Is my cousin being scammed on a clock repair?

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by Carl Alelyunas, Jul 31, 2020.

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  1. Carl Alelyunas

    Carl Alelyunas Registered User

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    I'm not sure if this is the right forum for which to discuss this, but I'm trying to decide if my cousin is being scammed by a local clock repairman.
    She has a Seth Thomas kitchen clock with a sticky strike train that she's fond of, and before she knew that I was a serious hobbyist she took it to a local guy for an estimate. He said it would be $450, thanks, which surprised her, and she asked my advice. Now, I know that a competent professional doing an excellent job (all pivots polished, all bushings redone, lantern pinions repaired, springs replaced with German parts, plates polished, etc- I mean a *good* job) of rebuilding a turn-of-the-century American clock can run to $450, and I told her that.

    But I also said that I'd do it for free, because my wife won't allow me to buy any more clocks before I sell some, and I really like all my clocks, and I need one to work on.

    Anyway, she went back to get the clock from the repairman, and it is in parts on his bench (!) and he says it's an especially rare and valuable clock that he just assumed she would want repaired.

    To me, that sounds like extortion- you don't take apart a customer's clock unless they have contracted with you to repair it. It begs the question of whether he'd be competent to restore it in the first place, or if he's a "Rathbun Wrangler".

    Two questions: Does this seem really sleazy? And is there a type of Seth Thomas kitchen clock that has some special sort of cachet that would pop its value out of the $200 range? I'll try to get a picture of it and post it, but when I saw it in her living room last year, it just looked like a pressed oak face kitchen clock with alarm.
     
  2. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    if he truly assumed, he needs to return it to the condition it was in before she brought it to him.

    if this is a standard kitchen clock, i would be hard-pressed to value it at anywhere near the quoted price for repairing. we ned to see photos.

    i think 'scammed' would be a bit strong... perhaps 'overcharged'? but also perhaps not... we would need to know what the $450 includes.
     
  3. Carl Alelyunas

    Carl Alelyunas Registered User

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    #3 Carl Alelyunas, Jul 31, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2020
    Yeah, I guess "scammed" is too strong a verb. Maybe "sleazed" by leaving it in pieces and insisting that it's worth way more than it is. Conceivably. I just have never seen a kitchen clock that's worth the cost of that repair, but maybe in this time of Covid-19, rebuild jobs of fine clocks are few and far between in the backwoods of Minnesota and the pro has to eat. My cousin is fond of the clock, but given the choice of a competent job by me for free (I polish the pivots, rebush the worn ones, replace what's broken or worn, regulate and oil it, maybe for her I'll polish the plates to a shine) and a perhaps stellar job by the pro for $450, I think she'll choose me.
     
  4. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Your cousin is being gouged. They should grab their clock back and then they should run like hell.

    I've recently bought perfect gingerbreads that ran for $30-$40...and had a devil of time making a $10 profit.

    RM
     
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  5. Altashot

    Altashot Registered User

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    The fact that he took it apart and started the repairs without having had a positive “go ahead” from your cousin is not right.
    Extortion, maybe not that far but I agree, the repair person must put it back together and return it as it was before at no charge, unless he charges for estimates, which should have been agreed to by your cousin.

    As for the $450 estimate, I guess it depends on the local market. In my area, a good quality service including a few bushings, and perhaps some minor case repairs, $450 is reasonable.

    Repairs, more often than not, exceed the value of most clocks.

    M.
     
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  6. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    I agree, taking it apart without permision from the owner is a no no. 450 usd for a two train clock seems high in the area where i live. But i do know some that over charge as well.
     
  7. Ralph B

    Ralph B Registered User

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    "I'm sorry, but I've spoken with a friend, who is a lawyer specializing in Consumer Law, and he said repairs should not have been commenced unless I had agreed to them. If that was not the case I can ask for my clock to be returned to me, in the same condition that it was left with you. That's what would like to do thanks, what would be a convenient time ? Obviously I can pay for your quote, if you charge for that, but, equally obviously, not for any unauthorized repairs."

    That's the phone conversation I'd be having .
     
