Black "Finish" - Paint, or What?

Discussion in 'Clock Case Restoration and Repair' started by rraisley, Jul 22, 2017.

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  1. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    A friend game me an old Ingraham clock to look at. I've removed the movement, cleaned it (a bit) and oiled it, and have it running on a plywood mount. The mainspring for the chime is broken, but time works okay, and that's all they're interested in. The movement is engraved:

    E. INGRAHAM CO.
    PATD OCT. 8 '78, NOV. 11 '79
    BRISTOL CONN.

    View attachment 350962

    No serial number or date below that. I read on the Net that this means the clock was made prior to 1897, when they started adding serials and dates. I've checked all available Ingraham catalogs, and can't find this model, or anything close. In fact, /very/ few wall-mounted kitchen clocks are in the catalogs. I have found this same model, but as a mantel clock, in photos on the Net, and have also found the same design with a different lower portion (base) as a wall clock. (There are so few kitchen wall clocks that I've even seen pictures of, that I wonder if it's been modified since new, possibly with the base of another clock added. Possible?)

    The clock has both a thermometer and bubble level (I took the brass plate off the level while working on it). It used to have an alarm mechanism, but that's gone. The metal dial itself appears original, but the paper dial has been replaced, with only one hole located in it. Well done, though. So, I imagine that was done after the chime mainspring failed, to keep people from trying to wind it (seems silly though). Obviously, a cheap and more contemporary dial, not being clearly printed and having "Made in U.S.A." printed on it.

    Okay, per my post title, this clock appears to have a black paint or finish applied it. I can't believe this was done originally and just "turned black", and can only guess someone painted it at some point, but can't imagine why. The base portion (which was loose, so I removed it) is also painted black, as is all the back, except the very front of the base does not seem to have the same black finish on it. As I can't believe the person painting it neglected to paint that part, I can only assume someone tried to remove the black paint in this area.

    I'd like to know more about the clock, if possible, but the main thing is: What do to with the black "paint"? What with the scrollwork and "carving", I'm assuming paint stripper would be about the only thing to use. Of course, that will also remove any filler used and will require the clock to be restained and refinished. My friend would prefer it just look "old", but I'm not sure the black finish is best, and don't really believe it's even original.

    Thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Sevant

    Sevant Registered User

    Nov 13, 2010
    33
    0
    6
    TN, USA
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    #2 Sevant, Jul 22, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
    I am not aware of any techniques that would not take a MASSIVE amount of time. You may want to try cleaning it as it does look like there is some brown showing (kinda tough to tell from the pic) on the bottom corner of the clock suggesting that the clock could be very old/aged. After you give it a good cleaning and you determine is has been painted the first step would be to determine what type of paint they used. Hopefully someone will be around shortly and maybe teach both of us something?
     
  3. PatH

    PatH Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 5, 2014
    215
    4
    18
    Female
    Texas
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Is it painted black, or did it come with an ebonized finish?
     
  4. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    It appears to be painted black. I never heard of this style of clock having an ebonized finish. It appears crudely done, but that could just be age. None of it is smooth. The inside of the clock, as well as the portion of the front behind the dial, is natural finish (not painted black). So either it's painted after-the-fact, or could it be that it was stored somewhere that turned the finish black? That black?
     
  5. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    By the way, an apparently identical clock, but with a different base, is shown about 1/3 the way down this page:

    http://www.discoverclocks.com/e-ingraham-clocks.html

    under "My Clock Needs a Name and Age..." by Sheila. The case and glass are pretty much identical to the one I have, except as I said for the base, it has a thermometer and level as well, but has Arabic numerals on the dial. I realize mine is not an original dial, but in all the pics I've seen in catalogs of Ingraham kitchen clocks, they've all be Roman numeral dials.
     
