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Restoring 18C longcase clock case

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accipiter

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@rowan.bradley one of the links I came across with a Google search was this one which may help give you some guidance and tips:

I'd put "antique furniture restoration" as the search term. Lots of restoration companies/people came up but scrolling down I came across this article from Antiques World.

I've got to agree with others here. It's a 250 year old piece (or thereabouts) and would pick up a few dings along the way. I'd look at following the tips in the link I posted - and probably try to find a local restoration guy in your area. Maybe if there's a local Mens Shed group near you they'd have someone or know of someone?
 

Fergie 307

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The only thing that I would possibly want to attend to is the crack, which is a little unsightly. Forget about trying to redo the original repair, that would be disastrous. If you speak to a decent French polisher they should be able to make a decent job of disguising that and blending it into the panel so that it largely disappears. Otherwise it has a gorgeous colour and patina, this cant be faked or replicated it only comes with age, and is exactly why people want these sort of pieces. Unfortunately "restored" is all too often a euphemism for ruined, please dont go down that road.
 

rowan.bradley

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OK, I get the message loud and clear "leave well alone".

What are the round brass coloured bits on the ends of the swan necks called? I have not yet discovered whether these are actually brass, or brass effect wood.

SwanNecks.jpg

What is the best way to clean and restore these?

Thank you - Rowan
 

Terry - Somerset

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I suspect the answer is as most of the responses on this thread. Clean and nothing more.

Nothing would look more incongruous than highly polished brass sitting on an antique with patina.
 

Fordgate1

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I would ignore the marks, do not try to remedy them unless they impact on the structural integrity of the case.
I would use the polish reviver recommended in the Woodworkers Pocket Book, C Hayward, pub Evans 1950.
1 part Linseed Oil, 1 part White Vinegar, 1 part Methylated Spirits.
I have used this on C18 long case clock cases with good results
 

Fergie 307

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Again I would just clean any surface grime and dust off in the same way as the wood. The dark dull finish it what you would expect from brass of this age. Sometimes I have seen people give any highly figured decorative brass a bit of a rub over, just enough to lighten the high spots very slightly and so highlight the decoration, I think that is a matter of personal preference. You certainly don't want to polish them to a high shine. Some people go to great lengths to achieve this look with various preparations, you have the genuine article! One thing I would advise is to clean off any powdery white remains of old metal polish, often around hinges. This can stain the wood over time and looks unsightly. To get into nooks and crannies you can use a soft paintbrush, or the very soft toothbrushes sold for young children. Once you have it all clean then my preference is a good beeswax based polish, this will also help to prevent the wood drying out too much, and will work well on the brass work as well. Again you can use a soft brush to ensure you don't get too much building up in the various recesses. For day to day cleaning thereafter just hold your vacuum cleaner hose a couple of inches from the surface whilst lightly brushing away any dust with a soft paintbrush.
 

Fergie 307

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You can never go far wrong with linseed oil. If the wood is very dry then you can apply it to the reverse, unfinished side of the wood as well.
 

Sgian Dubh

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What are the round brass coloured bits on the ends of the swan necks called?
What is the best way to clean and restore these? Thank you - Rowan
Roundels.

As before, leave them alone, except for maybe just giving them a gentle buff with a water dampened rag. If that doesn't get them clean (not shiny) you might consider using white spirit to dampen the rag which will help remove any greasy grime. You could add a soft toothbrush to your cleaning armoury to get into nooks and corners. Basically, do as little as possible, and definitely don't aim for a bright brass finish, which would be out of place with the rest of the carcass. Slainte.
 

dickm

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100% agree with the "leave well alone" school. Yes, clean any surface dirt VERY carefully so as not to wreck the finish, then if you want to slightly revive the polish, a mixture of linseed oil, turpentine and a dash of meths has worked fine for me. The only "repair" which is not likely to make things worse is to reattach the loose bits of veneer. Don't use an awful modern adhesive; hide/pearl glue would have been used originally and has the great virtue of being easily reversible. One day, I'll get round to reattaching that piece of veneer that is sitting in a bag besice our 1830-ish longcase. Which is happily ticking away in our living room, but we don't let it strike!
 

