Clock Maintenance Tips
|The Tick Tock Shoppe
ANTIQUE TO MODERN WATCH AND CLOCK REPAIR
8283 OAKWOOD DRIVE, KING GEORGE, VIRGINIA 22485 540-775-7027
To ensure that your clocks will run reliably, you must make sure that your clock is leveled and in a solid position.
Floor Standing Clocks:
The floor should be solid to prevent the clock from moving due to vibrations such as the floor boards creaking whenever someone walks by the clock. On broadloom, a wooden board should be placed on the rug underneath the clock. In some cases, it may be necessary to fasten a bracket behind the clock to the wall. This is highly recommended in high traffic areas where the possibility of someone bumping into the clock is higher. Using a level, adjust the position of the clock so that it is level on both front and side positions. On newer clocks, leveling feet are provided to adjust the level of the clock. On older clocks without leveling feet, use wood shims. Do not place your clock near heat sources such as radiators or in locations where temperature changes quickly such as the front door. This will affect the timing and as well as drying out the movement of its vital lubricants.
The wall should be free from vibrations such as slamming a nearby door. The wall clock should be on a very secure hook. Do not use nails but use wood screws driven into a wall stud or plastic anchor and screw on drywall. In some cases, it may be necessary to fasten a bracket behind the clock to the wall. Using a level, adjust the position of the clock so that it is level on both front and side positions. Use shims as necessary. Do not place your clock near heat sources such as radiators or in locations where temperature changes quickly such as the front door. Check to make sure that the pendulum will not rub against the weights or against the cabinet. Also check to ensure that the weights will not rub against the cabinet when it drops.
The surface should be solid to prevent the clock from moving due to vibrations such as the floor boards creaking whenever someone walks by the clock or slamming a nearby door.
Keyhole: Insert the key or crank into the keyhole and wind until you feel a firm resistance. The key will turn in one direction only. (Some clocks will turn in one direction and others in the opposite direction.) Do not turn the key in the opposite direction as this will cause damage to the mechanism. When fully wound, do not continue to wind too hard as this will also cause damage. When cranking up weights, do not allow the weights to be jammed up hard underneath the seatboard. This will cause damage to the mechanism and chains / cables. Always allow an inch space between the top of the weights and the bottom of the movement. On double-wind spring clocks, both keyholes are used for the time keeping function as both springs are linked together to extend the length of time between windings. On clocks with two keyholes, the right keyhole usually is for the time keeping function and the left keyhole for the chime / strike function. On clocks with three keyholes, the right keyhole usually is for the quarter hour chime, the center keyhole for the time function and the left keyhole for the hour strike.
Chain Wind: This clock is powered by the gravity drop of weights. To wind the clock, pull down the free end of the chain to raise the weights. While pulling down on the chain, gently help raise the weight up with your other hand to prevent undue wear and strain on the mechanism. When cranking up weights, do not allow the weights to be jammed up hard underneath the seatboard. This will cause damage to the mechanism and chains / cables. Always allow an inch space between the top of the weights and the bottom of the movement. Also do not pull down on the weights. Some clocks are equipped with stop rings on the chains to prevent the weights from being over wound. On clocks with two weights, the right weight usually is for the time keeping function and the left weight for the chime / strike function. On clocks with three weights, the right weight usually is for the quarter hour chime, the center weight for the time function and the left for the hour strike.
To Keep the Key Handy:
One of the best places to keep the key or crank, so that it will be available when the winding takes place, is right under or on top of the clock!
To Start the Clock:
Balance Wheel: The balance wheel should start to rotate on its own as soon as it is wound up. If not, very gently turn the balance wheel 1/4 turn with your fingers and release.
Pendulum: Gently push the pendulum to one side and allow it to start swinging on its own. Do not push too hard so that the pendulum will swing further than its normal swing path.
