Professional clockmaker, hand-crafted collectors' pieces. Learned the trade in Germany, workshop experience in Germany and Switzerland, Master degree in Hamburg.

KIENINGER wheels + pinions, teeth count.

F O R    C L O C K M A K E R S

In the FB forum “clockmakers helping clockmakers” we had a story about a Kieninger long-case clock movement with a timing problem. Different  theories were posted, some of us found the theorising a little quaint. So I put in my “penny’s worth” about a suspension spring not being the cause of  great timing differences. 

Having sold and tested – in my 35 years as CLOCKTIME in Cape Town – each of the roughly 2500 Kieninger and some Hermle movements – first just the works and then complete with dial – I have never had a serious problem with the time -keeping. I also checked every movement re. oil and grease, all functions via  test on a stand and only found very occasionally a “Monday’s Production”

In the last few years – as I was not importing any more – I converted various regulator movements with 29 cm pendulum to the longer one, mainly 43 cm and 54 as well as long-case clocks from 80 cm to 116 cm pendulums.

For the conversions I made a spreadsheet, checking the various sets of wheels. See the download for the basic details. 

The pendulum length and its basic time-keeping is dependent on the appropriate set of wheels, that is the 4th wheel and the escape wheel. With Kieninger, if you deal with the same movement type, say “P” as the first letter in “PK”, “PS” or “PF”, that denotes the same plate-size and lay-out and the same wheels, especially the two which you need to change.  

Kieninger Regulator instructions


       This applies in general also to other makes as well

To place the clock onto a wall – a good guide would be for the dial to be at head height.

Drill a hole ( or two holes for 8 mm wall plugs in the exact distance of the hangers, if your case is quite heavy.)

Insert round-head screws ( not countersink types ) Best would be as for pictures, to have them a little angled up. Check with a spirit level across.  Adjustments can be made with one screw slightly thicker / thinner or filing out one of the slots a little to come to the correct level for the clock. Basically the case should appear plum to the eye. The screws only have to stick out about 15 mm.

It is a good idea to have 4 distance pieces at the back of the case to avoid possible condensation between wall and clock. If you have a rough brick / stone wall, you might have to level that with some spacer, as the clock should not wobble easily. ( dissipating  the pendulum swing ) 

Winding:  The clock should run about 10 to 12 days on one wind. In the normal running, springs will not be completely without tension.  At those last 1 to 2 turns there is not enough power in the springs.

In that state you wind both sides ( left is the strike ) about 7 half turns.  Counting half turns because you re-grip after every half. Then check that the clock runs 7 to 8 days. Best set a pattern for winding, e.g. every Saturday or whatever you want. You will get a feeling for this and if you notice over the weeks, that winding gets a bit harder at the end, then you can give it  6  half-turns for a while. That means you don’t put undue stress onto the spring-ends.

One important matter: before you finish each ½ turn, go slow and let the ratchet-pawl properly engage with the ratchet wheel.

You don’t see those mechanics, so here I illustrate a winding mechanism of a tower clock.   ( I had hoped that the video clip can be directly viewed here, but it seems to need downloading  –   have to check with my webmaster.

( The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Strand Street, Cape Town ).

The end of the 6 seconds, 1.2 MB clip shows you what I mean.

       link to follow here 

Beat adjustment:  Once the clock is on the wall, insert the pendulum hook into the square space of the suspension rod, best to hold it on the hook at the two screws. Swing the pendulum gently, so that the ticking just continues. Listen carefully that this is even – not “limping”. If it does “limp” to one side, unhook the pendulum, and lead the suspension rod to the side it limps. (that is further than the normal movement of the pendulum)

When you come to a stop, press the suspension rod carefully a fraction further.

Re-hang the pendulum, swing it and listen as before. Repeat if necessary or if you overdid it, do the same adjusting to the other side. One could do this with the pendulum in place, but your fine  feeling might be impeded.

