Mechanic Vs Collectable Clocks

 Truck mechanic cartoon

How hard can it be to recondition old antique and collectible clocks? Well, this truck mechanic is going to find out but, those pieces are pretty small!

Being a connoisseur of fine antiques and collectibles, I look at most of these old items through a dollar sign, “how much retail are they worth?” I try hard not to get hooked on the collecting end of the business. But it’s pretty easy to fall into a trap of collecting when you see some interesting items that fit your fancy.

And Fancy Old Clocks I Do.

 I have to confess, I get an adrenalin rush, and the blood pressure goes up a notch with old clocks and timepieces. Most times, (pun intended) they’re not working when I purchase them!  But I learned very early in my extensive career as a high roller antique junky that older clocks don’t like to be moved much. When you see them thrown in a box and up for auction, well, you can imagine their condition therein? “But I like-um anyway!”

Being In the automotive industry for years, I’ve rebuilt many truck 18-speed standard transmissions. So I say to myself, how hard can it be to recondition antique and collectible old clocks.

As of writing this article, I’m going to put my skills to the test. I’ve traded my Snap-On Tools in for a new chapter in my life.

My wife and I decided to turn our energy into the estate auction circuit, flea markets, and, being a car guy, hitting automotive swap meet where I found real gold at one time on a vendor table.

Link to that story (FINDING GOLD AT A SWAP MEET)

Finding gold at a Automotive Swap Meet

Don’t let the term automotive swap meet throw you off.  An average person can be surprised even at the car gigs what collectibles and antiques you can find on those tables. Some of these seasoned vendors sell more than just car parts.

As the rule goes “Buy low sell High” is the first lesson you’re supposed to learn when buying and selling. But whoever came up with that term was smoken to many bad Canadian dubbies.

But doing the antique auction circuit, it didn’t take me long to notice a pattern and one being!

  Up For Sale Is These Beautiful Vintage And Antique Clocks, Sold, Sold, sold.

Wall clocks, wind-up clocks, weight pendulum wall clocks, mantel clocks, and my favorite “Cuckoo Clocks.” Hundreds of different shapes, styles, and looks from the early days.

Sold as-is, no guarantee to work the auctioneer says!

“Sold as is, no guarantee to work,” And because of this label, no guarantee in most cases means, their sold for a reasonable amount of money compared to their net retail worth.

As I’m doing a fast thought in my head, how hard can it be to fix one of these once elegant-looking timepieces? I mean, how hard can it be to rebuild/recondition an old clock when an 18-speed transmission is a piece of cake.

But Looking At Those Clock Gears, “They Look Pretty Small.”

Truck Mechanic Vs Antique Clocks is self-explanatory, “But did I mention those gears are pretty small looking.”

Now I’m into Google search and not necessarily to find their net worth in monetary value, but, “What makes this thing tick?” I remember back in the day; the roomer was when a clock was on a mantle or wall, warning …LEAVE IT ALONE! Was the rule a grams house?

Did you ever remember as a child and hearing your grandfather saying never touch that clock? Of course, most of us in the day took that seriously and thought it implied to be cumbersome or destructive young you. But it wasn’t you at all.

Google’s research brought up a lot of interesting facts about their movement or not and why they stop working.

If we all give it a thought, it makes perfect sense. The early settlers, for example, did not have battery-powered timepieces in every room; they didn’t have a watch or cell phone to be constantly bugging them about the schedule you’re on.

Some households only had one or two clocks in their home; their regular daily routine depended on a working timepiece. Watches in the day were set in one place and never removed from that spot for decades, “in that same one spot.”  They’re left alone on their mounted wall, never to be touched by human hands. They were made to last almost forever and in perfect time, undisturbed and, “undisturbed is the keyword!”

All those old clocks had one thing in common they were finicky timepieces. They have to be kept clean; they don’t like to be moved out of balance and levelled in most cases.

That was my first clue, a “red flag,” Most importantly, they have to be balanced. You have to hear that tick-tock-tick-tock precise sound.  NOT tick—-tock, tick—-tock.

To anybody’s ear, they even sound wrong.

This particular clock is selling cheap because it’s in an open box, has been moved from its wall after sitting 50 years, it doesn’t keep good time anymore or won’t work at all. That’s my “red flag.” that collectible antique has got my name written all over it.

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The mechanic in me is showing; let’s fix something, anything!

When inspecting a wind-up (spring-loaded) clock at an auction or garage sale, I have different-sized keys to check the clock mainspring. These T keys can be purchased through Amazon at a reasonable price. I first prevent the dust build-up on the timepieces and then use a key to turn the mainspring.   If the chassis is dirty on the inside, but the parts are in there — that’s a good sign.

If the spring tightens up and does not break, that’s a good sign.

If the case, the body or sometimes called the chassis, is in presentable condition, that’s a good sign!

Are the weights there?

A pendulum clock has a distinct working sound, tick-tock-tick-tock, when checked for proper operation.

NOT tick—-tock, tick—-tock, that shows the clock is not level in most cases and needs cleaning and or adjusting. Simple things!

But now I understand how they tick, know how they work, and that’s all I was interested in doing. I think I’ll go back to my 18 speed fuller transmission out of a Peterbilt Truck; “I least I can see the gears.”


After doing my utmost to rebuild old clocks, recondition these beautiful clocks like new, no one appreciates them anymore.    No money to be had today!

But now I understand how they tick, I know how they work, and that’s all I was interested in doing.   But having said that, I think I’ll go back to my 18 speed fuller transmission out of a Peterbilt Truck;  “At least I can see the gears.”

Here is a 10 dollar word for a clockmaker, there called “Horologists”

“Bit of Clock humour!

A Professional Clock Makers Advertisement States; If your clock doesn’t tick properly “Bring it and I’ll have a talk with it”  (tick, tock)

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