Another C40A WT on eBay Feb 2012

"This movement was rescued from a school undergoing demolition in 2006. 
The age of the movement is not certain but the school was opened in 1951. 
It seems likely that this was installed at that time.  
 This item is in West Yorkshire, pick up only and cash on collection.

If you have any questions please contact by email
Thank you for looking."

A rare and desirable item has come up for auction on eBay: 
A small, Gents Waiting Train movement with original, oak support bench. 

 I have brightened, cropped and sharpened the seller's original images in PhotoFiltre.

A slightly later movement but still with the soft curve to the main casting above the drive electromagnets. This form dated back several decades to the original design. Even later movements have a diagonal section in place of this curve in the main casting. 

All later movements used plating in place of the earlier clear lacquer to the bright metal parts. (brass or bronze) This was probably to increase the longevity of the movement and bring a more modern "industrialised" appearance. One which did not date or deteriorate rapidly.

It must be remembered that the vast majority of WTs were humble, timekeeping workhorses. Hidden away from public view. They supplied a reliable time service with little need for maintenance. Nor did they need to be wound! This allowed them to be placed in very inaccessible positions. Post-war electrical equipment became uniformly grey in appearance. 

Some WTs were used as a driving force (motor) for very slow moving displays or equipment. The WT was only very rarely on public view. Or even visible to the owner. Most were probably housed under a simple, wooden box cover in an attic. Or high in the side of a building, chimney or tower.

This particular example is very complete and in seemingly, very good condition. Only the small, time-setting crank is missing from the front end of the worm/ratchet wheel shaft. Easily re-made and certainly not vital to the running of the movement. Examples of the small crank and handle may be copied from images elsewhere in this blog. 

Full crown wheel and bevel gear cluster are present at the rear. So four dial potential if desired. This would usually mean raising the movement to the level of the dials. Unless a great many, extra, bevel gears were used. It can of course drive fewer dials. Or none at all. Relying on the hand setting dial for timekeeping in a collector's home. 

This one (the dial) needs cleaning and possibly re-silvering. Do not use abrasives or metal polish to clean the dial! The engraving must remain undamaged. A competent, antique clock repairer can re-silver the dial if necessary. Just ensure they aren't the sort of ham-fisted butcher who uses coarse sandpaper to "clean" the surface first! They should be asked to match the original grain and its texture but only if it absolutely necessary to re-grain the dial. Don't take the dial anywhere near a high street jewellers! Most haven't a clue about restoring antique clocks let alone dials. 

It seems a shame if a WT does not drive the hands of even a modest dial. Fibreglass dial replicas and reproduction hands are all readily available in a wide range of sizes. There is no need to wait for an original, vintage dial and hands to come up for sale. A dial can be applied to a gable end, barn, stable or workshop to taste. Or even mounted on a wall indoors as part of an active WT display.

The Hipp Toggle damper, relay eccentric stop, hand setting dial and its pointer are all present and correct. All very desirable and difficult to reproduce well.

No obvious signs of rusting or damage. The movement should clean up very easily if the coils are carefully protected from serious wetting. They are bandaged and varnished anyway but it would probably not pay to immerse them completely. All screws should have a high quality penetrating oil applied well before any attempt to loosen them. Not WD40! Which is highly toxic and a poor substitute for real penetrating oil.

Do not use powerful solvents to clean the movement. They are completely unnecessary. A cloth, toothbrush or paintbrush and washing up liquid in warm water may be all that is required. Rubber gloves and protective goggles are very desirable.

I carefully dismantled my own movement and used odourless paraffin. (Oil lamp fuel) Turpentine substitute would do just as well. (domestic oil-based paint thinners) Followed by a careful wash in washing up liquid, in warm water, to aid drying. Paper towels to finish. This extra work was necessary to remove old oil stains. While they may be part of the history of the movement I preferred a slightly cleaner look for the living room. 

When or if dismantling a WT, very great care is required in handling the very heavy drive coils and their very thin and very fragile, copper wire tails. If you break a wire tail it can be a complete disaster! Requiring a full coil rewind! You have been warned!

A short, accurately timed, impulse at 1/2 minute intervals will be required to trigger the Waiting Train mechanism to keep good time. This is usually provided by a Gents Pulsynetic master clock. Without a master clock impulse every half minute the movement will run foolishly fast. Simply because it does not pause for several seconds at each half minute. (The Movement is not called a "Waiting Train" for nothing) 

There are a lot of half minutes in a day and they all add up! 2880 to be exact. Multiply by (say) a 2 seconds pause = 5760 seconds/60 (minutes). Which means a WT, without a controlling master clock, will run at least 96 minutes fast per day!  This seems rather unlikely and I have never checked if this is true. Nevertheless a WT was never intended as an accurate timepiece. It is really just a powerful, slowly rotating electric motor with external speed control.

