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SpringJim 05-01-2008 11:42 AM

Clock Question
David, I've got an old wind up clock, time and chimes winds. It runs fine and keeps time well and all I do is wind it up.

My question is what kind on maintenance should I do for it? any kind of lubrication? or just let it be since it runs fine?

don't know much about clocks.....

dmun 05-01-2008 12:59 PM

Re: Clock Question
If it runs fine, let it be. Most mechanical clocks will, first, show degraded performance, like weird timekeeping or slow striking, then stop entirely.

Any attempt at lubrication to a dirty clock, will mix lubricant with dirt, and form an abrasive paste that will speed up wear. When the clock stops, someone will need to dismantle it, replace or reface worn bearing surfaces, clean, lubricate and adjust it. Half measures are worse than useless.

Modern oils last for years, unlike the old animal based lubricants. It's not unusual for a clock to run ten years or more between overhauls.

BrianShaw 05-01-2008 01:07 PM

Re: Clock Question

Originally Posted by dmun (Post 31340)
If it runs fine, let it be. (snip) Half measures are worse than useless. (snip)

I totally agree. Two additional thoughts:

1. When it does start running erratically, send to an experienced repairman. Will cost a bit of money but should repay you in years of reliable service.

2. Often some of the holes in which the gear axles (pivots) rotate will need re-bushing to restore a round shape, and in many cases restore their position relative to the mating gear. This is something that requires professional equipment and experience; This is something that is often required to restore both good timekeeping and reliability to an old mechanical clock.

mannextdoor 05-01-2008 07:40 PM

Re: Clock Question
You should never use anything but clock oil on a clock. It is very expensive and you don’t use much. I ruined a good clock trying to do it myself. Have it cleaned and oiled by a professional. Much cheaper in the long run.

gjbingham 05-01-2008 08:40 PM

Re: Clock Question
David's the clockmeister. Now my turn - I've got a pendulum clock that quit chiming - no visible name. I think it may be German. It's got a lever that turns on/off the chimes, or more specifically, stops the hammers from hitting the rods/bars chime when turned off. Now, the entire set of hammers rise and drop, but stop about 3 mm short of hitting the bars in both settings. The clock's about 20 years old, but spent most of its life in a box or hanging quietly on a wall. I think it last worked in Italy, about 10 years ago.

On the good side, I used to hide my rent money in there years ago. Recently, my wife found 400,000 Lire in there. On the bad side, you have to go to a Banco di Italia to exchange it for Euros.

Sound like I'm missing something easy with the clock, or should it go to a pro?

I know, I know. I got so tired of answering dental questions at the supermarket that I hid if I saw someone I knew. Thanks dmun. No requirement to answer.

SpringJim 05-01-2008 11:03 PM

Re: Clock Question
Thanks all....good answers at a great price.

nissanneill 05-02-2008 05:22 AM

Re: Clock Question
Surprise surprise,
I've got one of those grandfather clocks as well. I inherited it from my father. (Actually, it is a lovelly piece of quality furniture but my sister literally could not fit it in her house and it was not brother style). It would chime on the 1/4 hr but not strike the actual hour for around 2 years until it decided to stop completely.
It should be ready to be picked up from the specialist repairer after a complete rebuild. It is around 30 years of age, has a rather large German movement and cannot be replaced except by a cheap small throw away when faulty mechanism. I am expecting around Au$4-500 all up but I guess that it is worth it..


dmun 05-02-2008 07:09 AM

Re: Clock Question
Lets see. Modern German chiming clocks have five (or nine) hammers. The strike is controlled by a lever that lifts three of them to play a chord at the hour. It could be that this lever isn't dropping down all the way. It could also be a lever that controls strike/silent is out of whack: Strike silent mechanisms are notoriously wonky, and have been since the 18th century. Sometimes you see a clock where there's something wrong with the strike, and it's stopped in the hammer up position, but the clock carries on chiming on the remaining hammers.

When these modern German clocks as sold, you get a bunch of guff about "heirlooms of the future", but in truth, no matter how fine a piece of furniture they are housed in, they are made like toaster ovens, and after about fifteen years of service, they are, well, toast. They are not amenable to the kind of restorations you can do on a clock made before the first world war, mostly because of metallurgical shortcuts.

BrianShaw 05-02-2008 07:27 AM

Re: Clock Question

Originally Posted by gjbingham (Post 31367)
I know, I know.

If you don't mine... a dental question that I can't seem to get anyone to take seriously: does it really matter wheter one brushes and flosses, or flosses then brushes?

Also, if you don't mind a fellow clockmeister butting in... the answer to your question is "maybe." If you want to find out if it can resume normal operation as a chiming clock, an experienced clockmeister can do that for you. As Dmun states, there are limitations based on the quality and parts availability for some of the movements in those clocks. Sometimes they can; sometimes they can't. In some situations it is cheaper, easier, and a better long-term solution to replace the movement altogether with a new movement.

jengineer 05-02-2008 08:20 AM

Re: Clock Question
floss then brush

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