BADA   CINOA

THE CARE & MAINTENANCE OF CARRIAGE CLOCKS

These notes are really for those who have become owners of a carriage clock for the first time but some parts may be of interest to others. They are based on problems which owners have told us about over the years or those which we have noted.

1) Carriage clocks, unlike nearly all other clocks, are wound from the back and thus the winding key has to be turned anti-clockwise.

2) Always wind the clock fully each week. When a mechanism called stop-work has been fitted this will only allow a limited number of turns to be made. This is so as to always use a relatively narrow part of the springs uncoiling to try and make the power transmitted as even as possible and thus improve time-keeping; however, this mechanism tends to be only used on the more expensive and earlier clocks and, because it can cause problems, is often omitted.

3) Try and wind the clock at roughly the same time each week.

4) Grande Sonnerie Clocks. The hammers on these have to hit the gongs or bells some 5376 times a week which necessitates a long and relatively powerful mainspring. If this is not fully wound each week then the clock will be unable to strike correctly and may stop. A compromise is to switch the clock to Petite Sonnerie which is much less demanding.

5) Never move the hands backwards.

6) If you want to advance the hands to put it to time always pause just before the half hour and hour so as to give the striking mechanism time to set itself and then slowly move the hands to the half hour or hour and give the clock time to strike before moving the hands further forwards.

7) Most carriage clocks will keep time to within 5-6 minutes a week but this does depend to some degree on their quality, when they were last overhauled and, for instance, the type of escapement used which incorporates the little balance wheel that is at the top of the clock. The smaller the carriage clock the more difficult it is for it to keep accurate time, thus miniatures are the more sensitive than full-size clocks and sub-miniatures such as the tiny Swiss clocks the most demanding.

8) If the clock is either gaining or losing a substantial amount then the time-keeping can be regulated by moving the little lever on the top of the movement a little to the left or right. The direction in which the lever should be moved will be indicated on either side of the end of the lever, generally A ( advance ) to go faster and S or R ( retard ) for slower. ??

9) Should the clock stop because it has run down, first wind it fully and then, holding the clock vertically by the handle, rotate it suddenly ( sharply ), this will usually start the clock again but you may have to try this more than once before you get the clock going. NB You will be wise to carry out this procedure over a cushion or soft surface just in case the handle of the clock should work loose !

10) The gilding or brass of the clock must not be cleaned with any sort of polish, just gently dusted with a soft cloth. If you do use polish it will remove the protective lacquer and the brass will discolour and, if it has been gilded, this will in time be destroyed.