mrpercysnodgrass

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Rowan, you have been given some good advise here and I would agree that doing the minimal amount is the way to go. The first thing to do is to glue down any lifting veneer or loose mouldings etc with either scotch/pearl glue or better fish glue which will give you much more time to line things up and get your clamps and bits of plastic in place. The case looks to have a good finish so just needs a light clean, this can be achieved by giving it a wax but applying the wax with 0000 wire wool (Liberon is the best wire wool to use) Just about any paste wax will do even floor wax but the best will be Harrells or liberon dark antique wax, scrub well into the nooks and crannies with a sawn off paint brush (wrap masking tape around the bristles of a 1"brush and cut them down to about 1" giving you a stiff brush). The Patera or roundels as Richard Jones calls them would benefit from a clean. With the finish on British antique furniture all will agree that leaving the patina of hundreds of years is the way to go but brass fittings are a different matter. It is entirely down to personal preference, some like brass very clean and shiny and that is absolutely fine, some like the brass looking like verdigris and that is fine, most like it half cleaned to compromise between the two. Personally I like all three but let the piece of furniture tell me what is the best way forward. Sometimes I allow the client to decide!
You can use an abrasive paste to clean the patera but it will leave a white residue unless you scrub it immediately afterwards with a nail brush under running water. A very good solution for cleaning brass fittings especially gilded ones is oxalic acid dissolved in warm water with a good squirt of washing up liquid and a few drops of ammonia. Let the fitting sit in the solution for five minutes then scrub with a toothbrush/nailbrush or very gently with 0000 wire wool then rinse under hot water allow to dry then buff with a shoe brush with a residual amount of wax on it.
I hope this helps and good luck.
 

Keith 66

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My wife was given a very similar long case clock about 30 years ago, It was absolutely filthy with caked wax polish & soot from open fires, virtually black.
I got a cleaner recipie as used by the V&A equal parts of pure turpentine, meths & white vinegar, half a part of boiled linseed oil. Shake well & often during use as it separates. It will remove grime & dirt & not damage the original finish underneath, If you hit the wood you have goner too far.
Apply sparingly with fine steel wool & gently scrub the dirt off. Cotton buds, Pipe cleaners & odd bits of soft wood are good for corners. Lots of kitchen towel to mop up. What you must remember is DO NOT overdo it, if you are in doubt at some stage its probably time to stop! Once its clean a fine coat of french polish & then wax polish, to finish
The roundels & missing finial on the centre top are made from Britannia metal a Brass zinc alloy & there is nothing you can do to them as you cant polish it. Reproduction ones are available
Ours has a similar big crack across the front lower panel, It could be filled & matched in with shellac & earth pigments then repolished but i dont have the experience so i left it alone, Its a battle scar!
It will be a long job but is worth it.
 

Fordgate1

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Dont bother with the surface cosmetic marks, just deal with any structural issues. Clean/polish with a traditional polish reviver. 1 Part Linseed Oil,1 Part Vinegar, 1 Part Methylated Spirit. ( from Hayward, Woodworkers Pocket Book, Pub Evans , 1950). Apply with very fine wire wool. then polish off.
 

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Rowan, you have been given some good advise here and I would agree that doing the minimal amount is the way to go. The first thing to do is to glue down any lifting veneer or loose mouldings etc with either scotch/pearl glue or better fish glue which will give you much more time to line things up and get your clamps and bits of plastic in place. The case looks to have a good finish so just needs a light clean, this can be achieved by giving it a wax but applying the wax with 0000 wire wool (Liberon is the best wire wool to use) Just about any paste wax will do even floor wax but the best will be Harrells or liberon dark antique wax, scrub well into the nooks and crannies with a sawn off paint brush (wrap masking tape around the bristles of a 1"brush and cut them down to about 1" giving you a stiff brush). The Patera or roundels as Richard Jones calls them would benefit from a clean. With the finish on British antique furniture all will agree that leaving the patina of hundreds of years is the way to go but brass fittings are a different matter. It is entirely down to personal preference, some like brass very clean and shiny and that is absolutely fine, some like the brass looking like verdigris and that is fine, most like it half cleaned to compromise between the two. Personally I like all three but let the piece of furniture tell me what is the best way forward. Sometimes I allow the client to decide!
You can use an abrasive paste to clean the patera but it will leave a white residue unless you scrub it immediately afterwards with a nail brush under running water. A very good solution for cleaning brass fittings especially gilded ones is oxalic acid dissolved in warm water with a good squirt of washing up liquid and a few drops of ammonia. Let the fitting sit in the solution for five minutes then scrub with a toothbrush/nailbrush or very gently with 0000 wire wool then rinse under hot water allow to dry then buff with a shoe brush with a residual amount of wax on it.
I hope this helps and good luck.

