How dangerous is clock repair?

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by friedegg, Mar 2, 2011.

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  1. friedegg

    friedegg Registered User

    Mar 2, 2011
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    This seemed the least intrusive area for a non-technical question.

    After reading and seeing the potential energy stored in a wound mainspring, I wondered about the injuries that could happen when working on clocks.

    Have you any "war" stories?
    Doesn't have to be only mainsprings.
     
  2. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Hi, friedegg, welcome to the message board. Interesting question. Are you thinking about learning clock repair? I've been fixing clocks for 43 years, and still have all my fingers and toes. Can't say I haven't lost any blood over the years though:D.
    Preparation, and basic safety steps, along with a head full of common sense are necessary to keep the injuries to a minimum.
    I'm going to move your thread to the Clock Repair forum for better exposure.
     
  3. chimeclockfan

    chimeclockfan Registered User
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    As long as you're careful, you shouldn't be injured. Mainsprings are one of the more dangerous things to work on.

    Even a little novelty clock's spring had my thumb bleeding for 3 minutes straight. One of those cheap open-spring clocks.
     
  4. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    #4 bangster, Mar 2, 2011
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    Doc Fields is a classic example of what can happen. Click the link at the bottom of any of RJ's posts. :(
    (added: Here's the link in case you don't want to go RJ hunting.)
    bangster
     
  5. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    frie,

    The chance of getting injured repairing clocks is close to 0 (on a scale of one to ten), OK maybe 1 at the very highest. The mainspring can get-ya or you could drop a weight on your foot. Probably the biggest danger would be associated with driving around making service calls. Working on tower clocks can also up th annie, mainly because of the decrepit conditions where many of them reside.

    Willie X
     
  6. Dave B

    Dave B Banned

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    You'd be surprised what a nasty cut a three jaw lathe chuck or a jeweler's fretsaw blade can deliver. My usual trick though, is stabbing myself with the end of a broach. I have all my broaches standing (with the cutting ends up, to avoid rusting them) in a block of wood with holes drilled for each ascending size. Frequently, when reaching for one in a hurry, I stab myself on the end of the adjacent one. I manage to do that about once a week or so. I can do the same thing pretty quickly with needle files, too. You haven't lived until you've put kerosene or some other cutting oil in a fresh cut or stab wound. :D
     
  7. lamarw

    lamarw Registered User

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    Here is partial list of safety concerns:

    Working with sharp tools/instruments

    Hot items such as soldering irons

    Electrical items

    Chemicals

    Heavy items - Also choking from swallowning tacks, small screws, taper pins and etc. resting between lips as 8 lb. weight strikes toes/foot.

    Powerful springs

    Eye Strain

    Falls while hanging clocks

    Head injuries from striking top of work bench while searching for small parts on floor.

    Newbie Nervous Disorders from attempts to reassemble clock movements

    (Then only my imagination can conceive of the dangers of working with tower clocks)
    :D
     
  8. Dave B

    Dave B Banned

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    @lamar - You left out finding missing small parts on the floor by kneeling on them with the tender part of your knee. :D

    You also left out the occasional metal splinter that you only discover when it begins to fester several days after you get it embeded into your hand.

    Oh, and don't let's forget gripping the punch tightly and giving your hand a good smack with a 4 oz hammer. I still have a bruise under my thumbnail from doing that trick several months ago.
     
  9. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Wuss! Try Acetone! There's a real mans pain maker :D
     
  10. Thyme

    Thyme Banned

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    Oh, man. I just dug several of these out this week, the latest one an hour ago. And that's not even from doing clock repair! Deep and really tiny are the worst ones.:(
     
  11. shutterbug

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    And everyone left out the ever present danger of a wife critical of the hours you spend fiddling with clocks instead of paying attention to her!
     
  12. Thyme

    Thyme Banned

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    There must be something you can place on the ends of those to prevent that from happening. Or design a different stand like a knife drawer or something. There's gotta be a better way...
     
  13. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Wear gloves :D
     
  14. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    IMHO, storing broaches point-up on the bench is asking for trouble. It may be convenient, but it's asking for trouble.

    Better to store them point-down in a big jar of Vaseline. That way they surely won't rust. And will be nicely lubed for their job. :Party:

    bangster
     
  15. friedegg

    friedegg Registered User

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    The mainsprings have me worried about possibility of losing a finger or two.

    The thread with Doc Fields is what I feared, but I envisioned something much worse.

    And Bangster's suggestion of pointed tips down is well taken, since I've punctured myself with sharp items stored in a can.

