Time involved for overhaul? Thoughts?

MuseChaser

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On a well-known website source for movements and service I read a discussion about the pros of buying a new movement from this company (or any company, really) versus overhauling an old movement, assuming a suitable new replacement was available. Much of what they said made sense, but one statement was cause for wonderment/ponderance.

I didn't get the site's permission to quote it, and the article was copyrighted, so I'll paraphrase. The assertion was made that overhauling a clock movement would typically take one to three months, and as long as a year in some cases, with a resulting cost of twice what a new movement would cost.

I am a complete amateur, and understand that the movements I work on, so far, are almost exclusively simple time/strike movements, either count-wheel or rack and snail. I've done two chime clocks, including a Sessions two-train chimer. The most recent Hiboni I did was a full tear down, clean and polish every part, bush all but two pivot holes by hand, remove and reinstall a poorly, messily soldered on bridge, reassemble, test on a stand, some rudimentary cleaning and polishing of the case, the glass, etc.... and I doubt I spent more than twelve hours total, if that. A couple enjoyable afternoons in the shop. Maybe $5-10 worth of bushings and cleaning supplies. Why/how in the world would an overhaul take months or a year, other than a backlog of work and the movement just sat there for most of that time?

If I WAS a professional (and I am DEFINITELY not) and was charging an hourly rate for my time, then yes, of course, 12 hours x $75/hr would be an insane amount of money to spend on an inexpensive clock. However, when I read things that state the only option to spending $900 on a professional rebuild is to buy a movement for several hundred dollars, especially on a site that sells repair supplies, wouldn't it be beneficial to also state that one can learn to repair their own clocks with a very small investment of tools (I've got two hand reamer bits, a chamfer, a handle, a set of broaches, some files, screwdrivers, pliers, and tweezers) and a bit of time and interest....and the repair will cost almost nothing other than a few enjoyable afternoons.

Granted, not everyone has a desire to learn how to do this stuff, or to spend the time. I'm just surprised that a company that sells clock repair tools and supplies, as well as movements and service, doesn't at least mention the third option.
 

Kevin W.

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Many movements are not made today. So one does have to do repairs on most clock movements.
 

R. Croswell

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On a well-known website source for movements and service I read a discussion about the pros of buying a new movement from this company (or any company, really) versus overhauling an old movement, assuming a suitable new replacement was available. Much of what they said made sense, but one statement was cause for wonderment/ponderance.

I didn't get the site's permission to quote it, and the article was copyrighted, so I'll paraphrase. The assertion was made that overhauling a clock movement would typically take one to three months, and as long as a year in some cases, with a resulting cost of twice what a new movement would cost.

I am a complete amateur, and understand that the movements I work on, so far, are almost exclusively simple time/strike movements, either count-wheel or rack and snail. I've done two chime clocks, including a Sessions two-train chimer. The most recent Hiboni I did was a full tear down, clean and polish every part, bush all but two pivot holes by hand, remove and reinstall a poorly, messily soldered on bridge, reassemble, test on a stand, some rudimentary cleaning and polishing of the case, the glass, etc.... and I doubt I spent more than twelve hours total, if that. A couple enjoyable afternoons in the shop. Maybe $5-10 worth of bushings and cleaning supplies. Why/how in the world would an overhaul take months or a year, other than a backlog of work and the movement just sat there for most of that time?

If I WAS a professional (and I am DEFINITELY not) and was charging an hourly rate for my time, then yes, of course, 12 hours x $75/hr would be an insane amount of money to spend on an inexpensive clock. However, when I read things that state the only option to spending $900 on a professional rebuild is to buy a movement for several hundred dollars, especially on a site that sells repair supplies, wouldn't it be beneficial to also state that one can learn to repair their own clocks with a very small investment of tools (I've got two hand reamer bits, a chamfer, a handle, a set of broaches, some files, screwdrivers, pliers, and tweezers) and a bit of time and interest....and the repair will cost almost nothing other than a few enjoyable afternoons.

Granted, not everyone has a desire to learn how to do this stuff, or to spend the time. I'm just surprised that a company that sells clock repair tools and supplies, as well as movements and service, doesn't at least mention the third option.
For sure it does not take 3 months to a year to do an actual rebuild of a typical clock. The time you were quoted undoubtedly includes the time you clock would need to wait in line for its turn. At least in my shop its first in - first out unless there is a delay for some reason, which might include backordered parts or waiting to have some special part made. Then once the movement is rebuilt it should run a couple of weeks before leaving the shop.

The hourly rate charged by the shop varies from shop to shop and area to area. You might check the rates charged by plumbers, electricians, and auto mechanics. Anyone doing service work as a living deserves to charge a living wage appropriate for that area. Probably closer to $90 in some areas. Then there is the cost of tools, utilities, insurance, advertising, rent (if her/she rents a downtown store space), time spent bookkeeping, and don't forget the time he spent talking to you that he didn't get paid anything for. Then there is the lost time that one cannot bill for. I had a clock in recently that needed a lot of work. I looked at the clock (perhaps not closely enough) and quoted a price for the repair. I ended up spending a lot more time than I anticipated. Sometimes you just have to eat the difference and try to be more careful estimating next time. The cost and time of running a service business is a lot more than the hours spent with a given clock movement in hand being repaired.

One important thing to remember is that the value of the clock being repaired and the cost of replacing the movement are totally irrelevant to what might be a reasonable cost to rebuild a clock.

