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Disillusioned Newbie

Baldilocks & the 3 hairs

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Jan 10, 2021
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Hi Everyone,

This is my first time posting on this forum and wanted to say hello and to also ask for some help. I'm getting frustrated and somewhat disillusioned with not having very much success as a hobbyist. I think I've made a mistake in the belief that buying 'spares or repair' movements on eBay would be a good thing to do as almost all seem to end up in a worse condition than when purchased. I seem to fit the description of "got some gear but no idea". Do you guys have any pointers that will set me on the right path. Many thanks and hope you are all well.
 

Schatznut

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Your frustration is coming through loud and clear but it's hard to tell what you're running into from your post. Can you be more specific, like what kind of timepieces you're working on, how they started and how they ended up? I realize this is kind of like baring your soul, but as somewhat of a newbie (at least as compared to some of the long-time pros on this site) I sympathize, because I've turned more than one broken clock into rubble myself!
 

JTD

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Sep 27, 2005
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Welcome to the board, Baldilocks

I, and many others, can well understand your frustration.. Yes, some aspects of clock repair are not as easy as people imagine, although some things are surprisingly simple once someone has explained them clearly.

There are lots of experienced people here who will be happy to help you but it would be easier to do so if you could explain more about what you have been trying to do and what troubles you have had. And photos of what you are working on are essential if clear advice is to be given.

You might also like to read some of the books on basic clock repairing. Stephen Conover's books are good, but there are others.

Let us have some details, nobody will laugh at you and there will be plenty of help forthcoming.

JTD
 

bikerclockguy

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Jul 22, 2017
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I sort of stumbled into this hobby a few years ago. Ever since I was a kid, I always liked the old tambour(also known as Napoleon hat or humpback)style mantel clocks. I was browsing those on eBay, and found one I liked, ”in running condition“ with Westminster chimes. It wasn’t a complete falsehood, the clock would run for 15-20 minutes at a time... I decided I wanted to try to fix it, but had no idea how to go about it. I went to several online clock forums, only to discover that most of the people there were just tinkerers like myself, and didn’t really know any more about it than I did. Then I discovered the message board, and let me assure you, you have landed in the right place! You will not find a more knowledgeable and helpful bunch of folks anywhere. They helped me determine that this clock was in beat, and when we established that it was and would still not run for an extended period, they wisely suggested that the 3-train Seth Thomas 124 was not a good movement for a beginner to cut his teeth on. By this point, though, I was finding it fascinating, so I decided to shelve the 124, build a few simpler movements, and come back to it. 5 years and a few dozen movements later, the 124 still hasn’t been touched, but I discovered a fascinating and rewarding hobby. The knowledge you can gain from playing around with junk movements is helpful to a point, but limited. I assume you have a clock or clocks that you want to restore. My suggestion is to post in the “clock repair“ section with pictures of the movement(assembled and intact first)and a description of the problems you are experiencing. People will jump right in there and help you; they walked me through my first couple of rebuilds from the cradle to the grave. If I were in a tradesman’s union, I guess I would be considered a journeyman at this point, and folks refer to me as “self-taught“ since I’ve never attended a horological school or worked for a clockmaker, but that’s not really accurate. I learned to repair clocks right here on this forum, and while I’m at at, a great big thanks to everyone who has helped me over the years!
 

Baldilocks & the 3 hairs

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Thanks everyone, really appreciate your comments and advice. I will try and get some pictures or videos posted to give you an idea of what kind of problem I am coming up against. I will also try and make sure to post on the right forum. I think maybe I've tried to run before crawling in this world.
 

