Arthur Pequegnat Bedford – bringing a handsome mantel clock back to life – Part I

I acquired an Arthur Pequegnat mantel/shelf clock during my travels to Quebec this spring. The red oak veneered clock is complete with original hands, pendulum bob, a good label on the inside back of the access panel, coil gong and of course, the signature time and strike Arthur Pequegnat movement with nickel-plated steel plates.

Signature Pequegnat nickle-plated steel plates

It is known as the “Bedford” model. Online research tells me that two Bedford models were produced. This one, which I believe is the later edition, measures 9 ¾ inches high by 8 ¾ inches wide by 5 ½ inches deep. It has a silvered 6 inch dial with Arabic numerals with no Pequegnat inscription on the bottom of the dial face, spade hands surrounded by a thick brass bezel and concave base moulding. It has a passing ½ hour strike on a coiled gong. The earlier model has a 5 inch enameled dial with more stylized Arabic numerals and Pequegnat inscription on the dial face, spade hands, oak veneered case, a thinner brass bezel and convex base moulding. The case measurements are identical. The time and strike movement differs from the later model by having a ½ hour passing strike on a bell.

Bedford clock on display at the Canadian Clock Museum
Pequegnat “Bedford” clock on display at the Canadian Clock Museum

There is a good label on the inside of the access door which says, “Bedford, eight-day mantel clock, The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Co., Kitchener, Ontario, Canada”.

The label is in good condition
The label is in good condition

The movement is not marked. Though many Arthur Pequegnat movements were stamped with the maker’s mark it is not unusual to find one without one. This edition was likely manufactured in the Kitchener, Ontario (Canada) plant between 1925 and 1930.

With click fixed the clock is tested
With click fixed the clock is tested

The only issue with the movement is the time side mainspring function which, as the previous owner explained, could not be wound with a key. Damaged top veneer and split-open side trim pieces tell me that the clock had accidentally fallen. The impact point appears to be the very top front of the clock. As a result of the impact the front panel had separated from the main part of the case, leaving a gap of about 1/8th of an inch. It also had a broken access door catch.

Damaged veneer sustained during a fall
Damaged veneer sustained during a fall, veneer was later pushed back in place

At first I focused my attention on the movement and why the time side mainspring would not wind. It was, as I suspected, a missing click spring. The click is a pawl which engages the ratchet wheel to hold the power of the mainspring or the weight. It is moveable and connected to the mainspring by means of a rivet. The click spring is a piece of steel or brass wire which is connected to the click and seats the click in the ratchet wheel.

I had a supply of steel click springs and fashioned one to fit the click. The click, rivet and the ratchet wheel were in otherwise good condition. While the mainsprings was restrained with clamps I postioned the click spring in place applying a little solder to ensure that it remained fixed. An older similar repair occurred on the strike side with solder holding that click in place. A weak point of the movement, perhaps.

A little solder to keep the click spring in place
A little solder to keep the click spring in place

I inspected the movement for wear and discovered that it had been serviced previously. The solder on the strike side click was certainly a clue but I also noticed that some bushings had been replaced, not unusual given the age of the clock. Brass bushings were punched into the steel plates at the factory. I could see that newer bushings were installed in at least three locations.

There is no lateral movement in the gears as such lateral movement would indicate bushing or pivot wear. There is no evidence of ovalized, enlarged or mis-shapen bushing holes and the gears are meshing well. The movement is clean and free of dirt and debris and I do not feel that a full cleaning is warranted at this point. There is no excess blackened oil; the oil in the bushing holes had simply dried up. I applied clock oil to the bushings, wound both mainsprings and after days of running the movement is keeping excellent time.

With the movement out of the case, repaired and in the testing phase, I focused next on the condition of the oak veneered case. Many of the joints had separated due to the impact I mentioned earlier. Hide glue would have been used originally and could be used for case repair. I have medium strength pearl hide glue, not strong enough for this application. High strength is required to bring the trim pieces together to ensure a good long-lasting and tight fit. This is one of those occasions when a modern glue is an acceptable alternative. Yellow carpenters glue has a bonding power of two tons and I chose this type of glue for the repairs.

Each section had to be clamped for 24 hours and only one section could be worked on at a time. The result is a very time-consuming and complicated process lasting several days.

I used three clamps for one repair. Because the impact point was at the very top I had to push the sides in with a clamp while at the same time bring the front panel into the main part of the case using two clamps adjacent to each other. You can see the clamping method I employed in the next photo.

Using three clamps to bring the sides together and the front section into the case
Using three clamps to bring the sides together and the front section into the case

The side base trim pieces were also split open and had to be clamped in place as you can see in the next photo.

Side trim pieces clamped
Side trim pieces clamped

Bringing the sides of the case together resulted in raising the damaged veneer, consequently several small pieces of top veneer had to be pushed back into place. Using carpenters glue combined with an “elaborate” weight system I went about with the repair. Using a toothpick I applied carpenters glue under the veneer pieces, wiped off the excess with a wet cloth and used a block with a hole drilled to accommodate a toothpick employing enough pressure to push the small veneer pieces into place. It looks odd but it works.

Toothpick and wood piece to push the veneer in
Toothpick and wood piece to push the veneer in

A degreaser was used to strip years of blackened dirt/grease/grime on the case and once cleaned the original grain in the red oak veneer is now exposed to its former beauty. The case will either need a layer or two of lacquer or a more modern finish such as PolyWipe. I will cover this aspect of the restoration/repair in Part II.

Using Brasso I cleaned up years of tarnish on the brass bezel giving it a new life. I also polished the arbour grommets. The silvered dial face is in very good condition and I left that as-is.

Bezel cleaned up
Bezel cleaned up

I fashioned a new door catch out of a worn Sessions click.

A new door catch made from a worn Sessions click
Broken door catch was repaired using an old worn Sessions click

With the movement repaired and the successful clamping and gluing of the case the next phase is the final finishing. I am pleased that I am inching closer to bringing this clock back to life and can add it to my modest collection of Arthur Pequegnat clocks.

Stay tuned for Part II on July 30th.

2 thoughts on “Arthur Pequegnat Bedford – bringing a handsome mantel clock back to life – Part I

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