Ansonia cottage clock – a neglected clock brought back to life

Last summer (2017) my sister asked me to look at her newly acquired Ansonia time-only 1-day cottage clock (circa 1895). “How much did you pay for it”, I said. “Only $25 but it doesn’t work, something is wrong with it,” she said without being specific. And she was correct.

The clock would have not cost much at the time, perhaps a dollar or so but today people collect small clocks such as this and prices can be higher than the more common mantel clock. In those days for an extra 50 cents you could buy a time and strike cottage clock with an alarm feature but his one is pretty basic. They were cheaply built, somewhat disposable since very few made their way to the repair shop and not as many have survived.

Several months have gone by and I thought I should take a look at the clock, repair the movement, spruce up the case and dial face and return it to my sister in working condition. Having completed a number of other projects I decided I had time to tackle this one.

Time-only 30 hour movement
Time-only 30 hour movement

It was dirty as expected and the gears generally loose, particularly the winding arbour. It was clear something around the mainspring was amiss. The click was loose and would not engage every time.

Top plate is removed
The top plate is removed

Time-only movements are the simplest to work on and this is no exception. If you are starting out in the world of mechanical clocks this is the movement to begin with. The movement is very small in comparison to mantel or kitchen clocks and measures only 2 inches wide by 3 inches tall. Despite its diminutive size, it is easy to work on. The case itself is only 9 1/2 inches tall by 7 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches deep.

The movement had been worked on before. The click anchor screw was stripped and there were punch marks on the escape wheel bridge.

New bushing but 2 punch marks are still showing
New bushing but 2 punch marks are visible

The most troubling issue was the main wheel arbour which had detached from the gear. It took a few punches on the brass shroud to push it in back into place and secure the wheel to the arbour. Not the prettiest of repairs but very functional. The click was also loose and would barely engage the ratchet. It took a couple of hits with a hammer on the holding pin to secure it tightly in place.

The arbour is now secured to the wheel and the click has been repaired
The arbour is now secured to the wheel and the click has been repaired

Four bushings were installed, the centre arbour (rear), the rear of numbers 2 and 3 wheels and the escape wheel bridge.

Centering prior to drilling a hole for a bushing
Centering prior to drilling a hole for a bushing. You can also see how small the plate is

The clock was mounted on the test stand and run for several days without issue. Once testing was completed it was returned to its case.

The numbers on the dial were somewhat faded. I decided to address the numbers with a little paint.

Faded numerals on dial face
Faded numerals on the dial face

I was concerned about being too invasive when touching up the dial but I thought the numerals should stand out a little more. I used a number 2 paintbrush and touched them up using flat black acrylic metal paint and a Sharpie pen for the small lines. The effect is subtle without being over the top.

After touching up the numbers with paint and a Sharpie for the thin lines
After touching up the numbers with paint and using a Sharpie and straight-edge for the thin lines

The case was cleaned up with a toothbrush and Murphy’s Soap. There is some finish loss on top but I will leave that as-is.

Here is the completed project. The movement is now back in its case.

Assembled, in beat and ticking away strongly
Assembled, in beat and ticking away strongly

The hands, which appear original, are attached and the clock is running better than it has in years.

I am sure that my sister will be pleased when the clock is returned to her.

4 thoughts on “Ansonia cottage clock – a neglected clock brought back to life

  1. That’s a wonderful little cottage clock! I’m sure your sister will be quite happy with it. I suspect it’s around 1870s.


  2. Nice job restoring on oldie. You’re correct in that there isn’t a great deal of value in these clocks, but it is always nice to see them taken care of and put back into service.

    I enjoy your blog. I’m a retired transportation safety trainer and have been restoring clocks for about 20 years now. I don’t make a lot of money at it (work too cheap, I guess) but it keep me occupied and out of my wife’s hair.


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