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Routine Care

Care of Antique clocks

The main thing is to remember is that antique clocks are exactly that, antique and as such need special care and attention. They are in effect very delicate scientific instruments and will not function properly without proper management. They come in three main types, grandfather clocks more correctly known as longcase clocks, wall clocks, and the third main type are mantel/ bracket clocks. All antique clocks have their own individual personalities with no two clocks being exactly the same. But you will need to follow certain rules to ensure that your antique clock runs smoothly. Think of yourself as the curator in a museum with one exhibit.

 If you have a pendulum clock, you must make sure that it is on a perfectly level rigidly fixed surface.
 Because they are mechanical timepieces that need to be kept lubricated they must be kept away from extremes of heat, such as over wood burning stoves, radiators or direct sunlight. Conversely clocks should never be in a damp environment as dampness will cause rusting of the steel parts. The ideal relative humidity for clocks is 40% to 65%.
 If you need to move the hands of a clock such as during the time change always only move the minute hand clockwise, never anti clockwise. You will also need to wait for each strike to occur. (However, if the minute hand is ahead of time when the winding day comes around, can be moved back a couple of minutes but only when it is between numerals 8 & 7 or 2 & 1.)
 Never move a clock with the pendulum attached, always remove the pendulum.
 French black slate – marble clocks are very popular. Sections of these are held together with plaster of Paris. I have seen so many of these clocks irreparably damaged because they were lifted from the top or middle sections, only to fall apart. Always lift from the bottom and so supporting the whole weight of the clock.
 Winding: For spring driven clocks always wind them very gently and smoothly but fully. We have all heard the story about over winding clocks, this is a myth. They must be fully wound for proper performance. However, this doesn’t apply to weight driven clocks, such as longcase clocks or Vienna regulators. The weights should be wound up to a point where there is clearance between the pulleys and the seatboard, i.e. they must not be fully wound to the top where the pulleys make contact with the underside of the seatboard, otherwise the cord will be put under strain and will break. Most clocks are eight day clocks, so will need winding once a week. My advice is to pick a time on a certain day and always wind at approximately this time on that day. Sunday is a traditional day for winding clocks and I do it around midday as neither hand would block a winding hole.
 Regulation (i.e. timekeeping) is done by adjusting the length of the pendulum. Turn the rating nut down to lengthen the pendulum which slows the clock down, and turning it up shortens the pendulum to speed it up. On French clocks there is a regulating square at the 12 o’clock position which when turned clockwise will speed the clock up and visa versa.