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Service or Disservice?

As with most things, there are many ways to service a clock movement. Many repairmen learned from some guy who learned from some guy (and so on). Many are self-taught. This is not to say that they are bad at what they do. But it does increase the chance that they are operating on a less-than-solid foundation.

Dave Weisbart, owner of Prestige Clock Repair, attended the best clock school in the country, where the principles of clock repair came down from respected authorities. Below is a list of common procedures with comparisons between service and disservice to your clock movement.


Cleaning a movement

Disassemble completely, remove all old oil, give ultrasonic bath.

Dunk movement whole in solvent like mineral spirits, or into ultrasonic bath. Or worse, don't clean it and put new oil on top of the old!

Repairing worn bearing holes

Insert new bushing to restore hole size and position.

Use a sharp steel punch to mash the brass so that the hole size is reduced.

Mainspring service

Remove the mainspring from the barrel or arbor and thoroughly clean off all old lubricant before applying fresh clock mainspring grease.

Dip the barrel whole in solvent. Use whatever grease is on hand.


Apply just enough clock oil to the correct pivots so those pivots are surrounded by oil inside the bearing holes.

Squirt lots of oil everywhere. Use inappropriate oils that can leach copper from the brass.

Pivot care

Make sure all gear pivots are cylindrical as possible and shiny smooth.

Ignore scored and ragged pivots which can wear away brass plates.

Quality control

Make sure the clock runs for its intended winding period (e.g., 8 days or 30 hours) and all strike and chime functions work properly.

Watch it run for a few minutes and call it done.

And one of the biggest disservices is often perpetrated by the clock's owner! Don't just run and run your clock for years and years until it stops. At that point, the damage has been done. Modern clock oils are designed to perform for around 5 years. If your clock has been running for 10 years or more without service, it's running with dry, dirty, abrasive crud on the gear pivots, a certain recipe for movement damage.

We see disserviced clocks every week. In many cases, repairing the damage from neglect and inappropriate service can add significantly to repair costs. Don't let anyone disservice your clock! Even if you don't bring it to us, ask your repairman about his training and procedures. Your clock will thank you with many years of excellent service.