Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Clock tips and maintenance

Winding the clock:
Most antique clocks have either 30 hour or 8 day movements whereas most of the imported reproduction clocks are fitted with 31 day movements. The older clocks are designed to be wound every week, or 7 days. Although most clocks in good condition will go as long as 10 - 12 days they will not keep accurate time.
If the key moves in one direction then that is the correct direction for winding. If it does not move in either direction then it is fully wound and there will be another reason for it not going.
To wind the clock , place the key on either wind arbor (in the hole) and turn in the proper direction, counting the number of turns. (This direction differs from maker to maker) Continue turning the key until you can feel significant resistance. Do not force the key past this point. Try to remember the number of turns. After several weeks of winding you will remember how many turns the clock usually requires. When you get near this "target" number start slowing down so the mainspring is not jammed too tight.

Adjusting the time:
There are several different type of rate adjustments on clocks. Most antique wall clocks have pendulums with rating nuts on the bottom. This is also the case with floor clocks. Mantel clocks can have a rating nut or more commonly a provision on the front to rate the clock. Most will have a small arbor above the 12:00 position on the dial for rate adjustment. There should be a + and - to indicate the direction to adjust. On the pendulum types, to make the clock run faster turn the rating nut to the right (clockwise) This will raise the pendulum. To the left (counter clockwise) will lower the pendulum and the clock will slow down.  Always reset the hands to the correct time following any rate adjustment. Never try to let the clock catch-up to the correct time, it won't. Modern mantel clocks without pendulums will have balance wheels for adjustments. Follow the directions on the rear of the clock to adjust.

Transporting or moving the clock:
Before moving any clock be sure to remove the pendulum and the weights ( if so equipped ). This is especially important on newer tall clocks. Even if the clock is just being slid a little bit to dust behind remove the weights ! If the weights start swinging and bump each other the lacquer will chip off and you will get brown spots in a few months. Also, when removing the weights, use a rag or a cotton glove. Do not use your bare hands. If you are planning to move your tall clock a long distance, have your local clockmaker come out and prepare it for the move. The chains, cables, and chime rods need additional support that your moving company may not be familiar with.
Servicing the clock:
Most clock owners are not aware that their clock even needs maintenance. The family car that is only operated for a small time each day seems to make it to the shop for service on a regular basis but the clock that runs for 24 hours a day, day after day, never seems to get this attention. The clocks run for years and years until they stop and then it is assumed that it just needs some oil. Oh-Oh too late ! The damage has already been done. As time goes by the oil that is put in clocks evaporates and leaves the pivots (the ends of the gears) running dry. This is where the damage occurs.  I recommend to my customers to have their clocks oiled at 2 year intervals to prevent this condition.   A full service is recommended every 3-5 years.  This includes complete dis-assembly, ultrasonic cleaning, polishing pivots, and installing any bushings that may be necessary for the clock to operate properly.

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