  8. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    He should have waited to be given permission to do the work before taking the movement apart!
    As for price I’m unsure if that’s good or Over priced?
    I was called out to repair a hermle 1151. The clock had an issue with the time train and only ran a few days before stopping.
    The customer was about 15 miles away. I charged him £160 which included collecting , repairing and refitting the movement back into the clock! The repair involved fitting 6 new bushings in the time train which took me about 4 hours (may have been quicker but I had to reset the auto night silence).
    I feel that I may have undercharged him but it didn’t take me long.
    Cheers
     
  9. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    ‘Scammed’ is not the case here, it’s more of a case of someone being hopeful by making a decision for you and cashing in!
    It really isn’t the way to go about things!!!
     
  10. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Taking the movement apart may have been a ploy to force the decision for overly costly repairs.

    Hopefully, you can get the clock back in the same condition.

    How much you want to bet there will be some charge reassembly?

    Your cousin might also get the movement back in pieces.

    I have heard of characters like this returning a clock with part(s) of the movement missing or damage inflicted claiming that's how they got it...prove otherwise. Done just for spite.

    Is this repair person an NAWCC member?? If things don't work out in the favor of your cousin, consider an ethics complaint.

    RM
     
  11. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    #11 Bruce Alexander, Aug 1, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
    If you're going to step in, step in now. Has the clock been in your cousin's possession for a long time? Has it ever worked for her? Can she prove it?
    Ask him to stop work and provide a written estimate from the shop. Take note if there is any mention of lost or damaged parts. If any are mentioned, depending upon the history of the clock, ask questions and challenge them. With written estimate in hand, collect the clock as is. If you don't live in the area, have your cousin do so. Get it out of this guy's hands. He's not ethical. You can bet this isn't the first time he's pulled this stunt. If anyone asks your cousin for a referral, she should definitely warn them to stay away from this guy.

    Bruce

    Edit:

    Emphasis mine...

    Sounds like a "Con Job" to me, but we would need to know more about the clock.

    You said..
    Recent Sold Seth Thomas Kitchen Clock Ebay Listings sorted from High to Low Price

    However, as has already been mentioned, the market value of the clock doesn't determine the cost of maintenance.

    To me, Yes. I would never conduct business in such a manner.
     
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  12. Ed O'Brien

    Ed O'Brien Registered User
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    ... .playing devil's advocate: While the price seems a bit high to me, I can't help but wonder what communication took place when the clock was dropped off to the repairer. If the customer communication was essentially, "Please get my clock running and keeping good time", which I often hear, without any discussion about the cost, maybe nothing wrong has been done. My prices are reasonable (not cheap) and consistent, but it is not unusual for someone to drop off a clock for repair, often based on word of mouth recommendation. If I sense a concern I may discuss the estimated cost, and I will always answer their request to know the cost. Good practice, as I have had a few customers who decided the clock was just not worth the repair cost and we parted friends. I would NEVER take advantage because the clock or a wealthy customer seemed to warrant that. I do each job to earn the next one.
     
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  13. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    This is all very good, logical and advice for a systematic approach. Some considerations.

    First of all, we're all at a terrible disadvantage in that we have absolutely no idea what clock we're talking about. On the one hand, if a typical ST walnut or oak gingerbread, well, not worth much in today's market and worth a fraction of the repair estimate for a rather basic movement that is a good movement for a beginner to learn on. However, there are some ST clocks that are basically gingerbreads that are worth more and have some complexity. For example, the 1/4 striking clocks like the Atlas and Hecla. Given the added complexity of that movement, a higher repair estimate may be justified. Some of the City Series and Fleet Series are worth more than the basic gingerbread, though I would say << $200. Still a basic movement.

    However, it all boils down to "prove it". It will be cousin's word against the repairman's re: a number of key points including the condition of the movement upon receipt, whether cousin verbally agreed to the repair, and so on.

    So much of the antiques business, in my personal experience, involves a verbal agreement and a hand shake. In my dealings with the person I now turn to for virtually all of my repair work I NEVER have an written estimate. I don't even get a receipt that he has my clock. Maybe not a good idea if something happens to the clock (years ago I actually had a Howard banjo in someone's shop for repair and the shop burned to the ground!) or to him. However, I have known this person +/- 30 years, we're friends, he is honest as the day is long, his repair bill is always reasonable, and so on.

