At Pendulum Bob's in Columbia, old clocks keep ticking

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:40 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Bob King, the owner of Pendulum Bob's Clock Shop, focuses on repairing a clock. King said any mechanical clock can always be fixed, even if he has to make new parts himself.

COLUMBIA — Bob King connects with history every day.

As owner of Pendulum Bob's Clock Shop at 1400 Forum Blvd., King examines clocks handcrafted as early as the 1830s and brings their broken parts back to life.

"They've seen so much history, they've seen so much family life, and it's kind of like you're in touch with the generations past when you're able to work on something that someone fashioned 200 years ago," he said.

Unlike battery-operated clocks, which King said are built to last about 10 years, mechanical clocks can last centuries. It's possible that they could never die.

"A mechanical clock can be repaired as long as there are people around who know how to repair them," he said.

On a recent afternoon, pieces of clocks in various stages of reassembly were scattered on every table of King's shop. Employees ran back and forth between projects, some requiring new pieces made from scratch.

"It's not a science; it's a craft," King said. "I define craft as a mixture of technology and art."

He restores family heirlooms, items that have often been a constant in a person's life.

"A striking clock becomes a voice of the house, and suddenly when that isn't there, it's kind of like missing an old friend," he said.

Pendulum Bob's is the only large clock repair shop in mid-Missouri, though others do repair clocks part time from their homes. King said he's always willing to help them.

"I've noticed among clock repair people, I've never known any kind of cutthroat competition," he said. "It's kind of like a brotherhood."

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