Traditional cra s and skills ...
“There can’t be much wrong
with it, because it’s been going
for years and has only just
In 45 years of restoration, this is
probably the most common thing
people cheerfully say to me when
they bring their clock for repair.
However, it is most likely that the
poor clock, faithful to the last, has
bravely struggled on, ticking away
for years, without any oil – bone
dry – grinding itself, literally, to a
Friction and wear
Clocks are mechanical devices,
just like many others in our daily
lives – cars, washing-machines
– with a power source or motor.
And, like them, clocks need regular,
though not necessarily as frequent,
maintenance or they break
An average car engine makes
around 30 million revolutions in a
year. In a modern watch, the fastest
wheel turns about six times
that, at around 180 million a year.
And even a slow grandfather clock
ticks over 31 million times a year.
At each tick, all the parts move,
metal rubbing against metal in the
bearings, and metal against metal
30 | OCTOBER 2018
as the wheel-teeth engage each
other. This is all friction, and friction
means wear if it isn’t lubricated.
History is personal to every one
of us, whether at a world or family
level. Antique clocks play a part
in that history. Gently ticking away
the days and hours of our lives
and those before us, marking the
hours through momentous times
as well as the mundane.
When I recently advertised locally,
I was pleasantly surprised at
the res ponse and, slightly overwhelmed,
I have to admit, by the
number of clocks and watches
that have come into my workshop
(so apologies to those of you who
are still waiting for me to return
your cherished timepiece!).
However, this shows that folk care
about the past; about the family
connections these clocks represent
and dearly wish to pass them
on in good heart to the next generation.
In the face of bewildering
change, I fi nd this reassuring. To
ably conserve the past we also
need to preserve the traditional
skills. Clockmaking is one of them.