“THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS”: AVON CLOCK SHOP’S BILL MORGAN
Bill Morgan can turn back the hands of time.
For 24 years, Bill has helmed family-owned Avon Clock Repair, founded in 1954 and what he says is now the only full-service clock and music box repair shop in Monmouth County.
“He fixed the Howard Miller clock that I thought would never work again,” said Keith Cicerone of Howell. “Attention to quality is hard to find nowadays. Bill is a dying breed.”
Walking into Morgan’s store on Main Street you are struck by the beauty, variety and, errr… timeless collection of clocks for repair or sale spanning more than 300 years in age.
You know I love talking with talented people with a passion (see last year’s article about AutoTech’s Bill Rugge), so I visited with Bill, a great gentleman, last week about his shop and his life as an area craftsman.
TBP: When I walk into your studio, I am struck by the huge spectrum of clocks you work on.
Bill: Ship clocks, banjo clocks, clocks that are weight driven, grandfather and cuckoo – the thing about the clock business is that there is such an enormous variety. Clocks have been around for 300 years.
Today, you can buy one from China for $3.99 or one made in the US for anywhere up to $20,000 and I have seen them all over the past almost 25 years.
The devil is in the details when it comes to repairing a clock or music box. Repairing a clock is like repairing an automatic transmission – there are so many parts and movements.
Even with the standard and ordinary there are issues a trained eye can only see under extreme magnification. It does not take much to cause a clock to fail, whether it is not running or chiming. The issue can be a piece that is slightly bent, broken or even a small piece of lint.
Some clocks have two trains, some have three trains. Some chime on the quarter, some chime on the hour and those are just some of the differences that make the clock special and a work of art.
TBP: What advice do you have for someone who is interested in purchasing a beautiful clock to pass down through the family?
Bill: A clock is something you should buy in person, not over the internet. You need to look at the movement. Make sure it is working and most importantly has a warranty. People bring clocks in here that they paid a lot for online and they don’t work and cannot be fixed.
TBP: What is the most memorable clock you have worked on?
Bill: I have worked on thousands and thousands of clocks over the years and a lot of them were special.
Right now, I have a beautiful clock from the Asbury Park Library, donated in 1897 by Ariel Cycless Club [photo above]. If it was made today, it would be very expensive.
I also have a few clocks with a fusee movement from England that is very special and old. Most mainspring clocks, by the fifth day start to slow. The fusee remains smooth and consistent.
Some types of clocks I see all the time. Some I will see a few times in my life. Yes, my head is in this every day and I enjoy it!
AvonClockShop.com has more info.