Escape Lever Restoration


A rutted escape lever exit pallet from a ca. 1890s Japanese Seikosha clock.

The escape lever pallets receive the impulse to propel the pendulum, via the rotating teeth on the escape wheel. Each tick and tock represents the striking of a tooth tip upon the pallets.


After aggressive course filing, the depth of the rut remains apparent. Carborundum from the sandpaper covered “buff stick” is seen on the vise.


Coarse sanding continues until the rut is entirely eliminated.


Successively finer cuts are made with successively finer buff sticks to prepare a smooth glide path on the pallet face, for the escape wheel teeth.


The exit pallet is sanded through as many as 9 progressively finer buff stick applications. The next to the last is shown in this view.


The buff stick restoration of the exit pallet is now complete, resulting in a mirror shine that contains a reflection of the brass saddle above it.


The process will now be repeated on the entrance pallet at the opposite end of the same escape lever.


A closeup of the damaged pallet. This damage occurs as a result of natural wear, but is accelerated by lack of maintenance.


As with the exit pallet, the entrance pallet is dressed down until the damage is eliminated. Mounting the pallet nearly flush with vise jaws aids the cut.


The entrance pallet is nearly ready for final buffing and polishing. All easily visible scratches will be removed, as the vise jaws visibly brighten as well.


A final buff with jeweler’s rouge on a high speed fabric wheel imparts the highly polished, mirror-like surface that we’re after.


The glass-smooth pallet surface resists wear, ensuring a long life to the restored escape lever. The working faces are also brighter than the factory finish, allowing the escape wheel teeth to contact and glide smoothly.