Keeping good time means regular oil changes, for your clock and your car


HOLLAND, Mich. – Would you wait until the gears of your car were in danger of locking up, before adding a quart of oil?

Not likely. Ignoring this simple step of automotive upkeep might rack up a hefty repair bill – plus waste hours on frustrating repairs that you could have avoided in the first place.

The same calendar of care applies to your fine clock, say the fine clock and home office experts at Sligh Furniture Co.

“People have the misperception that a clock will run forever without any regularly scheduled maintenance,” said Bob Engels, who heads Sligh’s clock customer service. “A fine clock is a mechanical instrument and has moving parts. We recommend calling a qualified clock technician to add fresh clock oil to your clock’s moving parts every two to three years. Like a car, keeping your clock oiled helps prevent that metal-on-metal parts wear.”

Remodeling your house, living near a dirt road or construction zone, or leaving the windows open for long periods of time can all result in conditions that leave your clock thirsty for oil – or even an oil change.

“You can’t just keep adding oil to a clock,” said Steve DeYoung, Sligh engineer. “Every 10 to 15 years, contact your clock service center to schedule an appointment for cleaning and oiling.”

Here are a few other tips to help your clock keep good time:

As the clock runs, the weights will descend. Each week, wind your clock by raising the weights. To do this, insert the winding crank in each of the holes in the dial. Turn the crank, winding carefully so the weights do not sway. Be careful to avoid touching the brass weights and dial as you wind the clock.

If your clock has a pendulum, you can fine-tune its tempo for proper timekeeping by adjusting the regulating nut underneath the pendulum bob. Raise or lower it to raise or lower the bob. The higher the pendulum bob, the faster the clock will run.

A clock’s timekeeping movement will vary with seasonal changes in temperature and humidity. Plus, there’s always Daylight Saving Time that requires time adjustments.

To “spring ahead” or “fall back” an hour, just turn the long minute hand (not the short hour hand) on your mechanical clock either clockwise or counter clockwise until you reach the current time.

According to DeYoung, it’s best to go in a counterclockwise direction. “If you do set the set the hands in a clockwise direction, turn off the chimes and stop after every quarter hour to let the clock’s chimes run – sound or no sound,” said DeYoung. “Even set in the no-chime position, the chime gears will turn but the hammers don’t move. If the chimes begin, pause until they have stopped before continuing to move the minute hand.”

If you have a clock that is considered “antique”, or was built before the 1950s, Sligh recommends consulting with your local clock service center for the best way to make time adjustments.

Choose the location for your clock carefully, said DeYoung. “Try to avoid placing your clock in direct sunlight, as well as locations in front of or below a heating or air conditioning vent,” he said.

Also steer clear of heavy traffic, play areas and other places with too much motion or vibration. Your clock needs a level, stable foundation to ensure a smooth pendulum swing.

Make sure your floor clock is sitting square and firm on the floor. Twist the leveling feet under the base to raise or lower each corner of the clock until it is level. Hang a wall clock on a stud with a solid mounting device to anchor it.

Treat the finish of your clock like you would any other fine furniture, said Engels. “Dust the case with a soft, lint-free cloth such as cotton, flannel, terry cloth or cheese-cloth,” he said.

Sligh recommends using a combination of cleaner and polish on a regular basis to maintain the clock’s luster and provide adequate cleaning.

To clean the glass part of the case, spray window-cleaner on a rag, then clean. “Don’t spray it at the glass,” said Engels. “You might get overspray on the brass parts or wood finish.”


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