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Clock repairman gets no time out

When you walk in the front door of Al Nuzzello's home, the only sound you hear is the hushed tick of a grandfather clock.

After you take a few more steps through the living room into a small workshop, that sound fades as the intense ticking of several clocks takes over.

"Working on these clocks is a real challenge," he said.

Nuzzello, 78, started clock work about 25 years ago, when he moved from Connecticut to Bradenton and purchased a clock and picture-framing business.

"From time to time the clocks needed to be repaired, and I was the one who had to fix them. So I learned how to repair the clocks by tearing them down and rebuilding them piece by piece," he said.

Although clock repair may sound like a simple profession, Nuzzello said the intricate work is anything but easy.

"There have been instances where I have worked on a clock day after day for two weeks, before I could get the clock to run just the way I wanted it to," he said.

"It takes a lot of patience to be a clock man, because you are working with complicated movements and sensitive coordination."

One can see how intricate clock repair is, just by looking at the dozens of tools lying neatly on the shelves of Nuzzello's 10-by-10 workshop. He has nearly $1,000 worth of everything from miniature screwdrivers to needle-nosed pliers.

Nuzzello, who fixes clocks only for acquaintances and friends now, said he has repaired thousands of ticking wonders in the past 25 years.

"I have fixed everything from $3,000 Hershede grandfather clocks to $15 kitchen clocks," he said. Some of his favorite clocks are gingerbread mantle clocks.

Although Nuzzello enjoys working on today's most up-to-date clocks, he said he has noticed a definite decline in the quality of clocks made in the past few years.

"Some of the clocks are made a lot cheaper today than they were years ago. They are made with a lower quality of movements and materials," he said.

Nuzzello offered two pieces of valuable advice to those who own a clock or are contemplating making a major purchase.

"The worst thing you can do to a clock is to try and fix it by spraying WD-40 inside the clock, because it will ruin the movements. Also, if you are interested in buying a clock ask for German movements, which are the best of quality," he said.

"If you remember these two things it will save you a lot of headaches."

How long does the 78-year-old Inverness Highlands resident plan on fixing clocks?

"I will either fix clocks until I die or until I become a millionaire, depending on which comes first," he said with a chuckle.