The Dark Arts of clock repair open before me. I feel the need to wear flannel. …to create a basement workshop. …and to live where it snows most of the year. What brought this malady on? A clock.
I have an old Seth Thomas “Chicago” series mantel clock that I believe belonged to my paternal grandparents, who were married in 1909. I haven’t run it for years, and got it into my head that it needed repair.
At the Portland Mini Maker Faire 2017, I struck up a conversation with the guy at the local National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors‘ booth, because I figured they, if anyone, would know someone I could trust to skillfully repair my clock. We commiserated about how good (or any) clock repairers are becoming harder and harder to find, and how a good overhaul of a simple clock can easily set you back $400 – well over the value of my clock. Then the guy said, “You know, you can repair your clock yourself. It isn’t hard to learn.” At the time I was totally intimidated by the idea: clocks have all those delicate parts; clock repair requires all those expensive tools; the would-be repairer must be methodical, detail-oriented to the extreme, and not easily frustrated.
Fast forward to this summer. I had bought a Prusa i3 MK3 3D Printer kit, and successfully assembled it. The kit required so much detailed work (for me, 24 hours spread over 4 days), that I only half-jokingly tweeted “Once I’m done with this I’ll be ready to tackle clock repair.”
Fast forward to this September’s Mini Maker Faire. I’m once again talking with a person at the NAWCC booth, and I thought those fatal words, “This doesn’t look so hard.”
The next thing I knew, I was watching clock repair videos (there are tons of them), and had bought a $10, broken clock at Goodwill.
After removing the face, examining the movement inside, then searching online a bit I found it was a Montgomery Ward 30 day School Clock, with a movement made by Korea Time Co. LTD., a company that was formed in 1971 – so we’re not talking an antique in any way, shape, or form. …and it was missing its pendulum. In short, a perfect clock to use to learn clock repair. My plan was to repair a few cheap clocks, then once I knew what I was doing I would tackle my grandparents’ clock.
Little did I know the Dark Path I had started down. In my next post, I show the dangers awaiting the naïve clock repairer.
“LASCIATE OGNE SPERANZA, VOI CH’INTRATE” is inscribed on the gates of hell in Dante’s Inferno. Translation: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”