  6. Bill Ward

    Bill Ward Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Jan 8, 2003
    1,205
    0
    36
    EE (spec. acoustics) now medicine
    USA
    Your clock, with it's attached shelf or bracket, is indeed rare. With it's elaborate late Victorian embellishments, it's not really a kitchen clock, it's a parlor clock. Parlor clocks were frequently made of American Black Walnut, a rather expensive wood, even then. I feel quite certain that it was originally ebonized. It's clearly not painted, as you can partly see the grain of the wood in places. Near the end of the 19thC, there was a vogue for what's now called the "Aesthetic Style", which incorporated design elements from (newly opened) Japan. Aesthetic style decoration runs to schematic, or stylized, floral or vegetative designs (such as your sunflowers on the sides) often executed as shallow, incised, often (and perhaps, in your case, originally) gold-filled vine-like lines. Aesthetic style furniture is frequently, or even usually, ebonized.
    Although dark finishes are mostly out of style today, this was not the case in the Victorian era. So if you want it to look "old", avoid the Ikea look. You might take the advice of our local antiques guru, Terry Addison, who advises cleaning with Gojo. To positively ID it, I'd suggest Tran Du Ly's book on Ingraham clocks- it's available from the NAWCC lending library.
     
  7. Sevant

    Sevant Registered User

    Nov 13, 2010
    33
    0
    6
    TN, USA
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I love the GoJo, best clock cleaner I have ever used! Especially for a clock case in this condition.
     
  8. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    Thanks very much for your comments, Bill. I found them very interesting.
    Well, I didn't know if someone tried to clean that off, or what. If it's considered a high-quality finish, though, wouldn't the same black finish be on the case behind the door? Here's a picture with the door open:
    View attachment 351053
    Here's a better picture of the base, some of which has the black, and some doesn't:
    View attachment 351054
    I was wrong about all of the back being black; the clock itself is black on the back, but the base is not:
    View attachment 351058
    Here's a close-up of the back of the base:
    View attachment 351060
    And finally, a close-up of the back at the top. The "hanger" looks like something done at the factory (I would think), rather than what I or others might add on. Which makes me think it was originally a wall clock, despite the base being different in some ways:
    View attachment 351061
    Really? Gojo hand cleaner? I was wondering what to try (water, alcohol, paint thinner, 409, etc.).
    My local library system has book 1 of Tran Du Ly's series, and it's being sent to me.

    I really appreciate these comments. :)
     
  9. Sevant

    Sevant Registered User

    Nov 13, 2010
    33
    0
    6
    TN, USA
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Works great! I use a soft bristle brush, water and paper towels. You need to make sure you have a good space to work in too as you will want to put some plastic down (using the toothbrush will get it all over the place). Below is a video of how I do it, others may use a different process though? It is not on a parlor clock but it does cover the process.

    [video=youtube;te7z5IN-aJs]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te7z5IN-aJs[/video]
     
  10. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    Thanks for the video, Sevant. I will have to try that. One question I had, that I think you answered: You mentioned then using shellac or lacquer afterwards, so Gojo doesn't prevent finishes from applying well? Even stains and such? (Not sure what I'll be doing, if anything, to this one. Cleaning is certainly first, and Gojo sounds great. But depending on what the black and wood areas look like, it could then be stripping, finishing, refinishing, I really have no idea.)
     
  11. Sevant

    Sevant Registered User

    Nov 13, 2010
    33
    0
    6
    TN, USA
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    #11 Sevant, Jul 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2017
    The shellac or lacquer is optional and personally I would only consider doing it if the clock originally and had one of the finishes and it was worn off/flaking in spots. and I was trying to match it up. I would not use either on your clock as that is a very old and rare clock. I would keep it original. If you are committed to getting it refinished take it to a professional, you do not want to learn how to refinish on a clock like that. With that being said, I have never had any issues with it, just make sure you clean it good and give it time to dry (a week or two).
     
  12. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    Well, as I mention above, I'm still confused as to what the original finish was. If it was an ebonized finish, as Bill thinks it was, I still wonder why there was no ebony finish behind the door, on the main clock case. I would also have expected it to have ebony on the inside, but that's just what I think it /should/ have, to match, not what it would have. I definitely agree that it should be cleaned first, and intend to use Gojo, as suggested. Maybe I'll post again after that is done, to help determine what the original finish was. From what I see, the black does not seem professionally done, and if so, then probably not original. But we'll see.
     
  13. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Nov 15, 2016
    640
    8
    18
    HVAC, MECHANIC
    CT
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    You may be dealing with a darkened finish resulting from years of "Baking" in a very hot attic. If you notice, the "Ebonized Finish" is not present where the door overlays the face frame. Shellac and Varnish can become extremely dark when they're baked.
     