    I think the issue here for me is that he took it apart allegedly before the work was agreed to. Was the $450 repair estimate given BEFORE he dismantled the movement? If after, he might claim he had to do so in order to provide an "accurate" estimate. If not, how much you want to bet that there will be added costs for repairs he didn't anticipate?

    So, if it is a common typical walnut or oak gingerbread, the repair estimate, IMCO, is excessive and sentimental value aside, ain't worth much in the current market. I say if that is the case, and he won't release it, tell him to keep it and let him try to recoup his estimated repair costs from its sale.

    RM
     
  14. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    A couple important point to keep in mind are that the cost to repair a clock is unrelated to the value of the clock, and an estimate is usually based or a worst case scenario. $450 seems high for a routine repair of a typical American "kitchen clock", but it really depends on where this guy operates and supply and demand. If there isn't much competition and he charges what the market will bare, that isn't a scam, especially if an estimate was given.

    Carl said, "She has a Seth Thomas kitchen clock with a sticky strike train that she's fond of, and before she knew that I was a serious hobbyist she took it to a local guy for an estimate. He said it would be $450"....... "she went back to get the clock from the repairman, and it is in parts on his bench.... he just assumed she would want repaired".

    What I'm hearing is that this girl takes her clock to a clock shop for an estimate, she get the estimate of of $450, she does not decline but leaves the clock there, The repairer begins work on the clock and takes it apart. Then she learns that Carl is willing to do the job for free so she goes to pick up her clock and finds that work has already begun. The shop did give an estimate and if it was unacceptable the girl should have said so at that time, but she did not and instead left the clock with the shop. Now she's changed her mind because she knows where she can get if fixed for free. That's not the shop owner's fault and if she didn't decline the estimate and left the clock the shop owner had every right to assume that she did in fact expect him to repair the clock. The shop owner is one here that's getting the short end of the stick. Yes, he has an obligation to return the clock, but I do not think he needs to put it back together. He started the repair in good faith, and really, he should demand to be paid for the work done to that point before returning it.

    All goes to point out the advantage of written estimates and signed work orders.

    RC
     
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  15. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Interesting.

    Still, what was implied, said, agreed to, etc., remains murky. Also, we're hearing only 1 side of the story related by a third party no less. Many unknowns.

    Overall, probably shouldn't rush to judgement.

    However, the value of the clock is most certainly not an immaterial consideration as to whether one decides to undertake repair/restoration. For some, it's not a consideration. They want a working clock and cost be damned. For many of us, though, the ultimate value of the clock, or for that matter, antique furniture, vintage car, painting, and so on, is very much a factor to be considered when deciding whether repair/restoration is undertaken, the effect on the value of the object if restored, and so on.

    However, I think the fact remains if a basic gingerbread, I believe the repair estimate was excessive. But, the reality is that the repairer can charge as they see fit. There is no standard billing schedule. Furthermore, that does not necessary = dishonesty. Was a "pigeon" identified and taken advantage of? Maybe, maybe not. We can only imply, unfairly or not, but not know for sure.

    Ultimately, both parties need to be satisfied with the interaction and outcome. Either have the clock repaired and cough it up, or get it back and understand that you may still be charged for the time spent. Also, that will be a bridge burned for both parties.

    RM
     
  16. new2clocks

    new2clocks Registered User
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    This is also my interpretation.

    Unfortunately, not all of the "blanks have been filled-in" by the cousin.

    Did the repairman give his estimate to her while she was in his shop and she left the clock at the shop without stating that she would get back to him with a yes or no? (RC's and my interpretation.)

    Or, did the repairman say "Leave the clock here, and I will call you with an estimate" and he started to work on the clock before he received the cousin's response?

    More specifics are necessary to determine what recourse she has for the issue.

    Regards.
     
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  17. new2clocks

    new2clocks Registered User
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    When I hear the backwoods of Minnesota, I assume that he is the "only game in town" for many, many miles. His fee could very well be based on the laws of supply and demand - low supply (he is the only repair person) and high demand (many clocks in his shop for repair). As such, he can charge a high price for his work.

    Regards.
     
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  18. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    The cautionary notes are well taken.