    Glad to see there aren't dozens of horror stories accompanied by 9-fingered clock workers. I guess switching to watches won't be necessary. Not that watches are 100% safe. In the old days of the 1950's watch people got cancer from licking the fine brushes used to paint radium markings on the dials.

    I tend to get careless and complacent. For the most part it causes me to lose parts and break things other than my own body, but potential for disaster seems to exist. Still, working on a clock is safer than farming.
     
  16. Mike Phelan

    Mike Phelan Registered User

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    Glass splinters?
    Woodworm dust?
     
  17. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    It can also be pretty dangerous for the repairee.

    RM
     
  18. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    One way to avoid injury is to have the proper tools to do the job. In particular, a quality spring winder, and letdown tool.
     
  19. Dave B

    Dave B Banned

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    And reliable means of clamping the spring when fully wound. Sets of clamps are inexpensive, reliable, and easier to deal with than tying them with wire or hose clamps.

    About storing broaches: My grandfather used to store his pointed end down in baby food jars with a bit of cloth in the bottom and some kerosene. I store glass cutters that way, but with broaches found I was constantly fiddling with trying to find the right size one in a hurry. Storing them point up in a block of wood is ok, provided I remember to pick them out by the shank, rather than the tip. Here's a photo. The only really dangerous ones are the little ones in the shorter block. 85929.jpg
     
  20. dgladstone

    dgladstone Registered User

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    I've only just started fiddling with Cuckoo Clocks and already I almost put two nails into the back of my hand. :D

    It was those spikes they use to align the bellows. I was engrossed on getting the movement out and forgot about the spikes until they started poking into the back of my hand.
    Being a total Newbie myself I nearly laughed out loud when I read that! I had to make a great effort to remain calm reassembling my clock...several times.

    My wife's concern is the potential lead dust from working on leaded brass gears and soldering things together. If you have young children at home, it's probably a good idea to keep your work area isolated from the kids and make sure you keep the dust left over from metalworking cleaned up.

    But since I don't plan to work much with the movements, (I'm getting set up for wood carving and case construction), that shouldn't be an issue for me.

    You probably face a greater risk driving to the store for supplies than you do actually working on the clocks. And I think the health benefits of working with your hands (and mind) outweigh any potential risks.
     
  21. Thyme

    Thyme Banned

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    One solution is to make a dome of sorts that would fit over the block holding the smaller ones. Think of the glass dome that some clocks have. Of course some other material than glass would be preferred - an inverted plastic box would do.

    It might take a few seconds to remove the cover, but at least you wouldn't get accidentally stabbed when browsing the workbench.

    OTOH, if you are getting jabbed when selecting one of them, that would require a different solution. :D
     
  22. Mike306p/Ansoniaman

    Mike306p/Ansoniaman Registered User

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    Ya I knew somoeone would find that old thread with battle injuries. Ouch I looked at picture of the thumb injury again. I have had a spring or two do some damage, nothing major though. Be careful. Mike
     
  23. shutterbug

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    I'm certainly not trying to minimize the danger of mainsprings, but when I get new ones (8 day variety American only) I just grasp them tightly in my hand (gloves are optional but recommended :)) and cut the wire. They will expand slowly as I open my hand with surprisingly little force. It only sounds scary :D A loose end whirling wildly in rapid expansion is a different story all together!
     
  24. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    Dave B. said:
    .

    Dave, I suppose it's just a matter of what you are used to. I've tried the C shaped metal clamps sold by the suppliers, and found them often awkward and difficult to use compared with the electrical tie wire I have always used. I've noticed some new springs came with one of these clamps (probably was new-old stock), but most come with wire, twist tied. The wire I use is at least twice as thick as the wire that comes with new springs. I've never had a mainspring accident yet (touch wood:rolleyes:).
     
  25. Len Lataille

    Len Lataille Registered User
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    Long term exposure to cleaning chemicals and burns from flammable ones.
     
  26. leeinv66

    leeinv66 Moderator
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    How dangerous is clock repair? Well, that's a very subjective thing as it all depends on your personal experience. If the only mechanical hobby or trade you have experience in is clock repair, then you will come up with an answer based on that. However, if you have experiences in other mechanical trades as well as clock repair, your answer is likely to be very different. I have be fortunate enough to have work in a variety of mechanical trades and have managed to injure myself performing most of them:D. I have had an auto transmission slip off a jack stand and fall on my chest (cracked four ribs) while working as a mechanic and I had a 7" grinder run up the side of my face (I'm ugly anyway so it didn't detract from my looks) while working as an auto body repairer. So, my answer to the question of "how dangerous is clock repair" would be not very:)
     
  27. ticktock19852004

    ticktock19852004 Registered User

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    Hello!

