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Author Topic: Bearings in clocks  (Read 45 times)
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David Morrow
Posts: 39

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« on: September 11, 2017, 09:09:02 PM »

Since I requested this clock section, I'll kick things off with one of those hotly debated topics - should I use bearings ?

I won't debate whether or not to use bearings with this post. I have made wooden clocks with no bearings, with brass tubing for bushings, and real  bearings. But, when I do use bearings, I use router bearings that I buy from Lee Valley Tools here in Canada. Normally I use 1/4" OD x 1/8" ID bearings for most arbors. For the wind arbor, I use 1/2" OD x 1/4" ID router bearings.

Brian Law and Woodentim ers plans show the bearings as being mounted in the frames and the wheels / pinions being locked to the arbor with a set screw. The arbors then turn in the bearings. That OK when you can get them almost perfectly aligned and thereby avoiding any binding. It's also ok when you have zero frame sag, which also causes binding. What I do is press fit the bearings in the wheel / pinion assembly which I glue together, and and let them spin on the arbor rather than locking the gears to the arbor which turns on the bearings in the frame. I find that I have no alignment issues and, frame sag, if it occurs, becomes a non-issue.

The downside is that I have to make brass tubing spacers to keep the gears properly aligned.

I hope my descripti on makes sense.

John T
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 12:30:40 PM »

I have made a total of 34 clocks and none of my clocks uses bearings although I have used brass bushings from time to time.  In actual fact I've found that the problems a alignment are not worth the effort of using bearings or bushings unless the wheel is turning on steel, that is not to say that if properly aligned bearing wouldn't be effective, I just find them not worth it. 

My longest running clock was put into beat in December 2005, and runs without problems other than keeping it wound.  This clock uses wooden plates, wooden gears and wooden (dowel) arbors.  It is a 30 hour movement running on 3 pounds.


1% inspirati on 99% try, try again
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« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2017, 08:45:16 PM »


 Impressiv e. Thats a good run from pure wood IMO.

 I use bearings where I can, Im not opposed to them anyway. With acrylic I find
sinking a bearing in the acrylic gear helps center it. Lasers dont cut very straight
holes, but a 15mm hole that you press a flanged bearing into makes it run very true.

  Depends on the project and medium Id suppose..


Thanks, have fun,
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