• Important Executive Director Announcement from the NAWCC

    The NAWCC Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Mr. Rory McEvoy has been named Executive Director of the NAWCC. Rory is an internationally renowned horological scholar and comes to the NAWCC with strong credentials that solidly align with our education, fundraising, and membership growth objectives. He has a postgraduate degree in the conservation and restoration of antique clocks from West Dean College, and throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to handle some of the world’s most important horological artifacts, including longitude timekeepers by Harrison, Kendall, and Mudge.

    Rory formerly worked as Curator of Horology at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, where his role included day-to-day management of research and digitization projects, writing, public speaking, conservation, convening conferences, exhibition work, and development of acquisition/disposal and collection care policies. In addition, he has worked as a horological specialist at Bonhams in London, where he cataloged and handled many rare timepieces and built important relationships with collectors, buyers, and sellers. Most recently, Rory has used his talents to share his love of horology at the university level by teaching horological theory, history, and the practical repair and making of clocks and watches at Birmingham City University.

    Rory is a British citizen and currently resides in the UK. Pre-COVID-19, Rory and his wife, Kaai, visited HQ in Columbia, Pennsylvania, where they met with staff, spent time in the Museum and Library & Research Center, and toured the area. Rory and Kaai will be relocating to the area as soon as the immigration challenges and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 permit.

    Some of you may already be familiar with Rory as he is also a well-known author and lecturer. His recent publications include the book Harrison Decoded: Towards a Perfect Pendulum Clock, which he edited with Jonathan Betts, and the article “George Graham and the Orrery” in the journal Nuncius.

    Until Rory’s relocation to the United States is complete, he will be working closely with an on-boarding team assembled by the NAWCC Board of Directors to introduce him to the opportunities and challenges before us and to ensure a smooth transition. Rory will be participating in strategic and financial planning immediately, which will allow him to hit the ground running when he arrives in Columbia

    You can read more about Rory McEvoy and this exciting announcement in the upcoming March/April issue of the Watch & Clock Bulletin.

    Please join the entire Board and staff in welcoming Rory to the NAWCC community.

Clock cleaning

Joe black

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Hello, I am afraid my question will reveal just how novice I am at Horology. I have yet to disassemble my first movement. I have watched many videos and read many articles. My question is why is brake cleaner not 7sed to remove heavy sludge prior to disassemble, instead of other chemicals. It seem to work well in other such applications and dries quickly and is easy rinsed off.
Thanks for everything you can mention that will help.
 

R. Croswell

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You can use brake cleaner, carburetor cleaner, and any number of other petroleum solvents. Just follow the safety precautions regarding breathing the fumes and the fire hazards which generally mandate use outdoors. These can also be more expensive than other methods if you do a lot of clocks. Such cleaners are NOT a substitute for disassembling the movement for proper cleaning.

RC
 

Joe black

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You can use brake cleaner, carburetor cleaner, and any number of other petroleum solvents. Just follow the safety precautions regarding breathing the fumes and the fire hazards which generally mandate use outdoors. These can also be more expensive than other methods if you do a lot of clocks. Such cleaners are NOT a substitute for disassembling the movement for proper cleaning.

RC
Thanks for the input. I will be attempting to dismantle and clean one of the clocks I have recently purchased, an Ingraham mantel clock with chimes, as soon as I get all the needed tools together.
 

SuffolkM

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Could I just add something on safety - many of these chemicals (e.g. brake cleaner for motorcycles to name one more 'wonder cleaner') can have serious physiological consequences if you absorb them into your skin. This can include damage to organs, your eyesight...you name it. All bad news. Wear gloves, work outside, etc!
 

bikerclockguy

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Most solvents will also dissolve the lacquer on the plates, which will give you some goo to get rid of...
 

Joe black

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Could I just add something on safety - many of these chemicals (e.g. brake cleaner for motorcycles to name one more 'wonder cleaner') can have serious physiological consequences if you absorb them into your skin. This can include damage to organs, your eyesight...you name it. All bad news. Wear gloves, work outside, etc!
Will do.
Thanks
 

Willie X

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All of the paint thinner, mineral spirits, kerosene, snodard solution, type products work very well with relative safety. The higher fraction products have one big disadvantage. That is, you can't soak your parts for a long time. An overnight soaking does wonders in clock repair work. My 2, Willie X
 
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Elliott Wolin

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I've tried brake cleaner, carb cleaner, and electrical contact cleaner. One or more of them can stain brass, not sure this is due to removal of lacquer or something else. I usually ignore it because it's not visible, or maybe it disappears when I soak the parts in clock cleaner.
 

