I have a few hobbies that I don’t really take seriously. I enjoy them, I just don’t let them become obsessions.
One of the things I like to do is work on old clocks.
I’ve become very good at it – I’ve fixed clocks that are over 200 years old. I’ve learned how to repair them, clean them, oil them, get them to keep proper time, etc.
Last night a friend handed me a cuckoo clock that he got from a friend – in hopes I can fix it. I had never worked on a cuckoo clock, so I didn’t know what to expect.
This thing is complex! It actually has two small bellows in it – glued to the inside of the clock. These bellows are responsible for the two-tone “cuckoo” sound.
One of the bellows is completely shot, and the other isn’t in great shape. I have no clue how to rebuild these (yet).
To complicate matters, there is a complex mechanism that causes the “doors” to open and the little “birds” to pop out. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
On the inside of the access panel there is a date written – 1917. Not the oldest clock I have worked on by far – and I’m not sure if the date is the date the clock was purchased, gifted, or what. It is written in pencil.
What really sucks though is that all of the bellows and movements that control the “birds” are glued to the inside of the clock – blocking access to the actual clock mechanism. To start my repair attempt I will have to pry them off – and hope I can put them back.
I don’t charge anything for looking at old clocks – and I don’t guarantee my services – in fact, I tell people I may actually break their clocks more, and that I won’t be responsible if I do. And I never make a commitment on when I may be “done” with them. It could be a week – or a year.
Still, people trust me with what are often very special family heirlooms, even if they have an insignificant real value.
I have to believe they are just happy to have someone that loves clocks take the time to care for their “babies”. Most of these people could certainly afford a professional watchmaker.
But this cuckoo clock is going to be a serious challenge. I’ll spend a lot of time on it. I’ll learn a lot from it. I may even repair it.
But I know I’ll lower my stress level just by playing with it.
For whatever reason working on clocks is just therapeutic to me. Even if I am feeling the pressure of how important these clocks are to their owners.
I’ll try to document my work on this particular clock – unless that gets in the way of just tinkering with the clock.
It’s really all about just tinkering with the clock.