Regulating the clock:  When regulating turn the rating nut beneath the disc. One turn will give a change in time-keeping of ca. 1 minute in 24 hours. You will find out the exact rating.  (Up – to make it faster, lower -slower).


Hand-setting:  You can set the time by turning the minute hand forward or back. One can do that without stopping at the half hour to let the clock strike. However if you come to a sudden resistance, do not force the hand further, but lead it back a little and let the strike run its turn, then move on.

Don’t set the clock fast forward over 12 o’clock, but let it strike there fully. That’s just a precaution.

Should the clock strike the wrong hour consistently (e.g.  4 x on 2 o’clock, 5 x on 3 o’clock etc.  which means that the hour hand has been moved on the round shaft inadvertently) simply move the hour hand to the number just struck. Then adjust the time via the minute hand.

The hour hand has a round bush sitting on a round shaft. (with a fair amount of friction)

The minute hand has a square hole.

You can adjust the time forward or back when the clock is not in striking mode. (Also not at ca. 5 min. before the hour and half-hour.)


Strike switch-off:  The short brass rod on the left is attached to a brass lever which lifts the hammer. Pull down to stop the strike and push up to resume. The strike train wheels will still move.

Service and maintenance:  The clock movement should be cleaned, checked and re-oiled after  ca. 4 years by a qualified clockmaker, not necessary a complete dis-mantling. That I recommend after another 4 year period.

Should you have touched brass parts, e. g. the pendulum disc or the grid, wipe the metal with a dry clean cloth, but do not use strong solvents, (cleaning benzene can be used if necessary on the lacquered brass parts).

Thomas Niemeyer, July 2018


Pack your clock for transport

Packing instructions for Kieninger wall – regulator, spring driven.      

Just a few points to consider. Remove the pendulum by lifting it a few millimeters up and take it out of the pendulum leader ( flat brass part )

Then fold some paper or soft packing foam sheet into square of about 80 mm. The final thickness should be about 10 to 15 mm. As long as it is a bit compressible.

One also could use a few of these round cosmetic cotton pads, wrapped into a plastic cover.

Slide the paper/plastic between the base of the brass holder and the black gong. That is to prevent the coil gong from vibrating, making a noise and possible breaking. ( Much more important with gong rods, though ).

You could do that either with the clock on the wall or when it lies flat on a table.

The other moving part is the pendulum leader. That is the flat brass part with an open end and the square hole section into which the pendulum hooks.

To prevent that from moving to and fro, estimate the space between the wooden back and that brass part. Make a crunched ball of newspaper or soft wrapping (bubble wrap) and stick it carefully between back wall and the pendulum leader, which will be touching the back plate now. If you use newspaper, insert it into a plastic bag. (Paper could possibly absorb some oil from the three bearings near the bottom of the movement.)

Stopping the pendulum leader prevents possible ticking of the clock and relea‎sing the strike.

Wrap the pendulum with bubble wrap or any soft non-fluffy material and lay it diagonally into the bottom part of the clock. Make sure there is enough packing around the sharp tip of the pendulum.

If you crunch up some more newspaper and fill the 2/3 part of the clock, that will also just reach under the dial and prevent the small crunched ball to loosen from its position.

Wrap the clock with some expanded foam- or bubble-wrap material.

Packing the complete clock into a box, which should have extra space of 50 to 100 mm all round, also bottom of box and on top , (depending on mode of transport).  Crunch up old newspaper into loose balls and make a “bed”. Put the clock onto that and check that there is enough space left on top as well. ( On does not know, in which position the box gets turned with handling )

Crunched newspaper is simply the best shock absorber. Bubble wrap is good as well, preferably small bubbles and the pieces crunched up in addition. I prefer the newspaper method, though.

Thomas Niemeyer, May 2018

Clockface for Video

This large cast iron clock-face has a long history. Imported in the mid 20th century by the Cape Town clockmaker Dellenbach. Two dials were never installed. I bought them and other items from his son in the mid ’80s. I used one as a show-piece at exhibitions, but never installed them either, until in my semi-retirement near Hermanus ( god’s waiting room ) I had an enquiry from the right person in Johannesburg.

