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Seamless repairs on clocks and other antiques

BLKBEARD

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Good Morning;

Someone in the arbor repair thread suggested beginning a new thread for discussion of repair methods. Clearly visible and functional, or seamless, or fabricating a complete replacement part.

Here's my two cents.......

I've dealt in Antiques for the past 25 years, mostly as a secondary business.

When I would go to an Auction and look at a Clock, or some other Item and see a "Hackmaster Repair" I'd remove that Item from Bidding Consideration.

It's the fear of the unknown. By the time I pay a Clockmaker to repair it, what's left for me? Damaged goods are extremely hard to re-sell.

In my mind, I equate a seamless repair with a professional repair, and it gives me far less pause deciding whether to purchase it. A very conspicuous repair would lead me to believe that t was performed by a consignor who couldn't sell it, and now is dumping it in an Auction to get rid of it.

You as a Clock Repair Person know that your repair is functionally fine. But a buyer seeing something like a sleeved arbor may be scared off. They've been burned before. Who's been in here and did they know what they were doing?
Is this another P.O.S. that I'm going to be stuck with?

If your doing repairs on your own clocks you can do as you please. But if your selling your services as a Professional Clockmaker I think a repair should be done to high standards.

I like the mindset in the arbor repair thread that a repair should be completed in the same manner whether it's a $25.00 clock or a $2500.00 Clock

Thank you...............................Mike
 

Albert Antonelli

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Mike, most people today don't want the work done good they want to flip that item without putting large amounts of money into the job, I agree with you, a clock or a watch should always be done correctly and the item keeping as good of time and strike and chime without flaws. But it takes time and Money to do the repair correctly. My two cents worth
 

R&A

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I agree and this is why I don't use Epoxy,Super Glue,Loctite. Don't get me wrong I have used solder. But for most that don't know how to use it,it becomes an eye sore. The degree of you talent and equipment will be the results of your work. I have a reputation to uphold to myself and my customers. There is always time where I work more to make less. But if I didn't I would have nothing. I won't let greed control my standards or my work ethics PERIOD.
 

shutterbug

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I'm not convinced that a typical antique dealer would notice a sleeved arbor, Mike. If he were a clock specialist looking over a clock that is likely to cost him several hundred if not thousands of dollars, then sure, maybe he would look it over that closely. But if he did notice it, would he really wonder if the repairman knew what he was doing? A repair of that type requires knowledge not only of the repair technique. It also shows that the repairman knew how to disassemble the clock, had tooling needed to make the repair, and completed it successfully. Granted, it's not completely original looking, and it might make him limit his bid to a lower number. But I doubt that it would be a cause for complete rejection. Many of the recommended repairs in the thread you refer to would be invisible to you. Another consideration for the dealer is also overall value, overall condition, and anticipated interest by his customers. The sleeved arbor may not be as desirable as some of the other repairs suggested, but it probably would keep the clock out of the land fill for awhile :)
The reality though, is that most people have a $100.00 clock that they want to see working. Sentimental concerns might allow them to spend three times that amount for a repair. It probably won't allow them to spend much more than that. So most of the people in the repair business walk a fine line between having enough work to pay the bills and rejecting work that they don't feel can be done for what the customer is willing to spend. There is usually about a 10% rejection rate for that reason, but the rest of the time they try to get the clock working for the customer in a way that makes it reliable for another few decades.
 
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BLKBEARD

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I only used the "sleeved example" because it is far more conspicuous to the untrained eye than a arbor pinned close to the wheel. when you love clocks but don't know how to repair them, any noticeable "tampering" give you great cause for concern. There is so much deception in the Auction Market, and dealers are weary of getting burned.

You don't need to take my word for it. If you have an antiques dealer customer who is not a clock specialist, ask them.
 

harold bain

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A sleeved arbor would go unnoticed at any auction I have seen. The terms of most auctions is "as is, where is", so if you pay too much for an inferior clock, you are stuck with it.
 

David S

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First thank you for starting this thread Mike.

Until recently I have never repaired a clock for a person that was going to sell it or auction it off. I believe that repair methods should be appropriate to the value of the time piece. My customers typically have sentimental family clocks or clocks they pick up at a garage sale because they like the look of it. Most are of very little commercial value and will be for the foreseeable future.

In the thread where alternatives were discussed there were a number that would be completely functional and reliable if done with good workmanship. However they did vary considerably in cost. To completely disassemble the arbor wheel assembly and machine a complete new arbor and pinion would cost more for me to do that than a reliable sleeve. I always discuss options with the customer, and so far I am positive that none of my customers that purchased an old clock for $25 would go for the new pinion / arbor route. Hence I don't feel that providing my customer with an affordable reliable repair that is visible, with full disclosure would be considered unprofessional.

