Antique Clock and Furniture Restoration

Antique Long Case Clock Troubleshooting Tips

Long case clock restoration,conservation ... grandfather clocks

Antique Long case clock (grandfather clock)

We have been restoring antique clocks for 37 years and are members of BAFRA and the Antiquarian Horological society.

Our movement and casework is considered by experts to be the best there is, therefore we are employed by museums embassies and societies to undertake restoration or sympathetic conservation of important clock cases and movements.

This page is to hopefully give the uninitiated some helpful tips regarding restoration or purchasing of long case clocks or grandfather clocks and the kind of things one should be aware of.

Long case or grandfather clock useful tips.

17th century Dutch Marquetry HoodEarly 18th century movement

Above to your right a very fine early 18th century movement striking on six Bells

Long case or grandfather clock movements have often been changed in many ways or have been previously poorly repaired. I have seen superglue and epoxy glues used, I have seen soft solder (commonly used in the 1930's and 40's) and metals which you just don't expect to find in an old clock such as aluminum used. We remove this solder and replace parts in a proper fashion for the period please be aware of items that are not contemporary to the period of manufacture such as post industrial revolution materials.

Sometimes the way the clock movement works has been changed this often applies to the escapement. Restoring the clock movement properly can be a very delicate and time consuming conservation project.

The movements may require such work as re-making any broken movement parts, often dial restoration is required. Nearly always the cases will require some restoration such as the making of new mouldings, re-veneering from contemporary timber and generally restoring and cleaning, look for post industrial methods of workmanship such as modern saw cuts judder marks from planer blades etc

Many long case clocks were cut down, perhaps to fit into a cottage with a very low ceiling space, so they might require new feet to be made to match the original period concept exactly using period timber.

What to look for when buying a grandfather clock

When looking to buy a grandfather clock or long case clock one has to first decide on the sort of clock and period that fits your requirements.

Generally speaking the older the clock and the better made clocks, are going to be the most expensive, for instance a clock made by a very well-known London maker is going to cost you rather more than one made by a village horologist, even though they both do the same job, they demand rather different prices.

You can sometimes find a long case movement sitting on the cheeks of a long case trunk and if one looks you can see that is obvious that it was never intended to be there, but sometimes it's rather harder to tell, movements were mixed and moved around generally for profit! looking to see if the movement is right for the case is is a very important thing to do and making sure that the seating board for the movement is original and doesn't look as if it's been cut and to make sure that where the board sits on the cheeks of the trunk has not been cut.

Another important thing to look for as to whether the movement has what's known as a Birmingham plate fitted.

These plates were used generally to miss match movements to dials, they were also used if one decided to fit at a later date some additional motion work.

Below is a photograph of a Birmingham plate or false plate.

Birmingham plate

Long case or grandfather clock case restoration

A lot of the case restoration work we undertake is known as Dutch marquetry restoration. This type of marquetry is extremely attractive and is very time-consuming to renovate in a proper and correct fashion. I stress the proper and correct fashion as we have found repairs of Dutch marquetry that have been undertaken where car filler has been used to fill damaged areas under the marquetry. A proper and correct restoration would involve killing any woodworm or infestation, and replacing any base structure with like for like materials (usually oak).

If we find inappropriate repairs we suggest that the marquetry be removed, the car filler removed and the base structure repaired in a proper fashion, using period oak and the marquetry re-laid as it would have been originally.

Our aim in the clock restoration of long case clock cases is that even an expert will find it hard or impossible to know which item has been replaced.

What to be aware of when buying selling or having a long case or clock grandfather clock restored.

If you are looking to buy a grandfather clock or longcase clock as they are known, one has to be aware of the pitfalls.
Lots of longcase clocks have over the years been changed by dealers and the like for monetary gain.
Movements have been matched to cases, if a really fine movement was once in a rather boring and maybe not quite so well-made case this movement would be taken out and put into a case deserving of such a fine movement but this of course would not be original.
In large houses where they had many longcase clocks sometimes these longcase clocks at times of spring cleaning and maintenance and house moving etc could sometimes be put back into the wrong case, particularly if the aperture matched.
Also in the early years and these clocks were not really worth a lot of money timbers and materials not contemporary to the period of manufacture would have been used for repair one has to look for these things.
If it's a 17th-century clock you would not expect to see regular marks that would be made by a machine.
These marks are often of a consistent juddering nature such as would be made by a power plane etc.
The first thing to look at when you're going to buy a clock is, does it look right, are the proportions right to your eye, does the dial fit correctly with in the aperture of the hood door.
Look at the cheeks within the case these are the sections of timber that are under the seeking board if there is lots of cutting there, or evidence of it the movement probably isn't original to the case.

Please contact us regarding any clock restoration project you might have. We would be pleased to receive photographs of your damaged clock.

Looking for an experienced antique clock restorer - contact Green and Cockburn on …
Tel : 01462 790646 or E-mail :

The British antique furniture restorers Association

We are accredited members of BAFRA, (British Antique Furniture Restorers Association).

Horologists, Conservators and Restoration Specialists To The Art, Antique And Museum Professions.

Conservation help and advice
We at Green & Cockburn are willing to help with any antique restoration project. Please contact us with your antique clocks and furniture restoration problems. Perhaps we can offer help and advice.

Historic Houses

We are Corporate members of the Historic Houses Association or HHA

Some of these fine antiques are looked after and housed in fine buildings supported by the Historic Houses Association.