Home Forums General Discussion Forum Preserving a reverse painted clock glass

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      Recently I was given a old New Haven Clock Company 30 hr wall clock, not sure of the date, but after a few tweaks, it is running and keeping good time, this clock has a dual pane door, clear glass on the top pane, and a reverse painted window on the bottom, this clock has sat in several basement over the last 50 plus years and the reverse painting is flaking away, I would like to seal it so it will stop the pealing, but I am unsure what to use, this is a family heirloom on my wife’s side, so do not want to replace it, and preserving it is the only option.

      Also on a different subject, I have been cleaning the wooden case to get the original grain to show through the grime and dirt, any ideas on a good cleaner?

      Oh yeah, it has been a long time since I was last on here, nice to see it is still thriving and people are helping each other out.

      bernie weishapl

        There are several that do this and just for info sake they aren’t cheap. The last dial I had painted was $175 and the last reverse painted glass was $135. Anyway here are a few that I have used.

        http://www.robhuffman.com/linda/#services Phone: 781-647-0672 This is by far the best I have found. She is excellent.

        http://www.reverseglasspainting.com/ 262-206-2000

        Lee Davis is really good and teaches reverse painting at the NAWCC. He can be contacted at [email protected]




        Like I said none are cheap but hopefully this will give you some ideas.


          Thanks for your information, if we can not preserve it the way it is, that is an option.

          But let me clarify my original post, I want to preserve it in its current condition, to keep the character it has, so I am looking to preserver it as it is and prevent further peel and chipping.

          Right now, my best solution that I can think of is to get another piece of glass cut to that same size and press them together, apply a thin bead of silicone around the edge to seal it from the elements and allow for expansion and contraction, then add pivot points to hold it in the door. So the only thing different would be the wooden backstops that hold the glass.

          Another, if I could find a epoxy that I could pour over the door to seal the painting, but I am afraid of the chemical interactions or temp changes creating stress points in the glass.

          Am I over thinking this?

          bernie weishapl

            What I would do would be to call one of the people I gave you and ask if there is something you can do to preserve the paint on your glass. The only thing I have heard otherwise is to use a clear acrylic spray. They have said it keeps it from flaking but would wonder if it would yellow over the years. I have never tried anything like that just have always had them restored. All I have had done have been the exact picture that was original to the clock.

            Generally on a clock such as a kitchen clock I use murphy’s oil soap using a soft rag. Don’t saturate the wood but wring you rag out good and clean the case well. Once I have that done I let it dry for 24 hrs before doing anything else. I use Old English furniture oil that is pigmented either light or dark. This will cover any scratches on the clock and give it a nice shine. It doesn’t cover the grain up and lets it show thru.


              Yeah, I am worried about the yellowing also, I will try giving one of them a call and see what they say, and talk to the wife about having it restored, like I said this was her great great grandmothers, and she wants it kept as original as possible.

              Again, THANK YOU for your suggestions.

              Oh, one more question, does anyone know a way to date a New Haven Clock? I have not found any numbers or markings, and the information sheet on the inside is dried out and mostly unreadable.

              bernie weishapl

                You might try this site. They give you some info but you have to join to get much more. https://www.antiqueclockspriceguide.com/labelstrademarks.php?lm=New%20Haven
                This first page give some info. Here is some excellent info about the New Haven company. http://www.antiqueclockspriceguide.com/newhavenclockco.php
                More info. http://jeromeclockcollector.com/jerome-co-new-haven-labels/

                A picture of what you are working on would help to as far as info goes. Hope the above helps. Looks like New Haven came into being around 1853 up to around 1960.


                  Yeah I found that first site, but was hesitant to sign up for something I was hoping to get for free, but I broke down and did it just now, 1880’s New Haven OG wall clock, was the time frame I was expecting, the example they showed had everything the same, even the two blocks on top to cover the pullies for the weights.

                  Thanks again for the help and suggestions.

                  bernie weishapl

                    Your welcome.


                      Ok, I have another question for the knowledge base here, it pertains to the wood cabinet,

                      This clock was basically tossed in a corner of a farm house basement for at least 50 years and left to rot, I have cleaned it 5 times and still have build up to remove, I am applying a moderate level of elbow grease to it, but I do not want to rub to hard or to aggressively and damage the surface. Repeatedly cleaning the wood should not damage it? When I clean it and allow it to sit for a day, then re-clean it. Each time I am getting closer, the sides are about as good as they will get, the top and front are another story.

                      When I finally get it cleaned and ready to finish, use something like Old English Polish (what I was thinking) or wood wax?

