March 1, 2016

How to Care for Your Wall Clock

A Place for Your Clock

Your wall clock should be located in a place in your home that is free of extremes in temperature or humidity. For this reason, do not set your clock above or beside a fireplace, stove, or other source of home heating. Do not place the clock where it will be subjected to direct sunlight or drafts. Cuckoo clock can be particularly sensitive to drafts.

Make sure that the nail or screw on which your clock hangs is sufficient to support the clock.  Depending upon the weight of the clock, you may consider supporting it on a stud in the wall.

Leveling the Clock

The clock case must be level. When we return your wall clock, we will tell which part of the case should be used as point of leveling.  Depending upon the clock it will be the floor of the clock or some other convenient horizontal edge.  A small spirit level (or bubble level) will help with this task.

Hanging the Pendulum

After your clock is in a safe and level location, the pendulum may be installed. Open the case a look for a rod in the center of the clock with a hook at the bottom end. Hang the pendulum on this hook.

Remove the pendulum before moving the clock to another location. The pendulum bob is heavy and can damage the clock if allowed to swing freely.

Winding the Clock

Depending upon whether your clock is spring or weight driven, use the following instructions that are appropriate to your clock.

  • Key wound - The direction in which to turn its mainspring arbors will depend upon your clock. You will hear clicking when you are turning it in the correct direction. Do not attempt to force the key as this will damage your clock.
  • Chain wound - The chains must be pulled straight down; not at at an angle. Pulling the chains toward you will cause them to slip out of their ratchet wheel. If this happens, have a clockmaker reseat the chain for you.
  • Spring driven - Unlike a watch, a spring-driven clock can be wound without fear of overwinding. Wind each arbor until the key stops.
  • Weight driven - Slow down as the weight approaches the top. As soon as you hear the weight bump against the top, STOP. Further winding will jam the weight and put tension on the clock that will prohibit it from running. Under no condition attempt to pull the weight down. This can severely damage to your clock. Get a clockmaker to lower the weight for you.

Setting the Time

Rotate the minute hand clockwise until you arrive at the current time. Each time the clock begins to chime, pause until the chiming stops. Continued turning of the minute hand while the clock is chiming will put the chime out of synchronization with the time of the clock.

If your clock chimes on the quarter hour, do not reverse the minute hand past the 3, 6, 9, or 12 hour markers on the dial.  If it chimes on the half hour, do not try to reverse the minute hand past the 6 or 12.  If it only chimes on the hour, do not try to push the minute hand backwards past the 12.  As soon as you feel resistance in turning the minute hand backwards, STOP. Forcing the minute hand backwards can damage your clock.

Starting the Clock

After the clock is wound and the time is set, you can start the clock by putting the pendulum in motion. This is done by giving the pendulum a small push to one side.

Adjusting for Accurate Timekeeping

After you have started your clock, you may discover that it is running too fast or slow. You can improve the accuracy of your clock by following this procedure: After a week’s time (or sooner if the clock is gaining or losing time rapidly), compare its time with that of an accurate time source. This source may be an electric clock or a quartz watch. If your clock’s incorrect you may adjust its speed using one of the following appropriate methods.

  • Using the key for the speed arbor, turn the arbor toward the “F” is the clock is running slow or toward the “S” if the clock is running too fast.
  • Turn the knurled wheel on the pendulum to the left if the clock is running to fast or to the right if the clock is running too slow.
  • Slide the bob down the pendulum rod if the clock is running to fast or up the rod if the clock is running too slow.
Reset the hands to the correct time and let the clock run for another week without further correction. As the clock’s time becomes more accurate, your adjustments will become smaller. Each time you make an adjustment, make a note of it (1/4 turn, 1/2 turn, 1mm, etc.). Keeping track of your changes will help you achieve the best accuracy your clock can provide.

Don’t expect your mechanical clock to be as accurate as a quartz watch. If your clock is accurate within two minutes for a week, you have a well regulated clock. Simply nudge the minute hand to the correct time when needed or when you wind the clock.

Increasing Your Clock’s Lifespan

Like any mechanical device, your clock will need periodic maintenance. After fives years, the oil will be oxidized and dirty and will 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.

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