Artful Gathering 2012 Steampunk Artist Presents Brenda Mattson

Posted by on Jun 23, 2012 in Videos | 18 comments

Brenda Mattson Artful Gathering 2012 Instructor.
Video Rating: 5 / 5

How to safely take apart a brass clock movement for Steampunk art projects In this video I go over how to safely disassemble old spring driven clock movements. There can be a great deal of stored energy in the springs and if you’re not careful you may end up making a trip to the ER. The type of movement that I disassemble in the video has springs that are not in a barrel. They are open to the environment. I show you the two springs that are present and their purpose in the clock. I also discuss the way to safely remove the spring tension without damaging the clock parts or yourself. Remember to always wear your steampunk safety goggles and gloves. In the video you’ll see that you can allow the movement to unwind with your hands clear from danger. I show you the parts that you remove or modify to allow the gears to spin freely. I also show how to remove the tension with a winding key. This is a slow process and takes time. I hope that you use this information to avoid injury and get lots of parts for you steampunk art projects.



  1. wow brends great work

  2. You’re welcome.

  3. Thanks for the info. Awesome video.

  4. Cool, I’m glad to here it. Sound like it worked out just fine.

  5. Thats a great idea, using a nut dirver, or ratchet to let the spring down. Saves all the spinning that goes on, since I want to have a cleanable clock when I get it apart. BTW, I done cleaned, lubed, and installed the movement in its case. To clean the clock I used 4 ounces of Murphys Oil Soap, 7 ounces of Acetone, 20 ounces of household ammonia, then enough water to this mixture to make 3/4 gallon. Not as shiny as ultrasonic, but it wasnt a really pristine, valuable clock either!

  6. some parts of clock may be damaged

  7. great work with that, but it kinda makes me sad to see something that somebody put so much work into get pulled apart in a matter of hours.

  8. Yes, I think that will be okay. The other way to unwind it is to find a twelve point socket that will fit on the four sided winding post and use a nut driver to slowly let the tension off. It’s better to let the spring out when cleaning anyway. An ultrasonic cleaner will work great.

  9. No experience with Stirlings, apart from how they work. I have a friend who goes to the antique engine shows, and makes simple Stirlings and sells them. BTW, I was gentle with the escapement and ratchet. I just wanted to know if you thought your spring unwinding technique was ok for someone like me who might not take apart and reassemble more than 3 clocks in my lifetime? I mean, it saves me from having to wait for the ordering of those special C spring clamps. BTW, I tied back the alarm thingy.

  10. This video is intended for destroying the clock for art project parts. If you managed to take the escapement apart without damaging it then it’s probably okay. But horologically speaking this is a massacre.

    P.S. I looked at your videos and I was wondering if you have any experience with Stirling engines?

  11. You said to MrRpaul84: “If you take a clock apart this way you’ll most likely never get it back together”. What does that mean exactly? Is there something I dont know? Today, I unwound the main springs on a clock just like you did. This is first clock I am taking apart to clean, then reassemble. I will take multiple pictures of it before disassembly, so I will know how it goes back together again. Learning how to get the strike gear in time with the pins, etc. Similar works, a E Ingraham.

  12. Thanks, next time I get a clock with a mainspring in a barrel I’ll do a video.

  13. Dude.. great work! When are you gonna show how to take apart a mainspring with the barrel? I dont wanna loose my fingers today..

  14. Ok put it back together

  15. This video is intended for destroying the clock for art project parts. If you take a clock apart this way you’ll most likely never get it back together.

  16. How long did it take you to remember where all those gears went back in?
    Also, do you ever put bushings in these clocks?

  17. How were you doing it?

  18. You can get old clocks from clock repair shops. However I have bought a few on eBay. It usually costs about $30 after you pay the shipping and everything. You can get the cost down by buying big lots of clocks because you save on the per unit cost on shipping. But you end up with about 20 or 30 clocks. If you were interested I could list one on my store. The thing is that if I’m even going to break even I’ll need to sell it for at least $15 plus shipping costs.