Copyright 2017 NAWCC San Jacinto Chapter 139
(The following description of how the watches and clocks were stabilized is just the first step in a long process of their recovery. Consider this process as an emergency process of preventing additional corrosion to metal parts and nothing more.)
Hurricane Harvey hit Houston on August 28 and dropped over 50" or rain in many areas. One of them being the Woodlands just north of Houston. Chapter members were requested for help from that member as hundreds of clocks had been submerged in flood water. On day one (Sept 2nd) Tim Glanzman, John Trego and Darrah Artzner spent the entire day relocating, packing and moving all clocks located on the ground floor to the second floor. These included miniatures of about one inch size, wall clocks having up to seven foot lengths, grand father clocks and everything in between. The crew stayed on this day until all clocks were removed and relocated since the wall board was scheduled to be removed the following day. Darrah took home 40 watches and got them stabilized over a period of several days.
On day 2 the crew from the previous day was joined by Joe Mixon, Marcus Bush, Shaun Clark, and Geoff Parker. The main task was on this day was to stabilize about 500 clocks with a process that hopefully would remove most debris and water moisture. The process included submerging (I know, ouch!) each clock into three water baths and one of alcohol. Each one was then blow dried to remove any alcohol in order to prevent absorption of moisture of any alcohol that remained. Hopefully, we eliminated further rusting but, based on previous experience, action should be taken on each clock as soon as possible in order that further degradation is prevented.
On day three John Trego, Tim Glanzman, Darrah Artzner, Joe and Nita Mixon, Giovanni Santarsiere, and Ken Arnold finished cleaning the remaining flooded clocks and moving them and other clock parts to shelves that were moved away from all walls the previous day. The garage was then cleaned up and all items drying in the sun moved inside. We then assisted other volunteers carry furniture to trucks that will go to storage during the restoration process. Three grand father clocks and a master electromechanical wall clock were taken by various members to Chapter 139 headquarters (Tim Glanzman's business) for case restoration. This was a long three days for us but is only the beginning for the owner in which will take many months to regain normalcy. The flooding turned many clocks into parts but, hopefully, some can be restored.
It is important to stress the fact to all that any time a clock or watch is subjected to flooding, it should be acted on it immediately to stabilize and prevent further damage by rust. There usually is no problem if an item has no paper or plastic parts, however, stabilizing by submerging it in alcohol can do some damage to paper dials (mostly to ink) and plastic dials and the restorer must weigh the cost of this sort of damage when using this method.
Photos courtesy of Marcus Bush and Darrah Artzner