Mechanical clocks' moving parts are subject to wear. Modern clock oils should provide lubrication for 4-5 years. Clocks allowed to run "dry" will suffer accelerated wear as the mainsprings or weights are powerful enough to continue driving the trains even after the lubricant has lost effectiveness. When the wear has progressed too far, clock operation will become erratic and overhaul will be required. Typically we find that clocks may need repair or overhaul at the 10-20 year mark.
Dust, escpecially dust from drywall work, is very hard on clocks. Dust will mix with clock oil to form an abrasive slurry that will rapidly wear bearing surfaces. You might consider relocating your clock before you begin a remodeling project. Your clock repair shop can thoroughly clean and lubricate your clock to prevent accelerated wear.
Checking the "beat"
Your clock needs to be "in beat" to perform at its best. Make sure the clock is level on the shelf, or hanging straight on the wall, and listen for an even "tick...tock...tick...tock" sound. If the clock is not "in beat" you will hear an uneven "ticktock.......ticktock...." You will need to raise one side or the other to get the clock in beat, again listening for an even "tick...tock...tick...tock" rhythm.
For minor adjustments, you can shim the shelf clock with coins, or mark where the wall clock needs to hang to be in beat.
Your clock repair shop can help with more difficult situations.
Moving your clock
Always remove the pendulum or pendulum bob and weights (if equipped) before moving your clock. This will avoid damaging the suspension spring and the risk of damage to the case from swinging weights. You will need to secure the chain or cable from slipping off the sprocket or unspooling on the winding drum and to keep track of which weight belongs on which chain or cable.
Your clock repair shop can help if needed.
We make housecalls in the Texas Hill Country.
Controlling the rate
Mechanical clocks get their energy from springs or weights, and the clock mechanism allows the energy to escape at a controlled rate. In a clock with a pendulum, the length of the pendulum determines the rate -- the longer the pendulum, the slower the rate. Most large clocks have a rating nut at the bottom of the pendulum which allows the owner to raise or lower the bob, speeding up or slowing down the rate. Mantle clocks may have through-the-dial adjusting arbors which serve the same purpose. Balance wheel clocks (with hairspring and an oscillating balance wheel) generally have a screw-type adjustment. Your clock will be regulated in the shop, but may need slight adjustment once in your home.
Setting the time and synchronizing the strike
To set the correct time, move the minute hand
clockwise, never counterclockwise, pausing at each chiming or striking point to let the chime or strike run. Although it is safe in some modern clock movements, you should never move the minute hand counter-clockwise in antique mechanical clocks to avoid damaging the strike or chime systems. An easy method for setting the time is to stop the pendulum and restart it when time "catches up" to the time shown by the hands.
If you find the strike count is not synchronized with the time shown, you may move the hour hand to match the hour just struck. The hour hand is free to slip on most clocks. Be careful not to let the hour and minute hands get crossed, which will stop the clock.
Never force either hand... they should move smoothly. Binding is a sign that the clock may need attention.
Should you have questions about your clock, please call to discuss your situation.
We can often help you solve the problem yourself over the phone. And we make housecalls in the Texas Hill Country.
Erik Funk can be reached at 830.258.6093 or 703.906.4272.
Many people have questions about how to maintain their treasured clocks. Here are the answers to just a few questions - and at the bottom of the page are links to basic instructions on caring for your clock. If you don't find the answer to your question, please call to discuss your clock.
Click below for helpful guides that you can print for reference (each opens in a new window)