We have a good range of skills at our repair sessions in Lichfield, Staffordshire but only one person who is good at clocks. He has been overwhelmed with clock repair requests though so we need someone else! Any thoughts as to where I could find someone? I have done posts on various forums already but no joy. People who repair them via jewellers etc will want paying so can’t go through that kind of place really.
Hi Pam -
We’ve been aware for a long time that this is a gap in our skillsets. The Wiki has an article on how to change watch batteries and when I can get hold of one or two suitable watches I’ll complement that with a page on changing watch straps. The Clocks page has all the theory but little on the practical side. Could your clocks expert be pursuaded to contribute his expertise? I’d be very happy to turn his notes (preferably plus a few photos) into a wiki page. Simply having some indication of the sort of things that are achievable and what aren’t would in itself be valuable. The first thing a lot of people ask when they bring their broken gadget is “can it be repaired?” To be able to answer that, whether or not we have the skills to do it, would be valuable.
Funnily enough, only the other day I researched online to see what I could do with a carriage clock I’ve had for 25 years which has stopped working, and came across this link:
I sent off for some clock oil and cleaning fluid which should arrive tomorrow. I’ve always wondered how on earth you engage all the cog spindles in the front and back plates and it sounds like it’s not that hard, though requiring quite a lot of patience.
My carriage clock started working again yesterday, but assuming that turns out to be temporary, I’m going to have a go!
Hi Philip. Thanks for your reply. I will ask Will, our current clock repairer then re contributing! He has done a fair few carriage clocks. Funny that yours started on its own! I will take a look at the link you have sent and share with him too.
Hi Pam -
My carriage clock has stopped again. It should run for 8 days but only seems to do around 3. You might ask Will whether I stand a good chance of reviving it by following that Braintree Clock Repairs guide or whether it’s likely to be worn bearings in a 25 year old John Morley carriage clock. I’m keen to have a go!
Kind regards - Philip
I will ask him!
You could try your adult education, locally in Kent the adult education centre has a clock repair course and so graduates from that could be helpful if you have one nearby. Also, I wonder where hobbyist horologist hang out online, worth trying to find out and see if you can find someone that way… ? FB groups etc.
Hope that helps
Thanks Chris. Good ideas. Will follow up!
I always think the goal of a repair cafe should be to prevent things going to landfill that otherwise would.
Things don’t get repaired if the economics work out, and it’s those items that need saving the most. For things like tablets, phones, clocks, bikes, televisions and others, there are surviving businesses that can carry out this work.
Because of this, I don’t think repair cafes should dedicate extra resources to these items unless it’s completely spare capacity. If you’re struggling to find repairers for these items then I think it’s entirely acceptable to direct repairees to businesses that would help them. This has the dual benefit of getting their item fixed, and helping to ensure that businesses carrying out repair activity remain economically viable.
I have a lot of sympathy for your position, @Guy, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of repairing my carriage clock! Horologists aren’t exactly thick on the ground and I doubt if the sentimental value of my 15 year’s longer service award received from my first eployer in 1987 is sufficient that I’d consider spending whatever it’d cost for a professional repair! Any more clocks I fix will be for the love of it rather than for environmental reasons, dear though they are to my heart. So I would support people getting into clock repair, if only to maintain their interest in fixing and learning new skills, but hopefully not with the effect of distracting them from electronicals.
I think TVs are somewhat similar. Yes, there are professional repairers but not many compared to the number of TVs that are trashed. And it must be hard to make a decent living at it when a new TV might not cost that much more.
As for bikes, anyone who owns and rides one ought to carry a couple of spanners and a puncture repair kit and learn how to use them! That said, I’m not going to complain if, by fixing their bike (or better still, showing them how to fix it themselves) we get someone out of their car and onto two wheels. Or learning how to change a swollen electrolytic in their TV for themselves.
But as you say, @Guy, the bottom line is that we’ve got a sick planet to fix. And to fix urgently.
Yes, a good point. Thanks
I suppose I should be less black and white. Clearly there are people that enjoy repairing for the sake of it, like most of us. And there are people who would not pay for the repair even if it is arguably justifiable.
In order to have the greatest impact on the planet (which is my personal overarching motivator) we need to work as close as possible to the fine line between
things that it's worth paying to fix and
things that are still valuable if fixed, but not quite worth paying to repair.
Because that is the region where we create the most value for our communities and best reduce the flow of money that goes to producers of new stuff.
That does also mean that we should shy away from fixing things that will get replaced anyway, (or more accurately, don’t prevent purchase of other stuff). Tacky kids toys, obsolete phones, computers and laptops are the things that most quickly jump to mind here.
Likewise, if we cannot fix things quickly enough, they may be replaced anyway, which further crystallises the need for accessible repair “services” which do have the time to focus on these “sweet spot” repairs (and therefore are not bogged down with aspirational repairs of a 1980s tricycle that came out of the shed and has copious rust. (real example from repair cafe this weekend).
Sorry for going on an off-topic, philosophical, controversial rant I think quite a lot about how to make this have a better impact and I often conclude that I should just do it because it’s a nice way to meet people in our communities. That way I don’t overthink the Big Picture. And I think it’s OK if we don’t achieve much, since we’re certainly not making the situation worse. Maybe if we just look after the pennies then the pounds will look after themselves. Repair cafes are certainly getting very popular in Cambridge, UK.
Good luck with your quest to recruit another horologist, Pam!
Guy has very clearly explained the arena in which Repair Cafes operate. At mine, we apply a notional limit of 30-60 minutes per clock, and still achieve around a 70 percent success rate. Sometimes we won’t even start work on a clock if we can see that the work required will exceed an hour.
We are lucky to have three experienced volunteer horologists, plus there are two professional repairers in the locality.