March 1, 2016

How to Care for Your 400-Day Clock

The most vital part of a 400-day clock is the thin wire spring from which the pendulum is suspended. It is very tough and should last indefinitely but will not withstand abuse.  It must be treated with great care so that it does not become twisted or bent.

Unlocking the Pendulum Suspension

The are many different types of pendulum locking mechanisms which allow the pendulum to be released into a free-hanging position. When unlocking the pendulum, caution must be exercised in order to protect the suspension spring from breaking or becoming bent.

Kundo clocks

The pendulum locking lever is under the movement, behind the clock. The pendulum should be carefully held when locking lever is pushed to the side, allowing it be lowered gently into the free position.

Schatz clocks

The pendulum of this clock is unlocked by a lever which is located in the bottom of the clock base. When the lever is moved to an extreme right position, the pendulum is raised and locked; when is moved to the extreme left, the pendulum is lowered to a free position.

A second more secure pendulum lock is located at the back of the movement, in the lower part of the tubular suspension spring guard. This lock can has a thumb screw that should be loosened before adjusting it. The lock should be raised to it highest position before re-tightening the thumb screw.

Locking Suspension Spring Guard clock

Located at the back of the movement, this guard may be held in place by friction or a thumb screw. Many times it is a ring that keeps the bottom block of the suspension spring from moving. Whatever the design, the guard must be raised up and away from the pendulum and secured.

Placing the Clock

The clock should be placed in a stable location free of vibration. Unsteady bookcases or tables are not satisfactory places for your clock. A mantel, a steady piece of furniture, or a wall bracket is a preferable location. Do not place the clock over a heat source or where it will be subject to direct sunlight or drafts.

Leveling the Clock

The surface on which the clock rests does not need to be level. However, the clock itself must be level. You will not need a leveling tool if your clock has a leveling guide in its base. The clock is level when the tip of the pendulum is over the guide or centered in the guide cup.  If the clock base has leveling feet, corrections may be made by raising or lowering one or move of these feet. If the clock does not have leveling feet, you may use card stock to the raise sides of the base in order to level the clock.

Starting the Clock

Carefully rotate the pendulum in either direction, so that it is about one complete turn from dead center, then release it. This will start the pendulum rotating more than what is required. Depending upon the clock, the normal rotation may be as little as ¾ turn or as much as 1½ turn. After the pendulum as rotated for about a half hour, it will have settled into its normal beat. Never rotate the pendulum more than 1½ turns from dead center when starting the clock. This action may result in a permanent twist in the spring which will keep the clock from running.

NOTE: Replacing a twisted or bent suspension spring will require a service fee even if the clock is still under warranty.

Winding the Clock

Many people like to remember to wind their 400-day clock once a year on a special occasion, like a birthday or a wedding anniversary. However, an anniversary clock will steadily loose time as it winds down. Your clock will keep time more accurately if you wind it every two months.  The winding arbor of the clock is on the back of the movement. Using your winding key on the arbor, turn it counter-clockwise to wind the clock. Keep winding until the spring is fully tight. The key will obviously stop when the clock is completely wound.

Keeping the Key Handy

An excellent place to keep the key so that you have it when you need to wind the clock in under the clock base.

Setting the Time

Set the time by moving the minute hand in either direction. The hour hand will automatically follow. If the hour hand does not point exactly to the hour when the minute hand is on the 12, shift its position in either direction until it points to the hour. Don’t be alarmed if the escapement “flutters” when the hands are being moved.

Cleaning the Dome or Case

Clean the glass dome or panels of your clock using a commercial glass cleaner or warm soapy water and rinse. Plastic should be cleaned using only warm, never hot, soapy water and rinse. Dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. When replacing the dome or case, handle the lower portion of the dome or the metal framework of the case. This will help minimize any noticeable fingerprints.

Adjusting for Accurate Timekeeping

If we serviced your clock, it has been calibrated for accurate timekeeping. However, if you are keeping it wound every two months and you find that it is trending fast or slow, you may want to make a minor adjustment to its speed. Bear in mind that having to correct the time of an anniversary clock by 1 or 2 minutes every week may not warrant the need to adjust its speed. If you do make adjustments, use very small corrections so see if it yields better timekeeping.

  • 3 or 4 Ball Pendulum - Near the top of the pendulum is a knurled disk about the size of a quarter. Letters and arrows on the top of the disk indicate which direction will make the clock run faster or slower.  Turning the disk in the direction of “F” or “A” will make the clock run faster. The opposite direction (“S” or “R”) will make it run slower.
  • Disc Pendulum - The disk weights can be moved by turning a threaded rod with a key. Turning the key toward the “F” or “A” will make the clock run faster.  Turning the key toward the “S” or “R” will make it run slower.

Increasing Your Clock’s Lifespan

Like any mechanical device, your clock will need periodic maintenance. After several years, the oil will become oxidized and dirty. It will then no longer protect the clock’s metal parts. Just like on your car, replacing oil is a lot cheaper than replacing parts. Unlike your car, with proper maintenance your clock can easily provide good service to many generations. Consider having your clock serviced again in ten years.

No comments:

Post a Comment