Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 Please click on the appropriate question to hopefully find an answer that helps you.

The responses given here are for and by hobbyists not horologists, and reflect pragmatic and real life answers to some of the questions we are most commonly asked. If you can’t find the answer to your question here please feel free to contact us by email at and we will try to help where we can.

  • How much is my Time Recorder is worth?

  • Time Recorders were solidly built for heavy usage in an industrial environment, utilising solid oak and brass in their construction. Consequently they have lasted many decades in the work environment and beyond.  

    As the U.K. was a heavily industrialised nation in the past with thousands of factories, there are a substantial number of time recorders still around today, effectively reducing the value of the more common models.  

    eBay is a good place to a get a feel for the prices that they can achieve. Use “Time Recorder” as your search string under the category of “Antiques”. You will see many Time Recorders advertised there with high “buy it now” prices, but in reality these are very seldom achieved. 

    Using the filters on the left of the screen, under the last section designated “Show Only” tick the “Sold Items” box. This will show you the prices actually achieved, giving you a better idea of current market value.

  • How old is my Time Recorder?

  • For most models of time recorders the serial number gives the best indication to its date of manufacture. Where our research has found specific information for manufacturers relating serial numbers to dates (ITR and Gledhill-Brook), or found any other helpful information, it has been included on a ‘Dating’ page for that manufacturer. Another guide would be to find a photograph of a time recorder on the website similar to your own which generally gives an approximate date of birth. 

  • Where can I get a winding key for my Time Recorder?
  • Original time recorder winding keys do turn up on eBay from time to time. There are also many suitable substitute keys available, it is a simple task to source a cheap alternative on eBay. Here are some that we have used on our machines: 

    Bundy Key Recorders, and early ITR machines:        No. 9 key, 4.5mm

    Later ITR machines:                                                     7mm square utility key

    National, Blick, BTR:                                                     No. 13 key, 5.5mm

  • Where can I get cards for my Time Recorder?

  • There are no cards currently in print that will fit antique or vintage time recorders. Old stock does appear on Ebay occasionally. If you can obtain a card, it shouldn`t be too difficult to scan it, and then print it actual size onto the heaviest card your printer will support, cut and trim to size.

  • The suspension spring is missing or broken - what size replacement do I need?

  • Dimensions are not critical within a few mm, some of the more common ones: 

    National, Blick, BTR 

    Width:                                                                                                               7mm

    Overall Vertical Length:                                                                                  59mm

    Distance between upper mounting hole and pendulum hook cross pin:      43mm


     Width:                                                                                                              7mm

    Overall Vertical Length:                                                                                  35mm

    Distance between upper mounting hole and pendulum hook cross pin:      20mm

     Gledhill Brook 

    Width:                                                                                                               10mm

    Overall Vertical Length:                                                                                  42mm

    Distance between upper mounting pin and pendulum hook cross pin:        30mm 

    Suspension springs can be sourced from a number of clock parts suppliers on the internet, or self- fabricated from 0.15mm spring steel, available from the same suppliers 

    The clock will require regulation after replacement of the suspension spring. This is the process of adjusting the pendulum bob weight using the knurled screw. Clockwise to move the bob up if the clock loses time, Anti Clockwise to move the bob down if the clock is gaining time. Make only small adjustments and observe the effect over 24 hours. The process is iterative with smaller and smaller adjustments over a period of time.

  • Where can I get a key to open the door?

  • Keys to the cabinet door were frequently separated from the time recorder, probably because they often remained in a drawer in the wages office, when the clock was decommissioned. Many doors were subsequently prised open and a hasp fitted.

    The locks and keys are no longer in production. It is possible to get flat steel key blanks, and we have heard of people filing their own keys, but we have no direct experience of this. 

    Gledhill Brook time recorders didn`t use flat steel keys, and again replacement GB cabinet keys are not currently sourceable.

  • Where can I get a new print ribbon for my Time Recorder?

  • Currently we know of only two sources for 1” black inked time recorder ribbon in the U.K. 

    Here are the links: 

    You will need to wind these onto your existing time recorder's bobbins as they are supplied on plastic spools.