  14. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    I agree. After cleaning with Gojo, if there is not substantial change in colors, what is the best way to determine if it is some sort of black finish, or simply darkened original finish?
     
  15. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Nov 15, 2016
    640
    8
    18
    HVAC, MECHANIC
    CT
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    If you remove the hinges, you might find "Virgin Finish" beneath them.
     
  16. gleber

    gleber Registered User

    Jun 15, 2015
    774
    1
    18
    Downingtown, Pennsylvania USA
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    If it is temperature related, I would think the entire clock, even under the door, would get to the same temperature in an attic. I could see how those areas would be definitely react differently if they were affected by light since the under door section would be in the dark.

    It sounds to me like someone tried to paint it, especially if the finish does not look professionally done.

    Tom
     
  17. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    You'd think so. But after removing the hinges (2 sizes of screws, some with offset slots just about non-existant and 2 "tacks" and not screws at all), the area looks pretty much like the surrounding areas, neither of which have black, as there is no black behind the door.
     
  18. harold bain

    harold bain Forums Administrator
    NAWCC Member Donor

    Nov 4, 2002
    40,081
    45
    48
    Male
    self-employed in the clock business
    Whitby, Ontario, Canada
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    You would be surprised what many years of smoking leaves behind on a clock case. Use the GOJO without pumice.
     
  19. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    I got Volume 1 of Du Ly's American Clocks, which is what I saw recommended elsewhere, and it's not in it. Nothing close. I didn't notice until re-reading your post that he has, and you are recommending, a book specifically on Ingraham clocks. I've checked and it's not available from my local libraries, and unfortunately I am no longer a member of NAWCC. And according to Worldcat.org, the closest library copy is about 400 miles away from me. I'd buy it, if I owned the clock, but as it's a friend's, guess I'll just keep searching.
     
  20. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    I got some Gojo yesterday (surprisingly took 6 stores to find it - most had another brand, which I didn't want to take a chance on). For now, since I don't own the clock and haven't talked yet to the owner about cleaning it, I just cleaned small areas on the back of the main case, and base. The main case is "painted" (I think) black, including the back of the case, but possibly not as thick. Cleaning did not remove the black color, but I can see just a bit of brown grain showing through. The base was unpainted on the back, and cleaning brightened up the color, as expected. Both areas, especially the base, have rougher texture on the backs, so this may not be typical. I need to get with the owner and try something on the front of the clock.
     
  21. David64

    David64 Registered User

    Dec 18, 2010
    21
    0
    0
    we painted a clock and used ebony stain and poly urethane and came up with the same look
     
  22. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 22, 2010
    3,155
    13
    38
    Retired General Dentist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Most American Antique Clocks (certainly the ones I've come across) are top coated with Shellac. Some folks believe in keeping the finish as original as possible or if refinishing is necessary, use of time appropriate materials is recommended.

    I agree that you should try to get the surface of the finish as clean as possible, and go from there.

    Here's a formula that was developed to restore badly Alligatored shellac finishes without destroying/stripping the original finish. I've used it on a number of occasions and have been very happy with the way it works.It is applied with 0000 steel wool and wiped clean with a soft cotton cloth.
    The recipe is:
    1 c boiled linseed oil
    1 c turpentine
    1 c vinegar ( either type )

    It's more aggressive than GoJo, but if you don't go crazy with the Steel Wool, it should help to preserve the original finish. If this clock has some type of applied black finish, this recipe might help to remove it.

    Please let us know what you decide to do with some before and after photos

    Good luck.


     
  23. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 22, 2010
    3,155
    13
    38
    Retired General Dentist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I forgot to add a few Tablespoons of Denatured Alcohol to the recipe. The more alcohol added, the more aggressively the solution will amalgamate or partially dissolve the shellac, so less is more if you're trying to clean and preserve as opposed to strip the original finish.
     
  24. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    Thanks, Time After Time. May well end up using it. Sounds similar to Formsby Refinisher, ,which basically disolves and smooths old finishes (usually varnish, in my case), without stripping.