R. Croswell

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Thanks for the input. I will be attempting to dismantle and clean one of the clocks I have recently purchased, an Ingraham mantel clock with chimes, as soon as I get all the needed tools together.
That one probably does not have lacquer coated plates. If you really want a cheap, effective, and really safe cleaner, just use Dawn dishwashing detergent and an old tooth brush and tooth picks to clean out the pivot holes. Disassembling the clock first of course. It won't brighten the brass but is pretty good at getting things clean safely.

RC
 

Bruce Alexander

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If the clock has oil sinks, be sure to get them clean. Abrasives tend to accumulate and can become tenacious there. Failure to remove even small amountsof dirt and abrasive will charge your new oil and result in rapid wear after all of your hard work at properly cleaning and servicing the movement.
 

Kevin W.

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You said chimes, but i believe you meant a time and strike Ingraham. Good luck and take lots of pictures when taking your clock apart.
 

kinsler33

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Hello, I am afraid my question will reveal just how novice I am at Horology. I have yet to disassemble my first movement. I have watched many videos and read many articles. My question is why is brake cleaner not 7sed to remove heavy sludge prior to disassemble, instead of other chemicals. It seem to work well in other such applications and dries quickly and is easy rinsed off.
Thanks for everything you can mention that will help.
Because clocks were invented centuries before brakes were, and so clocks were the only complex and intricate mechanisms anyone ever had to deal with. Add mindless tradition and guild mentality to this and you have horology, a field that developed separately from industrial machinery. So we use our own mystic solvents, though they're probably diluted industrial solvents.

That said, you can use any solvent that seems to work. I like Zep Fast 505 industrial degreaser, which won't burn or suffocate you and which works very effectively either in or out of an ultrasonic cleaner. About $8.00 per gallon, and you can strain it out and re-use it several times. Brake cleaner is handy for spot degreasing, and carb cleaner is even more ferocious.

Mark Kinsler
 

shutterbug

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I save the really harsh stuff like brake cleaner for the really greasy and messy movements. You only run into a real mess once in a while. Milder cleaners, like Dawn, do a really good job on the common movement.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Add mindless tradition and guild mentality to this and you have horology
I respectfully disagree with you on this Mark.

All too often one sees the results obtained by someone who knows how to use a screwdriver and thinks that they don't need any special knowledge or skills to work on a clock mechanism. By the way, that pretty much eliminates anyone who comes to our Forums seeking advice.

What one does with their own clock is their business. I really couldn't care less. It's their clock, their money, and their call.

It's when some clock which has been abused and subsequently comes across my bench that I get a little upset. This is especially true when it has been recently serviced in a so-called "clock (chop) shop". I'm working on a Starkville era Herschede Wall clock which has been treated with quick shortcuts and hacks. I don't think that the condition of the clock was because the owners were looking for a cheap fix, but if I were to fully charge them for the time I've spent trying to reverse previous "fixes", they would probably call me a thief, when it was the guy before me who kicked the can down the road. A clock which was manufactured to be periodically serviced should be repaired and maintained, at least professionally, in a manner which doesn't require the next guy or gal to spend time fixing previous shortcut bodges and then left holding the bag, so to speak, while trying to explain why they have to charge so much more than the last shop did. The Jauch(?) Westminster Movement that I'm working on isn't the highest quality movement I've seen come across my bench, but it deserved better or at least its owners did. A very nice couple who loves the sight and sound of their Westminster wall clock.

It has taken me out of my routine comfort zone and provided me with a problem-solving opportunity though, so on the advice of Horologists like RC, I suppose that I need to look at it from that perspective.

When it's all said and done I may do a write up in the Hall of Shame Thread. No doubt my struggles will provide plenty of amusement to those who have been there and done that (reversing prior "fixes") many times before. Those folks are "Horologists".

Regards,
Bruce
 

kinsler33

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I respectfully disagree with you on this Mark.

All too often one sees the results obtained by someone who knows how to use a screwdriver and thinks that they don't need any special knowledge or skills to work on a clock mechanism. By the way, that pretty much eliminates anyone who comes to our Forums seeking advice.

