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I guess this has been bugging me for while now, wondering what a fair price a repair shop should charge someone to fix their clock. I was browsing around a local antiques mall that has recently added a clock repair booth. I was looking at the clocks he had to sell, mostly new ones, and ones that were in to be repaired. A "little old lady" had just brought in her common looking camel back clock and wanted to get it running. Basically I heard the repair guy tell her that if it cost more than a new one, it wouldn't be worth fixing. She asked how much that would be, he said he has one similar (new) to sell for about $250. So I wonder if he was going to charge her nearly 250 to fix this clock that may be worth 50? I know you can't go on the finished value of the clock, and he has rent to pay and tools, etc. I believe I could have got it running with my minimum knowledge and tools for very little. It just gripes me that it looked like he was taking advantage of her. What would cleaning of a standard 8 day american clock movement typically cost? How much would adding new bushings cost? I have never gone to a repair shop, and have got a lot of clocks going without any serious work on them.
Andy. clock work here is very expensive like watch work.I would imagine a 2 to 3 hour job would cost around this much.
250 does not surprise me.
I would hope someone would tell their customer what the clock is worth before charging or doing a estimate.
I see many clocks in one local clock shop here, left because of the high cost of getting them repaired.Customers leave their clocks as they will or don,t want to pay the high price for repairing.
On the other hand there are some who do overcharge people and are not very honest people.
$ 250 for cleaning, putting a couple of bushing, and maybe new springs for a time & strike mantle clock seems fairly expensive; I would like $ 150 would be more reasonable. I could see if significant repair work was required replacing teeth in a wheel or finding another wheel, putting in multiple bushings, straighening teeth, etc. the price might approach $ 250.
Setting up a home repair business - you need more than a couple of screw drivers & pliers. You need a well lit work area and reasonably organized if you deal with several clocks. A spring winder is very helpful & added safety dealing with various mantle & wall clocks. Bushing machine is helpful if you do more than a few bushings. Lathe is helpful for many chores. An ultrasonic tank aids cleaning movements.
I have a number of friends who started clock repair on small time basis. A spring winder was a must and other pieces of equipment were added with income or opportunity to purchase a good price.
Both value and worth play an important part in the cost of clock repair. So many times I see clocks come in with trailing stories. Maybe a grandfather rescued the clock from the junk or it was grandpa’s prized possession. Maybe it was childhood memories of winding rituals that give value to a clock. Sometimes the origin of the clock is a garage sale, and there is no great attachment to the owner. Sometimes the garage sale clock was purchased because it resembled the clock that went to the junk.
I have a couple of strict rules I use in my repair business. One is that I give no appraisals and refuse to dance around with the discussion of the worth of a clock. The second rule I have forced my self to follow is that I will never buy a clock that comes in for repair. Before I work on a clock, my customer and I are on a level playing field as I supply a written estimate on each repair. I proceed with a job only after I get an OK on the estimate amount. In a dozen years, I have not exceeded my estimate amount as a matter of principle. With the estimate, my customer will know when he/she can expect the clock to return home. Clocks that pose a danger to me or customers with bad attitudes are promptly sent home.
I often see that questionable tambour come in the door. The clock case has been abused, neglected and is filthy. Usually someone has doused the movement with spray lubricant several times, or a previous repair person has done a patch job with a staking punch, screw in bushings, etc. The clicks will have brass return springs on them, which I feel are a danger to any hand that touches a winding key. The key supplied with the clock is worn and has been rounding the corners off of the winding arbors. On the open market the clock may bring about half of the repair estimate, either running or not.
The determination of value and worth are left to my customer.
Often times I find myself criticizing my competitors for doing less than quality work or giving poor service rather than charging too much.
There is the old story about buying hay. You may have to pay a premium price for hay. Cheaper hay may be bought if it has already been through the horse.
I would appreciate your comments.
I would agree with Dick and Andy. They made several good points. Pricing is always tricky and, I believe varies depending on location. $150 is a reasonable price for a basic two train American spring movement. As others mentioned, the price can go up depending on whatever other than normal wear might be found.
I have always included bushings in the price of a cleaning and overhaul. I think needing bushings is part of "normal wear".
One rule that I have kept to is to refuse to do the quick dunk and oil quick fix for getting a clock running. The only way I will take a clock in for repair is if I can do a complete overhaul. The clock is cleaned, taken apart, holes pegged, pivots burnished, bushings where needed. I have had almost no clocks come back as not running when I do this. A half job, in my opinion, invites trouble.
I don't give values of clocks. Sentimental values cannot be gotten out of price guide. The customer knows what it is worth to them. They get an estimate for repair, and they decide if it is worth it to them.
There are probably as many opinions on this as there are clock repairmen.
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