I made up the two 900 mm diameter faces as working clocks. Restoring them to a pleasing finish required a lot of work, but the customer was patient. Transport had to be absolutely safe, I made two “bomb-proof” crates from pine boards, lots of foam-rubber, so any shocks would be absorbed.  “The Courier Guy” transported them safely. Everything went well and my customer  mounted one of the clocks a few days after arrival in his triple-volume hall. Just the right place. The second clock was for a friend.

These days clock-faces for exterior clocks are made from GRP and perspex instead of that special glass.

Those clock movements come with battery compartments attached. If illuminated from behind, one would see an irregualr shadow. I housed the batteries in a separate box and two strands of the 4-core cable carry the 3 Volt DC. The remaining two are for the controls – start / stop and re-set.

To enterprising clock-installers I offer components for large exterior clocks, not like the one above, but with aluminium casings.  Details in Trade Offers

Before boxing the clocks I had to use one as a prop for a Video:

“PIZZA”, my first substantial AV – video, fast paced, about  2:40 min. Earphones or speakers essential.

Between 0:50  and 1 minute into the video you see the hands / dial in action.

Kieninger PK–movements

These are my last movements suitable for Long Case Clocks  ( Grandfather / Grandmother ). The most preferred is the 116 cm pendulum, ( full size Grandfather ) I have a pre-owned 93 cm model ( or “pre-loved” as some silly marketers call second-hand goods). As the movement had run for some time, I will re-furbish it to perfect working ( not just dodgy working order ).

The PK type is still of the old Kieninger quality, namely  the plates are 2 mm thick. When we were in business  – CLOCKTIME – we did stock a few types of  Hermle movements, purely because customers compared K to H pricewise only. 25% in lower prices meant 25% in lesser quality, it’s as simple as that.

When Kieninger partnered with the USA Howard Miller concern at the beginning of the 2000s, they started manufacturing some new models with thinner plates and priced them accordingly.

If you are keen to build your own case, 2017 is the best time. The low value of the Rand has knocked imports for our trade very hard.  And Kieninger / Howard Miller upped their quantities for orders per model tremendously. I am glad I don’t have to deal with that any more, since I am semi – retired.

If you have any clock queries, please contact me.    072-605 3855

Pendulum, regulating after restoration

 Restoring a Pendulum.  Clock not keeping time – too slow –  already at the limit of regulation.

            Notes for anyone interested in mechanical clocks, from collectors to clock repairers

The regulation was the problem after restoring  a modern grid pendulum using the existing pendulum disc.

Just before the customer fetched the clock, I used a new disc to match the looks of the restored brass parts.
I never weighed those discs, just presumed them to be identical. The actual difference was about 10%.

It does not matter how long you are in our trade, there will always be an issue, which you have not come across before.

A typical Kieninger grid pendulum  ( not Lyra )

Grid Pendulum fittings

You can dis-regard the screws  “B”

“A”  is the one to work on. If you put the pendulum rod/grid without the disc of course flat onto a table, you will keep the square hook on top from turning around. That is actually more important when you re-tighten the screw.

Mark the rod just below the block. Use a 2 mm blade screwdriver to loosen the screw. It’s not necessary to remove it .
Push the rod through to the bottom ( left on the photo ) about 13 mm and re-tighten the screw.  That will make the distance from hook to pendulum shorter and make the clock faster.  The threaded end – now a bit longer – does not really count. Continue reading “Pendulum, regulating after restoration” »

Buying a Barometer

Buying a Barometer —

and what to watch out for:

Check if the case and fittings are well made, test if the marker hand is not too tight, neither too loose. Much more on the technical side you cannot do and have to rely on the shop owner / sales assistant. If they do not ask you where the barometer will be used, e.g. in your town by the sea or at some other place at a high altitude, then just walk out of the shop, because they do not know the first thing about these goods they stock.

