end......................
And this, unfortunately, is not the place for a detailed
dissertation on the basic Morbier design (I'd never get
any repair work done if it was!!!!). Suffice it to say that
there is a "hoop" located on the rear side of the cannon
gear (on the center arbor) which has a spaced notch for
each strike (in the case of this clock, with quarter strike,
it has 4 notches - one for each 15 minutes strike). The
"2nd lever" has a "heel" and a "toe">>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
cut to ride upon the outside of the hoop until either
drops into the notch - thus setting/releasing the strike
train into motion.
The hour is first struck when the "toe" drops into the
notch. As this occurs the "heel" is now riding on the
hoop rim....soooooooo close to the edge!!!!!>>>>>>>
It will only be a minute or two until the heel also drops
into the notch, thus setting the strike train back into
motion for the 2nd time.
In almost every clock you'll see with a quarter strike the
mechanical operations which set the train into motion
take place on the front plate and, with assistance (once
in a while), between the plates.
Here, the entire quarter strike operation is moved to the
back of the movement and is driven & conducted by a
small cam which is staked on the back square of the
This sad looking little horn-beaked cam is the essential
piece responsible for the turning over of the clock from
"quarter strikes" to "hour strikes".
AND NOW!!!!!.....For the long awaited (well, at
least 15 minutes) Quarter Strike function:
But....the power of such a little piece is amazing!!!!!!
The big shift from quarter chime to hour takes place
between the cam and the "pivot lever" here>>>>>>>>
Once again, I don't want to get into a full explanation of
this complex system. But you can see where the transfer
takes place....this is the critical point. There's a whole lot
of action going on here!!!
Below is the mechanism whilst nearing the hour...
As enthralling as that all may have been, we are not done!!!!
This clock also has an alarm system built into it>>>>>>>>>
It is designed as many mechanical alarms are: the vertical
crown wheel and 2 verge pallets work together as the
pressure is applied (in this case: the small 3rd weight): the
result is the stuttering mechanical vibration of the crown
wheel & pallets - which inevitably rocks the double-sided
hammer back and forth above on the inside of the top bell -
frantically - until the weight runs itself out.
Unfortunately, there are additional parts that must be present
in order for the alarm to function properly, and this clock
does not have a "setting" device - which (I believe) is a
usually a decorative brass casting typically located behind
the minute & hour hands which allows for the alarm time to be