Clock dial restoration process

Tel: 01432 271261

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On arrival each dial is extensively photographed and assessed. Tracings are taken and the dial is scrutinised under ultra violet light and powerful magnification to detect any worn lettering or detail that may not be so visible to the naked eye. I then carefully clean the dial to remove any badly discoloured varnish. Any necessary repairs are then carried out to flaking or missing paintwork and loose dial feet. Further photos are taken during this process. The original base paint is colour matched and repaired areas are repainted using an airbrush. When repainting or touching in, I aim to retain as much of the original as possible including any craquelure. If certain features have been worn away, i.e. gold leaf, names etc these can be detected and restored. I use a variety of inks and paints, but in the main I use either shellac or acrylic ink for the blackwork depending on the base paint. Oil paints are used for retouching paintwork in the arch or spandrels. I aim to make any work undertaken on the dial reversible and I never add anything that is not original.

I can also restore card dials by hand, please ask me for details .

20th century metal dials such as those found on mantel clocks from the 40s and 50s normally have printed and plated dials, these are not viable for repainting or reprinting and it is best to seek a replacement dial from a suitable horological supplier

Brass and silvered longcase dials can also be restored, rewaxed and resilvered. The silvering is only microns thick and wears away, it is also best to have this restored as the brass can after time suffer from pitting and staining due to air bourne pollutants.

Reverse painted dials on glass can also be restored, as this finished example shows,

Dial repair and restoration is a very labour intensive task, and the minimum time to undertake any work is 3 weeks. Pricing varies according to the work required, so I am happy to offer a free quotation. If you wish to email and attach good quality close up photographs of your dial, I can give you an indication of price. Alternatively you are welcome to bring your dial or clock to our workrooms in Hereford.

I am often asked if there are any courses or books available on learning the art of dial restoration and repainting. To my knowledge there are none. The wide variety of dials and their condition make the logistics almost impossible. Cost is just one of the many other factors, a one-off fairly straightforward fusee 12 inch dial could cost in excess of 150 for initial materials and equipment for a complete repaint. But should you have any other queries or would like to discuss any aspect of clock repair and restoration please do not hesitate to contact me

Case and movement repairs can also be carried out, we provide a comprehensive clock and timepiece repair service of which more details can be found here Kier Hardy Clocks.