FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Clocks

Q. My clock stops after running a short time. What’s wrong with it?

A.It is very important that clocks with mechanical movements be cleaned and oiled regularly! If you’re using the clock on a daily basis, it should be serviced every few years. Over time, the oil in the movement becomes gummy. When this happens, in addition to causing additional drag on the gear train, the oil holds dirt and metal shavings that act as an abrasive on the brass plates of the movement. Eventually, this causes the bearing holes to become worn and out-of-round. That is when the clock stops — however by that time, the damage has been done. Such damage is repaired by inserting a new bushing into the worn bearing hole. It is important that this work is undertaken only by a qualified clockmaker, simply ask John from Melbourne Antique Clocks for a free quote.

Q. Can you over wind a clock?

A.The answer is technically ‘no.’ However, when the clock seems ‘overwound,’ it is in fact jammed because the main spring grease has lost its lubricating properties due to wear, age and oxidation. The grease becomes sticky and will need to be cleaned and removed from the clock, with the barrels and main springs serviced. Below is an example (on the left hand side) of a main spring in poor condition. The one on the right has been cleaned and greased and is ready to be put into the clock.

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Above is an example of a main spring in poor condition

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Above this a fully restored Main Spring

Q  What exactly is involved in a clock service?

A. Providing nothing is missing or broken, servicing your clock starts with dissassembling the clock down to every nut and wheel, flirt, lever, bracket, etc. Then it is cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner. The pivots are polished, the main springs replaced if metal fatigue has set in and it is obvious they need replacing. Pivot holes are re-bushed. Every part is inspected and meticulously cleaned and polished. Wheels are checked for end shake, and side shake. The clock then goes through its final clean and is skilfully re-assembled. The striking and time is checked on a test bench for a minimum 2 weeks. Once the workshop is satisfied that it has met our strict standards, the clock is then ready.

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A basic example of a clock being prepared for a service.

Q  Who should I take my clock to have it repaired or serviced?

A.Your precious clock is part of your everyday life. You probably glance it more than once a day, and it often invokes memories of your home and family. It will probably be bequeathed to your children or other loved ones. Since the clock is such a significant part of your life and personal history, it makes sense to ensure the service or restoration is completed by a fully qualified clockmaker or horologist. Melbourne Antique Clocks are accredited and members of various industry bodies, qualified to undertake your service or repair.

Q  What is a Horology?

A. Horology is simply the science that studies time. A clockmaker or watchmaker is known as a horologist.

Q  What does pivot polishing mean?

A. Below are two examples of pivots. The one on the left-hand side is badly worn. The one on the right hand side has been re-pivoted and is highly polished, ready to go into your clock.

Q  I am moving, what is the best way to move my antique clock?

A. Because antique clocks are one-of-a-kind and can easily be damaged during transport, we recommend that you employ a clockmaker. We have extensive experience in shipping clocks and know how to secure your clock for a safe transport to your new home. Ask John from Melbourne Antique Clocks for help.

Q Can I move my clock hand backwards in daylight savings?

A. Simple answer, ‘NO!!!’ Never move the clock hands backwards. Always move the clock hands forward. Moving them backwards puts the chimes and strike out of synchronisation with your time, and causes damage inside the clock movement.

Q What does the Pendulum do and do all antique clocks need one?

A. A pendulum is comparable to your heart. It drives the clock by allowing power to be released at a precise rate. The potential energy, stored in the weights, is evenly converted into kinetic energy much like the beat of your heart circulates blood throughout your body. Longer pendulums swing slower than shorter pendulums.

Not all clocks require a pendulum to provide power; some clocks have a small wheel that oscillates against a spring. This is similar to how a watch works and is called the ‘balance wheel’ method.

Q What is an Ultrasonic cleaner?

A. Ultrasonic cleaning combines the sciences of engineering and chemistry, working together to provide unsurpassed cleaning. Ultrasonic cleaning occurs when ultra-high frequency sound waves are passed through a cleaning solution, creating cavitation. Cavitation is the implosion of microscopic bubbles collapsing into themselves. This creates a high-energy vacuum effect which safely pulls debris, foreign particles and contaminants from the surfaces being cleaned. With ultrasonic cleaning, both the exterior and interior surfaces, including crevices are thoroughly cleaned.

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