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Clock Care and Service Tips

If you take care of your clocks, they'll give you years of service. Follow these simple guidelines:

Care of Brass

Fine brass accents on time pieces should only be handled with a soft cotton cloth. If you have to touch the weights, pendulum, etc, wipe the touched area to remove all finger prints, smudges and transferred oils. NEVER use abrasive cleaners as permanent damage will result. Polishes should not be used with an any remaining trace might work its way into the movement causing great harm . Entrust this work only to professionals who clean, polish, and then lacquer the parts for years of good looks. We see many items ruined when excess polish worked its way into the delicate mechanism where it acts like a grounding compound quickly causing wear.

Cleaning Glass

Avoid getting glass cleaning products on the brass, painted, or wood surfaces. Spray the cleaner onto the cleaning cloth (soft, clean, cotton cloths work best–an old T-shirt, etc.) and then wipe the glass surfaces on both sides. Never spray the cleaner directly on the clock as the resulting "cloud of chemicals" may invade the protective environment of the mechanism. Never try to clean any glass surface which is reverse-painted, stenciled, or decorated with a decal as these delicate finishes may be permanently damaged. Also make sure you know your "glass" some models of the Lecoultre Atmos clock use both plexiglass and glass on the same unit. My customer tried to use a thinner to remove a sticker residue which etched and clouded what turned out to be plastic.


1. Help the weight while winding by lifting it, only raise the weight with the crank, or a smooth and even downward pull on the chain.

2. Move a clock with a pendulum attached.

3. Polish the brass parts of a clock

4. Set a clock backward unless you know for sure that your clock has a back-wards release setting clutch.

5. Set the hands of a clock while it is striking as this may cause a jammed condition.

6. Swing the pendulum with excess force, or stress the suspension spring due to heavy-handedness.

7. Try to clean the dial of a clock.

8. Wind a clock with a ill-fitting or damaged key.

9. Wind a clock with a sizing key.


1. Set a timepiece in the clockwise direction.

2. Wind a clock to completion.

3. Instead of winding a clock backwards, stop it and restart it at the correct future time.

Preserve the future of your horological antiques today

Clock Tip #1: Setting the Time on a Grandfather Clock

Clock should be level and stationary. Swing the pendulum, and if your clock is straight and level, it should start with an even Tick-Tock sound. Don’t hang the clock in the path of an air conditioner or heating vent which may blow on the pendulum. The Pendulum should arc an equal distance on either side of its center. Tilting clock in one arc direction will produce a TICK-tock, the opposite direction a tick-TOCK. Balance the clock until tick-tocks sound equal in intensity.

When setting the time, move the minute hand (the longer one) to the correct time. DO NOT move the hour hand.

If the clock runs slow, move the pendulum bob up (turn adjustment screw right). If the clock runs fast, move the pendulum bob down (turn adjustment screw to the left).

Remember it takes patience to adust time accurately.

Clock Tip #2: Oiling and Service

Like any precision instrument with moving parts, your wall and mantel clock should be oiled and serviced every 2-3 years and Grandfather clocks every year. The Clock Shop provides expert clock repair and services and is an authorized factory service center for the major clock manufacturers. Call to arrange an in-home service on your grandfather clock or bring your wall, mantel or other type of clock to our shop and protect your investment in time.

Important! Always remove pendulum and weights before moving or transporting your clock. Failure to do so could result in major damage like a broken suspension spring, or cause the clock to be knocked out of beat

Customer Description of Problem:  "I think I overwound the clock. It's wound all the way and the clock won't run."

Most likely problem: In actual fact it is almost impossible to overwind a clock.  Once the coils of a flat mainspring are in firm contact with one another, than the spring can not be physically wound any tighter.  The only way to truly overwind a clock spring is to turn it so tightly that the spring actually breaks.  The most likely problem that ellicits that customer comment is that the lubrication on the mainspring has failed due to age.  As a lubricant ages, it's viscosity slowly rises (it gets thicker).  Eventually a lubricant no longer acts like a lubricant and gets tacky. This causes the coils of the mainspring to physically stick together. In actual fact, it's time for a cleaning /overhaul to remove old lubricant and accumulated dirt, and replace it with fresh lubricant specially designed for clocks.  

Clock Tip #3: Daylight Savings Time?

Daylight Savings Time (or summertime as it is called in many countries) is a way of getting more light out of the day by advancing clocks by one hour during the summer. During Daylight Savings Time, the sun appears to rise one hour later in the morning, when people are usually asleep anyway, and sets one hour later in the evening, seeming to stretch the day longer.

The reason DST works is because its saves energy due to less artificial light needed during the evening hours—clocks are set one hour ahead during the spring, and one hour back to standard time in the autumn. Many countries observe DST, and many do not.

The US begins Daylight Savings Time at 2:00 am local time on the Second Sunday of March and reverts back to Standard Time 2:00am local time the first Sunday in November. DST is not observed in Hawaii or Arizona, except for the Navajo Nation which does observe DST.

Spring forward, Fall backwards!

Remember when setting the time on your clock only move the longer minute hand. DO NOT set the time by moving the shorter hour hand.


Clock Tip #4

Always remove weights and/or pendulum when moving clock to a new location.


~Always Stop to let the clock chime when resetting time.


~Never turn the minute hand backwards.


~Level Clock front-to-back and side-to-side before hanging pendulum and/or weights.


~At daylight saving time (Spring), turn hands forward to correct time. When standard time returns in Fall, stop clock for one hour, then restart at the proper time.


~Clock too slow? Turn pendulum adjuster to the right (clockwise) or up for a cuckoo clock.


~Clock too fast? Turn pendulum adjuster to the left (counter-clockwise)or down for a cuckoo clock.

Customer Description of Problem:  "My clock was just cleaned and it won't run for more than a few minutes even when fully wound. Also, I checked it with a level and it is level on the wall/mantle"

Most Likely Problem:  My first suspicion when I hear this comment is question whether the clock is in beat.  A clock being in or out of beat has nothing to do with a clock being level.  First, to explain what "in beat" means.  A clock is in beat when ticks and tocks occur with the same time interval between each tick and tock.  You can listen to a clock's ticking and make a pretty close approximation of an "in beat" condition.  If you have trouble hearing the difference between in and out of beat, purposely tilt the clock slightly left or right of level.  It's easier to hear different time intervals when the out of beat condition is exaggerated.  Sometimes, a clock can be knocked out of beat by overswinging the pendulum. Also, moving a clock from one location to another without immobilizing the pendulum can knock a clock out of beat.  After a clock is serviced, I always give my customers a reproducible method of setting up a clock so it will automatically be in beat when set up in the home.  Most times, this means setting the clock up to be in beat when it is perfectly level. I will even supply a bubble level to help the customer level their clock in the home.  Some wall clocks have a degrees scale attached to the clock behind the tip of the pendulum. In such cases, I will set the clock up to be in beat when the tip of the pendulum is centered on this convenient scale. 
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