All About Time Clock Repair

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An Arizona man has a rare talent and intense passion for fixing clocks. Frank Beaudrot has spent decades bringing family heirlooms back to life. His shop is filled with a variety of clocks -grandfathers, mantles, and cuckoos- some dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. In special cases, Beaudrot even makes house calls.

Ted Simons: In this time of smartphones, tablets, and Google glasses, some might think a clock that tells time is a little out of sync. But producer Christina Estes and photographer Steven Snow found a place in Phoenix where clocks are king.

Man: I'm Gary, we talked on the phone.

Christina Estes: It's a story with a familiar ring.

Man: It still runs but it's not chiming properly.

Man: It's a family heirloom.

Christina Estes: Frank Beaudrot's clock repair shop is full of heirlooms.

Frank Beaudrot: These were made in the s, perhaps a little older.

Christina Estes: He's surrounded by timekeepers. There are grandfather clocks, mantle clocks, anniversary clocks.

Frank Beaudrot: They call it an anniversary clock because you wind it only once a year. And many people choose an anniversary or birthday as their reminder date.

Christina Estes: And yes --

Frank Beaudrot: When I hear that it reminds me of my granddaughter who goes nuts when she hears the cuckoo clock.

Christina Estes: When you see so many impressive clocks like this French one dating back to the 1700s --

Frank Beaudrot: It's quite characteristic was the fact they had a stamped brass face. And you can see how thin it is. And the elaborate pendulum that was common for the French clocks.

Christina Estes: You might think Frank is a huge collector. But it's not their designs that draw him in. [chiming clocks] It's their trouble.

Frank Beaudrot: There's a sense of satisfaction that comes with being able to take something that's broken and fix it. I have my magnifier hood, and what I'm doing is polishing the pivots on the ends of the gears that come out of the clock.

Christina Estes: The most common repair he tackles is an overhaul. He takes the entire clock apart, cleans each piece, then repairs and replaces parts. Sometimes Frank makes the pieces himself before putting them all back together. There are times Frank says, when a repair may cost twice the clock's value.

Frank Beaudrot: We tell them that. Unless this is something you have a lot of attachment to, if this was grandma's clock that was handed down to you, it doesn't make sense to put money into it.

Christina Estes: It makes sense to this customer.

Man: Do whatever we need to do as far as maintenance.

Christina Estes: Sometimes what Frank needs to do is step away.

Frank Beaudrot: I'll run into a glitch with a clock once in a while, all clock makers do no matter how much they know and how experienced they are, will run into a problem, and we'll have one that doesn't want to behave. And it will throw us for a loop. And so we'll put it aside, I'll put it aside for a day or two sometimes, and come back to it and all of a sudden, I've hit it. And it works.

Christina Estes: Time is not on Frank's side. He says he handles about 1,000 repairs a year. Providing an estimate takes three to four weeks while a major fix takes about six months.

Frank Beaudrot: I have approximately I would say about 50 clocks in the queue right now to be completely overhauled.

Christina Estes: He does all the work himself, even makes house calls, squeezing in seven or eight stops in one day.

Frank Beaudrot: Have you to be efficient. You have to be efficient. If we're not, time is money as they say, and so -- [chiming clock]

Christina Estes: After four decades, Frank has spent time enough around clocks that he ignores them at home.

Frank Beaudrot: I don't have them wound up. I don't keep them running. I just listen to them all day long here and I don't need to be listening to clocks when I get home. So I keep them all turned off.

Christina Estes: Frank says business has grown over the past decade, even during the recession.

Frank Beaudrot: They don't want to throw away and buy new, because it is still expensive to buy new items, and people don't have the money. They would rather put money into repairing or restoring their existing clocks.

Christina Estes: And he's happy to keep fixing them. Frank says it's not yet his time to retire. [chiming clocks]

Ted Simons: Frank especially likes fixing tower clocks. He enjoys getting outside and climbing 50 to 60 feet to work on them.

Friday on "Arizona Horizon" it's "The Journalists' Round Table." The state Supreme Court gives the OK for higher campaign contribution limits, and the latest on investigations into child protective services. That's on the "The Journalists' Round Table."

That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

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