As I have stated before I always try and approach a repair while preserving as much of the original as possible since I feel that is also important.

I am also disappointed when I get a 40 year old clock with a movement dated 2006. That certainly wasn't an "invisible" repair in my books.

Let's hear more points of view.

David
 

R. Croswell

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I'm not convinced that a typical antique dealer would notice a sleeved arbor, Mike. If he were a clock specialist looking over a clock that is likely to cost him several hundred if not thousands of dollars, then sure, maybe he would look it over that closely.....
No only would a typical antique dealer not notice such a repair, in most clocks the movement is not visible and if the clock is running he wouldn't likely take it apart to check for previous work. If it isn't running it will likely be sold 'as is' or referred to the cheapest hack that will make it run long enough to sell.

When one adds dollars to the equation for a repair one must keep in mind that the most significant part of the job cost is going to be disassembling and reassembling the movement, and cleaning properly so it will be reliable after the broken part is repaired. The typical customer is mainly concerned with whether the clock runs when the job is done. My concern (and I believe the concern of most who post here) is also that the clock continue to run reliably for many years to come and that usually means doing additional pivot and bushing work unrelated to repairing a specific broken part. Therefore the cost to repair the broken part becomes even an even smaller part of the total job cost. We've often heard the argument that the cost to do a repair 'right' is often no more than doing it 'less right'. I'm not sure that's always the case, but for sure it costs less to do it 'properly' the first time than to have to do it over. Dollars also enters the equation when one must consider whether he or she has the required tooling, knowledge, experience, and skill level to execute a particular method, or if that method is preferred, the cost to send the work out compared to an alternative method that he or she can execute that will yield an equally functional outcome all be it perhaps not so invisible.

Regarding the affect a given repair has on the value of a clock, that's highly subjective. Personally, I would prefer to buy a clock that's not running and has not been messed with so that I can 'repair' or mess it up as I please. A high quality clock with a visible, or even a 'hack job' repair may represent a great opportunity for one to acquire a piece at a great price to be reworked. Yes, there are different methods that different folks find acceptable, and some methods that are universally deemed to be unacceptable, but the argument should not be that this or that repair method destroys the clock's value , but which method can restore value to a non-working clock. Bottom line, it will always be a repaired clock and have less value than the same clock in good original (unrepaired) condition.

You wreck your car and look for a body shop to repair it. An elite custom shop may fabricate a new fender to factor specifications, another shop may reform the damaged part, another shop may install a new aftermarket part. You end up with your car looking nice again, but CarFax is still going to show this car was in an accident and the original 'value' is gone forever regardless of how it was repaired or how nice it looks.

RC
 

stewey

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We've all heard the expression "First, do no harm.", which of course applies to the medical profession. I still consider myself somewhat of a tyro in clock repair; however, I believe in "First, keep it out of the garbage and in circulation.". But I think that crazy-glue or bailing-wire or a combination thereof should be shunned...Unless, of course, that's all you have to work with.
 

doug sinclair

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Many years ago, I was asked to service a 19th century American time and strike clock in a splendid beveled glass and brass case. There were three teeth out of the one mainspring barrel! I knew that only an invisible repair of the barrel would be suitable for that owner. So I devised a way to do an (almost) invisible repair. David S knows about this. The barrel in the image is not the barrel from the subject clock. If you really scrutinize the barrel, you may be able to spot the repair.

PB085708.JPG
 

Piisimuhkaan

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There seems to be three types of clock repairers: part/movement replacers, part fabricators, and a combination of the two.

Replacing parts/movements does have its place such as saving the customer money. A competent clock repairer can definitely use this approach especially on contemporary movements. One can easily purchase parts for Hermle movements instead of machining them. Fabricating parts requires time, and expensive machinery and accessories. Sometimes custom tooling has to be made to complete the job. It also requires a lot of skill and knowledge that not every professional clock repairer possesses.

There are repairers out there who solely rely on replacing. They won't go near machine shop equipment and hand tools such as files. They are okay for most people who want their $100 clock repaired. An antique should be repaired by someone who has more talent, is able to make parts, and does high quality work.

If a 'professional' clock repairer has no idea what a pitch circle is, run!
 

Bogey

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I have purchased, restored and sold almost 950 clocks, most of which were purchased at auction. I can't recall ever having the luxury of taking the movement out to see how it has been repaired in the past. It has always been buyer beware. If I were going to purchase a clock from a dealer, that may be a different story, depending on the cost of the clock and the reputation of the dealer.

