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February 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm #48183
I’m new to the forum and clock repair. I just cleaned a “John Wanamaker” clock, not sure what to call it but is covered by a glass dome. After drying, some of the parts had a spoty white film on them, mostly the plates and were sticky. I cleaned all that off but not sure if the plates should be coated with a Lacquer or something. I’m thinking someone may have put polish on to make the parts shine.
Is it nessary to coat the plates?
If so what do I use?
Are there certain clocks that have a coating on some parts?
Any advice would be helpful,
Rog55February 26, 2012 at 1:58 pm #51106aruthaParticipant
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Hi Rog, I just looked up a John Wanamaker clock and as you say it has a dome its most likely a 400 day clock so its safe to say the plates are lacquered, if you use a strong enough cleaner it can turn the lacquer into a slimy goo. The old British Smiths clocks are known for this. If the plates looked fairly clean before you cleaned them then this was probably the case, compared to untreated brass it almost looks like gold when lacquered. I dont know anything about how to re lacqure plates, I imagine its a pain in the butt as you would have to clean out all traces from the pivot and screw holes afterwards. If it was me I would just clean off any leftover traces and then put it back together. Its only there in the first place to keep the plates looking nice as you will know by now how brass looks when it gets tarnished. I am sure someone else will be along soon to let us know if there is a way to re-lacquer and what to use. The laquer is not essential it just means it will eventualy tarnish. You will probably find things like the barrel case etc were also lacquered. If you are new to clock repair one thing I would add is that these clocks can be a real pain to set up again once you have it back together. Try and get yourself a good book that tells you how to do it, it can at times be a long process and if you should break the suspension spring this can also be a big headache, probably not the best type of clock to start with.
Please dont let me put you off, keep at it and you will get there, if you get stuck we will do what we can to help you throughFebruary 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm #51107
Thank you for the advice Arutha, it looks like the barrel is coated but didn’t get sticky. If no ideas of a good way to recoat comes in I may try to experiment with a spray lacqure. I gave $10 for it so not much to lose but would like to do it right. The main spring was broke and the noch on the arbor was broke off also. Someday I would like to start a business so I’m working on just my own for now.
RogerFebruary 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm #51108aruthaParticipant
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By the notch on the arbor do you mean the bit that holds the mainspring? I am sure someone will be along in a bit to help on this one but be a little careful with the replacement mainspring, they can be a lot stronger than they used to be, I think I am right in saying you reduce this thickness by a certain percentage to overcome the extra power but this is not gospel, wait until another member gives confirmation on this. I wouldnt know how to go about repairing the arbor either, looks like I will be learning something new here too I would be very interested to hear how you get on with this as I have just started on my first 400 day clock and I have another 3 to play with after this one!February 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm #51109
Hi Roger and welcome!!
No real rule as to whether to re-lacquer or not. Many people choose not to if the movement is under a glass dome or semi sealed case such as a anniversary, crystal regulator, carriage clock etc.
I was shown a great way to lacquer around 30 years ago by Joe Lyons of Lyons Clocks in Orange County, Ca. I don’t know if Joe is still in business now but he was a heck of a clock smith those days. I used to collect and deal in skeleton clocks a bit back then and although they were under glass domes I always lacquered them. My results were okay but always seemed a little dull and cloudy looking’. Whenever I would visit Joes shop I would check out his beautiful, superb, super clear and deep lacquer work. It was actually intimidating it was so good. I eventually got up the nerve to ask him his secret. His answer (not an exact quote but close) “Oh that? it’s easy, follow me”. He then led me outside to the side or behind his store (can’t really remember the layout of his shop) where he had a movement under glass sitting next to a can of lacquer which were both sitting in the sun! “Both the brass and the lacquer must be warm to hot and both must be the same temperature when the lacquer is applied or else you’ll get a cloudy finish with orange peel”.
I’m still here with no burns but ….Disclaimer: Please read any temperature warnings on can!! Heat at own risk.
It’s a simple process really. The plates should be super clean and then placed horizontally to apply the lacquer. Lacking sunshine you can always use a hair dryer.
Several very light coats will produce a beautiful deep finish. All lacquer must be removed from the oil sinks and from all pivot holes. If lacquer is left in the oil sinks the oil will run right out onto the plate so that step is Very important. I used to use regular lacquer until told about musical instrument lacquer. It’s made just for brass. As for the barrels and wheels I only did this with some skeleton clocks. I found that the process wasn’t usually worth the trouble.
You can also just wax the movement with a good carnuba car wax. Again, keep the wax out of the oil sinks if you go this route.
Hope this helps Roger,
BobFebruary 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm #51110willofiamModerator
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hey Roger, I too started with a 400 day anniversary clock, I must have gotten lucky = no probs and runs well, just take your time. my local contact who is currently out of the bus. but was the man around here for years mentioned that when cleaning possible lacquered plates to be careful of how strong a solution you use as Paul mentioned, he also sugjested wiping on a lacquer with a cloth, very lightly and several coats, this will help from doing the extra work cleaning up the areas you dont want it to go. I would probable go through it anyway. another idea is to peg the bushings with toothpics or something similar, just stick in enough to keep them there. I am not exactly sure on what parts are usually lacquered on clocks, I thought I read somewhere that the only thing regularly lacquered were the plates and nothing else, although that may be different for anniversary and skeleton clocks. WilliamFebruary 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm #51111
William makes an excellent point there. I should have read your post more carefully. When I read
I cleaned all that off but not sure if the plates should be coated with a Lacquer
I just assumed that you had removed all of the lacquer. I haven’t tried lacquer on a rag but If it’s just a few spots then it sounds like a good tip. Definitely worth a try.
Also you’re right William about not lacquering wheels. It’s not common practice at all. When lacquering wheels you have to either use some type of resist which needs to be cleaned off after lacquering or cover the teeth with something. No lacquer between the teeth. The only time I ever lacquered wheels on a skeleton is if requested by a customer. Again never felt it was worth the trouble. Looks great though.
BobMarch 3, 2012 at 10:07 am #51112
Thanks for all the suggestion’s, that was what I was looking for. Now that I know I don’t have to coat the plates I want to see how long before I see tarnish.
Thanks for all the help
RogerMarch 4, 2012 at 11:47 am #51113
If you try the lacquer on the rag trick please let us know how it turns out.
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