MANTLE CLOCKS 1920's to 1970,s

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Book written by DesMANTLE CLOCKS 1920’s to 1970’s

The common Mantle clocks sold in Australia from around the 1920’s to 1940’s usually were a rectangular shape with a square ot rectangular dial.  In the 1940’S they gradually changed to a doubled curved shape top and were commonly called Napoleon hat shaped clocks.  Their construction consisted of a ply back and front with a veneer shape, nailed and glued to the sides to produce the top.  A majority of these clock cases were imported into Australia from England and Germany before the Second World War.  During 1940 to 1945 clocks and movements were difficult to obtain so the numbers available were low.  After the war both complete clocks and movements started to appear in Australia again.  These clocks were commonly given to people as a wedding present or a person leaving their place of employment, and also presented with an inscription plate for years of service to work or charity.  As we nearer the 1950’s quite a number of cabinet making workshops around Australia who produced veneered bedroom suites or wireless cabinets also made clock cases as they had off cuts of ply and veneer they could use up to produce these clocks cases.  That is the reason why you see such a large variety of case designs.  They then fitted an imported English of German movement and they were sold throughout jewellery shops in their local town or city.  Common veneer used was walnut and blackwood.  Majority of these clocks had a round opening bezel in chrome and a silvered dial with black painted numbers.  Some of them had a chapter ring for dial that is no centre to the dial so the polished timber would show.
The movements in these clocks were either a gong strike, one on the half hour and the counts the hours or a Westminster chime.  These chime every quarter hour and count the the hour.  This movement has three winding holes where the gong chime only has two winding holes.  There is also the odd mantle clock that has a triple chime, that is Westminster, St. Michaels and Whittington.  These movements are quite rare.  All the above movements are of the newer design to the old American movements and they will correct their striking pattern within an hour of winding the hands forward.

If you intend to restore one of these clocks the first step is to remove the hands and then remove gong and movement out of the case.  The dial and bezel is usually screwed or pinned to the front surface.  Most of these clock cases do not have any decorations on them.  If it has a hinged rear door, remove it.  The polished surfaces on these clocks are around 50 years old and have crystallized or crazed, therefore it needs removing.  If it is crystallized, use a sharp chisel or scraper to remove the polish.  It will come off easily.  Scrape back to bare timber and then sand smooth.  If it is hard to remove by scraping, washing in thinners may help dissolve the polish and fine steel wool soaked in thinners may cut through the polish.  Smooth surface with fine paper.  Nail holes and small imperfections need to be filled with a wood filler similar colour to the veneer.  If the colour of the veneered surface varies, you may need to stain the case all one colour before polishing.  Use a spirit stain for this purpose.  Polishing can be achieved by spraying clear lacquer, brushing semi-gloss polyurethane or coats of shellac until you have an acceptable finish.

If you are purchasing one of these clocks to restore for yourself, check that the dial and opening bezel is in good condition as replacement parts are usually unattainable.  The convex glass can be replaced by purchasing one the correct size or getting a larger glass cut down to size.  The silvered dial usually suffers from wear around winding holes, numbers and time ring.  Silvered time rings are almost impossible to purchase, but there are a few gold dials that may fit.  Most of these clocks also have brass grommets fitted through the winding holes.  Clean the chrome or brass bezel with silvo or brasso.

Fix the dial to the clock case with its screws or escutcheon pins, and install the winding hole grommets.  After cleaning and oiling the movement, mount it back into the case and also fix gong in position.  Replace minute hand and turn clockwise to each chiming position.  When satisfied clock is chiming correctly at say 4 o’clock, add hour hand and fix minute hand in correct position.  Run the clock and adjust weight of pendulum bob to keep good time.  Screw bob up to go faster, or down to go slower.  If you are missing hands we do have replacements, but slight modification maybe necessary to make them fit. 


Also I have written a book on Clock Repairing for the Beginner which is for sale in our store if you are interested in purchasing click on the link below.

   Book written by Des


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