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All in the Family

Fourth-generation apprentices in clock repair 

“I was always interested in anything mechanical,” says Noah Kline, who has joined his grandparents Rick and Doris Graham keeping vintage time-pieces running at Maryland Clock.

          As an apprentice in grandparents Rick and Doris Grahams’ clock repair shop in Davidsonville, Noah Kline combines his loves of tinkering and family.

         Kline began his clock repair apprenticeship at Maryland Clock Company this summer at his grandfather’s 65th birthday.

         The former auto mechanic now considers himself both a “car and clock doctor.” 

         Growing up underfoot in his grandparents’ shop, he learned to appreciate the mechanisms that surrounded him.

         “I was always interested in anything mechanical,” Kline says of his passion. “When I was 10 years old, I took apart our new Dyson vacuum just to see how it worked.”

         At six, he quickly mastered his grandparents’ gift of a Lego set geared to ages 16+.

         “He’s very mechanically gifted; he always has been,” says grandmother Doris Graham, shop co-owner and its bookkeeper and accountant.

         On service-call days, Kline and Rick Graham make house calls to determine if a client’s clock can be repaired on-site or must be taken to the repairs shop in Upper Marlboro, where some 500 donated clocks line the walls.

         “These represent 50 years of accumulated clocks; we don’t just throw them away,” Kline says. Instead, they are cannibalized for parts.

          “It took two weeks of cleaning out to find me a spot to work,” Kline says of the crowded repair shop. He has since taken more than 1,300 pounds of scrap brass to be recycled.

         Together, grandfather and grandson have reduced the shop backlog by 30 days.

         A fourth-generation mechanic, Kline is continuing the family tradition.

         “My dad was raised by his grandfather, a German immigrant and machinist, and he became a professional watchmaker. He went to work for his dad and now there’s Noah,” says Rick Graham.

         Kline brings fresh ideas to the long-running shop. He is using his social media skills to increase advertising and plans to market “kinky” cuckoo clocks. That’s something his grandparents wouldn’t have considered.