    What happened between the quote and the disassembly? According to Carl, express permission to do the work wasn't given. Based on the information we have been given, I stand by my comments above. If additional facts come to light, I may change my mind.
     
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  19. new2clocks

    new2clocks Registered User
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    Carl needs to directly state whether or not she gave permission (written or verbal) to the repairman before she left the shop the first time.

    The statement "he just assumed she would want repaired" implies that she did not give permission for repairs, but a yes or no to the first paragraph, above, would clear any confusion.

    Regards.
    .
     
  20. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I'm afraid that as quoted Carl is drawing a conclusion regarding what a third papery may or may not haxe assumed. What we do know is that an estimate was given and the shop is in passion of the clock. At that point it would be incumbent upon the clock owner to respond yes, fix my clock, or, no I'll take (or come get) my clock. And of course we don't know if that happened.

    I agree that the value the clock (market value and value to the owner) are factors in determining how much one should justify spending to have a clock repaired. My point was that the cost of the repair, say to clean and install 8 bushings, should be the same for similar clocks regardless if it is a $5 yard sale find or a treasured antique. If I take my 1993 Ford pickup in for repairs I will pay the same rate as I would if it were a 2020 model.
     
  21. POWERSTROKE

    POWERSTROKE Registered User

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    #21 POWERSTROKE, Aug 1, 2020
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    $450? I don’t think I could say that number with a straight face for clean polish Bush adjust.
     
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  22. Thomas Sanguigni

    Thomas Sanguigni Registered User
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    I agree!!! To work on a standard gingerbread can eat up lots of time. Once in a while, I get a clock that needs only the basics. That is not the case lately. Botched repairs, broken or worn parts, filth and dirt, can easily eat up eight or more hours of time. If you have done no maintenance for ten years, that is only $45 per year in maintenance. Twelve cents per day.
     
  23. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Does seem a bit steep, but it's a free market economy. Perhaps he has a fancy downtown shop and a lot of expenses.

    RC
     
  24. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    No argument there.

    Evidently there was no contractual agreement to go forward with the work so if the owner wants to OP to step in and take over, that should be fine too. She can pick up the clock as is and he can go forward with it. Problem solved.
     
  25. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I'm not so sure about that. A contract doesn't have to be written to be legally binding, but it's a lot harder to prove if push comes to shove. As for the problem being solved, there is the matter of the shop being paid for the work already done. Depending on the laws of that state, he may have the right to put a lean against the clock to get paid, and ultimately sell the clock to recover his loss. My guess is that he will probably take the loss and give her back the disassembled clock in a box and be glad it's gone.

    RC
     
  26. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    There's a lot we're not sure about RC. I'm going off of the information as provided by the OP. If he's wrong or has been misinformed then the facts wouldn't bear him out.

    At some point an estimate was provided and the clock owner was reportedly surprised to find that the clock had been disassembled. It's incumbent on the shop owner to get the clock owner's permission to do the work. He shouldn't be assuming anything. In any jurisdiction the customer has rights too, and a disgruntled customer can do a lot of damage to a businesses reputation.

    If she doesn't want him to do the work, he would do well to cut his loses and get written authorization next time. Just turn it over as is and wash his hands of the whole deal. Conversely he can pout and perhaps charge for taking the movement apart. At his rates who knows how much that might be. :eek:

    Bruce
     
  27. R&A

    R&A Registered User

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    How did she know how much it was going to cost to repair if he hadn't already told her. Or did she find that out when she went to pick it up. If it a verbal agreement she doesn't have a leg to stand on. If he has it in writing, again she agreed= and she'll have to wait for the repair to be finished.
     
  28. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    I guess it comes down to your suppositions after reading the OP's post. It would seem that if one makes a living fixing clocks, they're more willing to give the shop the benefit of any doubt. That's understandable. However, if it's a verbal agreement it's literally a "He said, She said" situation. It might come down to a Small Claims Court decision. Who has the time to go through that? Again, the shop owner can throw a tantrum if he wants to but won't be good for his business. She evidently doesn't want to pay $450 for a two-train plus alarm overhaul. What a scamp! I think that Mr. Pricey should try to extricate himself from the deal as expeditiously and fairly as he can. Perhaps the OP might learn a thing or two in the process as well.

