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Restoration Extents

Calvin H. Huynh

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To what extent would you restore an antique clock? What would you fix and why and/or not fix? Consider factors such as personal integrity, condition, original (clockmakers' intent), etc. This can be a great reference. Thanks.
 

Elliott Wolin

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I distinguish between "restore" and "refurbish." I am reasonably competent at the latter, but restoration is likely beyond my abilities, I simply don't know enough nor have the appropriate equipment. So I've refurbished a number of hundred-year-old clocks, but never restored anything, and don't expect I ever will.

So what would I do if I ever came across a rare or really old clock that deserved better than "refurbishment"? Don't really know...
 

novicetimekeeper

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This seems to be a subject that can cause contention. In the UK we are used to having clocks restored, museums conserve, most UK clock collectors prefer restoration. I have painted dial redone if you can't really read them properly, brass dials are always cleaned and chapter rings usually resilvered. Cases are repaired and polished. Most of my collection arrives in a poor state and deserves more respect after a long life.
 

Elliott Wolin

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I see that terminology varies.

By "refurbish" I mean that I clean and repair the case, and repair the finish to some extent (paint/lacquer/dye as needed). But I usually don't bring it back to its pristine state, as my wife points out, old clocks should look old. I have polished some lacquered cases to a nice finish on occasion. I do polish any tarnished brass I come across, and use Rub-n-Buff when there's no brass left on a base metal (comes out looking more like gold, but it's the best I can do).

As for the movement and related parts, I clean, repair, and rebush as needed.

I take "restore" to mean bringing the clock back to its original, new-looking condition: using the same finish as it was made with, removing all scratches and gouges, using original parts whenever possible, re-plating rather than using Rub-n-Buff where the brass is gone, etc.

I work on clocks as a hobby, not a profession, and I either put the clocks in my house (getting full now!) or give them away. So my satisfaction is in seeing them working.
 

Willie X

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Well, after seeing many many old clocks you will run across a few that have been well cared for there entire life. That's what I go for. A clock that proudly shows it's age and is still in good condition.

An old clock, that is now a shiney new 'over restored' clock, just doesn't do it for me ...

Willie X
 
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Calvin H. Huynh

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refurbish
I think we even should provide separate classes of clocks who need one of these. A nice clock should be restored, while a cheaper/industrial/common clocks look refurbished.

My chart of Age vs Mistreatment.
Age​
Deterioration​
Discolor of dial.​
Insect Larvae and Carcasses.​
Scratches/Dents Here and There.​
Rotting internals.​
Dulled Finish.​
Rusty Movement.​
Historical Dust Bunnies (Should Be Vacuumed or Cleaned).​
Unreadable and Peeling Dial.​
Dulled Edges From Constant Interaction (wooden case).​
Bent and Broken Case Hardware​
 

J. A. Olson

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I just get a chicken sandwitch to toot on the clock and magic happens that makes it shiny clean.
 

Schatznut

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My sweet spot is torsion pendulum clocks. I'm making my batch of Christmas presents for the 2021 holiday season right now. I've got a couple of Schatz 49s, a Kundo oval miniature and a couple of Schatz 1000-days going through my workshop right now. None of them are worth anything now and they'll be worth only slightly more when I get done with them. The looks on the faces of friends and family when I give them nice, shiny-new-looking 50- to 70-year-old clocks is worth the extra time I spend refinishing and shining the brass. Overrestored? Not possible. I troll along in the lower echelons of the clock world, rescuing orphans and castoffs and making them objects of pride for those to whom I give them.

Along the way recently I picked up a Konrad Mauch with a really neat octagonal art deco face. That one's for me. I'll just wipe the crud off of it and rebuild it. But the dings and tarnish will stay - that clock has character and each scratch and divot identifies it as a survivor.
 