  • Where can I get a service manual for my Time Recorder?

  • Most Time Recorder manufacturers and their distributors sought to gain ongoing revenue by establishing service and maintenance contracts with their customers.  

     If service manuals had been released, they could have been used by third parties to compete against the manufacturer/distributor for these lucrative contracts. Naturally, this was not a preferred option for the manufacturer. 

    No doubt there existed internal engineering notes for manufacture and service, but to date, none have surfaced.  

    There is an exception to this for some ITR (International Time Recorders) models. This is because they subsequently became IBM, and some of the ITR installation and set-up notes were retained in the IBM historical archive. These are available on the workclocks site, under ITR, sub menu Documents: ITR Documents

  • My Time Recorder is not working, what could be the problem?
  • There are 1001 reasons why your time recorder may not be working. Assuming it is in a generally good condition, some of the most common reasons a newly acquired or existing clock may not be working are:

    1) Broken suspension spring - this is the spring steel leaf spring which the pendulum is suspended from, and which allows it to swing. Please see the question about broken suspension springs above.

    2) The crutch wire is not located in the slot in the pendulum stick - the crutch wire is attached to the escapement and provides impetus to the pendulum to keep it swinging. (Fusee movements - the pendulum is not located in the crutch fork)

    3) Alignment. If the time recorder has been transported or re-located recently, use a spirit level on its side and front and adjust its position to ensure that machine is perfectly level.

    4) Dust, dirt and oil in the clock mechanism can accumulate and generate enough friction to stop the clock. Please see the question below.

  • How do I clean the clock and stamp mechanisms?

  • Ideally the clock mechanism should be completely stripped, cleaned and reassembled, but this should only be carried out by a competent clock repairer using the correct tools. Time recorder mainsprings are very powerful and can cause serious injury if released without control. We understand however that for many reasons this may not be practical or viable.

    A good second option is to clean the complete assembled mechanism in a solvent bath with a soft paint brush. Although not ideal, it will help considerably. White spirit will do the job, and there are professional clock cleaning fluids like Horolene etc. which will provide a bright finish to the brass, but which are considerably more expensive.
    Let the solvent dry and then apply some clock oil to the pivot points using a darning needle to carry the oil. The pivot points are where the pivot shafts enter the brass facings. Always oil sparingly, and never oil the gear teeth.
    Time Stamp mechanism - remove the ink ribbon from the time stamping mechanism and then clean and oil as above.

  • How do I synchronise the clock time with the time stamped by the print mechanism?

  • 1) Stop the clock

    2) Slacken off the screws in the links that connect the rods from the clock to the mechanism

    3) Using paper or card in the card holder, print out the time that the mechanism is set to

    4) Moving the minute hand clockwise, adjust the clock time to match the printed-out time

    5) Re-tighten the screws

    6) The printed-out time should now follow the time on the clock when it runs

    7) To set the correct day, you can simply advance the clock hands further until the day or 12-hour (AM/PM) period matches the current day/time period. Alternatively advance the days on the stamping mechanism by repeatedly moving the lever, or lift button, associated with day advance. These will be different for each manufacturer, for example National and Blick time recorders have a lever at the top of the dial fascia which will advance the day display drum and stamp mechanism. International Time Recorders will have a day lift button, or day lever (dependant on age and model), on the top of the time stamp mechanism. Gledhill Brook time recorders have a lever at the top right of the mechanism which sometimes has a push wire, that can be operated to advance the day stamp wheel


  • Do you know where I can get my Time Recorder serviced?
  • We are certain most competent clock repairers would be able to service your time recorder. 

    There is a company in Braintree Essex which has advertised the fact that they have repaired a time recorder. We have not used their services, so can neither recommend, nor otherwise comment.

  • Can you give any advice on electrically driven time recorders?

  • This website is dedicated to mechanically driven (clockwork) recorders only.

    While we do have a little knowledge of the various electrical systems employed by manufacturers to drive their time recorders (either by DC pulses from a master clock or directly by an AC motor), we strongly advise that a qualified electrician is employed to carry out any work or consulted before any electrical connection is made.

    Further information regarding electrical clock systems can be found by following the links on the following page: Links