Your restored clock should give you many years of service if you follow some easy instructions when setting up and running your clock. The following instructions are a general guideline, and may not address your clock specifically; so, do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I want you to be happy with your timepiece and enjoy being the caretaker of a small piece of history.
Floor, Shelf and Mantel Clocks - Typical Setup:
Carefully place the clock where it is to be used, on a stable, level surface. Depending on the type of clock, open the front or back door, hang the pendulum on the suspension hook, and close the door. On some shelf clocks, the suspension hook may be hidden from view, just behind the bottom of the dial. You can use a small bubble level, placed on a flat, horizontal clock surface to check that the clock is level from side-to-side and front-to-back. For rear door mantle clocks, lift one side of the clock gently between one or two inches, then quickly set it down (don’t bang the case), to start the pendulum swinging. With the clock ticking, ensure that it is “in-beat.” Setting a clock in-beat is discussed later in these instructions.
Wall Clocks - Typical Setup:
Choose the proper size wood screw (typically a #8, 10 or 12) to fit the hanger at the top back of the clock, and long enough to go securely through the wall into a stud. If drywall hangers are being used, make certain they are properly installed, and will support the weight of the clock. Secure the screw into the wall, angled slightly upward, and hang the clock. Open the front door and hang the pendulum on the hook (on many clocks the hook is behind the dial), ensure the clock is hanging plumb, give the pendulum a swing, and the clock will start ticking. Move the bottom of the case slightly to the left or right until ticking rhythm is even (see placing a clock “In Beat”). If there is a beat scale installed on the case backboard, just beneath the pendulum, move the case so the tip of the pendulum points to zero when at rest. This will ensure the clock is hung truly vertical or “plumb” on the wall. If holes are available inside the case, use one to secure the bottom of the case to the wall. This is helpful to keep the clock from tipping on the wall when the door is open. If no hole is available, place a small finishing nail into the drywall against the clock case, on the left side, near the bottom. The nail will prevent the case from sliding to the left when the door is opened. A small pencil mark can also be made on the wall to note the correct case position once the clock is in beat.
Weight Driven Clocks:
Place the clock where it is to be used, on a stable, level surface. You can use a small bubble level to check that the clock is level side-to-side and front-to-back. If dealing with a wall clock, do not use drywall anchors to hang the clock. Securing a weight clock to a wall joist is always recommended. Unhook the weight cable(s) from the rubber band
keeping tension on them. Take care not to let the cables slip off of the pulleys. Carefully hang the weight(s) and place them in position in the weight channels. Using the supplied crank, crank the weights to their upper position. When you get near the top of the weight channel, wind slowly so as not to jam the weights into the top of the case or the movement seatboard; this can damage your movement. Hang the pendulum on the suspension hook (on many clocks the hook is behind the dial), give the pendulum a swing, and the clock will start ticking (see the section on placing the clock “In Beat”). For tall case clocks, a general rule-of-thumb to prevent overwinding is to wind the weights until the top of the weight reaches the top of the door opening.
Setting the Hands:
This section contains general rules to follow to prevent possible damage to the movement when the type of movement installed is in question or unknown.
When setting the clock to time, move the minute hand, pausing at each hour (and half-hour for some clocks) for the clock to strike. If your movement is a “rack and snail” style, it is not necessary to wait for each strike operation to complete before moving the minute hand. This is because with the rack and snail architecture, the strike count will never get out of sync with the hour hand position on the dial unless the hour hand is deliberately moved.
As a rule, never move the hands counterclockwise past 6 or 12 as this can damage certain movements. Some clocks are equipped with what was known as a “Turn-Back” movement, which allow you to turn the hands backwards. Some of the clocks may indicate this on their factory instruction label, if present. However, please call me if you have a question regarding this. If your clock chimes every fifteen minutes, many movements of this type are designed to allow the minute hand to be turned backwards. However, some are not! If you are not certain, it is always safest to simply turn the minute hand clockwise only.
WHEN IN DOUBT, ALWAYS TURN THE MINUTE HAND CLOCKWISE TO SET THE TIME!
Winding - Eight Day clock:
Wind the clock once per week, preferably on the same day each week as it’s easier to develop the habit. Turn the key with a smooth motion, stopping when the spring quickly tightens. American clocks need approximately 10 to 13 turns of the key to run the clock for a week. European makes have shorter springs and typically require fewer turns. With each turn of the key, always ensure the key has locked and won’t fly backwards before releasing it after each half turn. In almost all cases, the left winding arbor controls the strike mainspring and, the right arbor winds the time mainspring. If equipped with 15-minute chimes, typically the left arbor controls the hour strike, the center arbor controls the time, and the right arbor controls the chiming.