                      This wood is severely dried out, so I am thinking the oil in Old English is the best path, rehydrate the wood, which will make it eliminate some of the dry shrinkage (miter cuts no longer align). I realize it will never get back to original, but I want to prevent it from getting worse.

                      Like I said in OP, amazingly the movement had two small issues, a broken pendulum and need new cable for the weights, it looked like the “string” started to rot and they had tied the ends together several times in an attempt to salvage it.

                      Again, thanks in advance for your knowledge


                        Hey Steve, your getting there ;) ….cases are alot of work. I have used the old English or lemon oil and when trying to get into the corners and moldings I use a soft tooth brush, put a bit of the cleaner on the toothbrush and be ready with a soft rag to wipe up the excess,,,,toothpicks and q tips to get in really tight. I dont think you will “rehydrate” the wood. The best thing for keeping new wood stable (if you start out with dried lumber) is to seal it with a type of sealer and then a finish coat, the oils used like tongue oil fill in the grain and “seal it” just like other finishes. Not sure what you can do to stabilize the wood at this point, I suppose a coat of finish but in my opinion that looks real tacky..If you keep it in a climate controlled environment it should settle down and stay put for years to come…I think the only issue with re cleaning that you might have would be taking off too much finish or if using anything water base possibly causing damage that way. If it was glued together originally with hide glue, water will soften the glue (that could be why the joints are loose now from being in the barn). Depending on what glue was used you may be able to take the case apart and refit the joints after cleaning, I have done this on some clocks, makes it much easier to clean. Please put up a photo of what your working on, I am interested. William


                          Working on posting some pictures, had a couple of “issues” arise that has made my office a mess, and I will be honest, to dam embarrassed to post a picture that might show it.. give me a couple of days and I should have them ready to post.

                          On a different topic, you guys ever have the catch (clicker) on a mainspring fall off? A Sessions I got my mother in law a few years back, did just that, she called me the other day to tell me the clock made a loud sound and now does not chime, I brought it home and the chime spring was blown out, completely released, I got to looking and the clicker/catch was not on the movement, but in the bottom of the Tudor case. Luckily I was able to get the mainspring to catch on the post and with some effort, winder the mainspring tight enough to apply a ring to it. What course of action would you do if I could not of gotten it to wind up?

                          That is going to be the next repair after I am done with this old New Haven…


                            I think that click is rivetted on, you will need to get the plates apart I think to get a new rivet in there. I have not done that many American clocks so I am sure Bernie or William may be of more help here.

                            bernie weishapl

                              When a spring lets loose be it a click that has dropped off or the spring end has broken they are a pain. If the spring is intact I try to wind them up and get a C clamp on them before I even try to take them out of the case. Sometimes you need 3 hands so I get the wife to help at least hold the case so I can work the rest. You will have to tear the clock down and remove the mainspring from the wheel to rivet a new click in place. Most times I have found if the click goes it may have been due to the click spring breaking also. You may have to buy or make a click spring if it has. One thing that will help you is when you rivet the new click one the mainspring wheel I take a thin feeler gage and cut a V in it. You can also buy blank suspension springs and do the same thing. I put it under the click and then start riveting. When done pull out the feeler gage and your click will move freely. If you don’t use some kind of thin metal under it when you rivet it will be tight and won’t work real well. When you wind the spring it will move the click up but will be so tight it can’t go back to catch the wheel. Don’t ask me how I know all this. 😳


                                Funny thing, I had to yell for the wife, to get the mainspring wound tight enough to get the ring on it, it had to be wound pretty tight and my hands were doing all they could to hold the key and the movement, so I had to talk her through how to thread the ring over the spring.

                                It took about 30 mins to get the spring to catch again so I could wind it up…

                                That tip of the “spacer” when riveting gonna save me some time and cussing… THANKS!


                                  Ok, I owe some pictures on the old New Haven Ogee Clock.

                                  First, I decided to restore nothing, I took some brass parts off and were able to polish them up, but we replaced nothing, the reverse painting is a applied filigree and background hand painted, but the center part is an applied imaged, guess they start doing this around 1860’s from several website I was researching.

                                  The movement was restored, has been running for 10 days, it lost 2 minutes over 7 days, so I adjusted the bob, we will how it is next week.

                                  Again, these images are hosted on one of my websites, they are raw images, so the file size is large, just a heads up.

                                  You will notice 3 images of the outside of the clock, I was playing with light, to see what gave me the best result, I have a light box, but my daughter has had it for several months, and I doubt if I will ever get it back, so I need to build a new one. I had read online that you could place a tissue over the flash to soften the harshness of the light, so one image is no tissue, one tissue, two tissues. a cheap light box effect.


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