    Regards,

    Bruce
     
  29. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    When a clock is dropped off in my shop, I assume it is for repair. I would think it redundant to call and ask if they wanted it repaired if they brought it to me for that purpose in the first place. I do have the habit of giving them a rough idea of what it would cost to have it repaired, based on my average bill for that type of clock. Unless you're located in a large city where demand is high, I think the repair price is about $150 too high ... and that would be worse case scenario. I don't see anything illegal here, nor underhanded. But if a customer changed their mind after I had disassembled the clock, I would put it back together and charge a minimal handling fee for my trouble. If I was sure it was going to another repairman, I wouldn't be too concerned about setting up the strike.
     
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  30. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    But this doesn't appear to be a disagreement between what "he said" and "what she said". The apparent undisputed facts are, she takes the clock to the repair shop, shop says it will cost $450, she leaves the clock at the shop. If that isn't an implied contract it is pretty close. We don't know the time line but in most shops there is usually a significant wait time before the shop can get to the job during which the customer would likely have plenty of time to notify the shop that she has made other arrangements and to collect the clock before it was taken apart. It seems pretty obvious to me, based on the information available and reasonable assumptions that this girl left her clock at the repair shop fully expecting the shop to complete the repairs for $450 and then change her mind when she found someone else to do the job for free after the work was in progress. I'm sorry, but she was just too late. What happens next really depends on the generosity of the shop. He deserves his hourly rate for the work he has done, and I think she should offer to pay that even if he doesn't demand it.

    RC
     
  31. Thomas Sanguigni

    Thomas Sanguigni Registered User
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    It would be nice to know what items were in the estimate. There is lots of guessing, but I bet there is some sort of repair necessary. The same repairman might actually be doing his job.
     
  32. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    #32 Bruce Alexander, Aug 2, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
    Perhaps RC. We don't know for sure and I don't care to speculate any further. It's becoming pointless.

    I will say that I don't start work without express permission to do so, usually through e-mail...so it's written. I seek permission even when I give a "rough estimate" as to what a similar clock would cost to overhaul when I take the clock in. I also get permission any time there is an increase or deviation from my original estimate. Perhaps that's too time consuming for a busy clock shop, or maybe it's just not "standard" practice. One thing is for certain, I've not had a case where someone wants to jump ship after they've given me a go ahead. Perhaps they would if I charged $450 for a simple overhaul and they found out that they were being overcharged. . Nice work if you can get it I suppose. We all have to eat and we all hope to retire. I don't do this for a living...so there is that.

    Regards,

    Bruce
     
  33. Carl Alelyunas

    Carl Alelyunas Registered User

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    I guess I could clarify a couple of things-
    I'm definitely a third party and I don't know exactly what was said when. I do know that the clock ticked when it was dropped off. I also know that my cousin was surprised that it was taken apart, but I don't know to what level is was disassembled - it may have been just the face and hands removed, which you would have to do to accurately assess the condition. I think $450 would be an excessive amount to spend on that clock just from a valuation standpoint, but there could be sentimental reasons to spend that much, and I could see that a thorough and professional job of rebuilding could cost that much. Though in this case I have recently found out that she bought it in an estate sale, so it's unlikely that there's a lot of sentimental value.

    One of the red flags, though, was that the repairman insisted that this was a rare and valuable clock, and I was pretty sure that kitchen clocks don't get into the rare and valuable strata. But that's why I asked the questions I did, eh?

    Anyway, my advice to her is that she should just pay for the estimate, pick up the clock, then just send me the box of pieces, and I'll fix it and put it together. If anything is missing, I can just buy a new movement on ebay or something- they're not really that rare.
     
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  34. shutterbug

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    There are rare kitchen clocks. I accidentally purchased one once when I thought they were all fairly common. The lady wanted to get rid of it, I offered her a low price, and she accepted. It wasn't until I posted an inquiry here on the board that I found out it was rare. Post pic's when you get it.
     
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  35. PatH

    PatH Registered User
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    And sometimes what is identified as a kitchen clock really isn't.
     