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J. A. Olson

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It's a matter of balance, don't over-restore but don't give a lackluster presentation. Minor bumps and scuffs are an inevitability, especially with a mass produced clock used as household time telling device. Clocks that were kept in a pure virgin glass showcase their entire lives don't require much in the way of restoration because they were hardly used in the first place. Clocks that are used are clocks that get WORN. "Patina" doesn't cover woodworm holes, broken case joints, burnt labels, mangled chimes, or missing dial numerals. May as well leave a movement with broken cables and worn bushings if you're so fluffed about Originality™. Labels? Whenever possible, reproduce faithfully and reapply when the case is being restored. Otherwise forget it. Forget about artificial aging, the clock will look older as it becomes older as long as it doesn't end up over-restored later on.

You can't change my mind, the evidence and satisfaction outweigh the natter.

852c.JPG C1.JPG
 
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Calvin H. Huynh

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Something over restored I think would be building a clock better than it was originally built.

My sweet spot is torsion pendulum clocks. I'm making my batch of Christmas presents for the 2021 holiday season right now. I've got a couple of Schatz 49s, a Kundo oval miniature and a couple of Schatz 1000-days going through my workshop right now. None of them are worth anything now and they'll be worth only slightly more when I get done with them. The looks on the faces of friends and family when I give them nice, shiny-new-looking 50- to 70-year-old clocks is worth the extra time I spend refinishing and shining the brass. Overrestored? Not possible. I troll along in the lower echelons of the clock world, rescuing orphans and castoffs and making them objects of pride for those to whom I give them.

Along the way recently I picked up a Konrad Mauch with a really neat octagonal art deco face. That one's for me. I'll just wipe the crud off of it and rebuild it. But the dings and tarnish will stay - that clock has character and each scratch and divot identifies it as a survivor.
I love that mentality, but for me, that would unfortunately not be feasible. Once again “taunting

As CCF said, leave bushings if intent is original.

For labels, I can’t follow except for satisfaction/novelty of user.

I cannot say this enough. Clocks that are valuable should look valuable and vise-versa. Those clocks above, shown by CCF, are great examples of this. You can interpret the “valuable” above.
 

J. A. Olson

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While I take pride in my work, clock value is entirely subjective and varies considerately around the world. Since this is an American forum we usually find American preferences rise up against all else. Sonora bell chimes, Winterhalder gong chimes, older Herschedes and Durfees, anything early or pre-industrial American. Those are some of the clocks that gain more interest among collectors around here.

The fact these clocks are still being broken up for parts by clock-mongers and sold to repairmen does not equivalate to some sense of holiness.

That also brings up another subject: how many parts from a "clunker junker" are you using to fix your clocks up? Does this not hamper originality? Yes it's an inevitability to use spare parts to fix clocks but how far does this go too? Only scrapping out the irreparable wrecks and using up new old stock parts? Or just scrap apart anything if it makes the dosh, even a complete clock in great working condition.

We can run around in circles all day about the extent of restoration and ethics, but I've got clocks to wind up.

A screw just fell out of the 3/4 chime HAC's hinged bezel. One is also missing, the others are a bit loose.
I can replace the screw and make it fit, or I can leave it untouched for posterity and originality.
A new screw would be new, and not old or original to the clock.
Leaving the hinge without any screws means it won't stay in place and will eventually fall out.
My answer? Off to the hardware sources and hope something fits.
 
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leeinv66

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For me there is no hard and fast rule. I do as much (or as little) as is needed to make the clock presentable. However, given I have a fondness for the used, abused and un-wanted, more often than not my projects do involve extensive repair. I long ago stopped caring what anyone else thought about my clocks. I repair them for me, not for the approval of others.
 

novicetimekeeper

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I don't work on clocks myself apart from minor repairs, but I get my clocks repaired by some of the best in the business. Getting the clocks restored two or three centuries after they were made gives me great pleasure and keeps their trade alive. Sets up the clocks for another two or three centuries and I get to see them every day. Seems like a win win to me.
 

Calvin H. Huynh

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I would just love to have perfect looking clocks but that simply isn’t happening. My rule is very simple. If you are going to restore it, you better do it right. I don’t like patina unless it’s on a Statue of Liberty. Patina I consider an excuse. Go ahead. Re-lacquer the plates, rebush it, and polish it. Polish the case, finish it, and patch the veneer professionally. Don’t go looking for problems as that will end negatively, don’t ask me how I know. Enjoy!
 
