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.

Continue to my Grandfather Clock page

Return to my Home Page