Winding should be done at regular time intervals and preferably at roughly the same time of day for 30 hour clocks ie, clocks which are only designed to run for one day between winding. Eight day clocks which are designed to run for a full week on one winding should be wound on the same day each week. Always make sure that you use a key which fits the winding square properly. A key which is too big and has a lot of slop in it will slowly round the edges of the winding square. We have seen cases where this is so extreme that the clock cannot be wound at all. For spring driven clocks ie, mantel clocks, bracket clocks, carriage clocks and most wall clocks turn the key steadily until you feel it come to a positive stop. For weight driven clocks, like the eight day longcase (grand father clock) turn the key with the main trunk door open so that you can observe the position of the weight as you wind. Do not wind so far that you bang the weight pulley on the underside of the seat board. Stop just before you get to the top. There is actually no such thing as ‘over winding’ of a clock, but nonetheless it is possible to cause some damage by over zealous winding.
Always wind gently and steadily. Learn the number of turns that it takes to fully wind your clock. This will aid greatly in preventing you from going too fast when the clock is almost fully wound.
Setting the hands and any other indicators such as day, date, month, moon phase, complex striking etc, should always be approached with particular care. Never turn the hands of a clock backwards. Whilst it is possible on some clocks, on others it will cause expensive damage to the striking mechanism. Always allow each strike and chime to complete before turning the hands forwards again. Only ever turn the minute hand. Never attempt to turn the hour hand of your clock. Contact a horological conservator for advice on hand setting or if you encounter unexpected resistance when trying to move a clock hand.
Some clocks have a system of striking which employs something called a “count wheel”. If the strike train happens to run out before the going train does and the clock stops, then the strike will be out of synch with the time when the clock is re-started. The same thing will happen if the time is altered without allowing the clock to complete its strike at the hour before continuing to move the hands forward.
Re synchronising the strike with the time is not difficult, but you will need to be shown how to do this as it is not easy to describe clearly
a horological conservator can correct the striking sequence or advise you on the necessary steps.
Care should be taken not to touch the dial. All types of dials can be affected by the moisture from hands, which is corrosive and may also remove painted or printed features. Fingers and hands also deposit grease and dirt, which builds up into unsightly and potentially damaging marks. For particularly vulnerable dials the use of cotton or surgical rubber gloves is recommended. Contact a horological conservator for advice on dial care and conservation.
Regulation of pendulum clocks is normally done by moving the knurled nut (called the rating nut) which sits beneath the pendulum bob. Hold the pendulum bob so that it does not twist whilst screwing the nut upwards to increase the rate of the clock, ie, to make it faster and screwing it down to slow the clock down. It is good practise to turn the nut just half a turn and then observe the clock for a day to see what the result is. By this method a longcase clock can be brought to a very good rate. Many french mantel clocks have a very small (about 1mm) square section rod poking through the dial at the twelve o’clock position. This can be turned gently with a small key of the correct size. Turning the key clockwise will increase the rate of the clock and turning anti clockwise will slow it down. As with longcase clocks, just half a turn should be used and the result observed before making a further adjustment.
At the risk of stating the obvious i will point out that pendulum clocks are not self-starting and the pendulum will need to be set swinging by moving the pendulum about one centimetre to the right or left of centre before releasing it. If ticking can be heard then the clock has started. If not, repeat the procedure but move the pendulum a little more to the left or right before releasing it. beware of moving the pendulum too far as this can create problems