  36. Grant Perry

    Grant Perry Registered User

    Jun 5, 2002
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    This is an interesting conversation, and there is value in the discussion.
    While I do agree that $450 sounds excessive for a T&S clock, perhaps we are undervaluing the services that we provide with clock/watch repair.
    Repairing a clock with precision is a capability that is achieved from experience and investment of time. Even though I have been doing this as a hobby for the past 20 years, I have certainly invested capital in constructing a workshop, and purchasing tools, lathes, bushing machines, supplies, etc.
    I certainly don't condone the behavior described above; overstating the value of the clock, dismantling before approval, etc, but I can't say the $450 estimate is totally unreasonable for a trades-person making a living with a repair shop, doing a competent job, offering a warranty, etc.
    I have know repairers who charge in the $150 - $200 range for an overhaul, and do the minimum to get the clock operational. As a consumer, I think I would prefer to pay $450 for a quality repair on a valued family clock. I won't be increasing my prices to this level in the near future, but then again I don't rely on repairs to feed my family, and I enjoy the hobby for the distraction it provides from day to day life. Just some thoughts....
     
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  37. Thomas Sanguigni

    Thomas Sanguigni Registered User
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    Certainly, the facts were jumbled. The repairman was excoriated, and we don't know what he has seen.
     
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  38. Dick Feldman

    Dick Feldman Registered User

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    I have been watching this thread with interest for a while. It bothers me that it is about to disappear beyond the first page without a definite resolution.
    It sounds like the clock has no real provenance. It did not belong to a beloved, now passed aunt Nellie or President Lincoln. That intangible part of value is not there.
    “…he says it's an especially rare and valuable clock that he just assumed she would want repaired.”
    I would suggest the repair person give good reason for the clock's worth and have him put a high and low dollar value on the clock.
    I would then offer to sell the clock to the repair person for ½ of his lowest appraisal.
    My bet would be that amount would buy a half dozen kitchen clocks and you would have extra money in your pocket.
    With that you can draw your own conclusions on the honesty of the repair person and let him decide the real worth of the clock as well as his own worth. . .
    Dick
     
  39. Carl Alelyunas

    Carl Alelyunas Registered User

    Jan 20, 2019
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    OK, I received the clock last week and fixed it up- it needed a total of 14 bushings, so it had significant wear. Its biggest problem was that the entrance pallet drop was too large, so the exit pallet would occasionally catch on a tooth of the escape wheel and sometimes stop the clock. A bit of judicious bending of the pallet and adjusting the distance to the EW fixed that. After oiling and adjusting it has about 3 1/2" of pendulum swing, where only 3/4" is needed to keep going. It should last another century with some care. The strike is pretty muted, so I'll be shaping the leather on the hammer for a brighter sound, then it goes back to my cousin.

    I promised pictures. This is how it arrived- completely disassembled. At least nothing was missing except a square-hole dished washer for the minute hand, of which I had plenty spares. It's a Seth Thomas "College Series - New York" which is a good timepiece but relatively common. Probably have an asking price of $100-$150 on the bay, but not what I'd call a valuable antique.

    Oh, yeah, the quote was for $450.02. Those two extra cents really made me think it was a carefully done estimate (sarcasm). And why do some people circle the bushings they want to replace with a scribe? That doesn't give me a lot of confidence that the repair guy was skilled enough to charge $450.02- if he were, then he probably could have remembered which bushings needed replacement in some other fashion, and wouldn't have permanently marred the plates for future generations on what would amount to a $500 movement. Even as a hobbyist I have never inscribed circles around bushings! My final analysis: I wouldn't trust any of my clocks to the guy, at any price.
    IMG_1181.JPG IMG_1182.JPG IMG_1184.JPG
     
  40. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    I have to agree that scribing circles around bushings to replaced is a sign of poor workmanship, but if you did not see the clock before how can you be sure who scribed the plates? I've had a number of clocks come to me for service that had plates already scribed by someone else. I don't know how that shop determined their quote, but in my shop if someone wanted a "quote" (not an estimate) I have a base service charge depending on the type of clock and I add the cost of bushings, other parts, tax where applicable etc. It is what it is and may include odd change. As for the $450.02 charge, you found it necessary to do 14 bushings and an escapement repair, obviously the clock needed a lot of work.

