As a clock repairman, I hear many questions associated with clocks and their operation. It’s time to put some of the myths or old wives tales to rest.
Here, then, are answers to some commonly asked questions:
Q. I’m afraid to wind my clock too tightly. Can I overwind it?
A. There is no way to overwind a clock. When the spring is wound tightly it can go no farther. If a clock is not wound tightly it won’t run for as long as it was designed to and will stop prematurely. If a clock is wound tightly and still will not run that indicates other problems.
Q. I’ve heard I shouldn’t hang my clock on an outside wall. Is that true?
A. Any wall is fine for hanging a clock. Years ago, homes with poor insulation, combined with natural clock lubricants, caused some clocks to stop during colder weather. Today’s synthetic lubricants and more tightly sealed and insulated homes have eliminated that problem.
Q. Should my clock be oiled every year?
A. No. Like your car, a clock needs its oil changed every so often, but too much oil collects dirt and dust actually causing the clock to wear and stop sooner. Generally, a clock will indicate it is ready for lubrication or cleaning by stopping or chiming sluggishly. A general rule of thumb is oiling every 3-5 years.
Q. Will I break my clock if I set it backwards?
A. Most modern clock movements can be set forward or backward. Antique clocks should be set with care, generally, not backward. At the Fall time change, if in doubt, stop the clock and restart it one hour later.
Q. How can I get my grandfather clock fixed when it’s too big to take to the shop?
A. I make house calls to service grandfather clocks and do the repairs right there.
Q. I have thick carpet in the room where I want to put my Grandfather clock. Should I look for another place to put it?
A. Grandfather clocks can be set up on thicker carpet and padding if done properly. There is no substitute for experience here. Having set up hundreds of Grandfather clocks I can resolve that problem easily.
Q. Why will my wall clock only run when hung crookedly?
A. Your clock is “out of beat” and needs to be adjusted. This is a simple adjustment and can usually be done while you wait.
Q. My clock strikes to a different hour than the hands point. How do I correct that?
A. Grasp the hour hand only (the little one) near the center and gently move it forward or backward to the correct hour on the dial as indicated by the number of times the movement strikes.
Q. How do I set the correct time?
A. Grasp the minute hand (large one) and move it only in a clockwise direction to the correct hour on the dial. Pause at each position on the dial to allow for the natural chime or strike that is usual to your clock. (May be each quarter hour, half hour or only the hour.)
Q. My pendulum clock is running too fast or too slow. Should I just keep resetting it when I wind it?
A. If your clock is running too fast, move the pendulum disk (bob) down lower. If your clock is running too slowly, move the pendulum disk (bob) up higher. This can be done by gradually turning the nut directly under the bob. Make only small or partial turns on the nut and try out the adjustment for a couple of days between each change. Remember, don’t complicate your life by making the initial adjustments too large. (Speed up, move up; Slow down, move down) Also remember to reset the time on your clock to a consistent source after any adjustments.
Q. What is the function of the moon dial?
A. This dial, once set, will keep track of the moon revolution. It takes 29 1/2 days (lunar month) for the moon to go around the earth. The full moon occurs on the 15th day. Set your moon dial on the full moon and watch the cycle.
Q. What time is indicated by the strike on my ship clock bell?
A. 1 bell at 12:30
2 bells at 1:00
3 bells at 1:30
4 bells at 2:00
5 bells at 2:30
6 bells at 3:00
7 bells at 3:30
8 bells at 4:00
Then the cycle repeats for two more times in a 24 hour period.