Re-lubricate.IT – Silencing a quartz clock

Just last week my mother had moved into a nursing home.  She is in a room where there is no clock, so my sister initially thought about buying a new clock that was less noisy than the clocks already at home.  She found an article on the internet that talked about oiling a clock to make it silent or close to it.  She brought over two cheap wall clocks, that I remember and could hear – each tick could be heard if you were within 10 feet of the clock.  I was skeptical as I could not understand how a little bit of oil would make a clock mechanism go quiet, but was prepared to try it out.  Worst case is that the clocks no longer work and since these are cheap, like $5 – it was worthwhile to use them as guinea pigs.  It was time to “Re-lubricate.IT“.


I placed the clock face down, and one clock was held by little clips, so I just rotate the clock insert anti-clockwise, and it would unclip, then lift it out of the glass and surround.  Pull the hands off – they are just press-fits, and if they get bent, just straighten them.  There is a nut holding the clock mechanism to the clock face.  Then the mechanism can be taken out the back.  A few little clips hold a cover on, and then we get to the mechanism.  Essentially there are a few gears, like 5 or 6 – just remember in what order they came out.  Put a tiny drop of oil on each spindle or swivel point, then put it back together and voila!, much to my pleasant surprise, the clock was much quieter.  It was unbelievable!

I did this to the other clock, which we had put on a table with a cushion on top to mute its ticking.  This one, the back was held on with six small screws, but then after removing the hands and retaining nut, the mechanism refused to come off.  After much fiddling with a knife to go into the gap, it finally came off, it had been glued in.  Anyway the same process of “Re-lubricating.IT” and we ended up with another clock that was so quiet, it was hard pressed to hear which one was the louder one originally.

One thing when reassembling the clock hands, is to make sure that the second hand and the minute hand does clash – just bend slightly one of the hands to make them more parallel.

Just imagine, if this was done in the factory, a lot of us would not be trying to sleep at night listening to the ticking of a clock.  This is worthwhile to do for those that don’t have digital clocks.  Now, I hear that Ikea has $2 kitchen clocks, so if you manage to make a mess of this, a cheap replacement is available.  Also, the mechanism in most cases are compatible as they are usually copies, so your favourite clock can be rejuvenated, by replacing the mechanism – and if you are lucky, you can even use the old hands.