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Antique Chime Clocks

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

These instructions apply to many spring-driven quarter-hour chiming clocks.

CONTENTS:
Setup - Pendulum Mantel Clock
Setup - Pendulum Shelf Clock
Setup - Pendulum Wall Clock
Setup - Balance Wheel Mantel Clock
Setting the Hands
Winding - Eight-Day Clock
Clocks With More Than One Chime Melody
Timekeeping Accuracy
Regulating the Clock—Regulating Square
Regulating the Clock—Pendulum Nut
Regulating the Clock—Modern Balance Wheel
Regulating the Clock—Balance Wheel with Pointer

Regulating the Clock—Floating Balance
Adjustments
Chime Synchronization
If Clock Strikes the Wrong Hour
Chime Sound Adjustment
If Clock Does Not Run
Moving the Clock
Maintenance
Three Year Lubrication and Inspection
Overhaul

Setup - Pendulum Mantel Clock: 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.

Setup - Pendulum Shelf Clock: 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 swing, and the clock will start ticking.

Setup - Pendulum Wall Clock: 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.

Setup - Balance Wheel Mantel Clock: This type of clock usually starts by itself upon winding.  If it does not, open the back door and start the balance wheel swinging by either of these two methods: 1) Quickly rotate the clock in the plane of the balance wheel to impart motion to it.  2) With a very soft brush, or, better, a gentle puff of dry air rotate the balance wheel and release it.  It is extremely important that the hairspring to which the balance wheel is connected not become damaged in any way.

Setting the Hands: When setting the clock to time, move the minute hand clockwise, pausing at each quarter hour for the clock to strike.  On modern German chime clocks it is all right to move the minute hand counterclockwise to set the time. This is often a quicker way to set the time, as you won't have to wait while the clock chimes each quarter.

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.  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 chime mainspring (usually the right hand winding square) will often take more force to wind than the other two springs. Most American clocks wind anti-clockwise, European clocks clockwise.

Clocks With More Than One Chime Melody: Change the tune selector only when the clock is not chiming.

Timekeeping Accuracy: This type of clock will be able to keep time within 3 - 7 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.  Pendulum clocks are usually more accurate than balance wheel clocks.

Regulating the Clock—Regulating Square: The clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the small square on the dial.  Turning it toward F speeds up the clock, and turning it toward S slows it down.  The regulating square is turned with the small end of the winding key.  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.

Regulating the Clock—Modern Balance Wheel: The clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the regulator, which is accessible by opening the back door.  In this type of clock, the regulator is a screw near the balance wheel.  With a small screwdriver, move the regulator in the direction needed (towards “F” for faster or towards “S” for slower).  Move it only a small amount each time.

Regulating the Clock—Balance Wheel with Pointer: The clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the regulator, which is accessible by opening the back door.  In this type of clock, the regulator is a pointer behind the balance wheel.  Push the pointer in the direction needed (towards “F” for faster or towards “S” for slower).  Move it only a small amount each time.

Regulating the Clock—Floating Balance: The clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the regulator, which is accessible by opening the back door.  In this type of clock, the regulator is a pointer fastened to the balance wheel itself.  Gently hold the balance wheel with two fingers, and move the regulator in the direction needed (towards “F” for faster or towards “S” for slower).  Move it only a small amount each time.

Adjustments:

Chime Synchronization: The vast majority of chime clocks have self-synchronizing chimes.  If the chime sequence is wrong, it will correct it self within two hours.  If your clock will not automatically synchronize itself and you need assistance, please call us during our normal business hours and we will be happy to help.

If Clock Strikes the Wrong Hour: On most clocks, the hour hand is a friction fit on its shaft, and may be moved around to point to the hour that the clock struck.

Chime Sound Adjustment: The hammers that strike the chime rods may be closer to or further from the rods to make the sound pleasant.  When adjusting a hammer, grasp the shank at the end away from the head in small pair of smooth pliers, and with the other hand or another pair of pliers, bend the shank slightly up or down.  In most cases, the hammer-heads should clear the chime rods by 1/16 to 1/8 inch when at rest.

If Clock Does Not Run: 1) Make sure clock is fully wound.  2) For pendulum clocks, make sure clock is ticking evenly.  Make sure clock is on a stable surface and does not rock.  If necessary shim one or two corners with cardboard (for a shelf or mantel clock), or move bottom of clock to 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 a pendulum 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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