Mechanical Clock Movement Maintenance

If you have invested in an authentic mechanical-style clock movement, it is important to understand regular maintenance will be involved to protect your investment and ensure that it will work for years to come. If you have just purchased and received your mechanical clock movement, it will be factory-oiled and ready to run right out of the box (after mounting and adjustments, of course). Eventually, however, the clock movement will require a bit of upkeep.

How To Clean Your Clock Movement

Clock movements should be cleaned every 3 to 5 years. To clean your clock movement, you will need mineral spirits, clean cloths (soft and lint-free), and small artist brushes.  Use the minerals spirits and small brushes to clean away all dirt, grime, and old oil. Wipe brushes often on a clean cloth so that you are not re-applying dirt/grime to the movement. Wipe away excess mineral spirits and allow enough time for any remaining mineral spirits to completely evaporate.  Once the movement is dry, proceed to lubricate the movement.


Oiling Your Clock Movement’s Bearings

Would you run your car without any oil in it? You could, but we all understand that eventual damage will occur to the engine. The same holds true for a mechanical clock movement. Bearing points require a drop of lubrication to keep everything running smoothly. Bearings devoid of oil are subject to excessive friction which can eventually lead to expensive repairs or the need for movement replacement. As a rule of thumb, mechanical movements should be lubricated every 1 to 3 years – once every year in drier climates.

How To:

Generally speaking, oil all bearing surfaces which rotate against each other.  Grease surfaces which slide against each other. Here are some tips to keep in mind when oiling your clock movement:


Lubrication is not the only aspect of maintenance that is important.  As clock oil ages, it can become tacky. Also, oil will collect dust over time. When the dust mixes with oil, it forms an abrasive grime which can quickly wear away at bearings and such.  This is why it is particularly important to clean the movement at intervals in between oiling.

Should You Have a Professional Inspect Your Clock Movement?

While cleaning and oiling your own movement can save you some money, it is still a good idea to have the movement professionally cleaned and oiled every once in a while.  For example, there are some points that may only be oiled while the clock movement is disassembled.  Above all, a qualified professional has the ability to completely clean the movement beyond novice capabilities and can inspect the movement for any signs of wear as they do so.

Written By: Chris Akright

Chris is responsible for the kit, plan, and finishing technical support, which he has provided to Klockit customers for over 13 years. Chris also contributes new product designs, composes written/illustrated assembly manuals, and works to develop new kit and plan products for the Klockit catalog. Chris’s experience is the culmination of years of training under his mentor, and Klockit Designer, John Cooper.