clock & barometer repairs
 
01277 658800   Billericay

 

grandfather clock repairs from £350

Longcase clocks generally have a 'seconds' (or Royal) pendulum - that is to say the pendulum (around 39 inches to the centre of the bob) takes exactly one second to swing in each direction. Often 8-day clocks have a subsidiary seconds hand and some from around 1710 may feature automata, too, such as Old Father Time (Image 1) or a ship that rocks back and forth. Some also have a moon phase dial and if you live in the northern hemisphere and came to this page looking for help in resetting the moon dial of your longcase clock, you might find this helpful:

It's updated daily but here's a link to a more visual guide on SETTING A MOON PHASE DIAL.

There are some excellent books, such as Darken and Hooper's English 30 Hour Clocks and Tom Robinson's The Longcase Clock. For dating tips try Richard Barder's English Country Grandfather Clocks (brass dials) or Brian Loomes' White Dial Clocks.

Many enthusiasts remove the movement and bring it to me for stripping and cleaning and checking (from £350); if you don't feel confident, I will come and remove it for £40 plus travel costs. Overhauling a longcase movement takes a lot of time and special tools and equipment, like small and large lathes, bushing machine, large depthing tool and countless special hand tools. I always strip these movements completely to clean the parts individually in an ultrasonic tank of solvent to remove all the dirt and congealed oil before looking for signs of wear and checking that the wheels, pinions and pallets engage properly. If the wear is excessive, I will also redress worn pallets, burnish (or replace) pivots and rebush worn pivot holes, replace teeth or whole wheels, and if required I will then finish all the parts with French chalk to give the brass a good lustre before re-assembly and oiling. I will fit new ropes or gut lines unless the existing ones are in tip-top condition. All this is at extra cost because no two clocks require the same amount of work but I think you'll find my servicing charges are much lower than you'll be quoted elsewhere.

There is an additional charge of £60 (plus travel costs) for personal delivery of the finished movement, installation, and setting up in your own home within Essex. In most cases, this is not optional because setting up a longcase clock is more complex than many owners anticipate and if they are left to install it themselves and cannot get it to run properly, they are likely to presume that it's something I've done or not done.

Not all clocks require a service to get them running so I can arrange a home visit (£100 for a half day) to work on them. A common problem with 8 day movements is that the lines become entangled or wrapped round the winding squares when the weights are taken off for decorating. Or you might find after a house move that it won't run in its new position because it's not in beat or the end or the pendulum is broken.

With 30hr movements, chains are often ill-fitting. They come in several pitch sizes and matching the right one to the existing sprockets is not as easy as it might seem: to arrive at the required internal link size, just multiply the sprocket diameter by Pi and divide the answer by the number of spikes on the sprocket, then halve the result and multiply by 1.1 - helpful, but not that helpful as clock chain is measured and sold by the number of lpr (links per foot)! Often old chains are stretched and then they tend to ride up over the teeth on the sprocket, resulting in an occasional clunk as the chain slips. The best solution is to replace both sprockets and fit a new chain (cost £150, or £120 if part of a full service).

If it's a brass dial clock and the silver is worn so the brass shows through in patches, I can re-silver the chapter ring, calendar dial, name plate and other dial parts for an additional £75. This makes a truly staggering improvement visually as you can see in the photographs on the right. And if the black wax in the engraved numerals is missing in parts, I can re-wax it, too.

All paid for work's guaranteed for a year.

It's essential that the clock case is anchored to the wall to keep it steady and if yours is not, I will also do this for an additional £60 while I'm there.

If you still plan to do it yourself, please first have a look at my six-part self-help series here: next


REPAIRED

LONGCASE CLOCKS:

  • Worn dial
  • Resilvered dial
  • Dial detail
  • Before cleaning
  • After cleaning