Winding - One Day clock:
Wind the clock once each day, preferably at about the same time each day. Turn the key with a smooth motion, stopping when the spring begins to feel tight. With each turn of the key, always ensure the key has locked and won’t fly backwards before releasing it after each half turn. The left winding arbor controls the strike mainspring and, the right arbor winds the time mainspring.
Timekeeping Accuracy – General Information:
Antique clocks in general will keep time within 4 minutes per week. Higher quality movements and regulators can keep time within 30 seconds per week or better, if
properly regulated. You will need to do the final regulation once the clock is in its permanent location to achieve this accuracy. To check the clock's accuracy, set the hands to the correct time, let the clock run at least 3 or 4 days, then note the deviation from a reference time piece, typically a cellphone. The main factors causing variations in rate are temperature changes, and the lessening tension of the mainspring as it runs down. See the following sections on regulating the clock.
Regulating the clock - Dial Regulating Arbor:
If applicable, the clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the small adjustment arbor located on the face of the dial, usually located at the top of the dial, or just below the hand shaft. Using the small end of your winding key, turn the arbor toward the Fast on the dial (Advance on foreign clocks) to speed up the clock, or turn it toward Slow (Retard on foreign clocks) to slow it down. Turn the arbor only a about ½ or ¼ turn at a time, then run the clock to evaluate the effect of your change.
Regulating the clock - Pendulum Rating Nut:
If applicable, the clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the rating nut located at the bottom of the pendulum bob. Turning the nut to the right (tighten) speeds up the clock and turning it to the left (loosen) slows it down. In other words, move the pendulum bob up to speed up the clock, or lower it to slow the clock down. Turn the nut only a small amount each time. A general rule-of-thumb is that one turn of the nut (a snap of the index finger and thumb is one turn) typically equals plus or minus 1 minute per day, depending on the direction the nut is turned.
On many American antique parlor and wall clocks (sometimes called “Kitchen” clocks), the alarm is set by turning the disc in the center of the dial. Turn the disc so that numeral of the hour you want the alarm to ring is located under the hour hand. Then wind up the alarm mechanism (usually located in the lower left of the clock case). There is no alarm shutoff mechanism, so when the alarm starts ringing, it will ring until it runs down.
Putting a Clock “In Beat”:
This procedure is not advised for antique floor or tall-case clocks, as more specialized training and tools are generally required.
Swing the pendulum and listen to the sound of the ticking. If the “tick” and “tock” rhythm is evenly spaced with each swing of the pendulum, then the clock is “in beat” do nothing more. However, if one tick sounds like it hangs longer at one side of the pendulum swing than the other, the clock is indeed out-of-beat and may eventually stop. To correct the beat, watch the pendulum carefully and listen. You want to determine the direction the pendulum is swinging, left or right, DURING THE LONG BEAT. For shelf clocks, simply raise one side of the case, or the other until the ticking rhythm becomes even. In general, if the tick sounds long on the left swing, raise the left side of the case, and vice-versa when the pendulum swings to the right. Small pieces of thin card stock can serve as a shim for the case. Using Pennies for shimming also work very well. For wall clocks, simply move the bottom of the case left, or right until the ticking rhythm becomes even.
Some French, German, and modern tall case clocks are equipped with a sliding crutch on the movement called an Automatic Beat Setter. To adjust the beat, simply move the pendulum bob past its normal swing arc until it stops. Then, apply a slight pressure and the crutch will begin to slide. If the crutch will not move, DO NOT FORCE IT; the beat is set in a different manner. Adjust the crutch left or right, release it and listen to the ticking. Repeat the procedure until the ticking rhythm becomes even. If you do not want to shim the case, or if the clock has taken a jolt, knocking it far out of beat, the crutch may require readjustment. Sometimes these same clocks are not equipped with the sliding crutch in which case, please call and I can walk you through the adjustment procedure. If necessary, a house call can be scheduled to correct the problem.
