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Cost of dial repainting just too high

Elliott Wolin

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Nov 18, 2019
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I occasionally see antique clocks in my price range (read: cheap) that need work. I can repair the case and movement, but not the dials. Some dials have a few bad spots, others have missing numbers or worse. The problem is that as far as I can tell, dial repair is really expensive. Indeed it appears that even a simple dial restoration costs multiple times the cost of the clocks I'm looking at.

I really don't think I have the skills, steadiness of hand, and knowledge to repaint a dial. And I don't need to have the dial looking brand new, I basically fix things and spruce the case up, I don't do full restorations.

Are there places that will touch up dials to repair the worst problems that don't cost too much? I understand you get what you pay for, but I'm not looking for museum-quality restoration.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Jul 26, 2015
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I pay around £100-£140 for a dial repaint. I'm sure you can find somebody to do it at a reasonable price.
 

JTD

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Sep 27, 2005
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Are there places that will touch up dials to repair the worst problems that don't cost too much? I understand you get what you pay for, but I'm not looking for museum-quality restoration.
Most dial painters will do as much or as little as the owner requests, so the first thing would be to tell them what you want and the price will be according.

I really don't think I have the skills, steadiness of hand, and knowledge to repaint a dial.
That's true for most people, which is why it is not cheap to find those who can!

JTD
 

R. Croswell

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Apr 4, 2006
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I have used the services of The Dial House The Dial House - Antique Clock Dial Restoration a number of times. I would not say that they are "cheap" in either price or quality of work. But I can say that they do great work at a price I consider reasonable for the professional work done. Don't compare the cost of dial restoration work to the purchase price of a yard sale clock, instead compare it to what the clock will be worth after you fix the guts and dress it up with a restored or repainted dial. I believe they have a cost estimate list on their website.

RC
 
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Thomas Sanguigni

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On non-painted dials, you can save even more using Dan McCann. He does great work at a fraction of the price of the dial house. He does not paint, but his paper dial reproductions are fantastic.
 

Fitzclan

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Jul 20, 2014
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Hello Elliott,
I thought I would share my method for making a new replacement dial inexpensively. I can’t afford to have a dial painted either but the process is easier than you might think for simple black and white dials. Paper dials are readily available in lots of sizes and easy to install, but I prefer the look of a painted dial especially if that was original to the clock. I haven’t tried the more intricate painted floral spandrels and such, but wouldn’t be afraid to try when the time comes.
Anyway, there is a pretty good array of transfers available from the usual clock suppliers in the US. I think that Ronell has the largest selection. These include all varieties and sizes of numerals, manufacturers logos as well as some time rings, although If you need a time ring larger than about 7” you will have to make that yourself. Easy enough using a compass and a sharpie. Some transfers come complete with time ring and numerals all laid out on one sheet. Easy-peasy. Just takes some time and patience.
First get a sheet of aluminum available from big box hardware store and trim to size. If you score the aluminum a few times with a utility knife and straight-edge you can snap off excess by bending back and forth.
Spray on a coat of white primer and a couple of coats of white or off-white paint.
Using the old dial as a template, transfer the arbor placement. Using an awl, place a dimple in the center where The holes will be drilled but don’t drill just yet.
If you have a transfer complete with time ring and numerals all you have to do is set it over the dial making sure it is centered correctly and perpendicular, tape it down with painters tape and rub with a stylus of some kind. Even a popsicle stick will do.
I decided to add spandrels to this one, but they are also transfers. They also come in some colors.
Once the transfer is done, you may have some voids or imperfections that can be fixed with the fine sharpie.
Drill the arbor holes ( most available grommets need 3/8” hole )
I then spray a coat of matte or semigloss polyurethane to keep anything from scratching off and finally add brass grommets to winding arbors.

If the dial is large, say 10 or 12” it gets a little more complicated, but certainly not impossible.

That divit that was placed in the center of the dial where the hand shaft will reside will come in handy here.
Fit a fine point sharpie (this ink will not smear or wash off like some other pens) into a compass and set the radius for what size you need, and make the first circle. Make another circle a bit smaller within the first, again measure the original to see how wide the time ring should be.
Now you will need to mark out the minutes and set up the numerals. Timesavers sells a “clock numeral locator”. I think they are a buck. You only need one, then make a few copies before using for future use.
Cut the locator just smaller than the inside edge of the time ring and tape it to the dial. You can now mark off the 5 minute increments using a sharpie and a good straight edged ruler. Mark the 12 and 6, 1 and 7, 2 and 8 etc. Those increments are usually slightly wider than the minute marks in between, or even a different shape. Free-hand it.
Now divide The minute marks into equal parts; again marking both sides of the dial (ie. 12:01 and 12:31), so that you don’t have to set up the ruler twice.
Now using the ruler and the 5 minute marks you created, you can begin adding the numerals. Separate each numeral from the paper with a scissor. I find that setting the 12, 3, 6, and 9 first helps visually with the layout and makes the remaining numbers easier to place. Do each one separately taping the paper to the dial temporarily so that they don’t shift while rubbing the transfer.
Depending on how far you want to go, logos and spandrels can be added according to your pleasure.
Here are some photos of transfers and a couple of dials done recently. I have done larger ones but who knows where the pics are at this point?
Anyway, I just thought you’d like to know that there are options. 8D179DC2-8DF6-4F7F-9138-692F42B96C41.jpeg CEB0F2C3-723D-4BD8-A744-EF14B178C0C4.jpeg 6604FDED-532D-4B5A-9BBE-C933D863D435.jpeg 9D8B5160-C622-44D2-BCE6-C000C072AA5C.jpeg 89E2C209-08CB-438C-A0AB-71D5CE9A4A80.jpeg F69FCD7D-59F2-4324-93DD-06554DAB546D.jpeg 5C43E1B1-1536-42D4-86C9-B9339EA15947.jpeg 6D8A2CD3-D02A-4574-81B7-E0439FDE5805.jpeg 5529F8AD-F2FA-4B05-9BD2-491EDB402CA4.jpeg
 

Elliott Wolin

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Nov 18, 2019
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Fitzclan: thanks for the information, I didn't know about this at all. Seems like a great strategy when the original dial is in really bad shape and you don't want to pay for a professional restoration.
 

JTD

Registered User
Sep 27, 2005
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Where does one find Dan McCann?
One finds him by using the search icon at the top of the page. Lo and behold:

Dan McCann
427 Tudor Ave
River Ridge
LA 71023

Tel.: 504-554-7022
[It also gives an email address, but adds that Dan prefers telephone and doesn't answer emails].

Hope this helps.

JTD

I see Thomas beat me to the send button. Also it seems the idea that Dan doesn't answer emails is out of date.
 

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