How to Fix a Seth Thomas Wall Clock

Written by dan harkins
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How to Fix a Seth Thomas Wall Clock
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Seth Thomas started building clocks as an apprentice in 1807, then bought the Connecticut factory of his mentor three years later to start his own business. For most of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the brand was kept alive by two of Thomas' sons. It was one of the most renowned American manufacturers, starting with grandfather clocks, then later mantel and wall clocks of materials such as mahogany, rosewood, onyx, marble and iron. If your Seth Thomas wall clock isn't working, there's a few things you can try before handing it over to a repair shop or the landfill.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Make sure your Seth Thomas wall clock is wound. Remove the clock from the wall and turn the winding arbor, recessed in the back panel, counter-clockwise until it stops.

  2. 2

    Wind up the pendulum or balance wheel spring by turning counter-clockwise the other arbor in a recessed hole in the back panel. If you can't determine which knob is which, wind all arbors that are present on the back of your clock.

  3. 3

    Open and reach into the front door of your Seth Thomas wall clock, if of the pendulum variety, and push your pendulum all the way to one side and release it. The pendulum should continue to loll from side to side evenly. Set the hands to the proper time.

  4. 4

    Inspect your clock hands and see if they're touching. This can seize up older timepieces and keep the pendulum or balance wheel from operating. Wiggle the hour hand back and forth gently and advance it toward the next closest position. Bend the end of the hand slightly away from where the minute hand was touching.

  5. 5

    Make sure the wall clock is resting on the wall in a vertical orientation. A change in angle can keep a pendulum from swinging levelly. With the clock on its position on the wall, push your pendulum to one side and listen as it swings to the tocking sound. Adjust the vertical alignment of the clock on the wall from the left or right and listen to determine if the adjustment makes for a more regular beating.

  6. 6

    Fine-tune your Seth Thomas wall clock's operation if it's advancing too slowly or quickly. Monitor how well your clock keeps time in a day, checking to see whether it gains or loses minutes.

    Adjust the pendulum bob, the round weight at the bottom of your pendulum rod, to adjust the speed of the pendulum. Look on the bottom of the bob for a nut. Turn it to move the pendulum up or down--up for faster, down slower. Continue to monitor the amount of minutes lost or gained by your clock and continue to make adjustments until your clock is keeping accurate time.

    If your clock isn't pendulum-based and instead uses a balance wheel, adjust the speed by turning the three-pronged wheel on top of the balance wheel. Typically, turn one notch left for every 10 seconds fast for the day, one notch right for every 10 seconds slow.

Tips and warnings

  • Consult with a clock repair shop for help identifying parts and proper replacement procedures. Antique clocks are worth far less when they're broken.

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