September 14, 2006
Tift Co.-- It happens too many times. Family members find an old clock that belonged to a parent or grandparent, but the clock doesn't work. They want it to tick again, but finding a specialized repairman to do the work can be next to impossible-- unless you know of Loron Williams.
Clocks, especially old, mechanical ones, have few masters, and one of them is Loron Williams. "A horologist. That's a keeper of time," says Loron, with a smile as he points to a certificate with his name on it.
A timekeeper who got interested in repairing clocks 10 years ago when he vacationed in Switzerland and Germany. A friend taught him how to repair them. Loron has hundreds of clocks, many of them cuckoo clocks, some of them going back to 1850. Twenty-one of them hang on a wall in his home. Many more sit in boxes in need of repair.
He always keeps his eyes open for clocks everywhere he goes. "I think its movement is sick," says Loron as he removes a clock's mechanism from its case. The main symptom? "It won't stop cuckooing once it starts."
Don't blame the birdie for the cuckoo clock going cuckoo. "This one will probably take two- to two-and-a-half hours to repair from start to finish," says Loron. Where does he start? "Make sure all our levers are in the right place," says Loron, adding that many of them need cleaning and oiling.
Sometimes he uses gentle persuasion with a pair of needle-nose pliers, along with a lot of trial and error. "Oh, yes," says Loron as he inspects the clock's gears for any sign of trouble. Who knows what chain of events caused the cuckoo clock to go crazy. "I think it's going to work," says Loron after he gently bends two black wire levers that control two small bellows that create the distinctive cuckoo sound.
Only one part works. The clock seemed to have a mind of its own. "Or broken," says Loron. He uses more persuasion and patience as he changes places with the two, black wire levers in the small wooden cabinet.
Why does he spend hours and hours in a cuckoo world, working in tight places? "Often I can repair a clock that has been in someone's family for 100 years and it hadn't worked in the last 20 to 25 years. It brings pleasure to me to be able to fix it for them."
Loron works in a small room at his home where time seems to stand still after working as a cost estimator for a construction company. He knows when to call it a night. "When I can't hold my eyes open anymore."
But with all his talents and all his patience, he can't fix one thing. "I don't have enough time." Not enough time to reinvigorate, to renew dead clocks that ran out of time. "That's what I wanted it to do," says Loron as he tests the clock to see if it works correctly.
It passes his bench test. "I think it's going to be OK," says Loron as he hangs in on the wall to make sure it will run for several days before returning it to its owner.
Loron often finds spare parts readily available for his clocks, but if he can't find one for some reason, he will make the part himself. He can be reached at 229-382-1084.