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JimmyOz

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Restoring a clock to its past glory is what I do, however it does mean it has to be done CORRECTLY, novicetimekeeper understands this. Every clock I own I strive to get it as close to how it would have looked when made, however I do it as it would have been done when it was made.

Patina is not chipped veneer, splits in cases, broken or missing mouldings, unpolished movements, chewed out screws, rusty taper pins, lumps of solder and so on, this is ware and tear and needs addressing.
Patina is the overall look of the clock given its age, most timber clocks have a nice fading on the veneer/timber and this is something that needs to be kept, nicks and small dents also adds to this feel.

So to answer the OP question, it is not as simple as to what you do it is more about being sympathetic to the needs of the clock in question.
 
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Calvin H. Huynh

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Patina is not chipped veneer, splits in cases, broken or missing mouldings, unpolished movements, chewed out screws, rusty taper pins, lumps of solder and so on, this is ware and tear and needs addressing.
I especially agree with this statement against many out there.

Another thing, modern hardware contemporary is usually out of place, so machine hardware as close as the original.
 

novicetimekeeper

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Walking past this wall this morning I thought it showed a range that might be useful, it is a mix of repainted dials and as found dials. I won't have a dial repainted if the dial doesn't have significant losses and is still readable. These are all 19th century clocks.

1. 10" drop dial, dial will stay as is, case will be restored. MoP piece covers up lost lock, may refit lock

2. Case restored, dial repainted as had significant losses

3 Case restored, dial left as is, no significant loss and still readable

4 Case restored, dial left as found

5 Case restored, dial repainted. This one had an aluminium dial fitted over the iron dial but the iron dial had been scraped back to bare metal

6 Left as found, was subject to an earlier restoration.

20211024_120235.jpg 20211024_120226.jpg 20211024_120215.jpg 20211024_120230.jpg 20211024_120220.jpg 20211024_120209.jpg
 

DeanT

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Just looking through John Taylor's collection which is now of sale. It's possibly the finest collection ever assembled of early English horology. Every clock is restored to wonderful condition. If complete restoration is the preferred approach for the finest clock collection in existence than I'm happy to adopt the same approach for my much more modest collection.
 

JimmyOz

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Okay, I have picked a few of the clocks I have done during Covid and 2 that were before to give an idea of what I think is a restoration, the list was long so I had to stop. Dare I say, Covid has a little silver lining. Some are posted in here already.

This is just a run of the mill clock, worth very little, customer wanted it to look better. The 'original finish'
is what you see, it was not painted, the metal work was.
Before_after painted clock1.jpg Before_after painted clock2.jpg
Another customers clock, this has some value, however can't remember the makers name. Everything was done apart from the resilvering as it looked to be original condition.
CIMG0522.JPG CIMG0536a.jpg
This is one of mine, the silvering had been lacquered and discoloured, I carefully removed the lacquer and save the silvering, the case was then brightened up with a French polish.
CIMG0538.JPG CIMG1134.JPG CIMG1136.JPG
This one was in need of silvering, 2 mouldings were missing the one that can been seen is the right side top stained to match.
CIMG0938.JPG CIMG0940.JPG CIMG0945.JPG
This small silk thread clock need some repair, however the original polish was quite good, just gave it a few more coats of shellac.
CIMG1074.JPG CIMG1087a.jpg
Very large Belgum slate clock, I did a full "how to do" on this in another part of the forum. This is a total redo back to day it was made.
CIMG1401.JPG CIMG1454.JPG
This was a total redo as well, nothing to salvage from that finish, This is in the forum somewhere, however I changed the movement as the Waterbury was not original and the case deserved better (see last photo). CIMG1316.jpg
This was a partial strip and polish, little gold leaf on the stucco
CIMG1355.jpg
Both of these finshed.
CIMG1397.jpg
So as you can see some need total some minor however they all deserve to look good. Have they devalued, I doubt it, the clocks are only brought back to life, as long as people do it the right way, not painting timber cases black when the original finish is underneath, stripping cases when the original finish can be saved, and my bug bare painting that slate black stuff on Belgum slate cases.
 

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