Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to get my clock repaired?

There are a lot of factors at play here. For myself working on a Seth Thomas style mantel clock or a wall clock, I charge a flat $95 for a "basic servicing" which includes cleaning, oiling, and any preventative maintenance I think is needed while working on your clock. If it hasn't run in years, I may need to do a full overhaul which would be on a case-by-case basis. But expect to pay between $75 and $150 for a basic servicing from a clockmaker, up to several hundred dollars for more delicate or complicated movements.

My clock runs fast/slow. Do I just have to deal with it?

This is a super common issue but it is relatively simple to handle at home in a lot of cases. Check to see if you have an adjustment wheel on the face of the clock, usually under the 12 o'clock position. That little dial is specifically for making fine adjustments to the timing of the clock. It may not be a dial, and instead be another keyhole, or sometimes the dial is on the inside of the case, accessible through the back. The dial raises and lowers the pendulum, which in turn speeds up or slows down the ticking. Grandfather clocks and cuckoo clocks are usually adjusted by raising or lowering the pendulum bob/weight. Try adjusting it yourself, but if you still have issues there may be another cause and myself or another clockmaker will be glad to help.

How often do I need to get my clock serviced?

I can already feel some clockmakers getting ready to send me angry letters.... I recommend having it oiled every 3 years and a complete cleaning and inspection every 8-10 years. Again, this depends on a lot of things. If the clock is catching a lot of dust you'll need a full cleaning more often. Dust gets in to the little holes and moving parts and acts like super fine sandpaper. So letting it run like that for too long will lead to much larger repairs down the road. You CAN oil your clock yourself, but be very careful. Make sure you use oil specifically designed for clocks, and you use VERY little. Oil catches dirt and dust. You only need enough to reduce friction. If it runs down the plate you put WAY too much. It really doesn't take much. NEVER EVER EVER USE WD-40. ONLY use oil meant for clocks. 

My clock isn't ticking right. What do I do? 

Many people are surprised to learn that clocks will vary their ticking as well as their timekeeping simply by being off level by a few degrees. This is usually described as the clock going "Tick--TockTick--TockTick" instead of a nice even "Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock". Try lifting one end of the clock to see if the ticking evens out. you may need to keep a wedge under one end or find a new place to display your clock, but that's a pretty straight-forward solution for most people. 

Is my clock worth fixing?

That's really a personal choice. I think 80% of the time when people ask this they mean "will it cost more to fix than it's worth" and that is more subjective than you would think. I don't appraise clocks. And that's because a clock is worth different things to different people. Very frequently a clock has been in a family for over 100 years. It's been a centerpiece in the main living space, its little heart beating away. Grandparents and Great-Grandparents held that clock securely and turned the key to keep it going for years and years, and their children did it after them, and their children will too. There is no price you can attach to that. Is it worth the cost to keep it going for the next generation? Yes I absolutely believe so. Can you buy a running clock from that time for less than the cost of repair? Probably, if you look hard enough. Its up to you.

Should I clean or remove the patina off my clock?

Generally speaking, no. Some clocks will lose value if the patina is removed as it grants authenticity and character to a clock.  I personally love when a mantel clock, especially a humpback, gets a bit worn and discolored on the top. Because most people put one hand on the top of the clock to hold it when they wind it, over a long enough period the finish will fade and oils and dirt will discolor it. The clock is telling a decades long story at that point.

For older clocks, and other types of clocks you need to be careful not to remove any gilding or ornamentations. Those could be sought after accents on some clocks. Have a professional do this whenever possible.

For a lot of clocks, though, its perfectly fine to clean the movement or shine the metal pieces or even refinish the case. Shows like Antiques Roadshow have instilled this idea that removing a patina removes all of a piece's value. Its a good thing to keep in mind, but the truth is that some of these clocks just won't ever be investment vehicles. If you don't know the difference, don't mess with it. Or do, its your property and do what makes you happy.