    RC
     
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  41. Carl Alelyunas

    Carl Alelyunas Registered User

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    The clock did need a bunch of work. That was true. It took me about 3 hours to clean, replace worn bushings, polish all the pivots and tweak the escapement. I wasn't in a hurry, nor am I a professional. Plus about $3 in parts. But I doubt that the scribe marks were there for the entire 30 years that my cousin had the clock- that would have required someone to have taken it to a previous repairman 30 years ago who scribed the circles, and the previous owner subsequently declined to have the work done, since it had no bushings installed. Plus it was working fine for 30 years, so if a previous repairman was called, they were called for no reason. I think that all of the circumstantial evidence points to the repairman being a bit sleazy.

    1) Misrepresenting the value of the clock.
    2) Scribed circles around worn bushings.
    3) Suspicious estimate of the service cost ($450.02)
    4) Taking the clock completely apart (Need to split the plates just for an estimate? Not likely.)
     
  42. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    i think you're making more out of this than it is:

    1. value of the clock - we don't know what typically walks into the guy's shop, but maybe he just repairs them and doesn't buy or sell them.
    2. your descriptions of what your cousin said and asked are second-hand... we don't know if he said "it's an old and relatively rare clock" or actually said what you said she said he said (see what i mean?).
    3. we also don't know if he told her he'd need to take it apart to see what was really involved... but on the other hand i have not embarked on a single project like this without asking for an estimate... or at least an estimated range. caveat emptor, that's on her.
    4. she dropped it off and told him to repair it. he took it apart. you offered to do it for free. can't blame him for taking it apart to both look more carefully and begin repair... he could have also sat on it for months like clock shops around here
    5. you are a hobbyist and not a pro with a shop. you don't have a lease, overhead, taxes, etc. i don't find his estimate exorbitant. his time... and the work... are worth money. you put in three hours (but don't mention whether you serviced the mainsprings?), but didn't count your time interacting with the customer, didn't have to invoice, keep records, pay your estimated taxes, etc.

    so... to your points:

    1. maybe.... you said she said he said she said
    2. agreed.... but since they're not signed, no idea who did them or when
    3. disagree... pretty specific, more indicative of closer look once the thing was apart
    4. split decision... for a range, no. for an explicit number, heck yes. you can only fully inspect pivot holes and pivots when movements are fully disassembled.
     
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  43. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Cannot comment on the cost of the repairs.

    It is a nice clock. However, in today's market, not at all a valuable clock.

    RM
     
  44. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Fantastic! Please tell us where you bought 14 bushings for $3.00. I've never known anyone, pro or otherwise, including myself, who could properly clean this movement, including the springs, polish the pivots, properly center and install 14 and fit the bushings to the pivots, reassemble the movement, adjust the escapement, and put the movement back in the case in 3 hours. To borrow some of your own words, I wouldn't trust any of my clocks to a guy that only allocated 3 hours for a total rebuild with 14 bushings, at any price. I'm glad that you got your friends clock running and saved her the cost of a professional service. I hope it provides many years of reliable service.

    RC
     
  45. bruce linde

    bruce linde Technical Admin
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    rc (and others) - how does one proper center bushings if the original center has been lost? i've never done that, of course, but read about it happening in a book! :cool:
     
  46. Carl Alelyunas

    Carl Alelyunas Registered User

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    #46 Carl Alelyunas, Aug 25, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
    I was just making my point that I didn't trust the guy and expressing an opinion that there were way too many flaky things going on.

    Timesavers sells American made Bergeon brass bushings for 20 cents each. 14x20 = 2.80, which is close enough to 3.00. No other parts were used, except a square hole dome washer that I had in my parts box.

    I did say I was a hobbyist, so maybe my cleaning and overhaul wasn't to the best standards of the professionals here on the boards, but certainly my standards seem to be higher than the ones of the putative professional my cousin was dealing with, what with the scribing of the plates out of (what I see as) laziness.

