Clock Restoration

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This is the project clock used in Extreme Restoration. The techniques covered in each chapter are applied to this project clock so the reader can see it go from the poor, incomplete condition it was received in to the fully and accurately restored condition seen in the final chapter.

The Project Clock

The case as received. Finish is gone, lower cross-piece is missing and all of the door, except right hand side, is missing.

The case is identified as a Seth Thomas type-one, half-column shelf clock. It is the earliest of the Seth Thomas shelf clock designs to use a brass movement. Later versions of this case (known as type-two and type-three) are similar but with identifiable updates.

It is one of the first case designs used by Seth Thomas in combination with the new weight-driven, brass movement patented by Noble Jerome in the mid-1830's.

While the case is in terrible condition, the label is in unusually good condition for its age. This, plus the fact that the design is among the earliest Seth Thomas brass movement designs makes the project worth the effort.

Here is the clock near the end of it's restoration.

Numerous missing pieces such as the lower cross molding and three of the four door sides have been created from scratch.

All original veneer was retained while "harvested" veneer was used in areas where original veneer was missing.

The columns have been gilded and rings embossed into them based on original designs.

All glass is correct antique "seeded" glass.

The lower tablet is an early stencil design as would be appropriate to this clock.


The dial and hands are both of the correct type and vintage. The hands were quite rusty and were broken when received and had to be repaired.

The dial as received. It has quite a bit of original paint that is retained during the restoration.

An important consideration in this and any project is to not "over-restore" and retain as much of the original as possible.

Compare the before and after photos. Notice that the numerals for seven o'clock have been left pretty much as received. The three o'clock numerals had to be repaired, but the wear on the inside portions were left as-is.

The floral pattern were carefully repaired, but again efforts were made to avoid over-restoring.

In the end, the dial looks used but in very good condition and is a good match for the rest of the clock.

One of the most exciting things about this clock was the label. It was worn and dirty, but pretty much complete. Careful cleaning and de-acidification resulted in a very readable label.

The label was in such good condition that the printer's name could still be read on the bottom. This is usually the first part of the label lost to moisture and decay.

The printer's name is a very useful item in pinpointing the manufacture date of the clock.

Based on NAWCC printer research, T.M. Newson produced labels for Seth Thomas brass clocks in 1845 and 1846. It is unusual to be able to date a clock this closely, but the label provided the information needed.

There are a lot of variations or models of the 30-hour brass movement. Even within the Seth Thomas, Plymouth Hollow brass movements, there are several sub-categories.

Accurately determining the production date for the clock allowed the correct movement sub-type to be identified used.

The correct movement for this clock is known as a type 1.241 (early). It is identifiable by shop detail such as the brass, crescent shaped strike hammer, the thick inner rim on the two great wheels, the use of a count hook in which a small hole has been drilled for an eye hook to fit the lift wire instead of simply twisting a loop in the count hook wire and certain other detail.

The movement is shown mounted in a test stand for testing and rating prior to final installation. The hands are not the correct hands but useful for testing.

Correct, original weights were located at an NAWCC regional "Mart" and are used in the clock.

Carefully researching and selecting the correct movement for a clock being restored is another way to increase the overall accuracy of an extensive restoration.

The project clock was received in near hopeless condition, but retained enough material and information to allow it to be extensively researched. As a result, it was possible to locate and accurately create missing pieces to produce a very accurate restoration. The restored clock is accurate in every detail and is structurally sound. It will run and show well for many years to come.  Someday, when another restorer finds the clock stored away somewhere, they will find no incorrect finishes, adhesives or other materials.

The project clock provided a great vehicle with which to demonstrate what can be done when an extreme restoration is taken on and executed with care and attention to accuracy.