|Why Clocks Stop (and what to do about it)||What Kind of Clock Do I Have? (Grandfather, Regulator, Mantel, Etc.)|
|Is My Clock Worth Fixing?||What's My Clock Worth?|
|What's Involved With "Cleaning" My Clock?||What Will it Cost to Fix My Clock?|
|What's The Difference Between Repair and Restoration?||Is Repair Work Guaranteed?|
Why Clocks Stop: (It's FRICTION, really...)
A clock is like any other mechanical device, generally precision made, but with metal parts (Steel and Brass) rubbing against each other. When the frictional forces caused by this rubbing are greater than the force that a mainspring (or hanging weight) can apply, the clock stops, or at least won't run as well or for as long as it did when it was new. After about 5 years, the oil used to lubricate various parts of the clock will start to turn gummy, or worse, dry out completely, and the clock won't run any more.
"I've Overwound My Clock"....
Probably not, unless you heard a really disturbing noise, or felt something catastrophic happen, while you were winding it. (see "repairs"....). Most often, it's just a matter of excessive friction - probably caused by the oil in the clock turning gummy and sticky. Time for "cleaning"...
"I sprayed WD-40 on the movement,
and it ran for a while, then stopped again" (or even, "It's Still Running"):
Some clockmakers charge extra when they have to clean a clock "repaired" with WD-40 - it turns gummy, smells awful, and can even PROMOTE rusting. It's a solvent, not a lubricant, and the "WD" stands for "Water Dispersant". What will happen, usually, is that the solvent in WD-40 will dissolve any oil that remains, washing it away, and allowing metal parts to wear on each other, causing damage to the clock movement. So, the repair job gets bigger and the cleaning job gets harder.
Is My Clock Worth Fixing?
The answer - Most Likely it is. The exceptions may be modern quartz clocks which can be bought for under $10.00, and even then, if a clock has some sentimental value, it may be worth replacing the movement.
The other exceptions may arise with missing or broken parts that are no longer available at reasonable prices. (Some clocks having "platform escapements", such as some models of Schatz "Royal Mariner" striking ships clocks, fall into this category.) For most, however, a good cleaning, lubrication and repair job should cost significantly less than the "replacement" value of the clock.
What's Involved With "Cleaning" a Clock?
The movement is removed from the case, completely disassembled, including the mainsprings, ultrasonically cleaned in a special solution in a special tank, then reassembled, lubricated and adjusted. But there's more....
Often, especially if a clock hasn't been serviced regularly, there will be significant wear on the "pivots" and in the "pivot holes" in the front and back plates of the movement. Material that is "ground" between moving parts helps to cut deep marks in the original polished surfaces, and to enlarge pivot holes into actual "slots" in the plates. So, at the very least, the pivots must be inspected and polished, and if wear is excessive, new bushes installed in the plates. This involves drilling an oversize hole in the plate, then installing a bushing having a new, smaller hole, at the precise location of the original hole.
Mainsprings are often ignored by some shops, as they can be very messy (and even dangerous) to handle. This is perhaps one of the worst mistakes that can be made, as friction caused by abrasion and dirt between coils of a spring is the most common reason for a clock stopping, or not running for its full term (1, 8, 31 or 400 days). All mainsprings must be carefully removed, fully cleaned (and polished, if any corrosion is present) and lubricated with a special compound before being reinstalled.
What's the Difference Between "Repair" and
A repair is just that, an attempt to return a clock to operating condition, including the use of modern adhesives, modern / replica parts, and modern wood finishes.
Restoration, on the other hand, attempts to return the clock to "like new" condition, using the materials and methods originally used by the maker. Such materials can include "hide glue" instead of modern "white" or urethane glues, shellac instead of polyurethane finishes, and original native woods rather than locally available substitutes. (English Brown Oak, insead of White or Red Oak; "real" Mahogany, rather than Lauan etc.) Restoration can be much more expensive than simple repair, but is often justified by the enhanced value of the item. Most 20th century clocks may not be candidates for restoration, but repairs are usually worth while.
Repairs should be REVERSIBLE, so that future "proper" restoration is not compromised by the repair.....