Ten tips for clock owners

1. If your pendulum clock is not running well check that it is in beat. The tick should be even.  Tip first one side of the clock then the other to hear the sound of the tick change.  Experiment till it is even.  You can put a little packing under one side of the case but if the clock only ticks evenly when at a crazy angle, ask your clock repairer to make a simple adjustment.

2.  Never spray oil in your clock or any product like WD40.  This will attract dust and in time clog up the mechanism and stop the clock.  Oil should only be applied to the pivots and should be left to your repairer when the clock is serviced.  Grandad’s tip of a bowl of paraffin in the bottom of the clock may not do any harm but neither will it do much good!

3.  Wind clocks carefully and be sure that you can feel the positive click of the ratchet when you turn the key. Do not let go of the key if you cannot feel that the click has engaged.

4.  As a rule only wind the minute hand forward to change the time and then wait for each chime or strike to finish before moving on.

5.  If the hour chime does not correspond with the hour hand there may be a lever or string in the clock to allow you to continue striking the hours, without moving the hands, to allow the striking to ‘catch up’. Otherwise it is necessary to carefully move the minute hand round while the clock is striking and catch up in this way.  The hour hand is often a friction fit and can be moved easily but be careful!  On more modern ‘rack striking’ clocks this problem will not occur but on ‘countwheel striking’ clocks it can happen if the striking spring runs out before the going spring.  The easy solution for an eight day clock is to wind the clock twice
a week.

6.  Do not try to clean silvered dials.  You will only damage the finish.  A good quality wax polish can be applied to wooden cases.

7 Always remove the pendulum (if it has one) when you transport the clock.
On some clocks there is a locking device to stop the pendulum swinging or the balls rotating on an Anniversary clock.

8.  Avoid putting a clock on any surface that may be affected by heat or vibration.

9. Be aware that on a chiming clock the left spring is for the hour strike, the middle spring

for the going and the right spring for the chiming.  This spring will always be stronger and stiffer.

10.  If you have a valuable clock keep a photograph of it for security purposes.

Horological miscellany

Did you know?

1. A watch and many clocks tick 157,680,00 times per year. They should be regularly serviced!

2.Most clocks are powered by springs, weights or electricity but other sources of power are possible such as gravity (the weight of the clock itself), changes of temperature or water.

3.Strictly speaking a clock that doesn’t strike should be called a timepiece. 
The word ‘clock’ comes from the French ‘cloche’, a bell.

4. The first clocks were used in monasteries not to tell the time but to ring a bell at regular intervals for services.

5. Many old clocks gave much more information than simply the hours, minutes and seconds.  Many were fitted with alarms, date mechanisms, tide indicators and, particularly important before the advent of electricity or street lighting, the phases of the moon.  Mechanisms that repeated the last hour struck when a cord was pulled were useful at night.

6.All mechanical clocks have an ‘escapement’ (the tick tock) which ‘drip feeds’ the power to the train and the hands.  The impulse from the escapement keeps the balance wheel rotating backwards and forwards  (on a clock with a hairspring) or the pendulum swinging. These determine the timekeeping of the clock.