    I recently had an Austrian musical clock come in for repairs. The time train mainspring had broken and needed replaced. One has to customize existing mainsprings for these clocks as the winding arbors have slots in them instead of a hook. Using a torch I held onto the end of the mainspring with a pair of pliers and heated it to red-the pliers weren't far from red. I formed the end of the mainspring and set it aside. Meanwhile, I needed to make an adjustment to the movement. I picked up (you betchya) the same pair of pliers. I heard my own skin sizzle. Pork Rinds anyone?

    Thanks!

    Neal
     
  28. Ralph B

    Ralph B Registered User

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    "They will expand slowly as I open my hand with surprisingly little force. It only sounds scary "

    Exactly right. I undid a 15 foot, 2 inch wide gramophone spring like that yesterday with no problems.

    As to other injuries, the occasional small cut or burn is par for the course. Of more concern is something that will have a more lasting effect.
    I had a very near miss a couple of months ago when changing a watch battery for a neighbour. I don't normally work on watches but since hanging a sign out more people wander in from around the neighbourhood.

    To get easy access to the back of the watch I thought it a good idea to undo the metal strap.
    Pushing down on the end of the springpin with a fine screwdriver resulted in the blade suddenly folding over and breaking off.
    I'd been pretty close to the work peering over the top of my glasses and that was the gap the flying blade found. I felt a real thump and instinctively closed my eye. Getting a mirror and cautiously opening it again I fully expected to see the blade sticking out of my eyeball. Not there! Not a mark, scratch or anything except an eye that had a dull ache for a week.
    The blade had obviously hit sideways and reminded me why eye protection exists.
    I'm normally real careful where eyes are concerned but this one caught me out.

    Cheers
    Ralph B.
     
  29. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    I have had a few injuries.But not bad i think for the number of hours i have in the clocks working on them.My job as a machinist i would say is much more hazardous.
     
  30. neighmond

    neighmond Registered User

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    You used to see staking tools with a glass dome over them, and as I recall Someone here had a set of lathe collets on a block like that.


     
  31. Dave B

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    For many years, I was too cheap to buy clamps, and had (literally) miles of electric fencing wire that I used for things like tying springs. A couple of years ago, I bought a box lot of tools that included about a half dozen round clamps and a couple of the flat style. Those flat ones are really nice for dealing with American eight day clocks, and are much quicker to install than snaking a wire through, and trying to hold it centered on the spring while getting the first twist in it. I never had any wires let go, but I have had a couple that started to slip off the spring, because I didn't get them exactly centered to start with. Because the "C" rings are so inexpensive, and handy, I would never recommend to someone just starting out that they try to get away with wire. I have lots of experience with dealing with repairing things with pieces of wire, and have a pretty good idea of what kinds will stay twisted, and what kinds will stretch and so on, but I wouldn't want to be responsible for suggesting wire to someone who didn't have a good grasp of the strength of his or her materials.
     
  32. Thyme

    Thyme Banned

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    Rumors abound, and they are meant to be provocative; they usually provide some benefit, in some way, to those who generate or promote them.

    Facts are best heeded, but rumors ignored.

    To return to the original topic, clock repair is no more dangerous than any other trade. If you have the required knowledge and skill (and always pay attention to what you are doing, while you are doing it) nothing bad will occur. :)
     
  33. leeinv66

    leeinv66 Moderator
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    All I have read, including the links you have posted prove only one thing. It is much more dangerous being a mouse than a clock repairer! As I said in a previous thread, stuff enough particles of anything down some poor mouse's throat or better yet, inject it directly into its blood stream and you will kill it. There is nothing surprising about that! Show me some research directly linked to nano particles suspended in oil and I will be interested. The stuff you posted has nothing to do with the subject.
     
  34. Randy Hirst

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    Had a 31 day mainspring come loose while I was trying to wind it with an electric drill. I had it laid flat on my bench and when it let go it lashed my belly about four times before I got away. Looked like I'd been whipped with a cat o nine tails and hurt like heck, but no permanent damage. I have since bought a winder :D
     
  35. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    I am not too scared of nano oil.Cant be as bad as what i am exposed to at work in the machine shop.
    Been there 14years , i have likely ingested and inhaled many things.
     
  36. Len Lataille

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    We are surrounded by a "soup" of materials that could, over time and in concentration, kill us.

    Worrying about it will probably kill you sooner.

    In my area, just standing ourdoors I am exposed to 4 picocuries of radon, which is the max considered safe. Only when it becomes concentrated as in the lower floors of a building, does it become a leading cause of lung cancer. That's why my basement workshop is ventilated year round. Yes, it does get chilly.

