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Clocks, Watches/Herschede electric mantel clock was left unplugged and now won't work


QUESTION: I left my chiming electric herschede mantel clock unplugged for a month. Now even though it is plugged in the pendulum won't keep moving. I know this clock made in the 1930s I think, is supposed to run for 24 hours without power and I should not have left it unplugged for so long without stopping the pendulum. I had just had it repaired cleaned and oiled in the last 6 months. Can you tell me how to get it running again? Maybe I need to somehow wind a spring? There is a small screw in the back threat has writing"wind three turns" and an arrow above it,and I did turn the screw 3times but this did not fix the problem. When I picked up the clock for repair he was using a hair drier to heat the movement to get it started. Should I try that? The repair was very expensive and I'd like to avoid bringing it in again do any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated!

ANSWER: Nancy, I have worked on clocks similar to yours, but not that particular clock.  I but have a couple of ideas to help you.  Before I answered your question I polled the members of my Internet Clocksmiths Group and some of the suggestions are as follows:

When you start the pendulum does it make a tick tock sound at all?  It should be in beat like, tick....tock....tick....tock.  If it goes tick..tock......tick..tock, it is out of beat and will stop.  But I think that there is something else wrong.

Make sure you turn the screw (is it a screw or a square shaft that is turned with a key?) 3 or 4 complete turns to get enought power to start it.  One of the members said he has plugged one in for about 24 hours withour starting the pendulum, to let it heat up to running temperature. Then start the pendulum.  Or it could be that the motor is bad.  Maybe this is why the clockmaker used a hair drier.  It is the consensus that it should not have been left in that condition, knowing that a hair drier was needed to start the motor.  If it is a motor problem, it should have been replaced.  Another member has service information on this type of clock and said if I became involved that he would supply information that was needed.  So try those things we have suggested and let me know the result.  If needed, we'll go from there.

John Newman
Vintage Emperor Clock Consultant
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your reply.
I tried to turn the screw on the back of the clock and it won't budge now.I left the clock plugged in overnight and the pendulum still won't keep moving. It does one "tic toc" and then stops. I even tried heating it up with a hair drier with no success.
So I'm wondering if you have any more possible advice .
Thank you so much for your help!

Nancy, thanks for trying those things and getting back with me.  Without seeing the clock I can't really tell you any more.  Let me say that I cannot see anything you have done wrong.  So, you have two options.  The first is to explain (as nicely as you can, not to be accusative) to the previous clockmaker that you have talked to some other clockmakers and the clock should should be able to run after being off for a period.  The fact that a hair drier had to be used to get it started indicates there is still a problem, which should have been resolved before the job was completed.  The second option is to take it to another experienced clockmaker and explain the situation.  One of the the things you have in either case is that you are removing and reinstalling the movement yourself.  Some clockmakers, I for one, discourage that, as the clockmaker needs to be responsible for the complete job. There is is usually an additional expense for the clockmaker to make the house call.  Again, I will say that I don't think that the problem you have described would have anything to do with your clock.

I am sorry I can't do any more at this time.  But do keep me informed on what you do and if there is anything else I can help with, let me know.

John Newman

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John Newman


As much as I would like to offer values of clocks, I am not a certified appraiser and will not venture into giving an unresearched guess. There is very little published information on what I consider to be the value of "modern production clocks". Considerations are what the clock originally sold for, the condition of the case and movement, and particularly the area in which you live, the demand and the economy. ALSO, WATCHES ARE NOT MY FIELD. However, I can advise the clock owner on proper maintenance of a clock to keep it running, small corrections and adjustments and how to move a clock without damaging it. I can also advise on obtaining parts for clocks. It helps if you can send any information on the clock movement which is usually found on the back plate of the movement. I have been a clockmaker for about 35 years and was plant engineer in the mid 90's and later operations and engineering consultant at Emperor Clock Company in Fairhope, Alabama. I now have my own clock shop.


One of my greatest accomplishments was traveling to China to assist a clock factory in building clocks to the standards which we required. With the proper specifications and quality control, some beautiful clock cases were built. The factory people from the wood carvers to the plant manager were very congenial, friendly and I left a lot of wonderful friends when I returned from my trips.

NAWCC (National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors) 30 years Prattville, Alabama Chamber of Commerce

Horological Times, a publication of the American Watch and Clockmakers Instute. Collaberated column author, with Photos and ideas for clock movement conversion article.

Associate of Science Mechanical Engineering Technology Emperor Introductory Clock Repair (Eventually taught a portion of the class after becoming employee)

Awards and Honors
Small Business of the Quarter (Prattville, Alabama) Leadership Class of 2009 (Autauga County, Alabama)

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