NAMPA — Mechanical clock repair shop Redeeming the Time represents the ultimate career goal for longtime clock enthusiast and expert Robert Spinden.
The business specializes in repairing non-electronic clocks, which includes metal clocks, wall clocks and grandfather clocks. In repairing a clock, Spinden completely disassembles the moving pieces and makes the necessary repairs. He can make custom pieces for missing parts in his shop. And after being tested and timed, clocks are returned to their owners with a detailed report and before-and-after photos.
Spinden's fascination with clocks began years ago when he came across a trade magazine in a public library in San Francisco. He read more and eventually sought out mentors to teach him the tricks of the trade.
"I just kept learning as I went, and eventually decided to concentrate on clocks instead of watches, and that's been my self-supporting hobby ever since," Spinden said.
He took that knowledge to SimplexGrinnell, where he worked for 20 years before retiring last month. He worked as a clock technician his first year at the company and went on to program major fire alarm systems at businesses and organizations around the valley.
Starting his own clock repair business was his ultimate goal. Until opening Redeeming the Time, clients would drop off their clocks at his home for repair. Spinden was also part of a group of clock repair experts that recently repaired a tower clock at the Snake River Heritage Center in Weiser.
"I've been planning on this for years," Spinden said. "I absolutely love clocks — the historical and mechanical aspects of it, and the metallurgy and craftsmanship. And just taking a clock in poor condition and bringing it back to its original and happy life."
Q&A with Redeeming the Time owner Robert Spinden
Describe the shop and the vibe people get when they come in.
I've got a patron saint that was dedicated with a prayer last Wednesday — Saint Innocent of Alaska. He was an orthodox priest from Russia who worked with Aleuts on developing a written language, and he was also a watch repairmen. (The store is) about a 400-square-foot shop, and when somebody walks in, there's clocks ticking and maybe some blues playing on my stereo. It's a great place for people to come in and drop off their clock and take a look around.
What might visitors be surprised to find?
That I make my own parts. I've got two aids, and at home I've got a mill, so if I need a part I can make it. I can cut gears, shape other parts, polish them and install them. You can't go to a hardware store and buy older clock parts.