Most barometers of the aneroid type have altitude ranges of about 1000 meters. At coastal areas and inland up to 1000m one would use the models with the lower range. At the higher altitudes the 1000m to 2000m units come into use. On some models I can exchange the movements to suit your altitude.

Thomas Niemeyer


Technical Info about Weather Instruments

Technical info about weather instruments, barometers, thermometers and hygrometers

Frequently asked questions (Copied for my website with kind permission of the BARIGO Company in Germany) some more hints from my years of practice mentioned as well, T.N.

  1. How does a barometer work ?
    The sensor element of a barometer is a metal capsule, the so called diaphragm. With increasing air pressure this diaphragm is pressed together, with decreasing air pressure it is expanding. This up and down movement of the diaphragm is transformed into a rotation movement of the spindle with the help of a lever system. An indicating hand placed on top of the spindle allows accurate readings of the air pressure measured by this system.
    Barometers used at home are meant to indicate the air pressure in relation to sea level conditions. To be able to compare the air pressure readings between locations of different local altitude it is essential to eliminate the pressure differences which are caused by the different local altitudes. On sea level we have higher air pressure than in the mountains, as the weight of the air above the instrument is much higher.
    For weather forecast we would like to be able to compare the weather-caused air pressure differences of locations all over the country with each other. This is only possible if we compensate and eliminate the air pressure differences which are caused by the different local altitudes. How this is done is described in our next chapter.
  2. How may I adjust my barometer to my local altitude ?
    If the barometer is meant to show the correct relative air pressure for each and every location it has to be adjusted once to adapt to local altitude. On the back of each instrument (or at the bottom of some table instruments) you will find an opening giving access to the adjusting screw which moves the indicating hand. On some models you will have to remove the fixing back plate with its centre screw first to have access to the adjusting screw. To receive the current relative air pressure value for your location please check with your local newspaper, your local radio station or airport at that day. Turn the adjusting screw to set the hand to the correct reading. After having done so once the barometer will reliably react to any changes and will help you to obtain a good weather forecast for your home.

Continue reading “Technical Info about Weather Instruments” »

The care of Barigo brass casings



Barigo Weather Instruments:

In addition to the FAQ article, here are some hints on the use of barometers and especially how to care for brass cased instruments:

To dust the instruments, use a dry soft cloth, definitely no Brasso or the Venol paste. Those are good for untreated brass only.

You could buy a soft artist’s brush, say 20 mm wide. Cover the metal part between handle and actual brush with a sleeve of masking tape or similar. That prevents scratching when accidently touching the brass case with the metal part of the brush. ( I recently found a soft brush without any metal fittings in the local art supply shop )

I find this the best method also for removing dust on clock dials etc.

If you have touched the brass parts when handling the instruments, please wipe off any fingerprints – normally not even visible – with the above mentioned dry cloth.

You probably know, that you could give the barometer on the glass a little tick before reading. That will release any latent action of the hand. The mechanism would move also without a tick anyhow to its right position according to  changing pressures, but it would do so at any time, and not necessarily when you want to see a tendency. The marker hand is self- explanatory.

Please share this knowledge with your friends.

re-published October 2016

mainspring cleaning

For clock owners, who will appreciate their clockmakers /restorers and realize to which length of professional service work the latter will go — hopefully.

You see the short descriptions within the images and video clips, a 2 MB file, running for 56 seconds.

A few of those Kieninger PF movements I had in stock a very long time. The grease had dried out in patches, due to not being moved by winding up and running down. No wear an tear, but grease and oil deteriorates in any case over time.

Years ago, I worked out the best combination of lubricants. From the companies Moebius (Switzerland) and Etsyntha (Germany) I received detailed information and I settled on 4 oils and 2 types of grease for my work on clocks.

I will continue this post with notes on lubricating the mainsprings and barrel bearings.

Thomas 10. October 2016