Bradyís Clock Repair

Evansville · Indiana · 47712

Philip Brady

Member MBSI


Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I send my singing bird or automaton to Brady's instead of my local clock shop?

Along with years of experience in restoring fine clocks, I have become an expert in the field of singing birds and automatons. I have seen many well meaning tinkerers nearly destroy a bellows by using the wrong glues and bellows coverings. These treasures require a special knowledge and use of the exact correct materials, which are highly specialized. Other clock shops around the country take in singing birds and then send them to me. It is more economical to send your work directly to Brady's. At Brady's, you can rest assured that your item is in experienced hands.


Why is regular maintenance important?

Any clockwork mechanism, be it a clock, singing bird, or automaton of any type, is going to give better service and last longer if properly maintained. Inside these mechanisms are gears of brass and steel, powered by mainsprings or weights which apply a good deal of force on the gears in order to drive the movement. With a full service cleaning and oiling once every 5 years, and a checkup with oiling every 2 years, a movement will run its best and encounter less wear and tear than one which is allowed to run unattended. As time goes by, the fresh oil in a clockwork mechanism begins to dry out and become gummy. In the process, the oil also picks up tiny dust particles and this old oil and dirt mixture combine to form an abrasive action at the points where lubrication is needed. These points, called pivot holes, are where the ends of the gear shafts rotate. This abrasive action causes these perfectly round holes to become elongated, and after a while, the gears no longer mesh properly and the mechanism will finally stop running. This will eventually happen to all movements that are used frequently, whether properly maintained or not, itís just a result of the normal wearing of parts. However, this wear can be postponed for many years with proper care. If you follow the recommended schedule above, you will find that it is much less expensive for maintenance than for a complete overhaul.


What is the difference between an overhaul and maintenance?

An overhaul is usually necessary once the pivot holes become badly worn. In an overhaul, the mechanism is completely disassembled, thoroughly cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaning tank, and carefully checked piece by piece. Pivots are polished, pivot holes get new bushings to bring the specs back to original factory standards, and all points where there is metal to metal contact are polished and lubricated. Mainsprings are checked and lubricated, but sometimes new mainsprings are needed if the old ones are weakened or cracked. Finally, the mechanism is reassembled and tested. When the overhaul is finished, everything in the mechanism is in a condition as much like new as possible. Maintenance is very important, but only involves a routine cleaning and oiling of the item to keep it in good operating condition. Routine maintenance will lengthen the time between overhauls.


Why has my bird box, bird cage or whistler stopped making sounds?

Along with a clockwork mechanism, each of these items contains a bellows and tiny slide whistle. Over time, bellows material will deteriorate to the point that air will just pass through, and not get pushed out to power the whistle. Many old bellows coverings simply dry rot and fall apart. In addition, as the bellows pumps air through the whistle, particles of dust and worn bellows material also get pushed through the tiny air openings. Over the years, these particles of dust and material clog the openings. There are many parts inside a bellows, leather hinges, delicate valves that open and close, thin wooden vanes that separate the air chambers, and the whistle itself that is precision machined and must be handled with great care to avoid damaging the many tiny parts. Only a qualified professional should service this type of mechanism. If you've noticed your singing bird or whistler is getting quieter, or simply starting to whisper, then the bellows is ready for restoration. You have come to the right place for this service. These mechanisms are actually a specialty here at Bradyís. There are only a handful of people in the country with experience doing such specialized work.


What do you do to restore a bellows?

The old bellows is carefully taken apart, piece by piece until each component stands alone. All parts are thoroughly cleaned, removing all traces of old bellows covering and old glue. Valves are checked, cleaned, adjusted, or replaced if necessary. All old leather hinges are removed and replaced with fresh new leather. The new bellows covering material is installed and carefully trimmed for a neat, professional look. The whistle is taken apart and ultrasonically cleaned to remove all traces of dirt and tarnish. The whistle is installed back into the bellows with a fresh leather gasket, and properly sealed to prevent any air leaks. The end result is a powerful bellows that will provide excellent sound.


Should I think about cosmetic restoration of my antique?

An antique is only original once, so consider very carefully before deciding to have major cosmetic work done. I strive at all times to preserve the originality of every piece that passes through the shop. However, there are times that restoration is necessary, whether parts are missing, new hands must be made, or an item is just so dirty and tarnished that it has lost its original beauty. When doing a restoration project, I use materials that match as closely as possible to the original, and carry out the labor in the same fashion as was done when the item was newly made. A very good way to bring an item back to life is by giving it a Bradyís Gentle Restoration. This involves removing grime and tarnish, but will not make it look brand new. See the Before and After pictures of the singing bird in the photo gallery for an example of gentle restoration.


You can count on Bradyís for all of your restoration needs. From refinishing an old clock case to putting back together that cuckoo clock that fell off the wall, I can take care of it all. If you send an item in for restoration and part of that work is highly specialized, like restoring a porcelain dial, or re-plating a brass piece, I may need to job out such services. But I have partnered with other professionals in order to be your one-stop restorer. This will help make it easier for you to bring that treasured heirloom back to itís full glory.


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