    No surface water in North America is safe to drink w/o some sort of treatment, no matter how clean, and pristine the source.

    That says a lot about the world around us, and it will only get worse.

    Cheerful thought, isn't it.

    As for clock repair safety, it probably has fewer hazards than most jobs especially if you follow suggestions given here and read up on the matter. Most books, especially newer edition will cover the dangers.

    If mainsprings are your concern, and they have always been mine, specialize in weight driven clocks and leave the spring driven ones to your competition.
     
  37. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    As for the above referenced articles, here's the final conclusion of the major one of them.


    In other words: No evidence that you have anything to worry about.
    I'm glad we got that settled.

    :Party:
     
  38. R&A

    R&A Registered User

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    I think with these findings, it's not a rumor. Same rumors a smoking cigarets. Or the same as DuPont and Teflon rumors. This is why I won't use this stuff. Nor will I indorse it. Studies have found that this stuff is nasty. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. And as far as the dangers of clock repair. Judge for yourself. Generally speaking , it's relatively safe as all get out. Maybe a broken finger or a cut lip from a spring. Other than that, safer than allot of professions.
     
  39. coldwar

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    Like many of you I have hurt my fingers many ways in the course of repair, and have had metal embedded in both eyeballs quite a few times. An Asian doctor showed me a trick in the emergency room, you pull a match out of a matchbook to use as a instrument, the fibrous end is ideal for splinter removal in the eye, you grip the matchead. Havent been to hospital since for particles in eyes. These three I'll never forget:

    When I was starting out in the business, a elderly man brought a Seth Thomas 113A in for repair, to shop I worked at. Single click ratchet assys, and chime spring had broken violently. Key flew as he wound and wing of key came to rest in his forehead, he had LOTS of stitches.

    I have pulled cuckoo clocks off the wall down on to my head. Customers ask if you have time to take a look after a hall clock repair, and even today I do not remember to check the fastener before I raise the weights. Brad or picture hanger in drywall fails, the center shaft of the mech gets you right in the middle of the forehead, with the weight of the clock and usually raised weights making gravity your enemy. OUCH!, blood, scab and bruising for a month.

    Some years ago a buddy was servicing a very tall 18th-19th century hall clock, and the hood was tight on removal. It got away from him, and the hood and 200 year old glass crashed down on his face and head, right there on the job. In horror he might have bled to death on the spot, terrible scaring. BE DAMN CAREFUL SLIDING HALL CLOCK BONNETS OFF WHEN ALONE! I'm careful with mine, and it is sticky - CW
     
  40. R&A

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    Do you have a link to this. Who wrote it.
     
  41. R&A

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    Coldwar I have to chuckle some cause them are some stories.

    H/C
     
  42. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    The middle link in Jay's post above.
     
  43. leeinv66

    leeinv66 Moderator
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    Yea, it is a summary of the posted links written by bangster in 2011! And it is the same conclusion I reached from reading them also.
    -> posts merged by system <-
    That is your opinion H/C, but I fail to understand how you arrived at it from the literature in those links. If I was a horse, I wouldn't drink that water either;)
     
  44. R&A

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    #45 R&A, Oct 6, 2011
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    What is this. Who wrote what. I don't know what to respond to :???:
     
  45. R&A

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    The urgent need for a systematic evaluation of the potential adverse effect of Nanotechnology.

    I guess anyone can choice to use something that may cause harm to them. Just like smoking ,drinking, drugs,. And to lay off the subject to make money could be the issue. I find this in the long run a dangerous choice. Not only for clock repairman that want to use it. But to the nation as a whole, that is being blind sited by all of it's uses and not totally knowing the outcome. Take it with a grain of salt I don't care. UCLA made my mind up.

    H/C
     
  46. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    H/C say:
    ...even though there's no acceptable evidence to that effect. Drinking coffee MAY cause erysipelas (though there's no research to show that it does). If that's your only reason for not drinking it, good for you...but that can't be used as a talking point to convince others.

    :Party:
     
  47. Thyme

    Thyme Banned

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    Drinking too much coffee might give you the 'caffeine willies' or the 'heeby-jeebies'.

    But other than possibly experiencing a temporary loss of sleep, you'll survive. :D :Party:
     
  48. shutterbug

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    What ever you do, NEVER EAT! Clearly that causes death, 'cause every one that ever ate died!!!
     
  49. Kevin W.

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    I heard coffee was good for you, and two alcoholic drinks a day help prevent heart problems.

    Which means i will be in good health to work on clocks.:p:):)
     

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