The only remedy is to put in new brass bushings for the gears to ride in, an exacting and time-consuming task few people know how to do. "I'm one of the few true clock repairmen out there," Mackey said.
Repairs to old clocks start at about $85, but could cost more depending on how much work Mackey has to do and whether he has to fabricate new parts. He says he is able to charge less than other repairmen because his tools are paid for and he doesn't have to pay rent for a workshop.
His relatively low rates keep Mackey busy constantly. On a recent day he was finishing up a wooden clock movement -- complete with wooden gears -- and working on an antique cuckoo clock. Mackey was waiting on a new bellows, the part that makes the clock "cuckoo."
"I've had clocks in here from Greece," he said. Customers have sent clocks to be repaired from Alaska and all over the United States.
Some antique clock movements can be quite intricate. He has several antique calendar clocks that display the day and date, and know which months have 30 days and which have 31. They even account for leap years, automatically adding a 29th day for February every fourth year.
"I've got clocks that date back into the early 1800s," Mackey said. Back then, a clock was a major investment, and good clocks might only be found in banks, railroad stations or other public places.
Mackey is already training another generation in the ins and outs of antique clock repair. He is showing what he knows to his grandsons, Logan, Walker and Lakota Wilson.
Mackey said Logan took his first clock apart before he could talk. "These boys will be taking over pretty soon," he said.
Mackey used to keep 100 or so clocks running at all times, their ticking and chiming filling the house and workshop. But he's had to make a few concessions for age.
"It gets to be a hassle to wind them all the time," he said.
To reach Mackey's Antiques & Clock, visit www.mackeysclockrepair.com or call 304-422-7274.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.