Most Common Clock Problems
Compiled from Actual
Customer Description of Problem:
"I think I overwound the clock. It's
wound all the way and the clock won't run."
Most likely problem: In
actual fact it is almost impossible to overwind a clock. Once the
coils of a flat mainspring are in firm contact with one another, than
the spring can not be physically wound any tighter. The only way
to truly overwind a clock spring is to turn it so tightly that the
spring actually breaks. The most likely problem that ellicits
that customer comment is that the lubrication on the mainspring has
failed due to age. As a lubricant ages, it's viscosity slowly
rises (it gets thicker). Eventually a lubricant no longer acts
like a lubricant and gets tacky. This causes the coils of the
mainspring to physically stick together. In actual fact, it's time for
a cleaning /overhaul to remove old lubricant and accumulated dirt, and
replace it with fresh lubricant specially designed for clocks.
Customer Description of Problem:
"My clock used to run a full week on
a winding but now it will only run for a day or two."
Most Likely Problem: The
same answer as above. A clock that only runs a few days on a
winding when it should run a week, likely has lubrication problems,
although not usually the mainsprings. It is likely that the
lubricant found in each bearing surface of the gears has failed and
likely, there is a buildup of dirt and grime attracted by the
lubricant. Time for a cleaning.
Customer Description of Problem: "My clock was just cleaned and it won't
run for more than a few minutes even when fully wound. Also, I checked
it with a level and it is level on the wall/mantle"
Most Likely Problem: My first
suspicion when I hear this comment is question whether the clock is in
beat. A clock being in or out of beat has nothing to do with a
clock being level. First, to explain what "in beat" means.
A clock is in beat when ticks and tocks occur with the same time
interval between each tick and tock. You can listen to a clock's
ticking and make a pretty close approximation of an "in beat"
condition. If you have trouble hearing the difference between in
and out of beat, purposely tilt the clock slightly left or right of
level. It's easier to hear different time intervals when the out
of beat condition is exaggerated. Sometimes, a clock can be
knocked out of beat by overswinging the pendulum. Also, moving a clock
from one location to another without immobilizing the pendulum can
knock a clock out of beat. After a clock is serviced, I always
give my customers a reproducible method of setting up a clock so it
will automatically be in beat when set up in the home. Most
times, this means setting the clock up to be in beat when it is
perfectly level. I will even supply a bubble level to help the customer
level their clock in the home. Some wall clocks have a degrees
scale attached to the clock behind the tip of the pendulum. In such
cases, I will set the clock up to be in beat when the tip of the
pendulum is centered on this convenient scale.
Customer Description of Problem: "My clock stops once an hour."
Most Likely Problem: Does the
clock stop every time the hands are overlapping? If this is the
case, then the most likely cause is that the hands are interfereing
with one another.
Customer Description of Problem: "I was winding my clock and I heard a loud
bang and now the clock won't wind."
Most Likely Problem: In this
case, the problem is usually related to one of two possible
causes. Either the mainspring has broken, or, the ratchet pawl on
the mainspring has failed. The ratchet mechanism is responsible
for preventing the mainspring for unwinding as you wind a clock.
It is the clicking that you hear as you wind. It is important to
check out the rest of the mechanism after an explosive release of a
mainspring as there is often other damage that occurs. Bent
arbors and bent or missing teeth are the most common problems seen when
a mainspring or ratchet fails.
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