American Antique Clock Instructions

These instructions apply to keywind pendulum clocks that are time only, or that have hour strike, or hour and half-hour strike. While written specifically for Connecticut type spring driven clocks, portions are applicable to German and French clocks as well as American style Japanese clocks. The strike synchronization instructions apply to count wheel striking, which is not self-synchronizing.

   

SETUP AND OPERATION

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Mantel Clock Setup:

Place clock on table with back facing you. Open the back door, hang the pendulum on the hook, and close the door. Carefully place the clock where it is to be used, on a stable, level surface. Lift one side of the clock gently two inches, then put it down, to start the pendulum swinging.
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Shelf Clock Setup:

Place the clock where it is to be used, on a stable, level surface. Open the front door and hang the pendulum on the hook (on many clocks the hook is behind the dial), give the pendulum a swing, and the clock will start ticking.
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Wall Clock Setup:

Choose the proper size wood screw (typically a #8, 10 or 12) to fit the hanger at the top back of the clock, and long enough to go securely through the wall into a stud. Secure the screw into the wall, angled upward at a 45 degree angle, and hang the clock. Open the front door and hang the pendulum on the hook (on many clocks the hook is behind the dial), give the pendulum a swing, and the clock will start ticking. Move the bottom of the case to the left or right until ticking is even (or if there is a beat scale beneath the pendulum, move the case so the pendulum points to zero when at rest). Secure bottom of case to wall so clock is stable.
   
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Setting the Hands:

When setting the clock to time, move the minute hand, pausing at each hour (and half-hour for some clocks) for the clock to strike. Never move the hands counterclockwise past 6 or 12.
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Winding - Eight Day clock:

Wind the clock once per week, preferably on the same day each week. Turn the key with a smooth motion, stopping when the spring is tight (approximately 7 turns after one week of running). Never let the key snap back in your hand, always release it gently after each half turn. Make sure the clock is fully wound, so keep turning the key until the spring is obviously tight. The left square winds the strike mainspring and, the right square winds the time mainspring.
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Winding - One Day clock:

Wind the clock once each day, preferably at about the same time each day. Turn the key with a smooth motion, stopping when the spring is tight. Never let the key snap back in your hand, always release it gently after each half turn. The left square winds the strike mainspring and the right side winds the time mainspring.
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Winding Direction:

winding square winding square
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Timekeeping Accuracy:

This type of clock will be able to keep time within 4 minutes per week. You will need to do the final regulation once the clock is in its permanent location to achieve this accuracy. To check the clock's accuracy, set the hands to the correct time, and then let the clock run at least 3 or 4 days. The main factors causing variations in rate are temperature changes, and the lessening tension of the mainspring as it runs down. Once the clock is regulated to keep good time, you will need to set the hands whenever the time is off by more than a few minutes - perhaps every week or two.
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Regulating the clock - Regulating Square:

The clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the small square on the dial. Turning it toward F speeds up the clock, and turning it toward S slows it down. Turn the square only a small amount each time. The regulating square is turned with the small end of the winding key.
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Regulating the clock - Pendulum Nut:

The clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the nut at the bottom of the pendulum. Turning the front of the nut to the right speeds up the clock, and turning it to the left slows it down (in other words move the nut up to speed up, or down to slow down). Turn the nut only a small amount each time.
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Alarm Setting:

On most American antique clocks, the alarm is set by turning the disc in the center of the dial. Turn the disc so that numeral of the hour you want the alarm to ring is located under the hour hand. Then wind up the alarm mechanism (usually located in the lower left of the clock case). There is no alarm shutoff mechanism, so when the alarm starts ringing, it will ring until it runs down.

 

ADJUSTMENTS

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Strike Synchronization using hands:

If the strike gets out of synchronization with the hands, wind up the strike spring (left winding square), then proceed as follows. Move the minute hand forward to two minutes before the hour. (The strike train makes a noise called the warning.) Move the minute hand backwards to 15 minutes before the hour. The clock will strike. Repeat until the number of hours struck is one less than the hour that the hour hand points to.
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Strike Synchronization using wire:

If the strike gets out of synchronization with the hands, wind up the strike spring (left winding square), then proceed as follows. Turn the minute hand forward to the next hour. When striking stops, push up (or pull down on some clocks) the little wire hanging beneath the dial and let the clock strike. Each time you push (or pull) the wire, the clocks will strike the next hour. Repeat until the correct hour is struck.
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Strike Sound Adjustment:

The hammer which strikes the gong may have its shank bent slightly by hand to make the hammer head closer to or further from the gong, to make it sound pleasant.
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If clock does not run:

1) Make sure clock is fully wound. 2) Make sure clock is ticking evenly. Make sure clock is on a stable surface and does not rock. If necessary shim one or two corners with cardboard (for a shelf or mantel clock), or move bottom of clock to left or right (for a wall clock). 3) Make sure minute hand is not caught on hour hand.

MOVING THE CLOCK

  Always remove the pendulum before transporting the clock, to prevent damage.

MAINTENANCE

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Three Year Oiling and Inspection:

Your clock, being a precision mechanism, needs periodic maintenance to keep it running reliably and to give it long life. We recommend the following: After using it for three years, bring the clock in for oiling and inspection. We will check the condition of the movement, and check that the mainspring ratchets are secure. We will tell you if the clock needs an overhaul, or will be okay for several more years.

 

Overhaul:

Windup clocks need overhauling about every 3 - 7 years. The environment in which the clock is used plays a big role in how long it will run between overhauls.

 

Why your clock won't run forever:

As dust gets in the mechanism, the oil becomes an abrasive paste which causes wear. The longer the clock runs in this condition, the more repair it will need. Many American clocks have very strong mainsprings which will run the clock for years after the oil has gone bad, causing severe wear to pivots and pivot holes. If your clock stops and you spray it with oil to make it go again, it will continue to wear badly, because it is still dirty. Shortcuts like cleaning the movement whole, even using an ultrasonic cleaner, cannot properly clean pivots, pivot holes, and mainsprings. These techniques merely postpone the need for a proper overhaul.

 

How we overhaul your clock:

The movement is taken apart and cleaned, the pivots polished, worn pivot holes bushed, worn out pinion wires replaced, the mainspring ratchets checked and repaired, any other necessary repairs carried out, and the mainsprings checked. Then the parts are cleaned again, the pivot holes cleaned with pegwood, the pivots given final cleaning, and then the movement is assembled and lubricated.