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Thread: Have an old electric clock, need info

  1. #1

    Have an old electric clock, need info

    My youngest has gotten into this ancestry business. Not content to simply compile a family tree on some website he haunts the internet looking for items related to his ancestors. Naturally, ebay occasionally yields paydirt. And such is the case with this clock. It turns out that it undoubtedly belonged to my mother as she is the only person we have found with her name. It was sold from New Jersey and there are actually two ways it could have gotten there as well, both with only one easily demonstrable step from my mom's house. So now my son has a nonworking Lanshire Clock. And he thinks it should be working. Sigh. The condition of the plug makes me think that there may be more that just old lubricants at work. I suspect that I could swap in another electric movement (battery operated no less!) but he wants it as original as possible. I plan on opening it up and inspecting it but thought you all my know something about the company or any tidbits of electric clock repair I may need to know.
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  2. #2
    That'a lovely old clock.
    I can't help with anything specific but I will say be cautious when trying it out. The old sheathing may have broken down making metal parts live!

    This site may interest you.
    There's nothing important to read here.

  3. Likes Der Amf, is that my watch liked this post
  4. #3
    The plug has indeed experienced some arcing, though it may not be the device that cause it. The plug looks as though it has been chewed on, and these sorts of plug tabs bend easily and partially break, leading to hot spots and arcing; I would replace the plug as a matter of course, but use a good one with screwed terminals and not the pinch-type that won't offer any advantage.

    The motors in old AC-driven electric clocks are synchronous motors that regulate their speed based on the frequency of the provided AC current. That's 60 Hz in America and for any clock with that sort of plug. The motor and gear reduction are probably enclosed in a single motor housing, and that housing may be held in place with rivets or with bent-over tabs. It's possible to remove the housing to clean and oil the gears, but be careful. These are not always easier to assemble than they are to disassemble.

    If there is a breakage in the windings, there will be infinite resistance between the two legs of the plug. If the windings are okay, the resistance will be something in the range of 8-10 kohms, so you'll need a decent ohmmeter to see it. If you get any resistance reading at all, the windings are probably okay, and the problem is likely that the gears are gummed up or corroded.

    While I appreciate the point of view of the author of the paper linked in the post above, I think he'd somewhat over-reacting to the risk. A clock such as this can operate safely enough, if placed in location inaccessible by children, and not surrounded by flammables. Turning it into a low-voltage device by rewinding the coils is not a beginner project. The cord on this clock is not so archaic as to suggest it comes from an earlier time than the 60's or so. There are many, many synchronous motors from that era in safe operation. Putting the clock under a plexiglass dust cover would be one way to address the concern in any case. Plugging it into a GFCI outlet would be another way to deal with a range of risks. (The outlet would sense any loss of current from the phase line to the neutral line, and does not depend on a safety ground to work properly). Rewinding the motor and providing an external low-voltage AC power supply has its own safety issues, and relocates a possible problem but does not eliminate it. But rewinding also makes a vintage item no longer vintage, like replacing the synchronous motor movement with a modern quartz battery-powered movement.

    My temptation would be to carefully remove the cover, clean everything with spray electrical contact cleaner, provide a light touch of machine oil to the gears and motor shaft, and replace the cover. Then test. If it's full of rust, cut off the cord and use it for display only, unless you can search for an find a replacement motor (the markings on the motor will held in that search).

    Edit: You might find something like this under that rear bakelite cover:

    Rick "plus all the usual disclaimers about the voltage involved being absolutely lethal if touched while grounded, etc." Denney
    Last edited by Rdenney; Apr 30, 2015 at 03:23 PM.
    More than 500 characters worth of watches.

  5. Likes FuzzyB liked this post
  6. #4
    Thanks, both of you!

    I was thinking that with warm weather here I'd run and extension cord out poolside, open 'er up, and poke around to see what was binding in there.

    That appears not to be a good idea.

    I'm thinking the cord may be a replacement - the clock looks older but maybe I'll know more later.

    Guess I'll give it a try per the instructions provided by Rick "My next of kin and lawyer have a copy of your post and your contact info" Denny.

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