wow

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Jun 24, 2008
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Thanks everyone, really appreciate your comments and advice. I will try and get some pictures or videos posted to give you an idea of what kind of problem I am coming up against. I will also try and make sure to post on the right forum. I think maybe I've tried to run before crawling in this world.
Welcome. Remember, no question is a dumb question. Lots of photos help us help you.
Will
 

bikerclockguy

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Jul 22, 2017
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Working on clocks will definitely give you some lessons in patience, as well as paying attention to detail. You will undoubtedly make a few mistakes in the beginning(putting a count wheel in upside down or installing a mainspring backward), but it’s all part of the learning process, and as Wow and others have said, no one will laugh at you or make fun of your questions. As you will see in some of the posts here, we are not above giving each other a good-natured razzing once in a while, but that comes later, after you have confidence in your skills, and when you start getting a little of that you can consider yourself officially trained. Looking forward to your posts! -Tom
 
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TEACLOCKS

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When I first started I made a point to meet all of the other 11 clock repair men & women in the area, and told them about me, All of them wanted to talk while some were grumpy but still talked to me about clocks, and one guy kinda took me under his wing and help & showed me things, to do & not to do about the clock business.
Go talk face to face with with the people you are going to take there work from them.
You learn a lot.
Just like here on the NAWCC.
Good luck
 

Shipsbell

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Apr 12, 2010
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Hi Everyone,

This is my first time posting on this forum and wanted to say hello and to also ask for some help. I'm getting frustrated and somewhat disillusioned with not having very much success as a hobbyist. I think I've made a mistake in the belief that buying 'spares or repair' movements on eBay would be a good thing to do as almost all seem to end up in a worse condition than when purchased. I seem to fit the description of "got some gear but no idea". Do you guys have any pointers that will set me on the right path. Many thanks and hope you are all well.
I just wanted to say that "all seemed to end up in a worse condition than when purchased" Well that's not true because every time you screwed up a movement you learned something. May I also say that that's why you purchased movements from ebay. Well I have been working on clocks for well over 40 plus years and I still cause massive damage on a movement. The current disaster is a chronometer that in a hurry I forced a pivot on a jewel and shattered the jewel it. Try to find a jewel from 100 years ago IMPOSSIBLE. What do I do I modify the setting to fit a jewel I can find and in the process destroyed the setting. So what do I do now I put it down and think out the issue and come up with a solution. That's were I am now. My Point you will always damage the movements you love but you work through it and LEARN from your mistakes. Keep buying from ebay because when you destroy the movement you can toss it into the garbage.
I would also like to point out to the clock makers that are thinking I'm an idiot (I am) for damaging and modifying the setting. When I finish this job the repair will not be visible and it will run like new plus it's mine not a customer's.
Patrick the terrible
 

John P

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Sep 17, 2010
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Joining your local chapter of NAWCC is a great way to meet others in the clock repair adventure. We at Chapter 17 have not been able to meet for nearly a year because of covid19 but hopefully someday this sickness will be gone and we can resume our meetings and regionals.
There you will meet others like yourself who are willing to help and guide you along the way.
I, like yourself struggled with disappointment and failure but plugged along and got hooked into a great hobby that i enjoy and can help folks get grannies clock going again.

johnp
 
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Dietofnothing

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Nov 7, 2020
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I’ve been doing this less than a year on and off. Mostly, buying a clock not working and getting it running. That’s a big difference between overhauling a movement - that’s just figuring out the worse thing wrong & replacing that part.

Stuff that’s helped me is going really slow. Document and take pictures of everything before you take it apart. Mark everything with a Sharpie. Try to stick to one brand / type of clock at first.

For whatever reason, my first few clicks were Ansonia. I just got lucky, but Ansonia is a great place to start. They seem a little better built than some of the other American clocks & movements & parts are fairly common. Ask questions here - people here know.

I won’t buy a clock where the movement has been butchered or is hammered. I look for signs it’s been worked on a bunch before: missing screws / butchered screw heads, rathbun bushings, scratches all over the plates, obviously big bushing holes, bent / missing parts, etc.
 