As someone who repairs clocks, I do all I can to do the best job possible no matter what the clock cost. My reputation is riding on it. Before I tackle a job, however, the customer is given as much information as I can realistically be expected to provide including the cost of parts (if needed), labor, etc. It is always up to the customer to decide if I proceed or not. For the majority of my customers, the value is sentimental, and not in its resale potential. It makes no difference, though what the end value might be. I do the same quality work regardless.

Whether or not I use a sleeve to repair a pivot obviously depends on the arbor... ever try to drill out an arbor on one of the French clock movements? On the other hand, I have a large supply of parts from clocks that simply weren't worth repairing. If I can find a match to the part that needs repair, and it saves the customer money, I'm going to replace the part.

My two cents...
 

David S

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Bogey can you elaborate somewhat on what you mean by "I do the same quality work regardless"?

Some of what has been discussed on a previous thread is the type of repair. Such as totally machining I new arbor and pinion vs making a well machined robust sleeve with new arbor / pivot. Now I can look at each approach and see good machining skills. However some may say that the new arbor and pinion is of higher quality simply because it is perhaps invisible and not because the machining quality is superior.

Hence I am interested in whether you match the repair endeavour to the particular type and value of clock at hand considering your customers financial limitations.

David
 

leeinv66

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A repair being invisible does not mean it has been completed to a high standard.
 

David S

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Agreed for sure Peter, but surely you can add more to the conversation. Perhaps a different perspective.

David
 

leeinv66

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Agreed for sure Peter, but surely you can add more to the conversation. Perhaps a different perspective.

David
But that is the premise of the original post David. "In my mind, I equate a seamless repair with a professional repair". From my perspective, that is a naive statement. You could supa glue a wheel to an arbour and it would be an invisible repair. However, most would agree it would not be a professional repair.

More troubling is the concept that a repairman should use the same exact techniques to repair a $25.00 clock as they would on a $2500.00 clock. That's all well and good, but that suggests all customers are prepared to pay the same amount for the same work on both clocks. And we all know that is pure fantasy.

A sleeve on an arbour or a new arbour are both proper repairs if done properly. Just because you would prefer one method over the other does not mean you have made a wise choice. There are many other factors to consider.

You asked ;)
 

Willie X

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I'm with Peter. "Seemless" repairs are very rare, pretty close to non exsistant. Replacing a part in a nearly new clock with an OEM replacement, I can do that. But usually the clock is more than 5 years old and the new part is obvious. Never seen a bushing that I couldn't see, although I have seen a few that were close to "seemless".
I guess "seemless" would have to be based on how skilled the observer was at spotting seems ... HA
Willie X
 

scottmiami

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Mike, you also need to consider your audience. The vast majority of NAWCC members actually care about doing repairs the proper way. I consider myself a total amateur, yet I still try to adhere to best practices & acceptable methods to the best of my ability. The only clocks I work on are my own, and while I do sell some of them, if I don't know the accepted method is, it doesn't take much to either research or simply ask on the board when it's not clear what the proper way is to do something.

I'm sure you have seen many poor repairs, as has everyone reading this thread, but I would suggest that many of these have been done by people simply trying to flip something for a quick buck who really had no concern of customer satisfaction, and hopefully are/were not members of the NAWCC.

Cheers!
Scott
 

BLKBEARD

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I think some reading and contributing to this thread take me too literally. I'm not looking for perfection, just quality. A few who've contributed have also been burned by auction buys. Most poor repairs were probably done by consignors. I'm a Heating contractor trying to develop my love, appreciation, and fascination of antique clocks into a semi-retirement business. I plan on spending the next 5-8 years developing this skill. As a Heating contractor I would never do things in a customers home that I might do in my own, calling it good enough for now. number one they're paying for a professional repair, number two I wouldn't want another Service Tech asking the homeowner "What Hackmaster did that?? a couple of years down the road. I recognize that there is always more than one way to get from point A to point B, and wasn't out to bash anyone's methods (other than the whoever got their mitts into the auction clocks I bought) I'd buy a clock needing a refreshment of the case, which I was perfectly capable of doing, then find out the movement was all butchered, which I was not capable of fixing. Kinda leaves u bitter. It's amazing how ha grandfather clock built 2-300 years ago is still going strong.
An obvious testament to the pride they took in they're work. No disposable economy at play there. If your product didn't out live you, you must have built it wrong. No CAD, no CAM, no CNC,
 

leeinv66

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I'll play the devil's advocate BLKBEARD. If you do not as yet have the skills to work on clock movements, buying clocks from auctions is probably not the best option. Given there is no guarantee they work, there are no refunds offered and "Buyer Be Ware" is the number one rule of the game, shouldn't you be looking elsewhere? If you are ignore the #1 rule, you can't really blame the venue or the sellers. Buying at auction can be a gamble, but the trade off is you can often buy what you want cheaper. If you want a guarantee the clocks you buy work, then it is likely to cost you considerably more. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.
 

shutterbug

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Another consideration, BLKBEARD, is honesty. In your industry, I'm sure you know of some people who will replace a dirty flame sensor instead of just cleaning it off. To me, that's just dishonest .... but we know it happens frequently. However, the repair is sound, and the furnace works .... and the customer is happy in spite of being poorer due to the scamming repairer. The customer is oblivious, and that's what some repairers, both in our business and yours rely on.
 