Strike Synchronization using hands (Turn Back Movements Only):
If the strike gets out of synchronization with the hands, wind up the strike spring (left winding arbor), then proceed as follows. Move the minute hand forward to the 12 and allow the clock to strike. Move the minute hand backwards to 15 minutes before the hour. You will hear and feel a faint “Click” from the movement. Now turn the minute hand back to the 12 and allow the clock to strike. Repeat until the correct number of hours are struck, then set the minute hand ahead to the correct time.
Strike Synchronization using the trip wire:
If the strike gets out of synchronization with the hands, wind up the strike spring or weight (left winding arbor), then proceed as follows. Turn the minute hand forward to the 12 and allow the clock to strike. When striking stops, locate and gently push up (or pull down on some clocks) the little wire hanging beneath the dial; the clock will strike, advancing the count. Each time you push (or pull) the wire, the clocks will strike the next hour. Repeat until the correct hour is struck. Then set the minute hand to the correct time.
Strike Sound Adjustment:
The hammer which strikes the gong coil or chime rod(s) may have its hammer shaft bent slightly by hand to position the hammer head closer to, or further from the gong as desired. If the hammer is too close to the coil, the hammer may "double-bounce" on the coil, or simply rest on the coil dampening out the note. Depending on the clock, the gap between the hammer and coil should usually be between 1/16" to no more than 1/8". Caution: Severe or frequent bending of the hammer shaft may cause it to snap.
If your clock does not run:
1) Make sure clock is fully wound. 2) Make sure clock is ticking evenly (In Beat). Make sure the clock is on a stable surface and does not rock. If necessary, shim one or two corners with cardboard or pennies (for a shelf or mantel clock) or slide the bottom of the clock case to left or right (for a wall clock). 3) Make sure the minute hand is not rubbing or coming in direct contact with the hour hand.
If transporting the clock, always remove the pendulum if possible, to prevent damage to the glass or suspension.
Inspection and Lubrication:
Your clock, being a precision mechanism, needs periodic maintenance to keep it running reliably and to extend its useful life. We recommend the following: After using it for three years (in a high traffic public place) or five years (in a home), bring the clock in for inspection. On-site service is always available if the time piece is too large or difficult to move.
During inspection the movement is checked that the mainspring/weight ratchets are secure. The pivots are checked to ensure they appear “wet” indicating the oil hasn’t jelled or evaporated; each pivot is then oiled if needed. The movement is checked for any obvious wear issues that indicate the need of for an overhaul. All of the clocks I sell have had the movements recently overhauled and marked with the date. Lubrication is also rechecked before the clock goes out the door.
Overhauling the Movement:
Mechanical clocks when new, typically require an overhaul approximately every 20 years. The environment in which the clock is used plays a big role in how long it will run between overhauls.
Why your clock won't run forever:
As dust gets into the mechanism, it mixes with the oil and microscopic bits of brass to become an abrasive paste, which causes wear. The longer the clock runs in this condition, the greater the amount of wear. Many clocks have very strong mainsprings which will run the clock for years after the oil has gone bad, causing severe wear to the pivots and bushings in the movement. If your clock stops and you apply oil to make it go again, it will continue to wear badly, because it is still dirty. Shortcuts like cleaning the movement while still assembled, even if using an ultrasonic cleaner, cannot properly clean pivots, bushings, and mainsprings. These techniques merely postpone the need for a proper overhaul.
How we overhauled your clock:
The movement is completely disassembled and the individual parts are ultrasonically cleaned. Arbors are checked for trueness on an instrument lathe. The pivots are polished to a mirror finish or replaced if severely scored or worn. Worn pivot bushings are drilled out of the plates. New bushings are machined and pressed in place. Worn lantern pinion wires are replaced. Mainspring/weight ratchets inspected, lubricated and repaired as needed. Any other necessary repairs are performed to the movement and case. Mainsprings are removed from their barrels, completely stretched out flat, cleaned, inspected and greased, or replaced with new springs as necessary. Repaired movement plates, wheels, and arbors are given a final cleaning-and-inspection before final assembly, then given a final lubrication with high quality, synthetic oils formulated specifically for clocks. Run-in testing is performed for several weeks, or longer to ensure correct operation before being returned to the customer.
Our Work is Warranted:
All overhauled movements are warranted for correct operation for one year after return to their owner. This warranty covers only the cost of additional labor needed to restore correct operation of the timepiece, and is not extended to any additional parts needed except as noted. Damage or failure due to neglect, abuse, the failure of mainsprings, or electrical components (except as noted on the customer invoice) is not covered under the terms of this limited warranty.