How to Regulate a Gingerbread Kitchen Clock

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Gingerbread kitchen clocks were inexpensive clocks produced in the latter years of the 19th century. The clocks were usually placed on a shelf in the kitchen, and many featured alarm mechanisms that proved helpful when cooking or baking. Gingerbread clock cases were made of oak or walnut with highly ornate wings and carved tops that gave them the nickname "gingerbread." A pendulum regulates the timekeeping of the clock. You can make necessary adjustments using an accurate digital timepiece for comparison.

Things You'll Need

  • Clock key
  • Level
  • Digital timepiece
  • Open the front panel door of the gingerbread clock. The door locking lever is located on the left side of the door. Pull the locking tab out slightly with a finger to open the door.

  • Wind the clock mainsprings fully using the clock key. Gingerbread clocks have three winding holes. The center hole winds the time mechanism spring, the left-of-center hole is for winding the kitchen alarm and the right-of-center hole is for the half-hour and hourly strike mechanism.

  • Set the pendulum in motion and allow it to operate for five minutes. Listen carefully for an even "tick-tock" sound as the pendulum swings back and forth. If the sound is not even, check the shelf or surface that the clock is sitting on with a level and make any needed corrections.

  • Set the hands of the clock to the correct time on a digital timepiece. This provides the most accurate comparison when regulating the clock. Allow the gingerbread clock to operate for 24 hours.

  • Locate the rating nut at the bottom of the pendulum bob. Notice that the lower part of the pendulum bob rests on the rating nut. Raising or lowering the pendulum bob changes the timekeeping of the gingerbread clock.

  • Check the time of the clock and compare it with the digital timepiece. If the clock was slow, stop the pendulum and adjust the rating nut one full turn clockwise by hand.

  • Adjust the rating nut one full turn counterclockwise if the gingerbread clock was fast.

  • Set the pendulum in motion again after making adjustments.

  • Close and lock the panel door.

  • Adjust the rating nut in smaller increments as the clock approaches accurate timekeeping.

Tips & Warnings

  • One full turn of the rating nut speeds up or slows down the gingerbread clock by approximately 30 seconds in a 24-hour period.
  • The gradual loss of power due to the spring winding down is reflected by loss of time. Winding an antique clock with older springs every three to five days allows the clock to keep better time.

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