BLKBEARD

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In Heating Service there are 3 Basic category's of Service Techs. "A" techs, they're at the top of their game, Average techs, they can repair most things, and then you have the guys who "Couldn't fix lunch"

Whether we're talking Heating or clocks though, I think Diagnostics is the key to success. as I study clock repair I read all these threads, following the problems, the diagnostic methods, and the successful cure, I read books, watch video's, and when I run across something in a thread like the Geneva Drive I focus on that for a couple of days finding out all I can about that circuit. There's obviously a wealth of knowledge among the contributors here. There's the Rocking Ship problem clock, That's a very interesting one, and I'm awaiting the outcome of it.
 

TQ60

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For auctions or reselling it is usually best to leave the clock "as-is, as-found" .
Say you are the reseller of a group of clocks that you could repair.

You know how to work on them to make them run but not the tooling time or skills to perform some of the repairs listed here.

As a buyer I found NOT want anyone messing with the clock as time is money and money must me marked up for profit and we feel that most folks of most repair places will fix to the budget implying they will spend just enough to get it to run so they can claim it runs and was serviced.


Problem with fixing to budget is the clock may be modified and now less desirable and lots more expensive.

Inspect it to see if it is serviceable or trashed and document that so the buyer can decide.

Most collectors of clocks either prefer to self fix or have a servicer.
 

David S

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Lets talk about getting a movement that has a wheel with 3 or 4 missing teeth. There are many options: Dovetail in a new plug and cut new teeth as described in many clock repair books. Some have said it is best to cut a new wheel. Over the years I have used the dovetail method, straight plug, Tinker's "pin it" suggestion, Doug Sinclair's spring barrel tooth replacement, and on one Asian great wheel a combination of dovetail and sistering reinforcements strips on both sides of the plug.

Of all the possibilities mentioned above, for one of the old clocks I was working no repair that I can think of would have been "seemless". So while I tried to make a very tight fitting dovetailed patch and the smallest amount of solder, followed by clean up, the repair was still detectable. However 98% of the original wheel, arbor, pivots and pinion was still there.

Someone suggested cutting a new wheel. The wheels on this particular clock had all been stamped out, not machined, similar to most that I work on today. But for some reason there was excessive burring on the exit side of all of the wheel crossings as if too thin a brass sheet had been used or perhaps the punch and die set had been poorly maintained. A new machined wheel would have stood out like a sore thumb in this gear train. Besides having the correct number of teeth and profile, it wasn't close to the original in character and manufacturing technology. Would this be considered a "seemless" repair? Certainly the fabrication would have been professional.

Again my concern is how far should we deviate from the original manufacturing intent? Similarly pinions can be parted off from pinion wire, drilled and pressed onto shafts. These pinions are drawn or extruded and have characteristics of the process. A hobbed or machined replacement will look different, even though it can be very robust.

What about when we make new parts with the steel and brass that is available now? In most cases that isn't original either.

Anyway I am going to continue to try and provide value to my customers by offering repairs that seem appropriate to the value of their clock and their budget.

David
 

novicetimekeeper

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I would much rather parts were repaired than replaced on my clocks, it retains the integrity of the original clock.

I'd rather see some new teeth let in to a 300 year old wheel than have a new wheel.
 

roughbarked

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Surely a repair that works displays competence. A clock that has been kept in running order is one that has been loved, maybe even sweated blood over.
For sure originality is everything in collection and if anything a fully restored with original parts is desirable but in many instances, such parts simply don't exist in any catalog.
 

