Dells Blog

How I restore a Anniversary clock

I thought I would post how I go about restoring an anniversary clock.

When I receive the clock I  visually inspect it to see if any parts are missing, damaged or loose, I then using the letdown tool or key to check mainspring because that will tell me if mainspring is wound, broken or binding, I then rock anchor back and forth to check teeth are dropping and check where pallet face and escape wheel teeth meet, I do that until the escape wheel has done at least one complete revolution of the escape wheel, that can tell me if any escape wheel teeth are damaged,  ( if mainspring has let go causing damage then obviously this is not possible).

I then letdown the mainspring ( MOST IMPORTANT) unless the mainspring is broken or has let go IE hook pulled out or as in a case of a Schatz 1000 day clock recently mainspring had jumped out of the arbor, 


Schatz 1000 day barrel with spring jumped off of arbor

The next job I do is remove the hands ( some are pinned some are threaded ) do not force the hands as they are very easily bent, then the dial and motion works by first removing the minute wheel retainer ( some have a half bridge screwed on , some are pinned on some are held on with a clip,  then remove the hour wheel and cannon pinion, ( be careful because there is probably a tension washer and maybe a flat washer ( don’t lose it ) tip if you haven’t done one before take plenty of pictures.

The next job I do is remove the movement from the seatboard by undoing the two knurled screws underneath, ( I have a 3” piece of waste pipe to put movement on so I don’t damage centre arbor) , the next job is to remove the click, click spring and ratchet wheel ( on some clocks it’s in between the plates ) so can’t be done, after that we are ready to take the movement apart ( again some are pinned and some have screws ) if pinned then a pair of smooth jaw pliers on post and thin side of pin usually will release pin ( I use brass lined pliers so I don’t damage brass ) if screwed they may be very tight so be careful not to damage screw, but if you do then just gently dress damage back down don’t file it, then gently wriggle of the backplate ( be gentle because sometimes pivots stick ),         


Standard Schatz with backplate removed

remove all wheels and anchor, the next thing I do is give everything a first clean ( I say first clean because I clean more than once ) I use something called panel wipe ( it’s used just before spraying a car ) but white spirit or acetone will do that removes the gunge and grease, I then inspect every part, I am looking for bent teeth, bent pivots, burr’s, or anything that could cause friction, when I am satisfied everything is as it should be I move on to burnishing pivots ( I don’t polish them as such I just put them in the lathe and burnish them ) unless there is any sign of rust because there is negligible wear on torsion clocks I don’t feel the need to do any more than that, I also peg out the bushes in the front & backplate using cocktail sticks until the stick comes out clean , I use as many as needed.


Escape wheel in lathe for burnishing

While the escape wheel is in the lathe I very gently top the wheel using 2000 grit on a piece of flat ground steel just to make sure the landing of the teeth have no burr’s and are smooth.

The next thing I do is clean everything again, some in ultrasonic tank with a 10% solution of ammonia plus a dash of washing up liquid ( but not for long ) but the plates I do by hand because ( they are usually lacquered and ultrasonic cleaner will remove it ) but early clock plates are not usually lacquered , wash well in water then rinse in  Isopropanol and thoroughly dry ( I use a hair dryer) .

The mainspring I always remove to clean, to remove barrel cap I tap arbor with a bit of wood but some people say it could damage the arbor but a sharp tap with soft wood shouldn’t damage a steel arbor ( make sure to check location of cap for reassembling, I put a large nail in the barrel hook hole and hold nail in vice stretch out the spring and using a bit of red scotchbrite soaked in kerosene I give it a good clean then wipe off with a clean towel, ( stretching out will remove any set that the spring has ) and as kerosene is a bit oily and leaves a residue that’s all I do before checking and cleaning barrel and re installing, I use Mobil 1 synthetic oil to lubricate mainspring  not mainspring grease, ( make sure to check barrel hook and barrel for bulge or splitting around barrel hook, ( I very rarely replace mainspring).

