Timing intervals for both oiling and cleaning of mechanical clocks is a question 1-800-4CLOCKS is faced with throughout our history. Each time the same information is given, whether the mechanical keywound clock is a grandfather clock, wall clock, or mantle clock. Chiming clocks, which are for more than just telling time, do require more attention than time only mechanical mechanisms. This is as true for new clocks as it is for antique clocks.
The oil present in the mechanical clock breaks down over time, and eventually the metal on metal movement will slow down or operate irregularly. Between that and the chances that some dust or dirt have also entered the clocks mechanism, effective clocks maintenance becomes critical. Oiling and cleaning at defined intervals will absolutely increase the longevity of your clock, and perhaps prevent the need for major repairs to be done along the way.
Whether one is talking about a Bulova Grandfather Clock, a Howard Miller Grandfather Clock, a Ridgeway Grandfather Clock, or a Kieninger Grandfather Clock, all such clocks with high-end mechanical movements need attention throughout time. The 1-800-4CLOCKS.com recommendation — and other clocks professionals may-will have differing opinions — is for a complete cleaning every 5-8 years, and an oiling every 2-4 years. Any signs of problems should obviously lead the owner of the timepiece to advance this schedule. In general, our approach and philosophy is more of a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.
Oiling should only be done by a professional, or a capable horological hobbyist. It is easy to damage the clock or create the need for more expensive repairs if clock oil is not applied correctly. This almost goes without saying for the cleaning of a chiming mechanical grandfather clock, wall clock, or mantel clock.
With the appropriate care and feeding of your mechanical clock, not only will it keep better time, not only will it keep the total cost of ownership lower than it would be otherwise, but it will also make that much easier to have a working piece of horological history throughout time that can be passed and cared for from generation to generations.