R&A

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Well I stopped buying at the marts. One guy I asked if I could pull the movement, and he said I didn't need to. I said is there e a warranty with the clock. He said no as is. He said I am with the NAWCC chapter here. I said so what. If I don't get to look at the movement . I'm not buying it. The last clock I bought before that,had radmiss bushings and solder and a broken repaired spring. < same mart the year before.
Or you get the guy that comes in here and is asking money to do repairs on clocks, and has no idea or the tooling to repair them.
And then the guy that tell somebody to use epoxy and super glue and Loctite on a part that only needs a tighter fit. Instead of telling them to stake the hole and make the part fit tighter. Then the guy says I don't have the tools to do that. Well better not on the scrap pile. Just glue it. If you don't have the tools. Then get the heck out of this trade or buy some tools.
Regardless of the cost or how much a clock is worth. To learn this trade and learn it well takes many years of bench time. Clock will live on by the type of standards we set. There are many ways to make a mouse trap and a repair. But the teaching that are set forth by those standards sets precedence for the generation to come. When those standards are manipulated to the point that somebody learning the trade thinks there isn't a standard. The loss of quality repairing is set forth. Thus breading hacks.
I have a guy in my area that grinds the inside plates on every bushing he installs. For what reason I have no clue. But either he has no training. Or somebody taught him this practice. < one example
 

R. Croswell

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.......I have a guy in my area that grinds the inside plates on every bushing he installs. For what reason I have no clue. But either he has no training. Or somebody taught him this practice. < one example
Everyone has a reason for doing what they do but some of the reason are often elusive or just wrong. I would urge anyone who has not read the AWCI Standards & Practices to please do so. It is currently available at this link http://www.awci.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/AWCIClockmakingSandPOctober2010.pdf While is does not give specific details for every imaginable repair, it is an excellent read on acceptable and unacceptable methods.

On a slightly different tangent, no one has mentioned altering the original design during a repair to 'improve the clock'. For example, we know that Sessions clocks have a 'weakness' in the straight brass rivets that hold the clicks. When I repair these (and others have reported doing the same) I replace that brass rivet with steel shoulder rivet which is much stronger and more likely to stay in place and hold the thin click in position to the thin click wheel. I also frequently replace brass click springs (the kind that attach directly to the click) with spring steel wire click springs. I consider these appropriate modifications because a click failure can potentially cause personal injury and the finished repair will last longer. Sure, most Sessions clocks that I see are not museum pieces, but what if it were a clock of significant value and importance? When do you sacrifice strict originality to deliver a safer clock? When do you strictly replicate the original design and deliver a potentially dangerous clock?

RC
 

David S

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RC I have also done some modifications. I have found Asian clicks that have fractured starting at a sharp corner. When I make a replacement I include a radius so we don't have a stress riser.

I detest the practice of using set screws to hold wheels / cams, gears on smooth round shafts...Hermle should be ashamed of themselves. When I recently repaired a B2 rotor I put a flat on the output shaft for the set screw to bear on.

And of course we know that some are using anti friction bearings (Butter bearings) for some repairs.

However I don't know where the limit is and how far one should make "improvements".

David
 

R. Croswell

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........I detest the practice of using set screws to hold wheels / cams, gears on smooth round shafts...Hermle should be ashamed of themselves. When I recently repaired a B2 rotor I put a flat on the output shaft for the set screw to bear on.....

David
I never noticed what type of setscrews Hermle uses on their round shafts, but one can purchase flat tip setscrews specifically for use on round shaft that does not dig in or mark the shaft. It can really be frustrating to get something apart or make a small adjustment when the setscrew has messed up the shaft.

RC
 

bruce linde

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let's get real... someone who's worked on 950 clocks is going to be far more experienced than a relative newbie like myself, who has 'worked on' maybe 50. 'experienced' means a number of things: practiced at implementing best practices, already (hopefully) learned from their mistakes, classically (or rigorously) trained/educated, etc.

in addition, one must consider talent. i've been a professional musician for decades. i meet other musicians who have also been playing for decades... who don't listen, who have no idea how mediocre they are, etc.. good help is hard to find.

in one of the dirty harry / clint eastwood movies, clint runs a bad guy on a motorcycle off a roof into the san francisco bay... as clint looks down to make sure the guy isn't coming back up to the surface, he comments 'a man's got to know his limitations'. i thought of this the time i was carefully (i thought) and lightly (i thought) polishing an escape wheel against a brass brush wheel in my bench grinder (using foot/speed control), only to have the piece whipped out of my grasp and end up embedded in the sheetrock like a shiruken... a bent shiruken. i've managed to not snap off any pivots when working on french movements or vienna regulators, but have nevertheless been attacked by mainsprings. it takes a while to get the lay of the land, especially when you're working on first-time issues and/or materials, essentially by yourself (i.e., not surrounded by peers in a shop or classroom).

i've studied post after post on these forums, and reached out both publicly and privately for advice and assistance from the more experienced (i.e., just about everybody). i've seen the quality of my work increase geometrically, but i'm sure it doesn't hold a candle to most of the folks here. still, i've learned to address a variety of issues on weight and spring driven clocks, and even managed to diagnose a problem my clock mentor missed (!).

