The Value of Saving Old Clock Parts: You never know when you may need that difficult to source part

Repurposing old antique clock parts can offer numerous benefits. For clock repair persons, these parts can serve as a convenient source for replacement components.

All clock repair persons consider this to be a best practice because it is sustainable, reduces waste, and conserves valuable resources.

Repurposing also provides an affordable means of obtaining rare and elusive parts for clock repair or restoration projects.

A case in point

Some years ago, I stumbled upon a seller who had four clocks for sale for just $20. It was a barn find in the true sense of the word.

I talked to the seller by phone and purchased them without knowing their condition. Upon inspection, I found that three of them had cases in poor condition but intact mechanical movements, making them well worth the purchase alone.

Although none of the clocks were particularly valuable, they were found in the same barn, all dusty and rusty, cast aside many years ago. In the eyes of the seller, the clocks were one step closer to the trash bin.

I considered resurrecting an Ansonia wall clock, which would have been a project for another day but there was a spring-driven time and strike steeple clock that was essentially intact so I decided to service it instead. The steeple clock movement was serviced and the case was refreshed. The results were quite satisfying.

It was a lucky find because the two mainsprings happened to be crafted from brass, which was utilized as a power source for clocks from roughly 1836 to 1840. Though rare the clock is not particularly valuable.

Elisha Manross steeple clock

While the Waterbury mantel clock was beyond repair and had to be discarded, there were still many parts from the Welch ogee clock that had the potential for future use. I removed the movement, pulleys, glass, hinges, iron nails, and door catch. The rosewood veneer was stripped from the case and set aside for a future project.

$20 for what some would consider trash

The salvaged veneer was used to create a new finial base for the Elisha Manross steeple clock pictured above and to cover the finial bases on the top crown of an 1850s Scottish tall case clock. In time the salvaged veneer was used for a number of other projects.

Scottish tall case clock
Scottish tall-case clock

Some clock parts are not difficult to source

There is actually a considerable assortment of new components available for antique and vintage clocks, which can be procured through numerous suppliers.

Examples are clock hands, pendulum bobs and leaders, feet, hinges, finials, bezels, hand nuts, case parts, and so on but by keeping old clock parts, clockmakers have access to replacement components that are no longer produced or readily available.

Ansonia Extra short drop wall clock
Trash or treasure?

As time passed, I revisited the Ansonia wall clock. The Ansonia Drop Extra wall clock shown above was in a disassembled state and the heavily corroded movement might have been deemed irreparable by some.

Ansonia time-only movement as found

I could have salvaged the veneer and wooden components and saved the movement for potential future use, but I chose to rise to the challenge and reassemble the clock instead.

The crucial brass dial bezel was absent from the clock, and while I initially believed I could find a replacement at a later time (I never could), I opted to reinsert the movement into the refurbished case.

Though clearly missing a few cosmetic parts the clock has proven to be a reliable runner to this day.

Ansonia Drop Extra wall clock
Ansonia Drop Extra wall clock

There is value in saving old parts

Retaining old clocks for spare parts not only helps to maintain the legacy of clockmaking but also serves as a dependable resource for those elusive components that can be challenging to come by.

Beyond everything else, the parts tell a story about the manufacturing process, the materials used, and the craftsmanship involved in creating a clock. By saving and reusing these parts, clockmakers help to ensure that the knowledge and skills of traditional clockmaking are not lost.

Saving old clock parts is not only practical but also beneficial for preserving history, maintaining authenticity, and ensuring the longevity of antique timepieces.


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