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Caring for an Antique Clock - Part II
by Bob Brooke

 

Clocks, especially antique ones, are delicate instruments. Caring for them properly helps maintain not only their looks but their working order. While you should regularly have the works of an antique clock maintained or repaired by a professional horologist, you can easily take care of the exterior of your clock by yourself.

Care of Brass Clock Accents
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 Clock 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.

Moving an Antique Clock
In today’s mobile world, it seems people move a lot. If you own any antique clocks, you’ll want to take extra precautions when moving them, no matter how small they are. By following these procedures, you’ll ensure that your clocks get to their new location safely and in working order:

Using a piece of masking take mark the weights as you remove them―left, center, right―and wrap them separately to prevent scratching if needed.
Remove and wrap the pendulum, you neither want this part scratched nor bent.
• Ideally chain-driven clocks should be halfway run down with equal lengths of chain on each side, this way you improve the chance that the chain will not come off its sprocket. Tie off each set, then place the chains in a old sock to keep them in position and to prevent scratching or interference to the inside of the movement.
Cable driven clocks are better run completely down, this allows the cable to be completely off the drum and will prevent them from tangling. The cables can then loosely be wrapped around a piece of cardboard with some masking to hold them in place. Some care is needed not to kink the cables.
A rubber band can be used hold the hammers together, and a foam block can be used prevent the chime rods rattling. Tubular chimes must be removed and wrapped to prevent damage.
• Remove any decorative finials, door-lock key, and/or winding key and place them carefully aside. You don’t want to get to your destination and have to call a locksmith to open the door.
• Once secured and prepared, your clock can be moved like any piece of furniture.

This list is only meant as a guide, and your clock may need other items secured. You may want to check with the manufacturer or a qualified repairman for specific details unique to your clocks.

Read Caring for an Antique Clock Part I for more ways to keep your antique clock in tip-top shape.

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