The mechanism of a clockwork toy is merely a driving force—a tightly wound spring, which, in its efforts to release itself, sets in motion the wheels which work the model or toy. A watch or clock works on the same principle—plus a retarding action which restrains it and adjusts the unravelling of the spring within certain prescribed limits. The minute and hour hands work at different speeds simply through being coupled up to cogs of different gauges; of similar simplicity are the secrets of all the other apparent mysteries of the timepiece.

Clocks and watches are all identical in principle, although superficially quite diilerent, and it is only by carefully studying the relative parts that the similarity can be fully understood.

It is not within the possibilities of this work to give even a cursory outline of the working of a clock or watch, but the amateur is advised to obtain an old clock, and use it for experimentsl purposes, whilst studying Clock and Watch Repairing for the Amateur, published by Messrs. Foulsham at one shilling net.

There is no reason, however, why one or two hints in cleaning and adjusting should not be given here:

Cleaning a Clock.

These hints on cleaning seem really too simple to be satisfactory, but none the less they are really useful. Take a piece of cotton wool, saturate it with paraffin, and place it inside the clock below, but not touching the works, which, for preference, should be moving. If it is a grandfather clock, arrange the wool on the floor of the case and shut the door tightly. With a bracket clock, much the same arrangement can be effected, but less wool is needed; with a spring clock, put the wool on the bottom of a large biscuit tin, remove the back of the clock, and rest the case with the opening pointing downwards on some improvised supports, then shut the lid. A watch may be treated in the same way. Leave the timepiece in this condition for three days and only touch when necessary to rewind. At the end of this time the wool will be found to be sprinkled with specks of dirt. The fumes of the paraffin have risen up to the various parts and have, in this way, dislodged the foreign matter.

A quicker, but more drastic method consists in removing the action from its wooden frame, taking off the hands, face, and pendulum if any, and putting the works in hot water, containing a little soda. Keep the clock going during treatment. When the water becomes cold, remove the clock, blow off superfluous moisture and dry in a hot oven. Then oil the various parts with sewing machine oil, using a feather.

The works of a grandfather clock are large enough to be cleaned by dislodging the accumulated dust with a feather or small paint brush. Finish off by oiling the bearings.

No attempt should be made to clean a watch, until some knowledge of the parts has been gained, but the following anecdote of a heroic cure, is given for what it is worth. Some years ago, while negotiating the Mexican Gulf coast in a small open boat, a gold watch became waterlogged. In a few days it was taken to a native watchmaker, who refused to tackle it, alleging that it was ‘donefor.’ On returning home, it was steeped in a tin of petrol and left over night, and the next morning was found to -be ticking away merrily. The watch was still a good timekeeper when it was stolen three years later.


To regulate a spring clock, push the indicator towards ‘S’ when it goes too fast, and towards ‘F’ when it loses. The slightest alteration of the needle will make a considerable difference. Do not expect to put the matter right at once, but set the regulator slightly, and give it attention every twenty-four hours until absolutely correct.

A pendulum clock is regulated by altering the length of the pendulum. Raise the nut below the bob when the clock slows down and lower it when it gains. If the beat is not regular, the clock is standing or hanging out of true, and must be set square before it can keep accurate time.

The hands of a striking clock should never be moved backwards. At the close of the artificial ‘Summer-time’ they should be moved forward eleven hours, allowing the clock to strike normally.

Watches are regulated in a similar manner to spring clocks. It should be remembered that on Continental watches, the letters on the regulator are ‘A’ (Avance) and ‘R’ (Retard), for Fast and Slow.

It is best to wind watches each morning—not at night.

Broken Mainsprings.

In buying a new spring, see that it is the same width as the old one, and get it the same length, if possible. Before removing the defective one from the barrel, note how it is fixed, and try to fit the new one in the same way. First clean the barrel scrupulously, and then begin to wind in the coil, starting at the outer edge. Use both hands and always have one of them gripping the spring to the edge of the barrel. Never let go of it until the whole has been neatly wound round and round, and hooked. The spring must not fill the barrel, or there will be no space for it to uncoil; it should fill up half the space of the barrel, leaving the other half for uncoiling. If it is any longer, it should be shortened.

Whenever a mainspring breaks, a shock is always imparted to the wheels connected with the barrel. It is therefore highly necessary to examine the whole train thoroughly before dismantling the watch or clock. A tooth is often broken off from one of the cog wheels, or a leaf from one of the pinions. Maybe some of the wheels are jerked off their pinions, too. All these things should be anticipated and located if they exist. In some watches, the wheels are so planned that, should the mainspring snap and cause a shock, this is not expended in damaging the entire train; it merely unscrews the centre pinion. Therefore, look to the centre pinion and screw it up if needs be. –