that said, there are other issues, as well: professional vs. hobbyist, collectors vs. buy-and-sell churners, collecting vs. caretaking (what happens to our clocks when we're gone?), how much has been invested in what quality equipment. i would argue that documentation... photos and write-ups... are as essential any time you go into a clock as whether you're using a sleeve or replacing the entire arbor (for example). those in the know probably don't have (or take) the time to do this, as it seems obvious to them... but the times they are a changing, and most of the long/old-timers on the forum will take most of their knowledge and experience with them when they go... to the continued overall detriment and decline of the culture and world of mechanical clocks.

my approach is to keep all of the above in mind, and make the best possible use of the incredible resource offered by mb.nawcc community.

that's my take, and i'm sticking to it.

smike
 

harold bain

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Smike, your timing is wrong on your quote. It is from Magnum Force, and he says it after Hal Holbrook's car blows up at the end. But to add to the topic, knowing why a clock doesn't work (troubleshooting) is key to being able to fix it. See our Hall of Shame thread to see how many old clocks were kept out of the landfill with "unorthodox repairs" that we frown on.
 

bruce linde

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wrong movie, right quote! :)

the thread is about where to draw the line between 'seamless' repairs and making stuff work, whether to repair to original condition or good enough to run (but for how long?), etc. posters have touched on ethics, professionalism, personal preferences, etc. i don't believe there's any disagreement about the kinds of repairs that end up in the hall of shame... crappy is crappy is wrong.

i'm not sure most of you would love my clocks as much as i do, but i take great pride and pleasure in having rescued many of them from the scrap heap. i may not have serviced them as well as the more experienced here would have, but my goal is to at least do no harm... and the more quality-critical repairs go to my clock mentor.

i appreciate y'all letting a (relative) newbie like myself contribute (maybe) to this kind of discussion... the various perspectives alone are a big help for those of us seeking to educate ourselves on what truly are best practices.
 

David S

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With the exception of the obvious "hacks" that most of us would agree are not good practice, I think there are indeed many ways to make a functional reliable repair. And there is no question that some repairs that may appear more seemless or invisible would be more expensive and perhaps take more types of equipment to perform.

The discussion of making a pivot replacement sleeve vs cutting a new arbor / pinion is a good example. While the sleeve could be much more visible it certainly would be functional and reliable...AND there is nothing that prevents someone from cutting a new arbor in the future if they so desire.

Similarly with simply replacing teeth in a wheel. A new wheel can be cut at any time in the future.

However when I get a clock that some would promote to the hall of shame, I consider it a privilege to be able to work on it and hopefully keep it alive for years to come. I remember one "less than professional" repair on a clock that a woman brought me. It was perfectly functional, looked like crap, and wasn't going to interfere with my service. I told the woman what I had found and if she knew much about this clock... It had been in the family for ever..and then she said "oh it was probably repaired by my Grandfather, he was the go to guy when things were broken". I told her that it was perfectly functional and would she like to keep it that way as part of the legacy of the family clock, and she said yes. So I documented it, did my work and returned it. I always give a written repair summary of what I found and what I have done. If the customer had decided that she wanted it cleaned up, I would have.

David
 

Bruce Alexander

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...knowing why a clock doesn't work (troubleshooting) is key to being able to fix it. See our Hall of Shame thread to see how many old clocks were kept out of the landfill with "unorthodox repairs" that we frown on.
That's certainly one way to look at HOS entries. It helps to make reversal-repair seem less taxing. It does assume, however, that the clock was headed to the landfill before some Macgyver got all creative on it instead of after the fact.

Even within the HOS examples, there are; "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". (Clint, by the way, has been all three imho)

Auctions are the wild, wild West. Just about anything goes. Great examples of valuable clocks will likely never make it to an average run-of-the-mill auction unless it is out of sheer ignorance. In my experience even reputable Clock Auction Houses will miss significant condition issues. Bidding in an Auction is like going to a Casino. It's exciting and entertaining but you can lose a lot of money in a short period of time if you're not careful.

I think the bottom line is that if you're going to fix and deal in century-old antique clocks you're going to run into "stacks" of repairs within the same clock movement. Most of them you'll never know about until the movement is dismantled. An ugly repair that is working may not be the reason the clock came across your bench in the first place. If the owner doesn't want cosmetic "re-repairs", you clean it up, do what ever else is needed and keep going on to the next one in line.

Auction clocks can be a good way to acquire and hone your skills because they will be challenging. Maintenance on clocks which are heirlooms and have been well maintained will likely be a breeze by comparison..

