Vintage Clock Restoration

Repairing or restoring a vintage mechanical timepiece requires the highest level of experience, as well as a good helping of patience.

A 1930’s Smiths MA clock – Manufactured in the famous Cricklewood Works.

Nearly 100 years of gentle wear and a natrual patina

A closer look at the dial reveals the true amount of effort and time that went into manufacturing these clocks.

The iconic Smiths MA logo along with the rest of the dial art were carefully engraved using a Pantograph machine and a larger pattern to copy

The mechanism is in very good order on this clock but the owner reports that the unit will not run.

It is common for clocks of this age to slow up and eventually stop due to lack of lubrication, too much lubrication or just build up of dirt or residue.

By far the most important advice is DON’T WIND IT!

When clocks slow it is rarely due to the “weak spring” and more often due to a sticky or fouled escapement mechanism.

The escapement is the ticking heart of any clock and as such needs to be in good order.

Clocks of this type drive the hands directly via a step up gear set, the escapement utilises an oscillating balance wheel to release the spring energy, one increment at a time.

As this mechanism slows, so does the clock, the result is that the first turns of the spring do not have enough energy to excite the escapement and thus the clock starts to require more winds to run for any period.

A continuation of this over winding results in a clock that does not run and is also fully

wound with no way of reducing the huge stress on all parts.

A very close inspection reveals no damage and very little wear. Man made ruby is a common bearing material on well made clocks from this era, the small ruby parts can be seen on the tangs of the pallet fork are often referred to as stones.

The small bearings for the fork spindle and escapement gear are also made from ruby and are referred to as Jewels.

Please note! The repair of the escapement requires specialist tools, fixtures, 

techniques and training due to the size of the parts involved.

The Clock is reduced down to individual parts for inspection, the size of the spring is responsible for the 30 day between winds as opposed to the 8 day units with smaller mainsprings.


The Main plate of the clock reveals the root of the problem.

In close we can see a badly worn spindle bearing.

These bearings are unlike the jewel bearings and are simply soft brass that has been work hardened through deformation or compression of the material around the spindle hole.

Unfortunately, the hard steel shaft of the gear has worn the hole elliptical allowing side forces to increase friction on other gears.

Reforming the indent and re-drilling/reaming the hole corrects the position of the spindle and prevents the gear meshing too closely with its neighbouring gears.

With the mechanism all repaired and back together, its time to look at some of the cosmetic imperfections, a very challenging task when trying to save the patina.

A plating of sterling silver was applied to the setting knob, before tackling the paintwork.

Removing scratches and paint chips while maintaining a natural look requires a range of specially mixed and blended paints.


With the paintwork looking like a well preserved original coating and a new glass, the clock is ready.

After a final inspection the clock is put on test for at least 24 hours in the upright position before being very carefully packaged and returned to the customer.

Ryan Linley Restoration is able to offer full and partial restorations over a wide range of vehicle instruments and timepieces, tailored to suit the individual needs of your project or much loved auto-antique, don’t risk low quality repairs, get in touch and tell us what you need…