Next I do base, pillars and seatboard, depending upon what the owner wants because sometimes they want the patina as is and sometimes they want it all polished and shiny, if they want it polished up then that is what they get , I remove any lacquer using acetone or paint stripper,  polish by had ( if possible) using Peek metal polish, sometimes I have to use the buffer to remove stubborn tarnish but I try not to , I then either re lacquer or use Renaissance wax ( if it’s a clock for my collection I use Renaissance wax ) if for someone else I ask them what they would prefer, giving the pro’s and con’s of both.


Schatz 1000 day clock cleaned ready for reassembling

Now it’s time to reassemble the movement, ( as it’s all cleaned I wear latex gloves ) if you don’t you will promote tarnish from your finger prints, the first wheel to go in is the centre arbor next it’s the second wheel ( the barrel doesn’t count as a wheel ) then first wheel , you would think it would be the other way round but the second wheel goes under the first , it doesn’t really matter what you put in next but I put barrel in then third ( intermediate) wheel escape wheel NOT   THE ANCHOR because I fit it together including winding ratchet parts to make sure it will run with just one or two clicks because that tells me if there is any friction, if the escape wheel starts to turn with just one or two then I am pretty sure I have negligible friction, some clocks have an extra wheel so it worth taking pictures, now I am sure all is well I letdown ratchet ( just to make sure ) remove top two pins or screws and loosen bottom two just enough to allow me to fit the anchor, once that’s in I add just a few clicks on the winder and check the action of the escape wheel by rocking pin back and forth, once I am satisfied it’s time to oil, I don’t go in for all the commercial oilers my kit is just a bit of brass with the end flattened and filed to a point and a bit of brass bored out in an earring box to keep dust out.


My home made oiling equipment

Just a very small amount of oil is needed on each pivot both sides ( to much will run out ) make sure to do centre arbor, click screw and click to ratchet .

The next thing I do is makeup a new torsion spring unless the old one is serviceable 

( but I always supply clocks with a new torsion spring) but if serviceable I use the old one for testing, see video how I make up a new one 

Below a video how I make up a new torsion spring

I always test the running of the clock without motion work on for the simple reason if it doesn’t run there are less things to look at for the reason, if the clock is totally put together and it doesn’t run I have to check if hand are touching, if motion works is jamming before I get to movement but if it’s not on there I only have to check fork height, gap in between fork tines because I know the movement is okay because it runs freely on one or two clicks, but also there is always the possibility that someone previously messed about with the eccentric bush but as it’s been checked at the beginning before we even dismantled the clock so we would know if we had to check that.



It’s now just a matter of fixing the movement back onto seatboard attaching the freshly made torsion spring, putting a few more turns on the winding arbor and setting the beat .



A video on how I set the beat Then a video on how to adjust saddle for beat setting


(1)There must be just enough gap between fork tine and anchor pin so they don’t bind when fully left or right ( slip of paper works )

(2) the height in the repair guide for fork height is just a starting point 

( if clock won’t run lower fork until it flutters ( drops more than one tooth ) then move up 0.5 to 1mm

(3) the two fixings that hold the movement onto the seatboard do not tighten to tight because sometimes it alters the plate distance and could stop the clock

(4) when adding motion works make sure the tension washer goes on the correct way round ( concave facing the cannon pinion and if a flat washer that goes between tension washer and cannon pinion  but some clock don’t have the tension washer they have a crimped cannon pinion 

(5) if you have to adjust eccentric bush because it has previously been altered then it is not like a normal pendulum clock although it’s a Graham deadbeat the locks are deeper than normal clocks but if it doesn’t look like it’s been touched it probably hasn’t ( LEAVE IT ALONE ) unless you are certain it’s that.

(6) on some earlier torsion clocks there is no diagram as to length of torsion spring, I set the pendulum 1/4” 6mm off the base.

My final thought’s 

Make sure all screws are pinched up but not over tight especially the click screw as they have a habit of working loose.

This is how I restore an Anniversary 400 day torsion clock and I am sure other people do it differently but it’s just the way I do it and I hope it’s of help to someone 

Thanks for reading Derek

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