    Here's an approximate breakdown of the time I spent:
    Ultrasonic cleaning with 3 solutions at 5 mins each is 15 minutes, dry it in alcohol and blow dry the rest of the way, 5 minutes, peg out the holes I wasn't planning on replacing, 10 minutes, center, clamp, ream, tap in bushings 14 times at 3 minutes per, 45 minutes. Polish the pivots with 600 grit, then burnish 20 pivots, 2 minutes each for 40 minutes. Broach with cutter then polish broach 14 holes 3 minutes each, 45 minutes. Unwind, wipe down the springs and re-grease them, wind them back up, 10 minutes. Reassemble the movement, 10 minutes. Inspect and adjust the escapement, 20 minutes. Oil it and put it back into its case, make sure everything is working right, 20 minutes. OK, it was closer to 4 hours and there were a couple more minutes basic cleaning of old grease on the clicks, etc. I enjoyed doing it so it seemed shorter, that's why I do this - for enjoyment. I have good hand-eye coordination, so it's really not difficult to center a bushing well enough for a turn of the century American clock. I know my limitations so my friend with the Hershede 9-tube Grandfather clock is going to have to go to a real professional when it needs service.

    @RC, Why the snarky tone? And the implication that I did a bad job with the "properly" in bold, and the backhanded "I hope it provides many years of reliable service", and the thinly veiled insinuation that you wouldn't trust me with one of your clocks because I seem to be faster at your job than you think I should be?

    Bruce, to your points:
    1) I believe most of the folks here know the value of the clock and anyone who makes a living repairing them probably has a whole stable they've accumulated and knows to the penny what they can sell for. Darn skippy they know the value of a kitchen clock. Once I saw the clock, I knew its value and I'm just a hobbyist.
    2) I don't have a voice recording of the transaction between my cousin and the repairman, but I think I've relayed the facts, including that she was surprised that he told her that is was especially rare and valuable.
    3) She asked for an estimate, nothing else, at least that's what she told me.
    4) She did not tell him to just repair it. Whether he assumed she was going to do that because there are very few clock repair places in northern Minnesota, I don't know.
    5) True enough.

    But there is a lot of he said / she said going on here. We don't know the truth of the entire exchange, but here's what I think happened:

    Cousin takes clock into repairman for an estimate. Repairman has a slack period and takes it apart because most of his estimates turn into sales, cobbles up a number, forgets about it. Cousin calls back for estimate, is shocked. Cousin asks me if estimate is correct, I say yes if he's doing a truly professional job (think Steve on Repairshop), and it's too high if he's being slapdash. I offer to do it for free, tell her to pay the guy for his estimate and pick up the clock, send it to me. Cousin is shocked that the clock is in pieces. I say send it anyway. Cousin goes in to pick it up, repairman knows he just lost a sale and tries to salvage it by saying something about how valuable and rare the clock is. Cousin sends clock to me. Clock arrives, I take a nice afternoon and fix it up.

    So the repairman isn't necessarily being sleazy, just trying to save the sale by digging the hole deeper. But not a one of his actions impressed me as something an honest craftsman would do. I'm done with this thread. It's leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
     
  47. TJ Cornish

    TJ Cornish Registered User
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    As wear happens in a particular direction from the spring/weight power, I find the original location for badly worn pivots by turning the movement train the opposite way it normally runs. The pivots will then go back into their original locations and I mark them with a Sharpie marker, which comes off easily with alcohol or acetone after bushing.
     
  48. R. Croswell

    R. Croswell Registered User

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    Sorry you feel offended. Glad you and your friend are happy with the repair

    RC
     
  49. Old Rivers

    Old Rivers Registered User
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    Bruce,

    Jerry Kieffer has thoroughly covered this detail in recent posts.
    I've followed his recommendations and learned that it works extremely well.

    Bill
     
  50. Carl Alelyunas

    Carl Alelyunas Registered User

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    Also the hole will be egg-shaped, and the centering point will go into the wide part of the egg, which is where the original hole was located. As the pivot wears the hole, the clearance that was originally there is wider than the slot that the pivot grinds into the plate. Once the centering point is there, clamp the plate, swap the point for a reamer and drill it out.

    If you miss accidentally, plate slips or something, you'll need to use a bigger outer diameter bushing and re-drill the hole centered. To center the new hole, you can file one side of it to get the centering point in the middle of where the hole should be, clamp the plate tighter than last time and re-drill it for a larger bushing. That's why it's a good idea to use the smallest bushing you can get away with at first. And it's also a good idea to mark the plate with a sharpie beforehand if you don't have oil sinks to tell whether your hole is centered or not after drilling, even if you use a centering point.
     

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