"Guys who can't fix Lunch"~:chuckling:
 

roughbarked

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Although this is about watches rather than clocks, for several decades I've told customers, "you need new dial feet. You could pay for a new dial if one can be found or you could araldite it to the movement but I'd prefer to drill two small holes and rivet new dial feet on. This will mark the dial but I promise to make the marks small and tidy and make every attempt to match the repair as closely to the dial paint as possible". 99% of the customers are happy to do this and never complain afterwards. They bring their watches back for other repairs.
 

Harry Hopkins

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Everyone has a reason for doing what they do but some of the reason are often elusive or just wrong. I would urge anyone who has not read the AWCI Standards & Practices to please do so. It is currently available at this link http://www.awci.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/AWCIClockmakingSandPOctober2010.pdf While is does not give specific details for every imaginable repair, it is an excellent read on acceptable and unacceptable methods.
RC
Thanks for the link RC.. I just finished it and I agree that it is an excellent read.
 

David S

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Prior to this Thread being created I had been toying with thinking about a thread titled "practical clock repair". And by this I mean presenting methods to make repairs that would be suitable for beginners and intermediates. The intent would be focused on Functionality and robustness. Making functional repairs that didn't require a huge investment in special equipment.

This would be more appropriate for time pieces that don't have high commercial value now or in the foreseeable future. Just for those that would like to be able to select options based on their ability and available tools to make clocks functional and reliable. With a gentle reminder that this is just a starting point toward achieving a higher level of competence. And also to encourage more folks to join the "trade" shall we say, whether hobbyist or income earner.

I have read the AWCI standards a number of times.. and they are also available on this site thanks to Bangster. While those may be the end game, my approach would try to encourage new comers to understand the end goal, but not be intimidated by the journey.

However our membership seems to be quite polarized ...sort of "my way or the high way". Quite binary. I also understand that threads like this that are like a survey, are really a "self selected" survey and usually the responses we get are only from folks with strong feeling FOR or AGAINST, the majority are neutral and don't bother responding. So we don't really know what the majority opinion is.

Anyway this thread and the previous one that spawned this one has convinced me that "I ain't going there".

David
 

BLKBEARD

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"Anyway this thread and the previous one that spawned this one has convinced me that "I ain't going there".

David"

Too late now David, You already dipped your toes in the water.


 

David S

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"Anyway this thread and the previous one that spawned this one has convinced me that "I ain't going there".

David"

Too late now David, You already dipped your toes in the water.


Mike,

Yes for sure. Typing back and forth on forums like this removes all sorts of interpersonal communication. Body language, facial expressions, and just genuine desire to have a meaningful discussion with my peers. To present alternates without the desire to win a debate or argue.

Above all when I try to contribute it is to try and give back, but also to encourage the "newbees" to join the group.

I welcome different views.. that is how I learn new stuff.

David
 

R. Croswell

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Prior to this Thread being created I had been toying with thinking about a thread titled "practical clock repair". And by this I mean presenting methods to make repairs that would be suitable for beginners and intermediates. The intent would be focused on Functionality and robustness. Making functional repairs that didn't require a huge investment in special equipment.
David
Sounds more like a book than a new thread. I think a lot of folks might benefit from it but the author would for sure end up with a target on his back. Most people here I believe, perhaps with a few exception, present methods that they have found to work and offer that as what they see to be acceptable rather than insisting on my way or no way. It does occasionally seem polarizing when one insists that 'anything else' is universally unacceptable, or that 'museum standards' of restoration are requited for every clock one is likely to encounter or one should somehow be ashamed or feel guilty if any other method is even considered. Your 'book' might devote a chapter to what it means to be a "beginner" - basically one just entering on his journey exploring the wonderful world of old clocks, one who's goal is bringing an old clock back to life and hearing its heart beat again, one who does not expect perfection, one who is ever learning and trying things and improving, one who in the beginning knows not to mess with anyone else's clock or advertise "Clocks Repaired Here" after making one or two clocks tick again, one who knows what his limits are and what his skills are. Another chapter might be identifying what repairs a beginner should attempt and when to refer things to someone else. and on and on.

The hardest part I believe will be separating those repairs and methods that might be OK for a beginner to use on his/her own a practice clock from similar methods that belong only in the HOS. Just where is that line? Take solder for example. I believe there are times when solder may be quite acceptable for a certain situation but if the person doing it simply does not know how to solder then we see a mess like we often see posted here in the hall of shame. and of course there are repairs that would be acceptable to almost everyone except a demanding museum curator.

It would be quite a challenge.... the book that is. I don't think you would find enough 'common ground' in a thread here, but as the writer of a book on the subject the writer presents his own perspective backed by his own personal experience and other who want to can disagree if they like but everyone will learn something. I'll reserve the first copy! .............On second thought you were probably right to say, "I ain't going there".