To Adjust for Accurate Timekeeping : If the clock is to be used as a timekeeper, the final regulating has to be done when it is in its position and leveled. The most practical way of regulating the clock is as follows: At least a half-hour after the clock has first been set up and started, set the hands to some accurate time source such as a quartz watch or electric clock. Start keeping a record with a table. At the end of the week (or sooner, if the clock is gaining or losing time rapidly), compare the time with the accurate source and note the number of minutes that the clock has run fast or slow. To correct its rate of gain or loss, stop the pendulum and adjust the regulating disc on the pendulum or as described below. (A full turn will usually affect five minutes in a 24 hour period.) Reset the hands to the correct time and let the clock run with further correction for another week .Be sure to make a note of the amount the clock ran fast or slow, and the amount of turn you gave , i.e., 1/2 turn, 1/4 turn, etc. After two or three weeks, you will reach a point when a 1/8 turn will change the timing from fast to slow (or from slow to fast). You have then reached the maximum possible regulation. Do not make any further regulating adjustments unless the clock is moved to another position. Please remember that if the clock is allowed to run down completely on spring-wound movements, timing will be affected (slows down) due to less power given on the springs. To maintain accuracy, wind the clock up before it's expected span, i.e., fifth or sixth day of an 8 day clock.
Most balance wheel clocks can be adjusted by moving a pointer in the
proper direction. This is mounted on the plate above the balance wheel
and changes the effective length of the hairspring. Note: some balance
wheels have a regulating screw adjustment.
On front mounted adjustment wheels usually located on or near the dial face, insert the adjustment key (smaller end of dual key) and turn in the desired direction (Fast or + to increase time.) Please note that not all clocks adjusts in the same direction. On rear mounted adjustment wheels, open the rear door or access cover and turn the wheel by finger in the desired direction. Usually one full turn will affect five minutes in a 24 hour period.
Gently stop the pendulum from swinging and locate the pendulum bob nut at the bottom of the pendulum bob. (Some adjustment wheel is located in the middle of the bob.) Turn the nut by hand clockwise (right) to increase the time (by raising up the pendulum bob) and counter clockwise (left) to slow down the clock (by lowering the pendulum bob).Usually one full turn will affect two minutes in a 24 hour period. On cuckoo clocks, time adjustment is made by sliding the pendulum bob (usually shaped as a leaf or other ornament) up to increase the time and sliding the bob down to slow down the clock.
On all clocks, always move the hands in a clockwise direction by moving the minute hand forward. On some clocks, damage will occur if moved backwards. Always move a hand by the base of the hand closest to the center shaft to prevent bending the hand. On clocks equipped with chimes or strikes, allow the clock to chime out completely on the chime position before moving to the next chime position, i.e., on 1/4 hour chimes, move the minute hand to the next quarter hour position and allow it to chime out. Move the hour hand (if free moving - some clock's hour hand is fixed and cannot be moved without moving the minute hand) only if required to align the hand. To change from Daylight Saving time to Standard time in the fall (move clock back one hour), it is best to stop the pendulum from swinging for an hour rather than moving the clock forward eleven hours. Calendar hands are usually free moving and can be set by hand unless it is near the next day position (usually midnight). In that case, wait until next day.
To Set The Pendulum Beat :
To ensure that the clock will run reliably, the pendulum must be put into "beat". The clock is considered to be in beat when the ticks on each side of the pendulum swing is equal in time. That is, each 'tick' is the same as each 'tock'. An uneven beat will cause the clock to eventually stop.
On clocks equipped with automatic beat setting mechanisms (usually on newer clocks), it will automatically adjust its own beat. To activate this feature, gently push the pendulum to swing a little bit more than its usual swing pattern (not too hard!) and it will slowly adjust itself.
On older clocks, it may be necessary to adjust the level of the cabinet by using shims or adjusting the legs. Move the cabinet until the pendulum is in beat. Some clocks have a moveable seatboard (a bracket that the movement sits on) behind the dial face. Seatboards can be adjusted by adding wooden shims. On clocks equipped with seconds hand, the seconds hand can be used as a visual indicator of the clock's beat.
Wall clocks can be put into beat by moving the bottom end of the cabinet in one direction or another until the pendulum is in beat. It is suggested that a very small mark be placed on the wall beside the cabinet so that it would be easy to put the cabinet into its proper position if the clock was moved accidentally. On clocks equipped with seconds hand, the seconds hand can be used as a visual indicator of the clock's beat.
On older clocks, it may be necessary to adjust the level of the cabinet by using shims or adjusting the legs. Move the cabinet until the pendulum is in beat.
Clocks With Balance Wheels or Platforms:
These clocks are designed to be operated without a pendulum and it is
Chimes / Strikes :
Automatic Night Shut Off:
Some newer clocks are equipped with this feature which silences the chimes and strikes at night automatically between 10:45 PM and 7:00 AM (usually - may vary).
Depending upon the manufacturer, activating the repeater function will repeat the chimes and/or strikes of the hour.