    One step at a time. ;-)
     
  25. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 22, 2010
    3,155
    13
    38
    Retired General Dentist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    This is what Formby's Safety Data Sheet list as its ingredients

    Substance -Percentage by Weight
    Acetone -50.99
    Toluene -29.47
    Methanol -16.99
    Polyethylene Glycol -2
    Rosin Ester -0.45
    Source: https://www.paintdocs.com/docs/webPDF.jsp?SITEID=BOLDOC&prodno=30013000&doctype=SDS&lang=2

    Looks like Minwax Antique Furniture Refinisher is the exact same formula.
    SDS: http://www.minwax.com/document/SDS/en/US/027426673007


    That looks like a pretty aggressive chemical stripper. "Varnish" can be a number of things so if you're trying to remove it, you may not find a gentle way to do so without some trial and error. I haven't run into it much working on wood clock cases.

    As you said, one step at a time is the way to go. The formula I found and have worked with isn't as hazardous as the Formby/Minwax but the turpentine and linseed oil can be pretty hazardous too if you aren't careful with them. It smells to high heaven so you probably wouldn't want to use it in your basement and you have to be careful about disposal of any used rags as well as the steel wool. It's probably relatively slow too, but I think you will have much more control over what (beyond dirt and grime) is removed. I'll have to keep these products in mind though. No doubt they can come in handy when it's time to take off the kid gloves...and put on some thick, chemically resistant ones. :)
     
  26. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    Thanks again. So, after trying a couple areas with Gojo, I just gave the case back to the owner to work with, along with the Gojo. Can't decide anything until it's completely clean.

    However, I'm definitely sure that the black is paint of some sort, although I don't know what kind, or when it was applied. As it's not behind the door, on the main clock case face, but /is/ over the brass plate for the thermometer, I'm going to confidently assume it was applied long after manufacture, but a novice (with bad taste). If it weren't for the bare wood on the bottom of the base, we'd consider just cleaning and leaving the black. But I'm pretty sure that after cleaning, the next step will be to try to remove the black paint. What the wood underneath looks like will determine what type of "finish", if any, will be applied. I doubt that shellac only will be sufficient at that point, but we'll see.

    This poor clock has had a rough life: at some point, the chime spring broke. So instead of fixing it, someone removed the broken spring (except for the part right on the shaft), then took the face off the dial, removed the brass ring surrounding the alarm setting dial, and affixed a new paper dial with "Made in U.S.A." printed on it, leaving off the left opening for winding the chime. Someone then /painted/ the outer portion of the solid brass dial gold. The alarm mechanism has been completely removed and is gone. Most, but not all, of the case has been painted black, leaving the inside of the clock, the back of the base (but not the back of the clock), the outer part of the door, and the area of the front covered by the door, in natural finish. Then someone apparently tried to remove part of the black paint of the front of the base, and gave up (although it doesn't look bad). Poor clock must have been screaming half it's life. :exhausted:

    Any suggestions for stripping off the black paint? Or maybe first determining what kind of paint it is, and proceeding accordingly?

    Oh, and I've got the clock movement lubricated and running well, but would like to do a quick and easy clean job on it. I'm not capable of disassembling to do it right, and the owner really doesn't want to put any money into it. I read in another thread that automotive brake cleaner spray can do a half-decent job. I've got several gun cleaning products that might work, but don't know what they'd do to brass, so wouldn't chance them.
     
  27. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 22, 2010
    3,155
    13
    38
    Retired General Dentist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    There is a lot of detail to clean out. If the owner doesn't want to put any money in it, I can appreciate why you have turned the task of reversing the mess back to him or her.

    There really is no quick and easy way to properly service this clock. That's probably a large part of the reason it is in its current state.

    May I suggest that you take a look at this thread: https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?106266-Soaking-and-Cleaning-the-Movements and then perhaps you might want to start up a new thread in the Clock Repair Forum if you have more questions or need some help or advice. Good luck with it.

    Regards
     
  28. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    The owner took the clock case parts home, and used Gojo on them. Of course, the black persisted, so she got some paint stripper and removed most of the black from the clock base as a trial:
    View attachment 352070
    I think it's coming along pretty well. Certainly a big improvement from the black paint. ;-) Two questions:

    Where the original finish is bubbly or rough, how do you recommend smoothing it? I've used Formsby Refinisher to "melt" old finishes and smooth them down, using it with 0000 steel wool. Would that be the way to go, or do you suggest something else?

    I understand that the original would have been shellac. Can/should shellac be applied directly over the finish cleaned, smoothed and "melted" as above (some shellac seems to remain)? Or, because of the paint remover and refinisher would a varnish or tung oil finish be better?
     
