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Antique Clocks/clock making and general maintenance


QUESTION: Mr. Williams-my husband has several antique clocks. All of them run and chime, but they are nearing the time when they need to be cleaned/oiled. He would like to do this himself. My questions are: what type of oil should be used to oil the clocks? I have read that some people use Hoppes' gun oil, but is that a good thing to use? Can you tell me a good place to buy clock oil in a pen-style applicator #with long thin needle tip#, and last, we live near Louisville, KY and I wonder if there isn't somewhere there that we could buy clock oil?

He is also interested in making/repairing his own clocks. Can you recommend a good beginner book regarding these?

Thank you for your time,

ANSWER: You can purchase oils for clocks from Merritts ( or Timesavers ( I, however, use simple household oils or sewing machine oils when I oil my clocks. The important thing is to oil ALL the pivots as any missed pivots will wear rapidly. It is best to remove the movement to do the lubrication, however, a pen type applicator would be required to get at those which are less accessible. A toothpick is sometimes useful for lubricating clocks not removed from the case.

Sometimes a clock will refuse to run because the oil with which it was last lubricated oxides and becomes gummy. This would require a strong solvent such as carburetor cleaner. Sometimes I hesitate to clean the clock too well as the entire movement needs to have a slight oil film on it to avoid rust, due to the fact that humidity and temperature conditions will eventually cause moisture accumulation. If the clocks are running and keeping good time, they probably only need a bit of lubrication. Some recommend they be lubricated every year, but I do not do this that often. I would not go beyond 5 years, however.  

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QUESTION: Mr. Williams-can you recommend a good beginner book for making/repairing your own clocks?

Again, Merritts ( and probably Timesavers ( have a number of offerings. I do not know which would be the best to get. There is a book on how to repair 20 American clocks. There are other books available for some of the various foreign built clocks. I personally learned how to repair clocks by fiddling with them when I was 10 or 12 years old and got them from the village dump, played with them and then threw them away. Of couse, that was 70 years ago and I wish I had some of them today. Actually, a few of these clocks did survive and are in my collection. Actually, I would strongly recommend getting a book on clock repair as these clocks are not as expendable as they were when I was 10.  

Antique Clocks

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Tom Williams


I can not think of any questions I cannot answer in regard to repairing antique clocks or radios. However, I am sure there are a few I have not heard and may not be able to answer. If I cannot, I will say so. I have been repairing them since I was a young child.


My experience includes repairing CooKoo clocks, Westminsters, BimBam, almost all antique clocks. I do a bit of repair on battery clocks where the value is sufficient to warrant working on them. I also repair antique (tube type) radios - all makes.

Indiana Historical Radio Society, Illinois Valley Antique Car Club, Military Vehicle Preservation Association

BEE from Cleveland State University

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Four patents.

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