What one does with their own clock is their business. I really couldn't care less. It's their clock, their money, and their call.

It's when some clock which has been abused and subsequently comes across my bench that I get a little upset. This is especially true when it has been recently serviced in a so-called "clock (chop) shop". I'm working on a Starkville era Herschede Wall clock which has been treated with quick shortcuts and hacks. I don't think that the condition of the clock was because the owners were looking for a cheap fix, but if I were to fully charge them for the time I've spent trying to reverse previous "fixes", they would probably call me a thief, when it was the guy before me who kicked the can down the road. A clock which was manufactured to be periodically serviced should be repaired and maintained, at least professionally, in a manner which doesn't require the next guy or gal to spend time fixing previous shortcut bodges and then left holding the bag, so to speak, while trying to explain why they have to charge so much more than the last shop did. The Jauch(?) Westminster Movement that I'm working on isn't the highest quality movement I've seen come across my bench, but it deserved better or at least its owners did. A very nice couple who loves the sight and sound of their Westminster wall clock.

It has taken me out of my routine comfort zone and provided me with a problem-solving opportunity though, so on the advice of Horologists like RC, I suppose that I need to look at it from that perspective.

When it's all said and done I may do a write up in the Hall of Shame Thread. No doubt my struggles will provide plenty of amusement to those who have been there and done that (reversing prior "fixes") many times before. Those folks are "Horologists".

Regards,
Bruce
I agree: there are thoroughly horrid 'craftsmen' out there, and they're dishonest as well. I warrant all my work forever. Occasionally something comes back, and there's no charge to set it right.

My concern is the perceived difference between a clock and any other complex or critical mechanism like a mechanical aircraft guidance system or the instrumentation you'll find at an electric substation. The development of these and other machinery long ago split off from horological practice, and it's not entirely clear why this happened. Clocks continued to use plain bearings long after ball bearings and other bearing materials like Delrin were available. The mechanical clocks we work on aren't readily distinguishable from those built 150 years before: certainly the materials are the same. Yes, they're time-tested. Yes, they wear out, too.

(Except for Horolovar, I don't know any clock people hereabouts, but I get horror stories from mistreated customers. )

Mark Kinsler
 

Simon Holt

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RJSoftware

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Yes, back in the days:

The industrial future of clock/watch making was pioneer stages.
The market was ripe with opportunities. Money flowed.
People invested time in education for repairing/ creating time pieces.
Handcrafted was still the norm. Artisan skill desired.
Time invested was rewarded.

Today, 5 minute attention span is pushing.
 

Simon Holt

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Would love to have that one in our collection!
I wasn't sure, when posting the link, that it would work outside the UK. The museum has a good searchable archive of its collection, with some truly astonishing pieces. Although the book they published has some real howlers in it...

Simon
 

kinsler33

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Take a look at this one in the British Museum collection: calendar clock; eight-day clock; hour-striking clock; quarter-repeating clock; table clock; spring-driven clock; clock-case | British Museum

Nearly 300 years old and with entirely familiar rack-and-snail mechanism.

Simon
It came from someone's estate in 1958 and it has apparently had its moments ever since, including a lost part. Behold:

Description 1977. APR. Full overhaul, bushed holes, polished pivots etc. No other repairs necessary. Cleaned with Goddard's Glow, washed in acetone; plates then lacquered. Corrected repeating mechanism. Gave trouble when striking-work jammed. (JLE).

1979. JUN. One hole had worn very badly; stripped movement to rebush and to polish pivot. Whilst dismantled, cleaned using Goddard's Silver Foam. Made new fly tension spring. Corrected strike and repeat. Now ok. (JLE).

1985. JAN. Front great wheel going train pivot hole had worn badly - inadequate oiling after last clean? Stripped movement, rebushed hole, polished great wheel pivot; wiped oil off all parts and pegged holes, assembled, re-oiled. Striking work had also been misbehaving - the release lever ws rubbing on teeth of minute wheel and was being lifted at incorrect times. Now functions correctly. (JLE)

1993/JUN - It was noticed that the calendar drive wheel which meshes with the hour-wheel pinion and drives the calendar wheel was missing. The wheel is present in photograph CW7-42 but was noticed missing after a visit from West Dean College students the previous day (3rd June). Examination of photographs taken before the dismantling of the gallery in January 1993 show it to be missing on photograph PS254460/7.

Mark Kinsler
 
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