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  1. #1

    Default Servicing your own clocks

    I have about 50 clocks in my collection. I realized, if I would service my clocks as preventive care every 5 years, I would have to do 10 of my clocks a year, roughly one every month. I do much less.

    I service my clocks whenever I see a problem: The clock stopped. The clock suddenly loses or gains time of more than a few minutes per week. A dramatically decreased pendulum amplitude. The spring has a stiff feeling when I wind it or makes noises when winding.

    Rarely I experience a problem with the strike side, but very occasionally a clock would start striking the wrong number of strikes or wouldn't strike at all.

    I never kept a diary of when I last serviced my own clocks. What do you do?

    Uhralt

  2. #2

    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: Uhralt)

    I do keep a spreadsheet record that shows how long since last service. I have several that I have stopped running, although they will run just fine, because they ar e due for, service.

    RC

  3. #3

    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: R. Croswell)

    I don't service clocks myself, but I will attempt to attend to any problems that might arise if I can.

    If one of my less important longcase stops and I can't fix it I replace it with another clock as I have plenty that are not currently installed and not running.

    The cost of servicing means that usually it would be cheaper to buy another clock, but most of my main collection has all been relatively recently restored as I get through sending them off. In ten years time there are going to be quite a few coming up for service!
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: novicetimekeeper)

    my clock mentor says to let them run until they let you know that they need attention ...
    i collect antique clocks because i get all that extra time...

  5. #5

    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: bruce linde)

    That could mean additional expense, I think the theory is that a clean and relube every ten years, plus a change of gut lines, is a sensible precautionary approach.

    They made it to three centuries with very little maintenance but I'd like to think they could make it a few more.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: bruce linde)

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce linde View Post
    my clock mentor says to let them run until they let you know that they need attention ...
    That's an interesting recommendation and I agree with the last part.... sort of. They will let you know that they need attention, or more precisely, they will 'let you know' when they are in pain from lack of maintenance. Unfortunately too many people follow that philosophy. By the time there is a noticeable loss of performance, especially in the case of over powered American spring wound clocks, wear is already occurring at an exponentially greater rate. There appears to be no universally accepted maintenance period that's right for every clock and every situation, but 10 years seems excessive to me.

    What's best for the clock, and what may be the most economical for the clock owner over a lifetime may be two different things. A clean well oiled clock is a happy clock, but if one has to pay a couple hundred bucks to have a clock cleaned and oiled every year at today's shop rates on could invest a fortune in an old clock. Perhaps the modern clock makers producing movements that have an expected useful life of maybe 25 years have the right idea - run it until it stops and replace. Of course those of use who want to prolong the life of our cherished antique clocks will want to care for them as best we can. And I believe that includes oiling and periodic cleanings before the clock stops working properly.

    The photo is from one of my Sessions mantel clocks from the 1930's. Note that this manufacturer specifies that the clock should be oiled once a year. The construction of this movement is typical of American mantel clocks. One can argue that modern oils may last longer - that is the oil may last longer but no guarantee the oil will stay in place longer, especially is worn pivot holes. I'm afraid I don't oil this clock every year, but perhaps I get to it every 3 or 4 years. The one thing I feel sure of is that by the time our clocks "let us know" that they need service, it's been too long.

    RC
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: novicetimekeeper)

    Hello Uhalt,

    A clock's servicing interval depends upon type of clock and its condition.

    Weight driven clocks in well sealed case in modern heated/ac home might only require minor servicing (oiling) 5- 7 years and good cleaning after 15 years particularly if they were properly serviced initially by a competent repair person.

    Time and strike spring spring driven clocks may require more servicing as springs cause more wear particularly on strike side, so complete overhaul and bushings may be required - again how robustly were the movements made. Late 19th century American movements generally are very thin and wear more easily. A good initial overhaul correcting issues, a good cleaning and oiling is best protection and should increase time required for next servicing.

    We have a number of 9 bell Seth Thomas Sonora Chime clocks and they require servicing every 3-4 for a variety of reasons - I refer to them as Italian race cars always in the shop for repair.

    Andy Dervan

  8. #8

    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: Andy Dervan)

    10 years seems to be pretty widely accepted here for longcase, would have been sooner before synthetic oils. I've seen the same advised for dial clocks and bracket clocks.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

  9. #9
    Registered user. kinsler33's Avatar
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    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: novicetimekeeper)

    I just replace the batteries once a year.

    M Kinsler

    hee hee hee hee
    512 East Mulberry Street; Lancaster, Ohio USA 740-503-1973; kinsler33@gmail.com
    http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com/search/kinsler/

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: Uhralt)

    Anytime I overhaul or clean a movement, I use my label maker to note the date, , what work was performed, and BPH. I stick this inside the case somewhere so that I never lose the record.

  11. #11
    Registered user. moe1942's Avatar
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    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: bruce linde)

    That's my method too...

  12. #12
    Registered user. moe1942's Avatar
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    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: bruce linde)

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce linde View Post
    my clock mentor says to let them run until they let you know that they need attention ...

    I agree.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: moe1942)

    Quote Originally Posted by moe1942 View Post
    I agree.
    Assuming that's your bike in your avatar, do you also wait until it loses 500 rpm when you rev it, or until starts to smoke or misfire, or otherwise 'lets you know it needs attention' before performing the manufacturer's maintenance schedule?

    RC

  14. #14
    Registered user. kinsler33's Avatar
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    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: R. Croswell)

    So, what is recommended? Tear down and clean the movement, polishing the pivots and burnishing the holes? Or just put oil in the pivots, as Howard Miller recommends in the puzzling booklet that comes with each of its grandfather clocks? Or just oil the easily accessible pivots, which is what seems to have been done by the locals (now departed) after elaborately assuring the owner that only they possess the magic synthetic oil? Do we or do we not oil previously-oiled pivots?

    Clock maintenance should probably not be compared to that for motor vehicles. Manufacturers maintenance recommendations aside, clocks are all alike, with their low speeds, low loads, fanciful gear-tooth profiles and plain bearings that rattle.

    Clock oil takes years to evaporate. Does it need to be changed like your engine oil, which is subject to very high temperatures and continually contaminated by the products of combustion? The gear wheels in your car's transmission have teeth cut such that they retain rolling contact even when distorted by the extreme loads of acceleration. Do we do this with clock wheels? Nor have I ever seen a clock with a burned-out or spun bearing. Nor a seized bearing, if memory serves.

    M Kinsler
    512 East Mulberry Street; Lancaster, Ohio USA 740-503-1973; kinsler33@gmail.com
    http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com/search/kinsler/

  15. #15

    Default Re: Servicing your own clocks (By: kinsler33)

    I have an 18th century waywiser with helical gears, but I agree, I haven't seen them in a clock.

    As you say, clock gears move very slowly, and apart from the great wheels under very small loads. Also there is no combustion process adding waste products to the oil.
    Nick, lots to learn, late starter.

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