How to oil a clock

Written by linda stamberger
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How to oil a clock
Antique brass clock. (Ancient hours clock image by YURY MARYUNIN from

Mechanical clocks--those that aren't electric or battery operated--need to be oiled every two years. These clocks are often antique. Most mechanical clocks need to be oiled to ensure that the mechanisms within the clock run efficiently and do not become rusted or worn. Oiling of a clock will help keep an antique clock in top condition and keep it from wearing out prematurely.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Clock oil
  • Needle oil dispenser

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  1. 1

    Apply clock oil to pivot points in the clock. The pivot points are the endpoint holes into which rotating mechanisms within the clock fit. They need to be oiled both inside the clock and outside. Use the needle dispenser to insert a small drop into each pivot hole on the front and then the back of the clock, then inside.

  2. 2

    Put a couple of drops of oil on the teeth of the escape wheel. The escape wheel is the round wheel with an edged surface that works within the clock mechanism and allows the mechanisms within the clock to move freely.

  3. 3

    Oil the clock's movement by removing the bell post on the top of the clock or by opening the back of the clock and locating the movement inside. The movement will be between two brass plates where there are several gears. The gear has a brass wheel and a pinion.

  4. 4

    The end of the pinion is the pivot that sits between the plates within the clock. Remove this structure, and oil the holes on the inside of the clock, applying one small droplet of oil into each hole. Reinsert the pinion when finished oiling.

  5. 5

    Apply oil to the oil sinks on the back of a mechanical clock. An oil sink is a group of tiny holes located on the top and bottom back of the clock. Apply one very small drop of oil, making sure not to overfill the hole. Tap oil lightly on the top of the oil sink, making sure the oil does not run down the clock structure.

  6. 6

    Oil the other parts of the clock, including the pivots on the front plate and the minute arbor, which is located on the inside of the clock. Place one small drop of oil on the posts. Finally, don't forget to oil the pulleys. The pulleys are located on hanging clocks that are mounted on a wall and on grandfather clocks.

  7. 7

    Take the hanging clock down off the wall. Place it on a flat surface. Stop the clock, and apply oil to the pulley section where the pulley is attached. Hang the clock back up and restart it. Stop the movement on a grandfather clock, and apply oil in the same way to the pulley section, then restart.

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