Clocks are familiar objects which can not only be works of art but are also special-purpose machines requiring care and maintenance to perform their intended function. They exist in a variety of scales; from large turret or stable clocks, to grandfather, bracket and carriage clocks. Well-maintained clocks will give years of pleasure but even the best maintained clocks will experience wear and parts may eventually need repair or replacement if the clock is to continue to function. Fortunately, many of the most common causes of damage and deterioration to clocks can be avoided by following some simple guidelines.
Winding should always be done regularly and preferably about the same time of day for day-running clocks (30 hours or less). or on the same day of the week for week-running clocks (8-day). Always use a well-fitting and appropriate key. For Mantle clocks use a ‘butterfly’ key and for longcase clocks and other large mantle or bracket clocks use a crank key. Wind gently, steadily and fully, being especially careful not to bang the weights against the underside of the clock. If you are using a spring-driven clock, be careful not to come to a sudden stop at the end of winding. It is helpful to count the number of turns it takes to fully wind a clock and to use this number as a guide each time you wind the clock.
Setting the hands and any other indicators such as day, date, month, moon phase, complex striking etc needs particular care. For time pieces or striking clocks, never turn the hands backwards without proper advice. Instead, stop the clock and wait until the time catches up with the that shown on the dial and then re-start it. As with winding, hand-setting should be done slowly and gently, always allowing a striking clock to complete striking before moving the hands on. Only use the minute hand for setting and never attempt to move the hour hand.
Before going on holiday it is best to stop a pendulum clock to prevent possible damage to the clock mechanism through loss of power.
Regulation of pendulum clocks is normally done by moving the pendulum bob or nut up (faster) or down (slower). Many French mantel clocks have an adjustment on the dial which is works by a small key. Always make adjustments by stopping the pendulum and supporting it so it cannot twist.