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1940s Seth Thomas and 1930s Plymouth mantel clocks

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    Posted 6 years ago

    (1 item)

    My father's father bought my grandmother a Seth Thomas mantel clock, sometime between 1939 and 1949. It has a No 124 Series 8-Day Pendulum Chime Movement. It plays the Westminster Quarters. I'm not sure how to tell a more precise manufacture date. There is a 432-M in the print on the bottom of the inside Guarantee and Directions label. There's also a stamp of 422 on this label. I grew up hearing this clock at my grandmother's house. I actually learned the Westminster Quarter somewhat incorrectly. While the tune itself is correct, the chime following the tune is not the correct note (which should be lower than my clock's chime)!

    The other clock is from my wife's family and is also a Seth Thomas, but under the Plymouth label. I know less about this clock. I have read that this is a company that Seth Thomas Clocks created in the 1930s (I haven't been able to find a more precise date) in order to sell clocks during the Great Depression, up until the outbreak of WWII, at a lower price than their strict price agreements with retailers would otherwise allow. The Guarantee and Direction label on this clock says, "Covering clocks equipped with No. 4300, 4500 and 4600 Series 8-Day Pendulum Strike Movements and Tambour Cases". There is a Z-34P on the bottom of the label. On the movement itself, I can see a 4505. This clock does not play the Westminster Quarters. It chimes once on the half hour and the time on the hour.

    Both clocks have their original keys. When running, both clocks keep time well. I'm pretty sure my family's clock has never been serviced. I'm not sure about the other. The Plymouth runs quite well, but the Seth Thomas runs for only a few days, hours, or sometimes minutes. I'm planning on having the Seth Thomas serviced so that it will run like it should. Since the other seems to run fine, I'm afraid to do anything to it. In fact, I' hesitant to let anyone work on either.

    I would love some advise. I don't even know how to wind it properly. I'm always afraid I'll overwind them. I would also love to know how to learn more about them. What does the 432-M or the 422 mean on the Seth Thomas? What does the Z-34P mean on the Plymouth? Are there more specific names forefather clock?

    Thank you, in advance, for any help, guidance, feedback, advice, etc.

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    1. motoxdude, 5 years ago
      The 124 Seth Thomas on the left is a great clock. If it's stopping after a few days it's telling you "CLEAN AND OIL ME"! The 124 movement is a workhorse, but had a few friction issues. Most of these were in the chiming train (the Westminster). The barrel driving the strike hammers is mounted on the back of the movement and has a few slotted screw points, and if even slightly incorrectly aligned, it can cause excessive friction causing the Westminster chime to quite before the time train is completely unwound, or not chime at all. Also: The strike/silent shaft must be completely turned (GENTLY!!) to the chime position or it will cause the Westminster chime not to run. The fact that yours is running a few days vs. the week it should is the clock's signal to you to "Clean me and give me fresh oil"!

      The other clock you have by Plymouth uses the 4000 series movements of the late 1930's. These are also great workhorses, but the 4000 series incorporated some cost reductions that could lead to quicker wear and tear if not regularly cleaned and oiled. Another trick many clock guys used was to replace the original mainsprings with slightly less powerful ones, thus greatly reducing wear to bushings in both the time and chiming trains. But also know that less power results in the clock becoming overcome by friction (dirt/dry oil) a bit quicker. This may sound negative, but quitting a bit earlier often kept the clock from damaging the bushings as the stopping was like a "Check Engine" or "Service Required" light coming-on like in some cars.

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