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How do I troubleshoot an old 8-day pendulum mantle clock, pendulum stops after 5 min., even fully wound, Any advice ? Answered

I have an old Plymouth 8-day mantle clock, chimes the hour and half-hour, probably from the 1920s. The gears/ springs/ escapement are mint inside, no bent, rusty, or corroded parts. I scoured local antique shops for a winding key, which I found for it. The clock ran well for one week straight until it stopped. Since then, I can't get the pendulum to run more than about 5 minutes! I leveled the clock, tilting it slightly forward or back, to no avail. I oiled the heck out of it, and wound the springs fully. It is a really cool old clock for my leatherworking studio,  no batteries or electric needed, and want to restore it somewhat original condition.  Any advice on this?  Thank you for your help.



Best Answer 8 years ago

You might have wound it too far - run it down a bit and then see how it goes (yes you can over-wind clocks)



2 years ago

Okay, this is an old thread, but some of the answers here are just plain wrong, including the "best" answer. You can NOT over wind a clock. It can only be wound up as far as it's MADE to be wound up. You can't go past that point. If you tried to, you'd probably break the key. Another bogus answer says to spray WD-40 on the works. Don't do this, it's horrible for clock works and isn't really a lubricant, it's a rust inhibitor. "WD" stands for "water displacement" and "40" comes from the formula being created on the 40th try. Use clock oil MADE for clocks. Get answers from clock forums and websites, not from venues such as this.

spray the springs lightly with WD40.


8 years ago

Place the clock on a level surface, back towards you.
Hold the pendulum wire and slowly move it back and forth.
The "tick-tock" must be evenly spaced.
Next to the pendulum wire is another wire with a curve to it called the crutch
The bottom of it will wrap around the pendulum wire loosely.
Alternately bend and straighten the crutch slightly until the "tick-tock" is even.
It takes some tinkering to get the beat down.
If that doesn't work, then it will need to be cleaned.
Shouldn't be too expensive. I'd charge 75.00
NEVER use wd-40 on a clock. You should use a clock oil, available online.


8 years ago

Take it to a smoke shop and have the resident watch maker take a look at it.

P.S That was Burf's humourous reference to this question

Mechanical clocks of this sort generally do need to be cleaned and lubricated every few years, as the manufacturers will tell you. Since you don't know whether _anything_ has been done to maintain this one since 1920, I'd suggest that having a pro go over it would be a worthwhile investment, even if it does cost you $100 or so.

It is _theoretically_ possible to do a basic cleaning yourself -- but I'm really not convinced that you want to try that for the first time on a clock you care about.

I probably just needs a good cleaning.

But since it's a nice old clock that you want to keep I'd at least see what it would cost to get it worked on by a pro.  Clocks are very intircate and many parted things.  If you don't know what you're doing you can spoil it easily.

Can you flick the escapement with a finger and MAKE the clock move at all ? 

I'd suspect that the clock spring might be rusty, or that the whole problem is with congealed oil in the mechanism .

Look at the bearings of the gears. Do they have a gloopy looking black/brown mess on them ? 

Soak the old oil out of the mechanism, using a good searching solvent like "white spirit" (turpentine substitute)

If its the spring, you may be in trouble, because dismantling a clock spring is NOT an easy exercise and can result in serious injury.


This link is a book preview that has some very useful notes on what to look for with the spring.

If you DO dismantle the spring be very careful ! Let the spring unwind by removing the escapement  and let it spin down, it may need encouraging first.

I would say just take it to a clock repair man but you will probably spend $100 or more.