A 2 rpm synchronous motor with a projecting pin actuating a micro-switch could be substituted for a master clock. Though a matching Gents Pulsynetic master clock is much more desirable to the collector. These master clocks can often be found on eBay(UK). There seems to be no shortage of these rugged and reliable master clocks. Only the early ones seem to attract collectors and higher prices at the moment. The usual Pulsynetic clocks are very affordable indeed. Though they can be a bit noisy for a quiet home. Don't confuse the Pulsynetic with a PO36 master clock. The latter won't provide the ideal short, clean 1/2 minute pulse. Even though they were often made by Gents. (amongst others) 

Normally, a closed wooden box would protect the WT movement from the curious, damage, bird droppings, water and dust. The battens around the bench top would locate this box. A collector would probably want to see and enjoy the movement while it is working. An inverted aquarium, of rather unusual proportions, might suit. With polished edges a glass box might be made quite attractive with very careful use of clear silicone. Some aquaria shops offer a made-to-measure service. I should  emphasise that there is no need to use so much silicone when it is not necessary to resist water pressure!

Suitably thick, clear polycarbonate, or perspex, can be cemented, folded, or even heat welded very neatly, by an expert. Again the edges would need to be polished first to achieve a neat finish. Reasonably thick glass resting on felt would block more noise than plastic due to its much greater mass. Though a holes (or holes) would be necessary to drive the hands of a dial.  

These movements are quite noisy when they send the 20 Volt pendulum drive pulse to the big electromagnet coils. The armature makes quite a loud clunk but usually only at (around) 1 minute intervals. So may not make an ideal domestic pet in a shared household with an unsympathetic partner. 

Though there are simple methods to help reduce noise. Soft dampers on the coil faces and reducing the voltage slightly will help. The constant rattle of the Hipp toggle can be a distraction or soothing depending on the listener. The sheer power and weight of the moving parts of these movements do not make ideal decoration for a home with small children! Fingers could be very easily crushed by the massive, swinging pendulum! As could those of a careless adult! So use reasonable care when the movement is running.

Oil all the obvious pivots (including the rear inaccessible ones with a drop of oil on a needle tip) with turret clock oil. Easily available on eBay(UK). Or just use bicycle oil for a movement which is well cared for in a clean, domestic setting. Wipe away any excess oil with a tissue.

The suspension bearings should be re-greased. Though this would require the bearing cover plates to be removed from the top casting. If the old grease is found to be hardened it should be flushed out with a solvent/degreaser. Then replaced with a modern, quality grease. Use a good quality, well fitting screwdriver to remove any screws but only if really necessary. Damaging the screw slots is considered bad form and reduces the value and originality of the movement. Original BA screws are very hard to find these days of metric mediocrity and uniformity. 

Note: The WT movement runs on 20 Volts DC

Plug-in power supplies for these DC voltages are readily available. Charity shops are sometimes an excellent source. Many of these outlets have a box or two of these "Wallwarts" offering a whole variety of voltages. Both DC and AC. Good eyesight, or a lens, may help in deciphering the small text usually printed on the applied label.

A WT movement should never be connected directly to the mains electricity! Not only would lethal voltages appear on naked metal parts but the coils would be severely damaged! Probably leading to a fire!

The auction closed on £1,230 reserve not met!  Ouch!

Slow at first, the bids were coming thick and fast at the very end. Now I suppose it will have to be auctioned all over again! Will they drop the reserve or will the auction start again from £1230? The high bidder must have been very disappointed they did not reach the reserve. The reserve may only have been £1250 for a "round" figure. (only a wild guess) If so, the seller might come to an agreement with the highest bidder to avoid another auction at escalated prices.

With these unusual movements it pays (?) to be generous with one's high bid and hope it is enough. Over the long term a couple of hundred pounds is neither here nor there. Not when one can have a WT movement to enjoy for years to come. It's never about an item's absolute value. Winning is all that really matters in the end. You can either afford an item or you can't. 

So few WT's appear on eBay that it is difficult to able to set an average value. There just isn't enough data to see any useful pattern. With an original clock bench provided this lot must surely have been well worth having. Just for the pleasure of cleaning and restoration of both items. I really thought it would go much higher. The difficulty may have been the stipulation of pick-up only. Though that's hardly a major hurdle when a courier will pick up, pack and deliver. Albeit at further expense, of course. 

Click on any image for an enlargement.