Automatic Chime Correction:
Some newer clocks are equipped with this feature that will automatically re- synchronize the chimes on the hour if it should go out of sync. This is usually caused by shutting off the chimes and then turning it back on at a later different time.
Manual Strike Correction - American Movements:
Some American style movements have a wire hanging down from behind the dial face. Push this wire up gently until the strike activates. Keep pushing this wire up until the strikes corresponds to the hour hand. On other American movements that does not have the adjustment wire, move the hour hand to the correct position.
Manual Strike Correction - Other Movements :
On other movements except Korean/Japanese movements, move the hour hand to the correct position. On Korean/Japanese movements, it is not possible to adjust this function. It will be necessary to have your clock serviced by a service technician.
Weights: The weights can tell a person a lot about the condition of a clock movement and the way in which it has been operating. If each of the weights does not descend at a uniform rate, it is an indicator that an intermittent stoppage or malfunction is occurring. Over a twenty four hour period each weight should drop approximately the same amount. Quite obviously, there will be slight variations in the positions of the chime, strike and time weights at different hours of the day. This occurs as it takes more chain/cable to execute twelve strokes at noon or midnight than it does to sound a single hammer blow at one o'clock. Ensure that the weights will not interfere with the pendulum or the cabinet as it will cause the clock to stop.
To Clean The Clock :
Glass : Wash occasionally in very hot water and wipe off with a clean, dry towel. Ammonia-based window solutions such as "Windex" can be used instead.
Plastic : Follow the same suggestions as above, but avoid extremely hot water. Always use a very soft cloth when wiping. Plastic is relatively soft and will eventually become dull if wiped repeatedly with a rough cloth or paper towel.
Wood :Oil-based wood preservative solutions such as "Liquid Gold" is recommended. "Pledge" or other non-oil based solutions are not recommended as it dulls the original shine over a period of time. Waxes containing bees wax are also excellent for wood surfaces.
Brass :Brass and copper surfaces can be restored by using cream paste brass cleaners that does not contain any abrasive. "Brasso" is not recommended as it contains abrasive that will scratch the brass surfaces.
Other than exterior cleaning, there are no maintenance points that can be done by the customer. However, all mechanical movements do require periodic maintenance as do automobiles. Dust will collect and will cause bearing surfaces to wear out prematurely and as well as lack of lubrication due to drying up of special clock oils. Maintenance and adjustments should be performed only by qualified service technicians. Do not attempt to spray universal oils such as "WD-40" as this will cause damage to the surfaces of delicate mechanisms. The gear trains are designed to run without lubrication. The spray lubrication puts oil everywhere and attracts dust that can act as an abrasive. It is recommended that maintenance be performed every three years or less. This maintenance is a relubrication. Every 10 to 15 years the clock should be overhauled. Completely disassembled, mating moving parts polished, and lubrication.
Moving Your Clock:
Clocks With Pendulums:
Gently lift off the pendulum stick from the pendulum leader. If power is still applied (weight still on, or spring is wound), the pendulum leader/crutch will "chatter" back and forth. Gently tape the pendulum leader to the back plate of the movement to prevent the chatter. Never move a clock with the pendulum attached. This will cause internal damage and as well as put the clock out of beat. After the clock has been moved to another location and the pendulum re-hooked, it is necessary to check the pendulum beat as described above
Clocks With Weights:
Before removing the weights, wind up the weights to the top position to minimize the possibility of the cable unravelling in the barrel arbor (applies to weights with cables). At the bottom of each weight, mark the position of each weight (left, center or right) so that you will be able to put it back into the right position. The weights are not equal - the quarter hour chimes requires the heaviest weight and the time the least weight.
Clocks With Strike Hammer Locks :
Some clocks are equipped with locks to prevent the hammers from striking when moving the clock. Some are also equipped with gong rod locks to prevent the rods from vibrating.
All clocks should be in locations where the humidity is controlled and the temperature kept at room temperature constantly. Clocks should not be in washrooms where humidity levels can be high or in unheated rooms. Excessive humidity will cause the movement to be rusted. Clocks should also not be located in hot rooms (hot summer day in a garage or shed) nor be located near sources of heat such as furnaces, fireplaces, stoves and radiators. Hot rooms will cause high humidity levels and heat will dry out wooden cabinets and as well as dry out lubricants in the movement. Lack of lubrication will cause the movement to wear-out prematurely thus requiring an expensive overhaul of the movement.
The main body of this document was prepared by Aldon Timeworks Inc and modified by Stan Palen