Q 1. How do you know if the clock repair person is any good?
A 1. You need to understand some common sense principals about basic cleaning, repairing, adjusting and ask the so-called clock person how they handle the basics. If they fudge their answers and/or give improper solutions, run as fast as you can or your clock may never be the same again.
Q 2. OK. How do you clean a clock?
A 2. Pretty similar is some respects to how you clean yourself. For example, would you take a shower fully dressed? So watch out for a response of “we put the whole thing in a Ultrasonic. If you further ask, “Do you take it apart” and they respond, “Only if it needs it” This is an idiot clock repairer answer. The only way you can fully clean a clock is by taking it apart. While the Ultrasonic will get lots of grime off even if its fully assembled, it cannot get all the dirt out.
The movement cannot be fully dried out without taking it apart so those who dip it whole will induce moisture (rust) and ammonia residue in the cracks and cervices. You also need to take the clock apart to see the condition of the pivots, bushings, gears, and check the spring for stress cracks.
Q 3. What do you mean the condition of the pivots?
A 3. Each gear or wheel turns on a bearing surface called a pivot. Dirt is attracted to oil, which the pivot needs (and needs only a real small quantity) and ends up sticking in the bushing, usually made of brass. The pivot then will get groves worn in the surface, which in turns holds more dirt, which enlarges the bushing, allowing more dirt in, grinding more grooves in the pivot. Even if (that is a really big if) Ultrasonic cleaning could get all the dirt and oil sludge out, it cannot undo the damage. No clock maker on earth can see or measure this damage without taking it apart. This is the most basic and most important step in returning your clock to good and long lasting condition. You should permit no short cut.
Q 4. What about bushing?
A 4. Normal wear and tear will enlarge the bushing. When the whole gets to big, the arbor or axle of the gear can cock at an angle, stopping the clock. In addition, it may have worn the round hole into an egg shape hole. After properly burnishing the pivot, which is now somewhat smaller, and checking if for fit, it would be normal to find that the clock needs a new bushing. Some wheels or gears have more stress or power on them and wear faster so while your clock may not need every bushing replaced, it is very likely it will need several. There is usually around 20 or more bushings in an average clock.
Q 5. You said something about the springs and stress cracks?
A 5. Yes, I did. The springs are very hard, brittle, and as the clock runs, slide against its own surfaces. Imagine if you will, when you were a little tike, sliding down a slide at the local park or school play ground. The smoothness allowed you to slide down. Now if the surface were rough in any way, rusty, perhaps cracked (with some slivers), you would not have a happy trip down the slide would you? The only way to clean a spring is remove it from the clock, unwind it, clean it, inspect it, and if it’s OK, lubricate it and return into use. Any signs of the spring taking a set, that is, losing its ability to spring, or any cracks, which sometimes you can feel with you finger tips even if you cannot see it, throw it away. Many top clockmakers will replace the spring regardless. A damaged or worn spring can wreck havoc on the movement and the clock case if it breaks. Warning! Even new springs can develop defects and break. Old springs suffer the additional problems of being old and tired. The best Quality springs are made in the USA and cost 4 times more than an identical spring made in India.
Important note. Even new springs need to be cleaned and oiled. They do not do this at the factory. Many clock repair persons don’t know this, or care.
Q 6. What else should I know?
A 6. If the price is to good to be true, well you understand. What many clock repair persons do is lowball the clean and oil part. Then, when they get your clock, start charging you $25 per bushing, more for this, more for that. Your $45 repair price is now 3 to 5 times more. There’s more. Seldom does this type of person do a good job anyway! If they don’t know how or lied to you about what should be done, gee gosh, watch out! They know you know nothing about clocks and it’s easy to impress you. That is why I call them clock Repairers. Many have had little or no training. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them read a book, or go to school.
Q 7. Well, how were you trained?
A 7, Training is a life time commitment. No one knows it all however,
the more you learn, the better the results.
Both Mrs. ClockBug and myself have attended in person, clock repair
courses conducted by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors,
known as NAWCC. We also attend additional
advance classes at every opportunity. In addition, on going classes are attended every semester at the
MATC or Milwaukee Area Technical College in Horology. We are also members of the NAWCC, local chapters in Milwaukee and
Chicago, and also are a member of the AWI or American
Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute. Their
”The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute is the premier international organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the highest standards of workmanship in the Horological crafts.
It is the role of AWI to set the standard of excellence to be applied to the quality of instruction for both the restoration and repair practices that are taught” worldwide.
Q 8. Do you have a store?
A 8. You can visit our World Wide Web Store on the Internet. Our shop, located in Burlington, WI, is about 3000 square feet. It has most all the latest tools. We have lathes, milling machines, Morgan Pivot Polishers, Ultrasonic, computer Microscopes, Swiss Bushing Machine, German Bushing Machine, specialize tools that every shop should have such as depthing, escape wheel straightener, spring winders, and a fully equipped furniture and wood shop for restoring or building cases. Restoration work for other clock shops are done selectively. We also supply tools to the trade, and buy and sell clocks.
Q 9. What do you charge?
A 9. More important is you get your moneys worth. We only will work on certain clocks. Valuable clocks. The value may be in the price; it may be in the sentimental value. If a person bought a clock at a garage sale, and doesn’t want to spend a lot of money, I may be interested in buying the clock (and preserving its antique value) rather that do a down and dirty clock Repair. I would not do for you what I would not do to myself. I either do it right or I don’t do it at all.
Q 10. How long does it take?
A 10. We have a backlog of clocks needing attention. The clock Repairer repaired many of these poor clocks, and this has to be undone and put right. These are valuable clocks (as describe above) so the owners are willing to wait rather than get a second rate job. If you need it sooner than we can do for you, we can recommend other highly qualified clockmakers. We only would recommend someone we would use ourselves if we were in a similar position.