View Full Version : BOOKREVIEW: Extreme Restoration / An e-book by Tom E. Temple / published 2005

Fortunat Mueller-Maerki
06-27-2005, 08:06 PM

Extreme Restoration

The comprehensive guide for preservation and restoration of antique American clocks

An e-book by Tom E. Temple

Published 2005, by the author; 1 CD in container, containing the full text (681 pages, 2 700 illustrations, in Adobe PDF format, plus copy of the Adobe reader program. More information and electronic order form at http://xrestore.com ; suggested retail price $49.95 plus shipping.

Many of the existing books on horological collecting touch tangentially on how to restore clock movements or clock cases. But there are few titles that specifically and exclusively deal with clock restorations and virtually all of them are European (either in languages other than English, or dealing with the subject from a British perspective.) Tom Temple’s new “book” definitively fills a void. I am aware of only one other recent title (Craig Burgess, Clock Case Refinishing and Restoration, 2004) on the subject, and that is only a slim 60 pages, and can not really be compared to this comprehensive book.

Of course, there are numerous excellent books available on woodworking in general, as well as on furniture repair and restoration, but they completely ignore not only movement restoration, but also such themes as the preservation and repair of dials, hands, labels and reverse painted glass tablets. On each of these special subjects (and their sub-specialties) there are excellent guides in the form of articles spread over decades of past issues of the NAWCC Bulletin. (Thanks to the comprehensive online index to BULLETIN Articles at they can even be located, and can be borrowed or bought from the National Watch and Clock Library in Columbia Pa., see http://nawcc.org/Library/library.htm ). But –to my knowledge- no other text of this depth specific to American-style-clocks has ever been published on clock restoration techniques.

The final product very much looks and feels as if the author had initially set out to produce a conventional (i.e. printed on paper) book, and only toward the end of the process reached the conclusion that the cost would have been prohibitive for a 600+ page volume with thousands of color images, which would be of interest to only a few hundred restoration enthusiasts. So it became an “e-book”, published on a CD in Adobe pdf-format. The advantage is the relatively low production costs for the publisher. The disadvantage is that few hobbyists will want to consult their computer screen in their dusty workshops, and will have to bear the printing and binding costs themselves if they also want a paper copy. That this was initially not expected to be an e-book is underscored by the fact that some of the navigational tools common within e-books are lacking. (E.g. from the table of content there are only links to the chapter headings, not to the headings of the sub-chapters, and there are no cross-reference links to other passages with related content). If you print out the whole thing you may find the document somewhat difficult to use, as there are no page numbers neither in the table of content, nor on any of the pages.

While the subtitle mentions both preservation and restoration (and the introductory part explains the difference between the two well) the heart of the author clearly beats for restoration, and the reader who is set to preserve (i.e. maintain the current status of the timepiece far into the future) will not find much useful information in the text. The author also deals with the controversy of “over-restoration” and rightfully concludes that this involves personal judgement calls. In the eyes of this reviewer the author, if in doubt, over-restores. That may be partly because the actual projects he describes step-by-step in his examples involve what he calls “Extreme Restoration” (what I call “basket cases) where there is very little left to preserve, but which he strives to resurrect to a “like new from the factory” status.

Another limitation the possible purchaser of this publication needs to be aware of is that the text deals nearly exclusively with and applies only to factory-made, wooden-cased clocks, produced in Connecticut in the middle and late 19th century. There is only limited information in the text applicable to e.g. craftsmen-made, or pre-industrial clocks, to metal cased clocks, alarm clocks, electrical clocks and many other more specialized timepieces.