RC
 

stewey

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This is sort of in reference to a portion of Harold Bain's post of Dec. 7th. at 2:54pm. A friend of mine and myself have been "rescuing" clocks from thrift stores, garage sales, Kijiji, etc. for about four years now, and we both consider ourselves to be sort of tyros and still learning and enjoying repairing clocks. I think that the most I have ever paid for a clock is around $80. We're always discussing how we got hold of a clock and how we went about "resuscitating" it. Quite often the comment is made "We'd better not post that on NAWCC, or they'd exile us with undue ceremony to the dreaded 'Hall Of Shame'." and toss away the key.":)
 
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David S

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RC... You know what. I wish you lived closer to me. I think YOU and I could collaborate on writing "our" book. This stuff isn't rocket science. It starts with basic mechanical principles and then develops from there. Repairs are so subjective. And I don't think we should have to wear a flack jacket when we present functional / reliable repairs

Solder vs other engineered adhesives? sure good discussion. JB weld.. perhaps in some circumstances... Duct tape.. hmm not so much.

David
 

bruce linde

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my approach would try to encourage new comers to understand the end goal, but not be intimidated by the journey



i think i've offered this elsewhere, but mr. guenther, my 7th grade math teacher, used to say: go half way from where you are to toward the wall. now go half way from the new position toward the wall. even if you repeat forever you'll never actually get to the wall... but you can get pretty darn close.


it's all about the journey... and doing no harm while remembering that i'm a beginner who gets to audit and hang out with the advanced guys.












RC... You know what. I wish you lived closer to me. I think YOU and I could collaborate on writing "our" book. This stuff isn't rocket science. It starts with basic mechanical principles and then develops from there. Repairs are so subjective. And I don't think we should have to wear a flack jacket when we present functional / reliable repairs



it's not just about solder or no solder... is it the right repair? is it functionally sound? is it artistic? seamless? good enough? perfect? invisible? was the purpose to get the clock just a little further down the road before it eventually succumbs to years of hard living... or to make it like new again?


those last two depend of course on money. time is money, and either someone is paying one of you experts for your time or you're donating it. seems to me like doing it for a living... and facing the unfortunate reality that nobody really wants to know how much quality costs... or pay for it!... adds another layer of complexity.


but... for the record... i would buy your and rc's book in a heartbeat... and or volunteer to create a website/blog where you could write it as a series of blog posts/chapters. :)
 

leeinv66

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I have been a member here since 2005. The day this message board becomes a closed shop where only "Proper, AWCIC dictated" repair methods are discussed is the day I will call it quits! Yes, there is always someone willing to tear you down when you mention a alternative method. But, the measure of us is how we deal with those closed minds. I refuse to be intimidated by them. I would encourage others who think likewise to do the same.
 

R. Croswell

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I have been a member here since 2005. The day this message board becomes a closed shop where only "Proper, AWCIC dictated" repair methods are discussed is the day I will call it quits! Yes, there is always someone willing to tear you down when you mention a alternative method. But, the measure of us is how we deal with those closed minds. I refuse to be intimidated by them. I would encourage others who think likewise to do the same.
Agree completely! There is of course a big difference between demonstrating 'the gold standard' and implying that that no other way is ever appropriate. Quite a few thread here, while very informative technically, often seem to end with a method being proposed that is for one reason or another 'out of reach' for many.

RC
 

bangster

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I like smike's posts 31 and 45. I like Bob Cresswell's post 42.

My Rule 1: Not every clock is an antique worth multi-bucks or of great historical value, and shouldn't be treated as one.

My Rule 2: Some clocks deserve more meticulous attention to detail than others.

My Rule 3: Don't skimp when you shouldn't; every clock deserves the best that it deserves. But not more. If you give it more, that's OK. But you're not obliged to.

Is what I think.
 

Bogey

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Bogey can you elaborate somewhat on what you mean by "I do the same quality work regardless"?

Some of what has been discussed on a previous thread is the type of repair. Such as totally machining I new arbor and pinion vs making a well machined robust sleeve with new arbor / pivot. Now I can look at each approach and see good machining skills. However some may say that the new arbor and pinion is of higher quality simply because it is perhaps invisible and not because the machining quality is superior.

Hence I am interested in whether you match the repair endeavour to the particular type and value of clock at hand considering your customers financial limitations.

David
What I am saying is that whether a clock is valued at $1,000 or $100, the effort I put into it is the same. The value of a clock does not dictate how the repairs are completed. A simple black mantle clock handed down through the family is priceless to the owner. It should be repaired to the same standards as any other.

Before I do any repair, I give the customer as realistic an estimate as possible. I've had customers agree to spend over $200 to repair a clock that might sell on eBay for $100.
 

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