UncleDoc

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I won't share the colossal blunders I've already experienced due to my inexperience /haste. They're balanced by the successes, some of which are pretty impressive to this newbie.
 

shutterbug

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This thread has lots of information on mistakes that are often made by people just jumping into this hobby. Read it, and you might find the very thing that is causing you problems. You will also learn a lot of things to avoid as you progress. Welcome, and enjoy the journey ;)
 

SuffolkM

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Jun 15, 2020
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If you feel disillusioned, you are already half way there. It's important to come to an understanding with clocks! What appears simple can be complicated, and equally many complex-looking things turn out to be easier than you'd imagine. Giving up should not be an option, now that you're at the most important moment when you are starting to experience some well-founded doubts. It's a positive sign!

dunning-kruger_effect_almbok.com.png
 

Baldilocks & the 3 hairs

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Jan 10, 2021
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Thanks everyone, really appreciate all of your comments. I'm fairly sure there will be a more appropriate forum so apologies if this is not the right place but I wonder if I can get some advice on a little blunder of mine. I bought a few cheap ebay clocks to tinker with, very basic and very broken without really paying attention to what I was buying. One of the issues I've come across was a broken pin pallet escapement, with one of the pins broken away. This is something that I will put in the drawer to try and repair when I'm more confident. My question is, is it a relatively straight forward repair and if so, are there any tutorials out there that may help. Once again thanks everyone and hope you are all well. 20210121_182452.jpg 20210121_182430.jpg
 

howtorepairpendulumclocks

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Dec 18, 2020
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Keep going, it will get better. You probably need to buy a clock that is complete. It doesnt have to be expensive (all relative I know). Get something that has all the parts including pendulum. You 'just' have to take it apart, wash it, re-asemble and lubricate. This way you will gain confidence and have a clock finished and then you can progress to intermediate repairs. Buying movements is not in my view a good place to start for a beginner.
 

Baldilocks & the 3 hairs

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Jan 10, 2021
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Keep going, it will get better. You probably need to buy a clock that is complete. It doesnt have to be expensive (all relative I know). Get something that has all the parts including pendulum. You 'just' have to take it apart, wash it, re-asemble and lubricate. This way you will gain confidence and have a clock finished and then you can progress to intermediate repairs. Buying movements is not in my view a good place to start for a beginner.
Thanks, i certainly will keep your words in mind. I think I've tried to run a marathon by starting of with a sprint.
 

UncleDoc

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This might sound crazy, but hear me out. If you can't snag a working clock to work on in a few weeks/months, , I'll ship you one if you pay the postage. It'll still be mine, but you can hone your craft and return it to me when you're done with it...or buy it from me. I have a few that would work. Try the idea of low-balling a seller. Tell him your story though and they might be sympathetic to letting it go for a song. Keep me posted.
 

Baldilocks & the 3 hairs

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Jan 10, 2021
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Uncle Doc, that is really generous of you. I think I would be way too nervous to let my butchers fingers loose on something belonging to somebody else however. I really appreciate the offer though and will keep you posted on my progress. Thanks.
 

Dick Feldman

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Sep 1, 2000
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You will probably find some of your answers by reading books.
Your local library has or has access to gobs of books written by experts on clock repair.
A mentor would also be of great help. One can learn much even from a mentor with bad skills.
There are, by the way, lots of people out there claiming to be clock repair people who have bad skills and do shoddy work.
Don’t give up,

Dick
 

SuffolkM

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Jun 15, 2020
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If you DM me I'll sort out sending you a clock I have that you might enjoy, free. I'm in the UK and can post it to you easily. It is an Empire movement, a common British clock brand. Please take the offer if you want something to work on, as I know this clock will not get to the top of my queue here!
 

JTD

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Sep 27, 2005
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If you DM me
Just to clarify, as Baldilocks is a new member, DM (which I suppose means 'Direct Mail?) used to be known on here as PM (Private Message) and is now called a 'Conversation'. To start a conversation, you click on the name of the person and then on 'start conversation'.

Perhaps Baldilocks already knew this, but it confused me at first.

JTD
 
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