You are apparently going the route of learning to repair your own clocks and that is great; if you are a serious collector you will save a bucket of money. Another alternative to taking your clock to an established clock repair business is to search out someone in your area who does clock repair "on the side" or as a hobby who may not have the overhead or expect high hourly rates.

RC
 
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Altashot

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I am in total agreement with R. Croswell.

I always provide a quote before I do any repairs.
There is a base service price to which I add the cost of the repairs.

For example, a chiming mantle clock.
-Service, $360.00
-6 bushings $180.00
-1 main spring $45.00
-3 broken teeth $75.00
Total: $660.00

For about 6 hours of work, it works out to be $110/hour, which is right where I like to be.

The clock will be put in the queue and be ready in about 6 months. (I have a long turnaround due to the large volume of clocks I get)

Let’s say a new movement is $800.00. The client may choose that option and have the clock back much sooner, (I can squeeze that in between other jobs) and since it’s not that much more than the service for something brand new, it makes a lot of sense.

On my end, It may only take 1 hour to do the swap and I may make $300.00 on it but having to order it, pick it up, do the paper work, clean up the shop...It may take 3 hours in all, so I’m right back at $100/hr.

It can be a tough call sometimes but when the repairs approaches or exceed the price of a new one, the choice is clear, providing of course, that a new movement is available.

M.
 
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Willie X

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In my shop most chiming movements take 5 to 20 hours bench time. Hermle to Herschede.
Run-of-th-mill American striking clocks clocks usually take 4 to 5 hours bench time.

The testing is usually a 2 week process that takes only a small amount of actual time spent.

Travel time, bringing the clock to the shop, taking the clock home, parts, sent out work, are added to the bench work.

The info in post #1, paragraph #2 is totally false, made up by someone who is either ignorant, or maybe they need to make themselves feel more important?

Typical internet stuff, Willie X
 
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Kevin W.

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I would like to comment. But i thought it was against the rules to discuss what we charge for clock repairs.
 

MuseChaser

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Just for clarity's sake, I didn't mean to discuss the amount folks charge for repairs. It was the assertion that it took months, or even a year, to overhaul a movement. That's what didn't make any sense to me. I also didn't understand why a company that also sold repair tools and supplies would not include "self-help" as a third option. That is all.

As a professional jazz and classical musician, I am acutely aware and sensitive to having one's skills devalued monetarily. I've spent decades honing my craft, and probably close to $100k on instruments and equipment for my profession... and still, unless you're a household name in my business, standard union rates in my area rarely crest $40/hr. When I started working professionally back in the late 1970s, I'd work a three or four hour club date for $50. Now, there's a club date in the area that, thankfully has GREAT players and we are treated to beautiful food and a beer or two so it's a joy to play... but it pays $65. That's more than forty years later. Believe me, I am not begrudging ANYONE payment for their skills. On the other hand, it appears that I may have chosen the wrong profession... I can count the times I've seen $100/hr on two hands worth of fingers in a forty-year career... and I am not just a typical "weekend warrior" musician.
 
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R. Croswell

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Just for clarity's sake, I didn't mean to discuss the amount folks charge for repairs. It was the assertion that it took months, or even a year, to overhaul a movement. That's what didn't make any sense to me. I also didn't understand why a company that also sold repair tools and supplies would not include "self-help" as a third option. That is all.

As a professional jazz and classical musician, I am acutely aware and sensitive to having one's skills devalued monetarily. I've spent decades honing my craft, and probably close to $100k on instruments and equipment for my profession... and still, unless you're a household name in my business, standard union rates in my area rarely crest $40/hr. When I started working professionally back in the late 1970s, I'd work a three or four hour club date for $50. Now, there's a club date in the area that, thankfully has GREAT players and we are treated to beautiful food and a beer or two so it's a joy to play... but it pays $65. That's more than forty years later. Believe me, I am not begrudging ANYONE payment for their skills. On the other hand, it appears that I may have chosen the wrong profession... I can count the times I've seen $100/hr on two hands worth of fingers in a forty-year career... and I am not just a typical "weekend warrior" musician.
Some folks work to become famous, some work to make a living, and some work because they love their work. If the shop you mentioned has a 6 month to 1 year backlog the customers in his area must not find his rates unreasonable. The thing that disturbs me most is when a client brings me a clock to repair and says that they had it to this or that clock shop and paid several hundred dollars and it still doesn't run right or it only ran for a few weeks, and when I open it I find a mess that any 12 year old could have done better. It isn't unusual for me to sped more time "unfixing" the mess someone else made before I can properly service the clock. My point is that someone charging big dollars to repair a clock also needs to deliver a quality repair job. $100/hr., $60/hr., $45/hr., even $12/hr., is too much to pay for a hack job.

RC
 

shutterbug

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If you want to reveal your charges, there is no rule being violated here. For my business, I calculate what I will charge for a repair and then compare that to the price of a new movement (if available). If the new movement is roughly the same as a repair would be, I give the owner that option. If it's a lot more than I would charge for the service, I still will mention it as an option if they want it. I think most of us in the business have a back log of at least 6 months. I inform the customer of that too. Most of the time, the clock has sit unused for a year or two anyway.
I have on occasion told a customer I'll add them to the list, and they can continue to use the clock until they come up in the queue. But it's very easy to ignore them when their turn comes up, so I don't like to do it. By the way, I always make a decent profit on a new movement too. Most will have some issues that need correcting. New movements come with a warranty that is better than mine too, so that's attractive to some customers.
I've also discovered that movement substitutions are more trouble than they're worth.
 
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