Paul Katzer (WI)
This is my first clock—a Seth Thomas tambour. It has the quarter-strike bim bam movement. It strikes quite loudly on two rods: Bim Bam on the quarter-hour, Bim Bam Bim Bam on the half, Bim Bam Bim Bam Bim Bam on the three-quarter hour, and it counts the hour on one rod on the hour.
I acquired this clock well over 40 years ago, before I could drive a car. I had mentioned to my mother that I would like a clock to try to repair. At that time my grandmother had a sister living in a rough part of Milwaukee in a duplex that she owned. A tenant had just moved out and had thrown this clock into the garbage, and my great aunt saved it for me.
The clock had a broken suspension spring and was missing the pendulum bob, but the key was there.
I was able to purchase these items from a local clock repair shop, after telling them they could make a profit by selling me the parts or get nothing, because paying them to fix the clock was not possible for me.
After a lot of studying and playing with the movement I decided that the pivot holes were worn, and I needed to remove the play in the shafts, because the clock went “tick clunk” instead of “tick toc.” At that time there were jewelery supply stores in Milwaukee that also sold clock parts. My mother drove me downtown to one of them, and I bought some clock band aids that I fastened to the front and back plates of the clock to correct the worn pivot holes.
I have since progressed to repairing clocks the proper way, with bushings, but my band aid repairs on this movement are still good, and I have not yet reworked them. Since I repaired this clock it has had about 10 to 15 years of runtime, because I have acquired other clocks that I trade off with it in winding and running.
Born into a family of horology enthusiasts, I didn’t stand much of a chance. Since my first spoken word was “clock,” it would seem that I was doomed from the start. My “first one” was purchased many years ago by my great-grandfather. He purchased two clocks as gifts for my brother and me. They are both beautiful Vienna Regulator-style German wall clocks. I researched both clocks and was able to determine that my brother’s clock was made by German clockmaker Andreas Peter around 1922. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information on my clock due to the lack of a maker’s mark.
Before his passing on Christmas Day 1985, my great-grandfather left the instruction that these clocks were to be given to each one of us when we purchased our first homes. After his passing, both clocks remained hanging on the wall of the spare bedroom of my grandfather’s house until our first homes were purchased. After receiving the clock, I began to develop a real interest in clocks. A few years later I took that interest to the next level and joined the NAWCC. I decided that because my great-grandfather and grandfather both repaired clocks in their spare time, I would also try my hand at it. With the advice and encouragement of my grandfather and great-uncle, I have become fairly successful at clock repair. Over the last few years, I have had the honor of working on clocks that my great-grandfather serviced over 25 years ago.
Although he was never able to teach me clock repair or share his interest in clocks with me, that posthumous housewarming gift is what started it all. Thanks, Granddad!