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HOW TO CARE FOR AND ENJOY THE ANNIVERSARY CLOCK BY Robert Hewett Sr.
Anniversary clocks date back to at least the early 1900s with most of them being made by German clock manufacturers. Also known as 400 Day clocks because you don't have to wind them but once a year (I don't recommend that schedule). There are many styles, but the most common are the Dome, Coach mechanical versions and now battery versions. There are really just a few components to the Anniversary clock, the mounting base, the dome and the movement. Syles can vary a lot, but they are most all made very similar.
THE BLACK FOREST DOME STYLE stands about 12 inches tall and the round dome can be either glass or plastic. The base for the original mechanical clocks are almost always made of Brass. The Pendulum bob consist of 3 or 4 brass balls with lead weights inside. This rotating pendulum provides the power to run the clock. The main spring is wound with a key from the backside of the clock. The pendulum brass bob is suspended on a flat spring that attaches to a mechanism at the top of the clock to regulate the time. This spring is like the spine in a human being, if damaged the clock will not run. Damaged means bent or broken. These clocks mostly came from the Black Forest area of Germany and American Servicemen and women brought them home to wives, mothers and sweethearts by the thousands after WWII.
TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR ANNIVERSARY CLOCK RUNNING
1. Set it on a level solid place like a fireplace mantel or sturdy table or dresser. If you live in a house with a basement, the groundlevel floor can shake as you walk across it, and that can cause the anniversary clock to quit running.
2. Level your clock side to side and front to back. Clocks made before 1950 generally did not have adjustable feet, so you have to shim those to level them.
3. To start your mechanical anniversary clock turn the brass balls one turn only (NEVER SPIN THEM). Spinning the balls can break or bend the pendulum spring and cause the clock to stop working.
4. Setting Time - Wait at least 15 minutes after starting your clock to set the time as the clock will run fast for a few minutes after first starting. Set the time by moving the hands in the shortest direction to get to the current time. Move only the minute hand, the hour hand will follow along. (If you are setting the time on a clock that chimes or strikes the hour, only turn the hands clockwise to prevent damaging the chiming mechanism)
5.ADJUSTING YOUR ANNIVERSARY CLOCK TO KEEP ACCURATE TIME
SPEED ADJUSTMENT: - There is a round wheel at the top of the pendulum brass bob. If you look at it there will be arrows showing you which way to turn it to make your clock go faster or slower. Wait until the balls stop turning just before they reverse direction, catch one of the balls between your thumb and forefinger and hold the balls still while you adjust the speed wheel. Only turn the adjusting wheel 1/2 inch at a time. Release the ball you were holding and the pendulum will go back into normald rotation without having to restart it. Repeat this adjustment process every 4 hours until the clock is keeping accurate time.
WHAT IF THE CLOCK DOESN'T RUN: You may need to take your clock to a skilled repairman. For those of you who are mechanically inclined (men or women) and who want to learn how to do more advanced repairs or adjustments, I do that on an individual basis using Skype and my computer camera so that we can have visual help in teaching. I do charge a nominal fee, usually about $10 for this type of help. If you take your clock to a clock repairman be prepared to pay $75 to $125 for cleaning and repairing your clock. I am not in the business of repairing clocks. I collect them, work on them, and then sell them. Since I work out of my home and have low overhead I do not charge shop rates.
I fell in love with anniversary clocks many years ago and taught myself how to fix them. They look simple, but are not, because of the importance of the pendulum spring and the parts attached to it. If you have questions, please post them in your comments. I do not charge for answering questions to this hub.