Restoring a Delander

Daniel Delander was born in 1678 to clock and watchmaker Nathaniel Delander and his wife Rebecca. In 1692 he was apprenticed to Charles Holdstead, and later transferred to Thomas Tompion. He went on to become Tompion’s journeyman, working with George Graham. Delander produced clocks that matched the quality of his master Thomas Tompion, and also invented his version of the duplex escapement. 

I have had great pleasure over the years of working on some rare and fascinating, not to mention valuable clocks. Some of my previous repairs and restorations include:-

  • Thomas Cattell
  • Dent
  • Daniel Quare
  • Horseman
  • Thomas Cole
  • Justin Vulliamy
  • Australian convict clockmaker James Oatley’s earliest recorded clock, No. 5
  • Skeleton clock by Robillard, London, with a coup perdu escapement featured in H. Alan Lloyd’s book ‘The Collector’s Dictionary of Clocks’ (page 61), serviced before me by the late great George Daniels 
  • An extremely rare year-going bracket clock  

This article is about restoring a Daniel Delander Longcase No. 12 duplex escapement. The longcase movement was shipped to me from overseas for a full service. 

On arrival, I unpacked it from its crate, just the movement only, no weights or pendulum. The first job was to set it up and watch it run for a day or so. My initial inspection of the movement found surface rust on a lot of the steelwork and very dry build-up of old oil. The bolt and shutter maintaining power was loose and quite rough in its action.  

After taking a few photos, it was time to dismantle the movement. A few of the pivots were stuck in their holes, held in by the old dry oil when the plates were separated. On inspection of all the pivots, only the centre pivot showed signs of wear. After refinishing and polishing pivots and one bush, all was back as it should be. All the steelwork was then polished, the bolt and shutter maintaining power was also fixed to work as it should.

The duplex escapement is a thing of beauty, and this was the first time that I have ever worked on a longcase with a duplex escapement. It comprises of one large external escape wheel on the backplate and one smaller escape wheel between the plates. Everything on this clock is superbly made, the quality is outstanding. When working on this clock, you know that you are dealing with one of the true great makers, and it inspires me to go the extra mile with the small details when building my own clocks. 

After the clock was dismantled, every piece was meticulously cleaned, every screw repolished, and then set aside awaiting re-assembly. All very straightforward and no significant dramas when re-assembling, and after not too long, Mr. Delander was up and running again. Watching the second hand on a duplex escapement is interesting. It appears to be a half recoil and half dead beat. That is, on the tick, it recoils, and on the tock, it’s a dead beat.

After the clock ran for most of the day, I walked past it and checked the time. All was good after a few hours had passed. Walking past it again, I checked the time, and it showed the same time as before. The hands hadn’t moved—first thought, hand tension washer a bit flat. I moved the minute hand back 10 minutes, then checked it 15 minutes later. Unfortunately, the minute hand had stopped at the same point, and the clock was still ticking away. After a few minutes of watching and pondering, I realised the problem was me. I didn’t time it correctly when putting the calendar wheel back on. The impulse pin on the calendar wheel was running into the face of the strike snail between 12 and 1 o’clock. The clock ran flawlessly for the next week after the fault was rectified. At the end of the week, the clock was reluctantly packed back into its crate for the long journey home.

OK, now that’s out of the way, what’s next? Let me see, a six-tune musical longcase by Johnathan Marsh or the four tune, tortoiseshell silver-mounted bracket clock by William Jourdain, the Thomas Cole, or maybe the Joseph Knibbs longcase.

© Graham Mulligan, 2013


Brian Loomes, Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the World, Complete 21st Century Edition, 2006

Ancestry: London, England, Church of England Baptism 14 April 1678, St Sepulchre, Holborn, London, England [Dialander]