Antique clock repair or restoration can involve many different craftsmen and women.
Clocks were originally made by a combination of skills, the clockmaker, the case maker and the dial maker. Each of the components parts can be further split down into numerous trades that supplied castings, timber, engravings, or made glass, etc.
Today, restoring or repairing antique clocks rely on a multitude of skills. Remarkably, we still have enough talented people available to be able to reproduce anything that the early clockmakers could!
At The Clock Work Shop we are able to overhaul antique clocks, antique barometers and antique furniture. We can also re-make missing or badly damaged parts.
We are constantly bought clocks that the owner thinks have been ‘over wound’. The reality is that most clocks stop because they need overhauling. Clocks are like any other machines, they need regular maintenance to function properly and the fact that they have run untouched for the last 30 years, and have now mysteriously stopped, is not really a surprise!
A clock is a series of wheels and pinions mounted on axles, or arbors to give them the correct horological name. The hardened steel arbors have pivots either end that run in holes in the brass plates. The pivot in its pivot hole is effectively a bearing that is lubricated by a very small amount of oil. Slowly, over the years, this oil becomes contaminated with dust and dirt, the oil dries up and the pivots grind to a halt. At this stage there is no option but to strip the clock down, clean the movement, burnish the pivots and re-bush any worn holes. Simply spraying the clock movement with oil or WD40 achieves nothing; it actually accelerates the wear on the pinions and creates a mess, rather like opening the bonnet of a car and throwing a bucket of oil at the engine!
Antique clocks also tend to suffer from inexperienced repairers breaking or removing parts. We have the ability to remake all parts for all clocks, carefully matching the original colour and style of the missing part.
Clock cases tend to suffer over the years. Glue joints tend to dry out causing bits to drop off. The colour and finish tends to suffer if a clock has been in the sun or a particularly damp area. Longcase clocks have almost always lost part of their bases or the tops when they have been squeezed into a smaller house.
At The Clock Work Shop we have various case restorers that can gently clean and re-wax a case, or completely rebuild a damaged clock case whether it be solid oak, walnut or mahogany veneered, lacquered or marquetry. We can remake lost moulding, case decoration, locks or hinges, etc. We are used to dealing with insurance claims for fire, flood or accident damages clocks.
The dial of a clock can also suffer from wear or damage due to the fact that it regularly in contact with the owner. Painted dials tended to have very fine black ink or paint for the numerals, which after years of moving the hands round to set the time tends to get rubbed off. The transformation of restoring the numerals can be very pleasing. It is absolutely the last resort to completely repaint a dial, but we can do this if we need to.
Enamel dials can become cracked due to mishandling, or damaged around the winding holes. We also have the ability to repair this type of damage invisibly.
If you have any questions regarding antique clock restoration, servicing or repair, please feel free to contact us. Our work is not cheap as it is all so labour intensive, but looking after these items for future generations is important.
Below is some of the work we carry out as restorers. We hope to keep adding to this as we get time.
All timepieces from the smallest carriage clock, through to longcase clocks, consist of a series of arbors with wheels and pinions mounted on them. The wheels are made of brass and the pinions of hardened steel.Read More
Early and/or fine quality longcase clock movements often had fifth pillars. It was not unusual for subsequent clock ‘repairers’ to remove these pillars to use the brass.Read More
Recently at the Clock Work Shop we have had an influx of 30hour longcase movements with broken or nearly broken (hanging on by only a few strands!) ropes.
The problem with old keys is that they almost always come from antique furniture and the hole down the centre is too big for the ‘pin’ in the lock on the clock case, and quite often the ‘bit’ (the piece on the end of the key that operates the lock) is too short.
Most antique clocks have strike work levers and some motion work wheels mounted on posts. A post is a tapered piece of round steel that is threaded or riveted on to the front plate of the clock movement.
The gathering pallet on a rack striking clock is vulnerable to being damaged by ham fisted repairers. It is not uncommon for it to be bent or filed by someone that doesn’t understand how it is supposed to work, or broken during removal.
The clicks on longcase clocks can be neglected or badly repaired meaning that there is a risk of the weight dropping onto the owner’s beautiful flagstone floor!
For years we have used outworkers to cut wheels and pinions for clocks that we were restoring or rebuilding. The main reason for this was commercial, the cost of the equipment in relation to how much we would actually use it.