Restoring Antique American Clocks

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     I tend to select clocks in very poor condition for my restoration projects. When I come across one of these, I know that if I pass on it, it is heading for the scrap heap. I hate the thought of losing another of the limited number of remaining examples of clock makings golden age. As a result, my project clocks usually need a lot of repair, restoration and re-creation of missing pieces. Thus the book title Extreme Restoration.

     The book began as a three ring binder where I kept notes about restoration techniques needed for these hard core projects. I tried to improve the accuracy and authenticity of each restoration and found that I had to do more and more research and experimentation to uncover the correct techniques for a given task. The notebook grew...........

     Having a soft spot for books, I purchased or borrowed everything I could find on clock repair & restoration. There are many good books about clocks (both in and out of print) but most of these focus on repair of the mechanical parts of the clock.

    There are some books, such as John Plewes Repairing & Restoring Pendulum Clocks or Taylor & Babb's Wooden Clock Cases, that address certain clock case repairs. Unfortunately, many  specialized skills such as repair and restoration of faux finishes, restoration of glass tablets, gilding, treatment of labels, etc go largely unaddressed. In short, I found that there was no single, comprehensive reference for the wide range of skills needed to accurately restore an antique clock. In fact, many skills and techniques appear to have never been documented.

    With the knowledge of what was available and what was missing, the idea for Extreme Restoration began to take shape. The book is organized in a simple to follow chronological sequence beginning with examination and evaluation of a potential project clock. It then proceeds through 14 chapters each addressing a major step in the restoration process.

    Along the way, there is an effort to share some interesting, if not totally relevant, historical information on such topics as the invention of paper, the evolution of glass making and the role steel-making played in starting the American revolution.

    There is also much useful scientific information: Color Theory as it relates to mixing and matching paint colors. The molecular make up of paper and the chemical properties that make some labels deteriorate. The Pittenkofer solvent vapor treatment developed to save priceless paintings and now used to treat paint lifting on glass tablets. Understanding that there are now  high-tech materials now available to perform museum quality glass repairs is important to a restorer trying to save as much original material as possible. Each of these topics add to the restorers tool kit and directly impact the quality and authenticity of a restoration.

    As far as how-to techniques are concerned, there are many. Each presented in step-by-step detail and supported by numerous high quality digital photos. Several techniques to restore or recreate glass tablets are presented including stencils, Decalcomania (direct-to-glass transfer techniques) and the Litho-paper transfer process used on many tablets in the early 1800's.

    Detailed techniques for clock dial touch-up or total repainting are provided. Additionally, methods to accurately recreate missing dials is covered in detail. The chapter on special finishes uncovers the techniques to produce stunning faux tortoise shell clock columns, gold leafed columns and trim and faux wood grain as used on many clock cases in the later 1800's.

    Movements and related hardware are not forgotten in Extreme Restoration. Disassembly, inspection, cleaning, repair and testing of the five most common types of movement are each covered separately to provide clear, concise information. More importantly, a section on "What to do when it doesn't run" is provided to help locate the reason a freshly repaired clock does not run or run properly.

    With over 700 pages (161,000 words) and over 2,700 photos and drawings, the list of what is covered could go on, but the detailed table of contents may do a better job of showing this.

    Extreme Restoration was written by a clock restorer for clock restorers. Every technique and procedure presented was actually performed at the time of write up. This identified potential stumbling points and areas of possible confusion. These are each pointed out as necessary. The goal is to ensure that everyone reading the book can successfully perform the techniques presented and produce a higher quality of restoration.

    Extreme Restoration is available on CD for only $49.95 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. It comes in a standard Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format which, for a book of this size, offers a number of advantages.

    There are many clock books in the market but rarely will you find so much useful information in one place. The amount of information provided in Extreme Restoration and the improvement it can make in your clocks makes this book a bargain.   Click to order now...