Dont bother with the surface cosmetic marks, just deal with any structural issues. Clean/polish with a traditional polish reviver. 1 Part Linseed Oil,1 Part Vinegar, 1 Part Methylated Spirit. ( from Hayward, Woodworkers Pocket Book, Pub Evans , 1950). Apply with very fine wire wool. then polish off.
Only observation I would make is that I wouldnt use wire wool until you have had a practice on something expendable. It IS a good way of doing it, but its also very easy to go too far and go right through the finish if you havent done it before, especially on edges.
 

ey_tony

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I have two long case clocks. One was made between 1690 and 1710 which would originally have housed a single hander clock mechanism (country clock).

It's been restored two probably or even three times in it's lifetime. It had the innards replaced maybe mid-18th Century with a double handed mechanism. None of the restorations/casing repairs were good, I suspect not carried out by a cabinet maker which has left the gluing up a bit cock-eyed in some places where wormed timber has been replaced but they were I suppose at least sympathetic in their restorations so I've never touched it.
It is what it is and everyone admires it so I wouldn't dream of touching it.

The other clock I own is a mid-19th Century longcase which I bought in the late 1980s /early 90s and it was buried under the thickest layer of brown varnish I'd ever come across. It was dreadful and it was virtually impossible to see the oak and flame mahogany timbers under the varnish.
That needed a complete strip down to bare timber but I still left as many defects in the timber as I reasonably could to try to retain some level of patina /wear and tear through use.
After stripping and wire wooling it I then French polished it and it really looked the business but perhaps a little too new.
It has been stood in the same place in the hallway of my current house for the past 25 years and with a facing South door and the door frame having a glass side-panel, the sun over the years has done a brilliant job of bleaching the sunny side of it and together with the occasional knock it's now beginning to take on a more aged appearance.

Personally if I owned the OP's clock I wouldn't do much to it at all, apart from cleaning it down.to get rid of any surface grime and perhaps animal gluing any loose/flaking veneer etc. My motto has been. where antiques are concerned...' if it ain't loose or broken just leave it' and then give it several coats of a good wax.
Patina and wear are invariably what makes a piece of furniture look old. Unless restorations are aesthetically sympathetic, they can completely destroy the character and very often seriously devalue it too.

I've found less is more where antique restorations are concerned.
 

okeydokey

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Do nothing - just look at it for a year or two and see if anything really really needs doing
Also don't polish any brass gently wash if you must ----- don't forget its taken 250 years for the clock to acquire this patina which can be thrown away in a few careless moments
 

Tony Works Wood

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All those defects add character and tells a tale. It look brilliant as it is.
 

ian33a

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I have two long case clocks (1700's) and a clocking-in clock (1931). All have been inherited and all three have lovely memories. All three show age, all three have marks, all three are loved to bits just as they are. The long case clocks have had movement restoration because they needed it. That's all.
 

Fordgate1

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I'm looking for a long case clock weight driven movement, new if possible. Any suggestions apart from ebay. Daughter want me to make the case.
 

dickm

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As a warning to the OP, we have a single-handed long case clock, which has not worked in my nearly 80 year lifetime, but was "re-cased" some time either early last century or end of the one before. Work done, I suspect, by village wheelwright, and it looks terrible! This MIGHT be a candidate for more aggressive restoration, but on the other hand, the case itself is now an antique, and it does tell a story.
 
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