  29. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Nov 15, 2016
    640
    8
    18
    HVAC, MECHANIC
    CT
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    At this point I think I would go another round with the stripper using a stiff toothbrush. It looks like paint remains in the cracks, corners & crevices.

    If you go this route, I would recommend wearing a full face shield to protect your eyes, mouth, & nose from splatter caused by brushing.

    A face shield can be found at Home depot, lowes, harbor freight & other vendors for about $15.00..........a wise investment.

    After stripping clean with water or denatured alcohol depending on the stripper used & let thoroughly dry before staining or finishing.
     
  30. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 22, 2010
    3,155
    13
    38
    Retired General Dentist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    That is a big improvement in my opinion. Looks MUCH better. What stripper did the owner use on it? I agree that the black finish remains in recessed areas (manufactured or acquired) and should be removed. Once that is done, you can go from there. I would try to stay with original finish which is most likely Shellac.
     
  31. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    I'll have to find out what she used. But I was pleased that while it did remove the shellac in areas, it really didn't remove filler or change the color. I still think that something like Formsby Refinisher with extra fine steel wool would help smooth out the finish. Do you see any problem with shellac on top of that?
     
  32. BLKBEARD

    BLKBEARD Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Nov 15, 2016
    640
    8
    18
    HVAC, MECHANIC
    CT
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I've never used Formby's, but I think that's a finish restorer, and you've removed the finish with stripper. I think once you through stripping, you'll probably just need a few coats of shellac.
     
  33. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 22, 2010
    3,155
    13
    38
    Retired General Dentist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    That's why I asked. She did a nice job on the first pass whatever she used.
     
  34. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    Well, I bought the Tran Duy Ly book on Ingraham Clocks & Watches, and very disappointingly, nothing similar to this clock was in it. I've seen pics on the Net that are similar, and none of those were in it either. Here I thought that this book included /every/ Ingraham clock made, but I guess that's too much to ask.

    If anyone's interested in a once-read copy of this book, please let me know.
     
  35. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 22, 2010
    3,155
    13
    38
    Retired General Dentist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    Tran's books are the most comprehensive that I've seen but I also run across models that are not listed from time to time. His Ingraham book is one of his "thinner" ones. He even includes some models which he calls "Unlisted No. X" where "X" is some number. Several of those are included in his Seth Thomas volumes.

    I would only recommend his books to folks who intend to collect clocks. If you just want to know about an occasional clock you'd probably be better off posting a couple of good photos here on the Message Board and asking for help. You could probably sell your book on eBay but you're probably going to lose money on the deal.
     
  36. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    The good people at Arlington Books, where I bought it, are agreeable to taking it back. Very nice of them. I use about $6 for shipping, but not too expensive for learning a lesson.

    I'll post pics once it's refinished to try to identify it.
     
  37. Time After Time

    Time After Time Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Feb 22, 2010
    3,155
    13
    38
    Retired General Dentist
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    They are good people and you'll be hard pressed to find better model reference material. Looking forward to the pics.
     
  38. rraisley

    rraisley Registered User

    Jul 22, 2017
    19
    0
    1
    Country Flag:
    Looks like there's been some changes 'round here. Like removing all my posted pictures. The owner has since stripped the black finish off, and refinished it, such as her interest and time allows. It's not what I would have done, but it's certainly an improvement. I'll post an original (black) picture along with a current one. I intend to post several pics to a thread asking for identification of the clock. Thanks to all who commented and gave helpful information concerning the clock and its restoration.

    Here's the original:
    Original_Clock.JPG
    And here's the (somewhat) refinished version:
    Clock-1a.jpg
    If anyone has any information on this particular clock, I'd like to know about it. Thanks!
     
Loading...
Similar Threads - Black Finish Paint Forum Date
Repair Black Finish On Sessions Clock Clock Case Restoration and Repair Jul 8, 2017
black forest case, what finish sould it have? Clock Case Restoration and Repair Oct 15, 2015
Best Way to Restore Black Mantel Finish? Clock Case Restoration and Repair Jul 31, 2014
What is a proper finish for a black mantle clock? Clock Case Restoration and Repair Jun 4, 2014
Session Black Mantel Clock Finish Clock Case Restoration and Repair Feb 9, 2013

Share This Page