Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

I Need a Key

Several times a year, a client will ask for a key for their clock.  Supplying a key is not just going to the back room and pulling out a key.  Clock keys come in numerous configuration as shown below in this group picture.

 Clock keys can be single ended, double ended, a crank style, a long shaft, a short shaft, a wide wing, a narrow wing, etc... (I think you get the picture)  Keys also come in several standard sizes, but can also be custom cut to fit an odd sized clock arbor.

When a key fits correctly it will fit on the arbor with very little play enabling the user to wind the movement with ease.  When a key fits incorrectly, the arbor shoulders can be damaged, the clock may not be able to be wound fully, and the damage to the winding arbor can be so sever that the arbor will need re-shouldered or replaced.

Good arbor

Damaged Arbor

A winding arbor can be re-shouldered with care and a good file.  Once an arbor is re-shouldered it will no longer accept the same size key as the other winding arbor(s) on the movement, thus requiring more than one key to wind the clock.

Double ended keys are required for clocks that have a separate speed adjust arbor, or a special arbor to change the chime melody or silence the chime.

Clock dial showing time and strike winding arbors as well as speed adjust arbor top center by the number 12

In short, there are dozens of different clock key sizes, configurations, and options.  To replace a missing or worn key, it is best to bring the clock into the shop for a proper key fitting.
So yes, I can get you a key, but it is more than just pulling a key out of stock and handing it to you, the key needs to fit the arbor, have the proper length, and have the proper wing width.

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