The cleaning and management of these clocks is simple. It occasionally occurs in new clocks, that a movement has been fitted to a case that is not high enough to allow the pendulum to swing free when the clock is regulated to the proper time. Sometimes filing a little off the bevelled edges of the ball will allow the pendulum to clear the bottom of the case or stand of the clock, and allow it to be brought to time. Should more than a little be required taken off the edge of the ball, there is no use troubling with it further. Either get a new movement, or alter the train, or make a new pendulum ball of a peculiar shape. The train is easiest altered by putting in a new escape-wheel pinion containing one leaf less than the old one. In all cases, where pinion wire can be had, putting in a new pinion is not much trouble; but if this cannot be done, and a new. movement cannot be had, a new pendulum ball of an oblong shape may be used.
As soon as new clocks are unpacked, whether they appear in good condition or not, it is always well to take the movements to pieces, and to examine every action in the clock. Begin by taking off the hands and the dial, first trying if the hands move freely. Then examine the drops of the escapement to see if they are equal; if not, they can easily be corrected by moving the front bush of the pallet arbor with the screwdriver, making a light mark across the bush with a sharp point, which will show how much the bush has been moved. The fly pitching may next be examined, and adjusted by the movable bush in the same way. The object of this bush being left movable is to admit of the depth being adjusted, so that the fly will make the least noise possible, and also to regulate the speed of the striking train. The dial work and the repeating work, if any, may now be removed, and the springs let down, the end and side shakes of the pivots in their holes carefully tried, and all the depths examined; as a general rule they will be found to be correct.
The pivots will, in some instances, be a little rough, and it will not be much trouble to smooth them.
After examining the mainsprings, and noticing that the arbors are free in the barrels, the clock may be cleaned and put together. This will be roost conveniently done by placing all the wheels first on the back plate, and putting the front plate on the top. Get all the long pivots into their holes first, and as soon as possible put a pin into one of the bottom pillars. The locking of the striking work of these clocks is very simple, and all the pieces are marked.
Be sure that the arbors in the barrels are oiled, and that the mainsprings are hooked before you put them in the frame. See that there is oil on the pivots below the winding ratchets before they are put on, and that the wheel which carries the minute hand moves round the centre pinion with the proper tension, before you put on the dial. This cannot be remedied after the dial is put on, without taking it off again, and if the hands are loose, results fatal to the character of the clock are sure to follow.
To regulate the clock, it is safest to turn the case round, examine the regulator, and, if it is a Breguet, put a slight mark with a sharp point across the regulator. When the regulating square is turned, you will see exactly how much the regulator is altered; because there is sometimes a want of truth in the screw that moves the sliding piece, which deceives people as to the distance they may have moved the regulator. There are various kinds of regulators, but probably the Breguet is the most common of those of modern construction. Silken thread regulators should always be regulated with caution, and when small alterations have to be made, it is well to use an eye-glass and notice how much the pendulum is moved up or down. If a clock with such a regulator has to be moved or carried about, when it is out of the case, it is always best to mark the place where the pendulum worked in the back fork when it was regulated to time; for should the thread be disarranged, it can be adjusted so as to bring the mark on the pendulum to its proper place, and the regulation of the clock will not be lost thereby.
When fastening the clock in its case, put it in beat by moving the dial round a little till the beats become equal; but it sometimes occurs that when the clock is in beat, the dial is not square in the case. When this happens take the clock out of the case and bend the back fork at its neck till it moves exactly as far past the centre-wheel pivot on the one side as on the other, when the pallets allow the escape wheel to escape. If this is done, the dial will be square when the clock is in beat. Some French clocks have their back forks loose, or rather spring tight, on their arbors. This is sometimes done in movements that have plain as well as jewelled pallets. If the pallets are exposed in front of the dial, you can at once detect by the eye if the clock be out of beat; but if they are inside, you cannot tell without close listening. One of the objects of the loose crutch is that the clock can be put in beat by giving it a shake; but it is evident that if a shake puts it in beat, another shake will put it out of beat again.
Great annoyances arise from these loose crutches; these ought always to be rigidly tight, except, perhaps, when the pallets are jewelled, or when the clock is not liable to be moved.
These clocks seldom require any repair, except perhaps the pallets get cut; but they are generally made so as to admit of the action being shifted, which is easily done. Cleaning the brass is done in the usual way. Buffs should be used for the large pieces, when very dirty; but if they are only slightly tarnished, a little potassium cyanide dissolved in alcohol will be found very suitable. The ornamental cases require to be handled with care, to prevent finger marks. In the highest priced clocks this precaution is perhaps not quite so necessary, because then the cases are either real bronze, or gilt and burnished; but in the cheaper qualities, and also in some expensive patterns of cases, the gilding is easily damaged. A little potassium cyanide and ammonia, dissolved in water, will often clean and restore it, if the gilding is not rubbed. There is a preparation sold in the form of a paste that renews the lustre of black marble cases if they have become dim. If the preparation cannot be got conveniently, a little beeswax on a piece of flannel may replace it.