Hide glue… is surprisingly hard to find

I’m getting another round of bits and pieces together in order to work on the next clock repair challenge in front of me: a circa-1915 mahogany-veneered Ansonia time/strike mantle clock.

Working on this clock is like two separate projects in one: a wood restoration project for the case, and a mechanical rebuild for the clock mechanism itself. And this duality will be true of the majority of the clocks I work on going forward: I like wood mantle clocks more than I like the “figural” or the “stone” cased clocks. So that means I need to learn some things that would be familiar to an antique furniture restorer.

One of the things I need to learn is how to deal with putting a broken case back together, and how to restore the finish. Since these clocks were made something on the order of a century ago, that means dealing with materials and methods that are different from how things are done today. Two big differences: glues and coatings.

Modern glues involve all sorts of plastics and fancy chemicals. They can bond two pieces of wood together so that the bond is stronger than the wood itself- this is great for something that is intended to last at most one generation. Older glues were mostly organic: gelatin, or hide glue, is the most common- it creates a fairly strong bond, but no where near as strong as a modern glue.

Unfortunately, any wood that lasts more than a couple of decades will shift, shrink, dry excessively, and expand with time: in old clocks, this puts stress on those weak glue joints, and that’s what breaks down. In newer clocks, the wood itself usually breaks: the idea is, at that point you throw the item away and buy a new one. With the old pieces of furniture, including old clock cases, the idea is that you re-glue, and use the piece for another generation or two. The old hide glues facilitate this: with heat and moisture, you can return the glue to its original “soft” state, allowing you to remove it/reseat it. Further, unlike modern glues, hide glue can adhere to hide glue so your cleanup doesn’t have to be perfect. Modern glues, on the other hand, require harsh chemicals to “unbond” or remove, causing damage to surrounding finishes and even the wood itself… and if you fail to thoroughly clean the old glue away, the new adhesive won’t bond very well.

Continue reading Hide glue… is surprisingly hard to find

Clock repair activities stalled

I’ve put my clock repair self-education “on hold” the last month or so. A few things led to this:

  • need for parts and tools: my first and second clock both need bushings installed, so I had to order those- now I’ve decided I need a bushing tool rather than trying to hand-bush perfectly perpendicular 0.1 to 0.3 mm holes in 2-3 mm brass. My second clock is also filthy (as are clocks 3/4/5… much dirtier than clock #1), and I bought an ultrasonic cleaner to help with that. As it turns out, I can’t get cleaning solutions shipped from the U.S., so I’ve had to find a Canadian supplier
  • vacation: I couldn’t order parts and tools by mail for the three or four weeks leading up to our vacation for fear that they would arrive while we were away. Some carriers have five or seven day “return to sender” policies and, given that 30% of the cost (or more) for parts is shipping, I didn’t want to risk that
  • failure of collectable clock: my Napoleon III era French clock stopped running a couple of weeks before we left on vacation. This is a clock I had no intention of servicing until I had completed all of my “learning” rebuilds as it is a more expensive and “special” mechanism. I spent a week getting advice and examining the movement, got it running without disassembly, then decided to stop it and “preserve” it until I could do a proper cleaning/repair of it later

I’m starting to get parts and tools in order now that my vacation is finished. I’ve found what I hope to be a Canadian supplier of the “correct” cleaning solutions I want, and will hopefully have that in hand in three or four weeks. I’ll probably order my bushing machine in the next week, and the bushings themselves arrived via mail while we were away. Putting this all together means I’ll probably not have much progress on fixer clock #2 until the beginning of November.

I could get all excited and start stripping down more clocks in the mean time, but I’ve decided to try something new: patience. I might take a look at the cases of a couple of my clocks (ignoring the mechanisms) while I wait, but my plan of the moment is to keep reading the clock repair and collector’s forums and practice calm breathing…

Wet: definition of a wasted opportunity

Title Wet
Developer Artificial Mind and Movement (published by Bethesda)
Type Action / Shooter
Platform(s) XBox 360, Playstation 3
Kelly Score ™ 55 / 100

The title “Wet” supposedly refers to the term “wetwork”, a word commonly attributed to cold-war era secret agencies and referring to assignments involving killing so intense that the workers hands become literally wet with blood. The game definitely has death and blood galore, with kill counts in the hundreds per chapter as the game’s female protagonist, Rubi Malone, slices, jumps, and shoots her way through room after room of “bad people”.   

I’m all for a bit of mindless violence in my games, particularly when the main character is a sexy but psychopathic woman, but somewhere along the line Wet becomes… boring, and worse: irritating. It is telling that I had to force myself to finish the game- I wanted to call it quits several times after the midway point of the twelve to fourteen hours of playtime I got for my money. This is unfortunate, as there are a number of good ideas in Wet- sadly, it feels a bit like there were one or two hours of good ideas cut and pasted a dozen times to fill out the game.

Continue reading Wet: definition of a wasted opportunity