Raindrops In Virginia

Clock Repair & Restoration

Inside a clock is an entire symphony of metal parts that work together as well as much force that is at play. On average depending upon the type of clock, a pendulum cycles around 4,000 to 12,000 times an hour, and there are some parts in a clock that cycle many more times than this. So one could imagine that over the life of a 100 or 200 year old clock the cyclings could be in the late billions or even trillions. Parts can wear out due to metal to metal resistance called friction, especially with harder Steel against softer Brass and so on. This is why clocks come from a manufacturer with lubrication in them.

Most Clock Manufacturers throughout the ages recommend scheduled maintenance every 3-5 years. Over time the lubricants and oils used in a clock to combat friction and wear attract dirt, dry, and become a sticky black varnish that is highly abrasive to the inner workings of the clock movement. Each gear is mounted on a steel axle and each axle is mounted between two lacquer coated brass plates. The lacquer protects against tarnish buildup. The place in the plates where the axle goes into is called a pivot hole. Pivot holes are not lacquered, and because they are not they need lubrication, otherwise tarnish and corrosion will build up there and break off into abrasive particles that act like sandpaper cutting the pivot hole as the clock works.
Proper cleaning and maintenance can keep your timepiece running like new and protect your investment, and a properly trained horologist can make all the difference. There are many variables when cleaning and lubricating any timepiece, and proper steps are crucial for the life of your piece. We see many pieces that have been worked on, and sometimes the simplest things can damage the piece. Though there is one practice we see a great deal that is incredibly damaging to a clock, we feel we must mention.

Under NO circumstances should one ever use WD-40, even as a temporary fix. Yes, it’s an effective lubricant for general household use, hinges and so on, but it’s one of a clock’s worst enemies. It quickly hardens, gums up the movement and can add enough friction to stop the clock in a just few months. It also strips lacquer that is protecting pivot plates from corrosion, and can also run into dials and the clock case structure ultimately staining them and can contaminate the clock cleaning solution when the inevitable time comes for an ultrasonic cleaning. Other oils commonly found in a home are sewing machine oil and 3 in 1 oil. These might work for a while but are more viscous and will run out faster. They could even stain dials and are not recommended.