We get asked this question rather frequently. Recently, we posted this answer to a customer in an email, so I thought we’d share it here.
It is tough to recommend anything without knowing the condition of the movement. Here are some general thoughts.
With SWCC Style F movements, cleaning annually is not recommended or needed. Cleaning cannot be properly done without full disassembly, and that means everything removed from the plates and disassembled—all screws, mechanical parts, contacts, insulators, main wheel spring barrel, etc. This is an involved task and not for the faint of heart (or inexperienced). It would subsequently require all adjustments be repeated, and again this is not something you want to take on without experience.
If a clock is properly restored initially (which includes the cleaning described above and much more), it will then be in maintainable condition. Then there would be no need to oil annually. In fact, after restoration, we recommend customers return a movement here for oiling and contact maintenance once every 3-4 years, or maintain with our OK-1 Oiling Kit, following the instructions exactly.
We have seen movements sent us which were no longer functional, yet had been saturated with oil. This is not good for the contacts, nor anything else electrical within the movement. And, it is not necessary and does not cure the problems caused by wear. With clock movements, more oil is not better. A small ring of oil barely perceptible around each pivot and as outlined in our OK-1 Oiling Kit is sufficient. Any more finds its way to the contacts, fouls the contacts and creates problems. It also attracts dust and draws it into the pivots and pivot holes. Over-oiled movements often have very severe pivot and pivot hole wear. This is testimony to the problems induced by too much oil.
At most, you could purchase an OK-1, and use it to oil and clean the contacts on your newly restored movement. With movements which have not been restored by us, if there is substantial wear (or they are saturated in oil), then this is not a recommended action; you’d be better to have the movement restored first, and then maintain with the OK-1 kit every 3-4 years as stated earlier.
The original SWCC instructions called for annual application of mineral spirits or kerosene to the pivots and then absorbing out the oil and soot, followed by re-oiling. We find this is not necessary and not recommended. At one time SWCC clocks were operated in dirty industrial, manufacturing, and transportation (train and bus stations, etc) environments. Our homes are by far cleaner than these environments, and so a properly restored movement will typically last 3-4 years before any routine maintenance is required.
Sometimes customers don’t maintain according to the above schedule, and the movement is sent back to us 6-10 years after our restoration. If wear is minimal (and it sometimes is if we had done the restoration previously), we have a method for cleaning the movement, which involves a fair amount of disassembly but not the same level as would be needed for a full restoration. This can be an effective way to resurrect a previously restored but poorly maintained movement–provided wear is minimal. It’s much more expensive than doing the normal maintenance–thus the importance of the recommended regular 3-4 year maintenance oiling and contact cleaning.