Customers are seen by appointment only. Call (505) 982-2204 to set up your visit. On your appointment day, please call when you’re on the way to ensure our undivided attention upon your arrival. Please plan at least 30 minutes for the basic evaluation and presentation of options.
There are some jobs that can be done with good results while you wait. This saves a return trip to pick up the clock, and circumvents sometimes lengthy turnaround times. Such jobs include basic cleaning, oiling, adjusting bells, gong strike or chimes for more pleasing tones and restoring the correct balance of the pendulum’s beat. For while-you-wait jobs, please bring a book, your tablet or laptop, as you wish, to make productive use of the wait, which in most cases is 90 minutes to two hours.
House calls are available for large or heavy clocks, and as a convenience to owners who wish to have multiple clocks examined in their home. Maintenance and minor repairs are completed in the customer’s home. Fees are based on travel distance and time on site.
In addition to grandfather clock repair, mantle clock repair, wall clock repair, cuckoo clock repair, and a variety of other clock repair options, restoration services are available for a wide range of vintage mechanical and electronic objects. Specialties include vintage automata, disc and cylinder wind-up and early electric record players, radios with vacuum tubes, and vintage theremins.
Photo by Brian Selzick
I don’t recall precisely when my affinity for mechanics and antique machines first appeared, but by age twelve I was working on them steadily. My first passion was for early “talking machines”; the Edisons and Victrolas of a century ago with their gears, centrifugal speed regulators and mainsprings. Clocks were always a part of that picture, along with brass cash registers, adding machines, music boxes and other treasures. Regardless of the form or function one of these old machines may have taken, I learned more with each success, and there was always an exquisite satisfaction in seeing the venerable old machine come to life through my efforts.
In a few short years, half a century will have elapsed since my first active forays into the worlds of vintage technology. It has been an eventful and rewarding journey. Perhaps the most notable achievement was my repair of the famous Maillardet Automaton at Philadelphia’s The Franklin Institute. A brief account of the unlikely series of events that led to the invitation from that museum can be found by clicking on the “Andy and the Automaton” button found on the homepage of this site.
A turning point that redirected nearly all of my energies in the direction of clock repair, occurred in 2005 when author-illustrator Brian Selznick reached out to me at the suggestion of a mutual friend, as someone who might be able to help Philadelphia’s The Franklin Institute Science Museum to resurrect the storied “Maillardet Automaton”. This famous, late 1700s clockwork figure of a small boy who draws pictures and writes poetry, was a key inspiration for a book that Brian was working on, tentatively titled “A Trip to the Moon”. During the course of our interaction, I became a technical consultant for Brian’s book, and to a certain extent, a character study for the story’s protagonist, Hugo. Details of what it was like as a 12-year-old with a sensitivity to old machines, found their way into Brian’s story. See: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/videos/teaching-content/meet-andrew-baron-mechanical-genius-behind-brian-selznicks-invention-hugo-cabret/
The book came out in 2007 and quickly became a New York Times Best Seller under its final title: “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”. In 2011, HUGO also became an Academy Award winning film directed by Martin Scorsese. With visually rich clockwork motifs inspired by Brian’s illustrations, the film has been seen by nearly every clockmaker in the country.
Shortly after the film came out, an article in the New York Times appeared that came to the attention of an accomplished group of watchmakers and clockmakers based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, the MWCA. This group, in collaboration with the Minnesota Clockmakers Guild, sponsored me to come out and deliver a dedicated evening lecture about my automaton work, followed by a more technically in-depth slide show the next day, as the keynote speaker at the 2012 MWCA annual convention. This in turn opened the doors to a still ongoing series of precious opportunities to connect, and spend dedicated time with a few select and extraordinary mentors across the country. These keepers of the wisdom strive to preserve the fine art of high-quality clock repair, in a time when it would otherwise be a vanishing art.
During the past several years, clocks have all but taken over the shop. I’m continually amazed by the steady stream of work that comes in, and the variety of clocks in my customers’ homes here in Northern New Mexico. Many arrived along with their owners during recent decades as our town has grown. There’s no shortage of hand-made clocks that are 200 to 300 years old, in addition to the contemporary clocks that I regularly see, many of them very fine as well. It has been an eventful and rewarding journey.
I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to spend precious time with a few select Masters of the clock trade; Master Clockmakers who are increasingly few and far between, here in the 21st century. To say that I value and appreciate what these opportunities have brought me would be an understatement.
In these shops, using traditional, conservation-oriented repair methods in combination with what modern technology has to offer, the historic integrity of the clock is preserved even as full functionality is restored. The same high standards that I employ to repair the most precious antique clocks, I bring to the repair of cherished contemporary clocks as well. All are treated with the same personal care, as though each were my own.
Alpine Clock Repair provides service by appointment only. Call 505-982-2204 to arrange yours.
Let me know what type of clock you have; mantle, wall, grandfather, etc. Explain as clearly as you can, what you’ve observed or any other pertinent information about the clock’s behavior that you may be aware of. Don’t worry if you can’t recall or accurately describe the conditions.
To avoid accidental damage before transporting your clock, be sure to disconnect or securely stabilize the pendulum*, along with any weights or cabinet peripherals, and bring in your key or crank so we can make sure it still safely fits the winding arbors. Stabilize the chime rods. Your clock will be tested in the shop with its own pendulum, and weights where applicable.
*On some clocks the pendulum cannot be removed without some additional disassembly. Please call if you have any questions or would like pendulum removal advice prior to bringing your clock to the shop.
In most cases, the faults or conditions that are causing problems can be discovered and evaluated within about 20 to 30 minutes of seeing a clock for the first time. Customers are requested to allow this time during their first visit, so their needs can be addressed and service options provided. Visible issues will be pointed out in real time and explained in straightforward language. All questions will be gladly answered. There is no charge for a verbal evaluation when a clear and rapid diagnosis can be given.
Should a customer decide to defer repair for another time, but wish to be provided with a printout summary of the findings, a basic description, as well as a more detailed Intake Evaluation can be provided for a reasonable fee. At a later date when repair is a higher priority, this report will save reorientation time, should the work be carried out here or elsewhere.
Depending on the condition of the clock, repairs can range from inexpensive, minimal maintenance, to a full restoration of the movement and each of its internal working parts.
The most basic maintenance and repair usually entails targeting the specific symptoms requiring attention, removal of contaminated old lubricant, and a comprehensive oiling and adjustment.
When a clock has extensive wear, failing or makeshift prior repairs or other more involved issues, a full mechanical restoration may be recommended as the most efficient course of action for long-term reliability. The PRICING tab in the header provides detailed information that will help the owner understand when and why repair vs. restoration may be prescribed.
Whatever level of service is recommended, and regardless of cost range, my goal remains the same: To provide a lasting result that justifies your investment in your clock.
For antique clocks, the relatively few reproduction parts, when replacements are available at all, usually require final shaping, fitting and calibration. When original parts are missing, badly damaged, or otherwise unavailable, I can usually provide them, and in some cases make them from suitable raw steel and brass having the proper qualities. These parts are then fine-tuned for proper fit and function, installed, adjusted and tested. In general, the shop-made parts will follow the look of the original parts they replace, in order to preserve the historical integrity.
For contemporary clocks made in the past fifty years or so, factory parts, and even entire imported German movements may be available. New movements for contemporary clocks require a detailed lubrication check and adjustments to prep them for their new life of service.
Here are three examples of individual component repairs, to restore and reclaim parts found in antique clocks, to preserve their historical integrity, selected from many possible scenarios.