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Antique Strike Clocks

"Old World Quality and Craftsmanship©"
BSR GROUP, INC.
ON-LINE CLOCK CLINIC

This section applies to time only or time and strike clocks.

CONTENTS:
Mantel Clock Setup
Shelf Clock Setup
Wall Clock Setup
Setting the Hands
Winding - Eight-Day Clock
Winding - One-Day Clock
Timekeeping Accuracy
Regulating the Clock - Regulating Square
Regulating the Clock - Pendulum Nut
Strike Synchronization Using the Clock Hands
Strike Synchronization Using Setting Wire
Strike Sound Adjustment
If Your Clock Does Not Run
Moving the Clock
Maintenance
Overhaul

 

 

These instructions apply to key-wind pendulum clocks that are time only, or that have hour strike, or hour and half-hour strike.  While written specifically for “Connecticut” type spring driven clocks, many portions are applicable to German and French movement.  The strike synchronization instructions apply to count wheel striking, which is not self-synchronizing.

 Mantel Clock Setup: Place clock on table with back facing you.  Open the back door, hang the pendulum on the hook, and close the door.  Carefully place the clock where it is to be used, on a stable, level surface.  Lift one side of the clock gently two inches, and then put it down, to start the pendulum swinging.

 Shelf Clock Setup: Place the clock where it is to be used, on a stable, level surface.  Open the front door and hang the pendulum on the hook (on many clocks the hook is behind the dial), give the pendulum a gentle swing, and the clock will start ticking. 

Wall Clock 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.  Secure the screw into the wall, angled upward at a 45-degree angle, and hang the clock.  Open the front door and hang the pendulum on the hook (on many clocks the hook is behind the dial), give the pendulum a swing, and the clock will start ticking.  Move the bottom of the case to the left or right until ticking is even (or if there is a beat scale beneath the pendulum, move the case so the pendulum points to zero when at rest).  Secure bottom of case to wall so clock is stable. 

Setting the Hands: 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.

Winding - Eight-Day Clock: Wind the clock once per week, preferably on the same day each week.  Turn the key with a smooth motion, stopping when the spring is tight (approximately 7 turns after one week of running).  Never let the key snap back in your hand, always release it gently after each half turn.  Make sure the clock is fully wound, so keep turning the key until the spring is obviously tight.  The left square winds the strike mainspring and, the right square winds the time mainspring.  Most American clocks wind anti-clockwise, European clocks clockwise.

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 is tight.  Never let the key snap back in your hand, always release it gently after each half turn.  The left square winds the strike mainspring and the right side winds the time mainspring.  Most American clocks wind anti-clockwise, European clocks clockwise.

Timekeeping Accuracy: This type of clock will be able to keep time within 4 minutes per week.  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, and then let the clock run at least 3 or 4 days.  The main factors causing variations in rate are temperature changes, and the lessening tension of the mainspring as it runs down.  Once the clock is regulated to keep good time, you will need to set the hands whenever the time is off by more than a few minutes - perhaps every week or two.

Regulating the Clock - Regulating Square: The clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the small square on the upper face of dial that is turned with the small end of the winding key.  Turning it toward “F” speeds up the clock, and turning it toward “S” slows it down.  Turn the square only a small amount each time.

Regulating the Clock - Pendulum Nut: The clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the nut at the bottom of the pendulum.  Turning the front of the nut to the right speeds up the clock, and turning it to the left slows it down (in other words move the nut up to speed up, or down to slow down).  Turn the nut only a small amount each time. 

Strike Synchronization Using the Clock Hands: If the strike gets out of synchronization with the hands, wind up the strike spring (left winding square), and then proceed as follows.  Move the minute hand forward to approximately two minutes before the hour.  (The strike train makes a noise called the warning.)  Move the minute hand backwards to 15 minutes before the hour.  The clock will strike.  Repeat until the number of hours struck is one less than the hour that the hour hand points to.

Strike Synchronization Using Setting Wire: If the strike gets out of synchronization with the hands, wind up the strike spring (left winding square), and then proceed as follows.  Turn the minute hand forward to the next hour.  When striking stops, push up (or pull down on some clocks) the little wire hanging beneath the dial and let the clock strike.  Each time you push (or pull) the wire, the clocks will strike the next hour.  Repeat until the correct hour is struck. 

Strike Sound Adjustment: The hammer which strikes the gong may have its shank bent slightly by hand to make the hammer head closer to or further from the gong, to make it sound pleasant.

If Your Clock Does Not Run: 1) Make sure clock is fully wound.  2) Make sure clock is ticking evenly.  Make sure clock is on a stable surface and does not rock.  As necessary, shim one or two corners with cardboard (for a shelf or mantel clock), or move bottom of clock toward the left or right (for a wall clock).  3) Make sure minute hand is not caught on hour hand.

Moving the Clock:
Always remove the pendulum before transporting the clock, to prevent damage.

Maintenance: As with any precision mechanism, your clock needs periodic maintenance to keep it running reliably and to give it long life.  We recommend the following:

Three Year Lubrication and Inspection: After three years of operation, your clock should be inspected and lubricated.  We will check the overall condition of the movement, including the mainsprings, dirt deposits on the face of each wheel, and on each pivot, and excessive wear or movement (end-shake) of each wheel arbor.  Assuming each of the foregoing is within operating standards, we will lubricate each pivot and other points of contact using specially formulated clock/watch oil.  We will provide a written evaluation of your clock, our observations and recommendations as to when an overhaul should be completed.

Overhaul: Spring driven clocks need overhauling every 5 to 7 years.  The environment in which the clock is used plays a big role in the interval between overhauls.  As dust gets in the mechanism, the oil becomes an abrasive paste that causes wear.  The longer the clock runs in this condition, the more repair the clock will ultimately require.  Clocks have very strong mainsprings that will run the clock for years after the oil has gone bad, causing severe wear to pivots and pivot holes “bushings”.  If your clock stops and you spray it with oil to make it go again, it will continue to wear badly, because it is still dirty.  Shortcuts like cleaning the movement absent disassembly, even using an ultrasonic cleaner, cannot properly clean pivots, bushings, and mainsprings.  These techniques merely postpone the need for a proper overhaul.  During overhaul, the movement is taken apart and cleaned in a specially formulated ultrasonic solution.  Each component is examined for wear and damage, and checked for correct operation.  The necessary work is carried out including repair to pinions, polishing each pivot, replacement of worn bushings, the mainsprings are replaced (a broken mainspring can easily destroy the movement), the mainspring ratchets and lock mechanism are inspected, and the correct alignment and “meshing” of each gear is confirmed.  Each part is again cleaned; each pivot bushing is then cleaned and polished with a sharpened piece of peg-wood.  The movement is then reassembled and lubricated.  Finally, the movement is put into beat (via an electronic beat analyzer) and any adjustments made.  Your clock is “bench tested” for a minimum of two days and regulated for correct timekeeping, then assembled into its case and allowed to run for a minimum of one week.  A written evaluation of the movement, of each observation and any corrective action taken is provided.  This evaluation should be kept with the clock, as it will provide valuable maintenance history for the next repair facility and enhance its value for sale.

A properly maintained clock will, quite literally, run forever.  Each year our facility services many clocks two and even three hundred years of age.

Don’t forget that BSR Group offers complete case/cabinet restoration services.

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