Within these limitations, however, the text is very thorough, comprehensive, and easy to follow. It is superbly illustrated with many detailed pictures explaining the procedures step-by-step. There are worksheets and checklists that will make such a complex project manageable. While it helps to have a general grounding in woodworking or cabinetmaking skills, I believe that with this text in hand even a complete novice in the field, if he is careful and deliberate, and has some manual dexterity, can achieve impressive results. The text is uncommonly thorough and touches on all aspects of an “Extreme Restoration”. Woodworking, case finishing (including stenciling, gesso and faux wood), reverse painted glass tablets, label preservation, case assembly, dials, hands, movements and setup are all covered. Even if 180 pages are devoted to “Movements” (making this the single biggest chapter) this reviewer considers that part the relatively speaking the least comprehensive part of the text. A novice will be well served with this book, as long as the project at hand is a standard, fairly common, run-of-the mill movement to deal with that has no unusual faults. But clearly restoring any kind of special mechanism, such as unusual escapements, special striking setups, unusual alarm configurations, repeating mechanisms, animated dials, calendar mechanisms etc. is clearly above and beyond the scope of this book, and will require studying the specialist literature.

The author’s website (http://xrestore.com) not only provides an opportunity to order the book and a good summary of the content of this publication, but also provides several specialized message board type forums where readers can ask questions and discuss details of all subjects covered in the book.
Altogether “Extreme Restoration” by Tom Temple should well fill a niche in the horological literature, and could be considered a “must buy” for anyone attempting his or her first complete rebuild of a standard, wood-cased American factory made clock from the 19th century.

Bookreview by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, Sussex NJ
July 1, 2005

07-06-2005, 07:42 AM
I am most grateful to Fortunat for taking the time to carefully examine Extreme Restoration and provide a balanced and insightful review of the book. After reading the review several times, I had to agree that he was correct regarding the navigation provided in the book. It is less effective than is readily possible in an electronic format.

Given that, I have completed a fairly substantial revision of all navigation within the book. The following is a before/after comparison:

Adobe bookmarks: Originally, there were only 28 Adobe bookmarks (One for each chapter's "table of contents page and one for each chapter's project clock page). That has now been revised to include 278 bookmarks created in an hierarchal structure. Every topic heading can now be accessed directly from the bookmarks.

Main table of contents: Originally, there were only 14 links on the main table of contents page (One for each chapter).
That has now been expanded to 284 links. This also allows one-click navigation any topic heading.

Chapter table of contents: The table of contents pages for each chapter have been reviewed and revised as necessary to be consistent with the listings in the bookmarks and main table of contents.
A total of 55 links were added to the tables of contents of various chapters.

Overall approximately 575 additional navigational links were added to the book to improve and simplify navigation from one topic to another.

In addition to the internal navigation links, the book now has 167 links to external web sites and information sources.

Additional material has been added to bring the page count from 681 to 707. The additional material relates to the silvering of mirrors that is posted as a how-to on the Extreme Restoration web site and also on the NAWCC how-to page.

Finally, page numbers have been added throughout the book.

Fortunat provided valuable and actionable feedback on the content and usability of Extreme Restoration.
Revisions, improvements and corrections will continue to be made as they are found.

Some Navigation Screen Shots (http://www.xrestore.com/Pages/navigation.htm) can be seen at the link provided here.

Again, my thanks to Fortunat.


07-06-2005, 09:32 PM
What relief is there for guys like me that just purchased your very fine book a couple of weeks ago before Fortunat's review? By the way the short comings are compounded if you print your book for hard copy use (lack of page numbers, etc.
I do commend you on your efforts and have recommended your book to my friends.


07-06-2005, 11:18 PM
Hi Larry,

I sent you a private message so you can forward mailing information.

Thanks for your interest.

07-11-2005, 10:29 PM
Wow! All the new links are terrific for navigating from place to place. The book is so comprehensive and so large I found that what works for me is to use the navigation links to tailor a "My Copy" version of Extreme Restoration for hard copy use.
Like Forunat says, there is nothing like having a printed hard copy available. In my case, I keep "My Copy" on the coffee table for reference while comptemplating a restoration.
"My Copy" contains Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11. I have the CD in the top draw of my desk in case I need to venture into the other areas.
Also I have used Extreme Restoration as a means to convey to the customer the amount work involved in some of my proposed work to substantiate my estimates.

Thanks for the update,