Clock repair

I have a Dutch made mechanical clock run by weights on chains. It's about 30 years old. It hasn't worked for years. The pulleys that engage the chains seem jammed up. It's been hanging on the wall looking pretty but being right only twice a day. I took it to a clock expert who told me it needed rebuilding and it would cost me $230. He says the mechanism is worn and the wheels have slipped out of their pivots. a)Does that (and the price) sound reasonable. b)I'm pretty good at puttering. Would poking about in the mechanism possibly get it working.
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My 30 year old school clock stopped working 15 yrs ago and just looked pretty on the wall (just like yours). Last week, I bought "The Clock Repair Primer - the Beginners Handbook, by P. Balcomb" from www.klockit.com (they are within driving distance of me) and now it is working like new. All it needed was a cleaning and oiling. Now I'm getting up the courage to fix my wife's grandfather clock. Amazon.com also sells books on beginning clock repair. Before you tackle any repair, you should be well versed on what to expect. After reading the book, you may very well decide that having a pro do it is the way to go.

30
jammed
twice
possibly
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Look at cleaning and lubricating it. That may be enough to get it going, but it may not. Mechanical parts do wear out eventually, but sometimes it is just a minor thing. Worth a shot with the right lube. A clock repairman told me to give a 2 second spray of WD-40 once a year in the back and that the mist is enough to keep it lubed. Ed
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I do not recommend WD-40 for clocks. WD-40 will both harm the clock and cause problems later for someone trying to repair the damage. WD-40 contains a detergent that harms metal pivots over time and is a disaster for the ultrasonic when trying to clean the clock. I am very surprised that an experienced clock person would recommend repairing a clock by simply spraying it with WD-40 unless he wanted the business later.

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On Fri, 2 Apr 2004 14:54:36 -0600, "Robert B. Wilson"

Amen! About 20 years ago I was lubricating roll-up aluminum awnings, going through can after can of WD-40. So I bought a gallon can of it and a spray can to dispense it. The can and sprayer sat unused for a couple years and the excess WD-40 that had been puddled on the outside of the lid was sticky, gooey, gummy!!
Notice what the label on the WD-40 can says as to its intended use--nowhere on the can does it say or imply LUBRICANT! Surprise!
I've disassembled a couple old clocks, cleaned the works, oiled and reassembled. The last time I did it was in 1970--that one was a non-running 1924 Seth Thomas school room clock that I found in an antique store for $40. Used carbon tet to clean the parts (I believe that's no longer available) and bought a tiny 2 oz. bottle of clock oil to re-lube it.
Used a flattened length of wire (like a tiny screw driver) to apply the oil to the bearings and the contact points on the escapement wheel and arm. Those points are critical--they must be clean and lubed just the tiniest amount. When they get dirty, the clock won't keep time.
It's been running fine since. I think I've cleaned and reoiled the escapement twice since (without touching the rest of the works).
The black walnut case was a mess, so I stripped and refinished it--now I'll never be able to take it on the "Antiques Roadshow." Hey, back then, who knew?
Unlike the OP's clock, this is a spring powered clock. One must take care in removing a spring from its "can"--even one that's been allowed to run down. I used a large hose clamp to retain the spring before removing it completely from the can.
It was a fairly easy and very interesting project. Nowadays I'd whip out the digital camera and simply record every step in the disassembly. Back then I recall I drew numerous sketches as I went!
--John W. Wells

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On Sat, 03 Apr 2004 21:11:50 -0800, John W. Wells

Clockwork is mechanical gears. Ordinary paint thinner should get rid of the old grease and oil scum. Like the other said, a film of light oil should be the best lubricant after you have cleaned up the mechanism.
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On this day, 4/1/2004 7:30 AM, Dick Smyth wrote thusly::

My German cuckoo clock stopped, so I took it to a clock shop. They told me that the clock works were shot, and needed to be replaced for $200. I could have saved on that by lubricating the mechanism on a regular basis, but eventually the clockworks will not be reparable. The price given you was reasonable from my experience.
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I was told to put kerosene on a cotton ball and put the ball into the clock case. Don't touch the works, just set it in there. The fumes will lubricate the works.
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Our repairman charges about $80 for maintenance, minor repair, adjustment, and lubrication. Since you indicate that some parts are worn and will have to be replaced, I think the price quoted is reasonable.
Incidentally, there is a specific oil made for lubricating mechanical clocks. I don't know the composition, but it is pricey. I seem to recall it was $5 or $10 for about a quarter teaspoon of it (which has lasted over ten years now). Your repairman might sell you some, and what looks like a hypodermic to apply it, if you want to do your own lubrication.
Dick Smyth wrote:

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Take a look here for supplies:
http://www.slarose.com/store2/store.ihtml?idt&step=2
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Dick Smyth wrote:

Depends on how attached you are to the clock. I just spent $800 to get one rebuilt.

Perhaps. But to do it right you will need measurement equipment and machine shop facilities that you may not have access to. If you just want the fun of trying, go for it..."it ain't rocket science."
RB
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