Mechanical clock keys
Mechanical clock keys is the clock part that is most frequently lost. Once the clock key is separated from the clock it always seems to end up missing. With the below information and the clock key size chart a key can be ordered.
Getting the right one
We have mechanical clock keys in all the sizes available. Between the key chart or by movement type information below, the chances are good of getting the perfect key. The movement type includes if the clock is made in Germany or USA and when it was made. This is the fastest and most easiest way to get the clock key. The further back in time we go with clocks the more the key chart would need to be used instead. The country of origin would be marked on the back plate of the movement and this can help us get the key.
Keys for German units post WW2
German made post WW2 movements that are square or rectangle will take a number 8 keys or crank. If the clock movement is round and made in Germany the key size is number 4. Some round ones are supposed to take a number 3 but if you get 4 it will still fit and wind the clock either way.
Keys for USA units 1900 - 1950
American clocks made from around 1875 until after the second war almost always take the size 7 clock key. The number 7 keys fits the 8 day time / strike units pretty much every time and this is what USA made the most of. This rule may not apply to Westminster (3 places to wind) or time only (one place to wind) clock movements.
Keys for Korean and Chinese clocks
Size 7 for these units usually. All the 31 day clocks with Asian movements and also US replicas made in India, all take size 7.
The over wound myth
Of course any clock that is not working will be wound all the way up from trying to make it run. Everyone winds it up and the clock does not work so the non working clock is always wound up. The only way a clock can be over wound is if its been wound up for so long that the mainspring stuck. When the mainspring is stuck together to itself with rust and goo for so long it may stick that way. This is rarely the situation and usually the clock would have rust on it if the mainspring is so wound up it will not wind down.
Double End Clock Key (F / S at 12) Note
Some clocks have a small place that looks like a mini clock winding arbor at the 12. It may say F / S or A / R. The F / S this means fast or slow, and the A / R represents advance or retard. This controls the timing of the clock and turning it to fast or advance makes time faster opposite for slow. An ideal double end key fits both the winding arbor to wind the clock and also fits the smaller time regulator aspect. This is not easy to get and at the same time is the most lost part. It is possible to regulate the clock another way with an adjustable bob instead of a fixed length bob.
Get the double end key the hard way
Using the clock key size chart you can get the right size that the clock requires. This chart works for both the fast / slow regulator and also to wind the clock. However, this is not easy because it requires a measurement of the post the double end key fits onto. In order to get this measurement remove the clock movement or the dial. Without access to the front of the movement it is hard to measure exactly how wide the arbors are that the key is to go on.
Double end clock key the easy way
There are many sizes and combinations for the double end key and it may be tricky to get the right size. So you may just want to get the 4 pack of double end keys we offer. This is the top 4 most common double end clock keys that are used so the odds are one will be the correct key. Ideally this will supply the clock with a key that fits both the F/S regulator and the winders. However be aware this 4 pack does not guarantee one will work.
An alternate method
It is possible to forget the whole double end key game and use a single end key instead. It does make things easier and is a better long term solution. Inevitably, once you get the perfect fit the key will get lost again. This seems to be the trend of what happens. Once the key is separate from the clock, there is a higher chance of it getting lost. Many times we suggest putting the key in the bottom of the clock case for safe keeping
Using an adjustable bob instead
The solution to the double end key problems is to get the single end key to wind the clock. Also get the adjustable bob. The adjustable bob can be regulate the clock with the pendulum instead. The bob will have a nut on the bottom. Raise the bob on the pendulum to speed up time. The opposite is true for slowing time down. Once you regulate the clock, it will stay this way for the most part. Some timing may or may not need to be done when the temperature changes vastly. For the most part, time the clock and it will stay that way within a couple of minutes a day all year long. The adjustable pendulum bob comes in three sizes, or bob diameters. The middle or smaller diameter bob is fine for most clocks because the weight is not as important as the length.
Parts available to purchase
Other parts to consider besides the double end clock keys. We have two styles of the adjustable pendulum bobs. One of them is the three sizes of bobs that have the nut underneath. We call this the Adjustable Mantle Clock Bob. There is another style bob that is adjustable from the back side. We just call it the Adjustable Antique Style Mantle Clock Bob. They both function the same, it has a bob on the pendulum that can regulate the time. The part they hang onto is usually a long wire with flex spring steel on the top. This gets bent and cut into shape for the desired length. It comes in a three pack and we call them the Long Suspension Spring Rods.
Clock key size chart explanation
Clock keys have there own number system from 000 to 16 as seen in the Clock key size chart. However the number does not indicate what size is what number and can be confusing. It would make more sense if the key size was the MM of how wide the key was to fit, but this is not how it works. This section is to figure out what key number to order so the clock can be wound up. Subsequently, the clock key gets lost the most out of any other clock part. Of course, it can be tricky to find the right key for your clock because there are many sizes. The Clock key size chart will give us the right size key to order.
Double end clock keys
In addition, some keys have two sizes on one key and this is called a double end key. By and large, the clock key size chart will work for both the wind up part of the clock and also the smaller F / S portion. When the clock has a F / S regulator portion it will be at the 12 o'clock on the dial.
Alternately, if there is a small arbor inside of a hole at 12, this is the time regulator control and the key would have two ends. Thus, it may say F / S at this location or A / R. F / S stands for Fast or Slow, or it could say A / R to stand for Advance or Retard and is referring to the timing of the clock. Of course, if the clock is running fast in time, turn more to the Slow or Retard direction to slow it down. Refer to the Clock key size chart with your measurements to find a key to work with this function.
Getting the right Clock key size
Given these points, to get the key needed, measure the shaft the key is to go on to, then use the Clock key size chart to get the key size needed. Please do not call asking what key the clock needs, as you will be told it would still have to be measured. In short, measure the shaft that the key goes onto in MM and then use the clock key size chart to match it up.
The lazy way instead of the Clock key size chart
The Clock key size chart has all of the sizes listed however sometimes certain key sizes are known. Generally speaking, almost all post 1960 mechanical clocks, made in Germany take a size #8 key or crank, unless the movement is round. Ordinarily the round ones take a number 4. The American time strike antique units mostly take the size 7 key. Match your measurements to the Clock key size chart to be sure.
- 1.75mm = 000 Key
- 2.0mm = 00 Key
- 2.25mm = 0 Key
- 2.5mm = 1 Key
- 2.75mm = 2 Key
- 3.0mm = 3 Key
- 3.25mm = 4 Key
- 3.5mm = 5 Key
- 3.75mm = 6 Key
- 4.0mm = 7 Key
- 4.25mm = 8 Key
- 4.5mm = 9 Key
- 4.75mm = 10 Key
- 5.00mm = 11 Key
- 5.25mm = 12 Key
- 5.5mm = 13 Key
- 5.75mm = 14 Key
- 6.0mm = 15 Key
Universal 5-Prong Clock Keys
Universal clock keys come as a set of 2 keys with 5-prong sizes on each. This means it is 10 sizes of keys crunched into two keys. One of them will fit your clock for sure. All those sizes make the key wider than a single size key. This could be a good thing as it is easier to wind with all that leverage. The down side is if there is a bezel and glass in the way. The key cant make a full revolution and therefore more work it is to wind it.