Me & Clocks
I have always loved "fine machinery" and had a
fascination with clocks, particularly large mechanical clocks.
My first close encounter with clocks was a mantle clock my parents were given
as a wedding present. It sat on the living room mantle from my earliest childhood
memory but had never run that I could
remember. When I was about 14, I decided to find out why it didn't work so one
day when my parents were away I took it apart, cleaned it, oiled it, adjusted
it, and it ran fine then. I even got the Westminster
chime working. I never said anything to my folks (because I could never do
anything right and would be scolded for "fooling" with it!) so just
put it back on the mantle and left it running. Nothing was said but a few weeks
later while cleaning the living room I noticed it didn't chime! I opened the
back to see what was wrong and the chime mechanism was stuffed with a piece of
paper towel. I asked my mom what happened to the clock and she said "That
clock hasn't run in so many years that the chime was keeping your Dad awake so
he did something to it." I just chuckled to myself and left the paper
towel in the clock. Sadly I suspect they eventually sold that clock, probably
for $1 in a yard sale.
Many years later my first antique clock came from an antique store in the
1980s. It was missing part of the wood trim over the face and didn't work but I
was feeling adventurous so I gave $20 for it and carted it home. It is an
"8 Day Yorktown" made by the New Haven Clock
Co. and somewhere on it I found a date of 1890. It was very badly worn. The
pinions had cut slots into the end plates until the gears would not engage. I
got some brass tubing from the hobby shop, ground the ends of 6" spikes
into punches, and put new bushings in all the worn holes! I cleaned, oiled, and
adjusted it and it ran fine.
Bolstered by my success in making new bushings, I picked up another clock that
didn't run from a different antique store. The second clock was a Gingerbread
Ingram which I think I paid $25 for. I brought it home, put new bushings in it,
and it ran fine as well. Both these clocks have a single tone chime that
strikes the hour but neither play a melody like my parent's clock had.
I always wanted a big school or bank wall clock and found an Ansonia Regulator
at auction. It took two evenings and outsmarting a crooked auctioneer but the Ansonia
went home with me! It is the first antique clock I bought that actually ran
when I bought it and still runs fine today. It has been the focus of my living
room for 25 years and is the main timepiece for the house.