cover What is a custodian? Literally, one who cares for an object, whether alive or mechanical. In the case of a tower clock custodian, she/he winds the clock, makes sure that all its systems are operating correctly, fends off idiots who claim that a 200-plus year old mechanism is not accurate, and "Why not?" The custodian is responsible for the clock itself, its environs, attachments, and anything that will affect the running of the clock.

What are the duties of a custodian?

1. To wind the clock on a regular basis, usually once a week. Some installations, due to restrictions in space available, may require more frequent winding.

2. To make sure that the clock is keeping time, and that it is correctly reset for both Daylight Savings time and Standard time.

3. The custodian, each and every time the clock is visited, should examine the environs of the clock, and the clock itself, looking for safety hazards. If the clock strikes on a bell, the bell and its cradle, its ringing apparatus, and any other attachments must be checked.

4. To make or to contract for necessary repairs to any part of the clock that may fail. In other words, the custodian should have a fairly intimate knowledge of the parts of the clock, regardless of who the maker was or how old the clock is.

Simply because the custodian is the only person who will visit the clock on a regular basis, she/he is responsible for all aspects of clock care. If you always work with that in mind, you are ahead of the game.

In the United States, most of the tower clocks the average custodian will encounter were made by the E. Howard Company of Boston, the Seth Thomas Clock Company of Thomaston, Connecticut, and the George M. Stevens Company of Boston. There are, of course, clocks made by other makers, which is where a copy of Frederick M. Shelley's Early American Tower Clocks comes in handy. All weight-driven tower clocks operate on the same principles, the variations are the result of different designs by different makers. These variations have to be mastered by the custodian. As we go through various checks and adjustments that are made to a tower clock, we will attempt to point out these variations and their effects on the clock and its running.