PTFE adhesive tape
  • PTFE (Teflon) has a very low coefficient of friction. It’s available in the form of adhesive tape (not to be confused with the non‐adhesive variety used in pipe fittings) for such application as making wood drawers slide better and prolonging the life of computer mice.

    Some may view this as heresy, but I thought I would see what it could do for my Septimus.

    First I taped the working faces of the pallets. The tape is very thin and doesn’t substantially affect the geometry. My tape also happens to transparent tan colour that blends reasonably well with the bare wood. After re‐assembling the clock, it was evident that friction was reduced, and the pallets plunged deeper on each swing till I lightened the drive weight.

    All this had the side‐effect of making the already light “tick” of the Septimus even quieter, which some people would view as a positive, others, as a negative.

    Then I taped the escape wheel. It was labour‐intensive to apply a small pieces of tape to each tooth and trim with a sharp knife, but it did result in further reduction of friction.

    With the drive weight lighter, there should be less wear on all the other gears in the train, and of course the tape prevents the wood of the pallets and escape wheel from wearing at all. With that in mind, I taped the bottom faces of the clicks to protect them and to make winding smoother and quieter. They continue to lock securely.

    We’ll see how durable the tape proves to be. I can always re‐apply it, which is of course easier than making replacement parts from wood, but hopefully it will be a long time before that’s necessary. I’ll try to remember to post an update in a few months.
  • I did a similar thing with the pallets on my Tertius over a year ago only using ptfe cut from a gasket which is about 1.0 mm thick. Been running fine with no visible wear apparent. Don`t think thats bad for about 20 - 30 million times they have made contact.
  • Friction is the killer of any mechanical system, more so with clocks as their driving force is a constant, it really is the case that if the friction is too much then your clock stops, the drive weight will not compensate for this.
    So any method of reducing friction is to be welcomed.
    Could you post some pictures of the tape and pictures of the parts you have "taped"?
  • Here are some photographs. I apologise for the quality, but I didn’t want to take the clock off the wall or bother with my good gamera and tripod.

    They should illustrate the ideas that the tape is very thin and not overly visible when applied to the wood, and also that I was a little sloppy with application.

    On the roll

  • Update:

    The clock is still running well after more than two years with no maintenance.

    Each pallet face has endured tens of millions of cycles and no degradation is visible under a 10× loupe.
  • Hi Adam,

    Can you share the brand of the tape you used?

    Amazon currently lists CS Hyde PTFE Mouse Tape, US$5.96 for 1/2" by 5 yards. The description says it is PTFE and silicone. They also list CS Hyde Conformable PTFE tape with silicone adhesive, US$20.18 for 1/2" by 36 yards. Both appear to be similar, but it is hard to tell for sure.

    There are also many other brands listed as packing tape with fiberglass that would probably be too rough.