So you want to fix a clock – a beginner’s toolkit.
First a disclaimer. As a beginner in clock repair I have some advanced skills-sets but as mentioned in previous posts I am not a trained horologist
Based on 4 1/2 years of amateur clock repair the following are a selection of tools I believe every beginner should have in their toolkit. Some of these items can be found at your local hardware store but specialty items can be ordered from clock suppliers such as Timesavers in the USA, Perrin for Canadian customers, or Meadows and Passmore for those in the UK. Avoid craft shops when you are on the hunt for tools. Craft shops are a great place for things like paintbrushes but they tend to charge higher prices for tools. For example, a ball peen hammer bought at a hardware store last year cost twice as much in a craft shop.
As far as some specialized tools, it pays to spend a little more for better quality
The lead photo shows an assortment of clock keys that would fit just about any winding arbour.
Here is what you should have with a short descriptor for each item along with a photo.
Magnifier: They are available in various strengths and allow a much closer view of your work.
Work light: Illuminates your work, articulates and also has a magnifier.
Pliers: A variety of pliers to hold on to your work, release taper pins, tighten nuts, cut wires. The green handle pliers are non-serrated (flat-nose).
Hammers: A ball peen hammer is very useful (not pictured). The craft clip holder is useful for steadying items that are to be soldered.
Files: Variety of sizes to help shape or file down anything on a movement.
Tweezers: Getting into tight situations, grabbing small parts, positioning parts into place are typical uses for tweezers
Level: To find the correct beat the movement (clock) must be level.
Spring clamps: To restrain the power of the mainspring. The flat clamp (upper right) is for those mainsprings which do not leave a lot of working room. Otherwise, the other round clamps are good for most applications.
Screw drivers: Always handy to remove movements from cases, loosen bolts, pry parts.
Letdown set: Before working on a movement the mainsprings must be letdown or restrained in their clamps. The letdown key is the safest method of letting down the mainsprings. Inserts cover most arbour sizes.
Hand reamers and broaches (cutting and smoothing): For bushing clocks when you cannot afford the luxury of a bushing machine. Cutting and smoothing broaches are useful for enlarging a new bushing when tight tolerances are required. They come in assorted sizes.
Cotton swabs: A variety of cleaning uses.
Clock oil: Once the movement is apart and cleaned it must be re-assembled then oiled prior to use. The oil, whether it is conventional or synthetic, must be specifically designed for a clock movement.
Toothpicks: For cleaning and “pegging out” bushings on a movement
Clock stand: Once the movement has been re-assembled it is tested outside the case for a short period. Gene’s movement stand is a fully adjustable test stand.
Camera: At every part of the process a digital camera can record critical stages in assembling and dis-assembling a movement. I use a 50mm macro lens for close work.
Electronic Caliper: Indispensable for measuring the thickness of anything, springs, pivots, plates and so on. Available at a clock supply house or save a little money and buy the same tool from a retail outlet such as Canadian Tire in Canada.
One might also add a pivot locator, an excellent tool for aligning pivots with their holes during assembly.
You do not need to purchase everything at once to begin your new adventure into clock repair. You may already have some of the items I’ve mentioned but buy what you need when you need it. As for those specialized tools, broaches for example, it pays to spend a little extra for better quality.
These are the tools you require to start your journey into clock repair. If you have a tool (or tools) you feel is indispensable for the beginning clock-maker please let me know.
In Part II (November 14th) I will describe tools for those who would wish to advance their skills in clock repair.