Lately, I have been working on a stately bracket clock by Junghans from the latter part of 1911. I love the look of this clock though some would say it is quite plain.
The Regency style veneered mahogany case of this time and strike bracket clock is in reasonably good condition save for a small piece of veneer missing on the right side of the base and replacement chrome feet which look decidedly out of place.
I had completed servicing the movement a while back but also planned to address both the case and the dial as part of the rejuvenation of this clock.
After a thorough cleaning (and scrubbing) with Murphy’s soap, I freshened up the case followed by three coats of shellac.
Cleaning the dial
Silvered dials present a somewhat more challenging problem than zinc painted or paper dials. The silvering is very thin and can be rubbed off easily through over-aggressive cleaning resulting in a damaged finish so, it pays to be cautious.
Here is a prime example of a German U.M. Muller wall clock dial where someone used a strong cleaner resulting in a serious blemish. The dial must be completely restored. I have no plan to fix it.
Of course, there is the option of leaving this dial as-is but why not attempt a cleaning. As this is a non-porous dial, dirt is surfaced based.
From my research, many methods of dirt removal seemed dubious and any kind of chemical on a silvered dial is plain wrong. I chose to use mild (diluted) liquid soap and Q-tips to lift off the grime. While it took dozens of Q-Tips dipped in soapy water and gentle scrubbing in the direction of the spun dial most of the dirt was removed and none of the silvering was damaged. It is difficult to see any improvement as one proceeds so, it pays to be patient. After a couple of hour’s work of gentle rubbing, this is the end result.
While not perfect it is much improved. The aged look remains, with a patina that most would consider acceptable. Following the cleaning, where there was missing paint on the numerals, they were filled in with black acrylic paint. No further restoration is necessary.
Next are brass features above the base section. Q-tips (many of them) and Brasso (Simichrome works well too) are perfect for bringing up the shine. Following the polishing, everything is wiped clean with soap and water and the inset panels are given a fresh coat of shellac.
The carrying handle on top was also cleaned with Brasso.
Dial work and case cleaning are options when bringing any clock back to life but it boils down to personal choice. Some choose to leave things as they are to retain the original patina but I am in the camp that a little cleaning goes a long way. Cleaning takes time and patience, however. You may not see the results immediately but work carefully and you will be amply rewarded.
You may have noticed that the feet are different in the last photo but I will save that story for another day.