The challenges of restoring an Ansonia Drop Extra wall clock when the clock is rare and parts are hard to come by

I acquired four old clocks in a barn find. Two, a 30 hour Ogee and a mantel clock were totally unsalvageable although I managed to take off some veneer, case parts, a movement, boards, case hardware and a few other items.

Elisha Manross 30 hour steeple clock
Elisha Manross 30 hour steeple clock

Two others were worth a second look. One is an Elisha Manross 30 hour Gothic steeple clock that is worth restoring and the other, an Ansonia Drop Extra wall clock, the subject of this article.

There are a number of variations of the Ansonia Drop Extras and the one most sought after is the time, strike and calendar version. This is merely a time-only version and would fetch a price in the lower end of the range.

The largely intact label says,

Eight-day and thirty hour brass clocks, pendulum clocks, a variety of……., Also sole manufacturers of Jeweled Marines and eight-day gilt time pieces, Ansonia Brass and Copper….Ansonia Conn.

This clock was manufactured by the Ansonia Brass & Copper Co. around 1880. It is 26 inches high, 16 inches wide and 5 inches deep. It has a 16 inch round wood door bezel on a large 2 inch hinge. The drop section has serpentine sides and teardrop finials. The bottom access drop door opens downwards. Other Drop Extra access doors open to the side.

Much has been written about the Ansonia clock company. The company history can be found here. Formed in 1844, the Ansonia Clock Company went into receivership just before the stock market crash in 1929. The machinery and dies were sold to a Russian Company in 1931 thus ending the long reign of a glorious American clock manufacturer.

The Lima (Ohio) News gave this account in a March 12, 1931 news report:

“…there came an order to supply the Soviet union with men and machines to make watches and clocks, neither of which products ever had been manufactured there. Representatives of Amtorg went to the Ansonia Clock Company in Brooklyn and to the Duber Hampden Watch Company of Canton, Ohio, and bought them lock, stock and barrel. Then they hired most of the skilled employees of the plants to go to Russia and operate the familiar machines. These have been installed in a new, many-windowed building in Moscow, where Russian apprentices are beginning to master the trade.”

The time-only movement appears unusual because of the oversize 2nd and 3rd wheels. The dial glass is original as is the painted dial which is 11 1/2 inches wide.  The painted zinc dial has black Roman numerals, is flaked in some areas and requires stabilization. The flaking dial could use some work if only to arrest the deterioration of the finish. In the meantime the numerals have been touched up with black metal paint.

Ansonia Extra short drop wall clock
Ansonia Extra short drop wall clock
Siezed time-only movement
Seized time-only movement

The clock is in generally poor shape, what I would consider a diamond in the rough. A challenging project? Yes, because there are so many missing parts. Missing are the brass dial bezel, clock hands, pendulum bob, verge, drop access door with its hardware, right tear drop finial and 3 hinges. The finish is completely gone, down to the bare veneer. The veneer has some minor losses that are in hidden from view but for the most part the case is in good condition.

The movement was rusty and the wheels were seized. Obviously the clock had not been running in a number of years. After applying some WD-40 I managed to free the gears. In addition, two bent wheels (2nd and 3rd) had to be straightened. The rust was removed and the movement cleaned up surprisingly well. Only one bushing was required on the escape wheel bridge. The movement is presently installed in the clock and running well with the addition of a new verge, pendulum rod and bob.

There is nothing special about bringing the veneer back to life. After a thorough cleaning with Murphy’s soap I applied three coats of shellac lightly sanding after each coat. The photo shows the clock after the third application of shellac.

Ansonia backboard with partial label
Ansonia backboard with partial label & movement mount blocks

A section on the right side of the backboard was missing. I salvaged a piece of board from a donor Waterbury Ogee from about the same period and traced a pattern to fit the missing piece. Replacing the entire backboard might have been an option but I felt it necessary to preserve most of the label. Hide glue was used to bond the two boards which were then clamped for 24 hours. The gaps were filled with a combination of hide glue and sawdust one day later.

Ansonia movement in case
Ansonia movement running and installed in the case

Unfortunately, this is as far as I can go with this project. Unless the previous owner finds the missing pieces which is doubtful or I find another clock to marry the two together this clock will simply be a curiosity on a wall. In the meantime I have contacted some clock suppliers and have had no luck so far. My inquiries on clock oriented social media sites have also produced no results.

Rosewood veneered dial bezel in position

The movement has been running reliably for a full 8-day cycle and has run for the past 4 weeks. Despite not having the parts I require to complete the project there is a certain satisfaction in making a clock run that has not run in years.

Thoughts on where else to search?


6 thoughts on “The challenges of restoring an Ansonia Drop Extra wall clock when the clock is rare and parts are hard to come by

  1. Ron, the lower door should be quite easy to fabricate. It’s just a “d” moulding with two small 1 inch hinges, and a standard latch. If you’re really in a bind, I could fabricate the stock for you sometime this summer (once it warms up).

    What exactly is missing from the bezel? Is there a chunk missing? This could also be fabricated, but not easily on my end (not without most of the bezel on hand for the angles, etc).

    Is there any way you could just install a glass directly in the wood bezel without the brass ring? Alternatively, a slightly larger ring could be purchased, cut down, and re-soldered (which would work just fine, but it would be a tricky pain in the butt.


    1. I think the access door is probably something I could do myself but I appreciate the offer. The dial is held in place by a brass bezel which I do not have. I could mount the glass in the door without too much problem. I should have added a photo of the top door to show what I mean.


      1. I don’t understand how the brass ring “holds the wood bezel together”. The bezel should be a super strong glued frame, and the ring should just be tacked onto it.


Comments are closed.