When I’m not doing homework or taking apart clocks or sleeping or working on an iPhone app (that one’s new!) I can almost always be found at my home away from home, The Able Baker, where I am a barista and key-holder. It’s there that I met Lori, who asked me to take a peek at what she described as “an old clock sitting in my closet.” I totally get how that could happen – someone hands it down, it doesn’t get serviced, next thing you know it’s been in the attic for 20 years.
The clock is a No. 27 Westminster Chime Sessions Electric clock. I bet it’s been more than 20 years since this clock has been serviced, though the movement itself looked alright. The catch? It’s electric.
Cue the music! you say. Electric means easier, right?
Well… not if its from 1932 as I think this clock is. With a warning to “use only at 60 Hz” this clock’s electrical components have long outlived their lifetime. I opened it up expecting to need to replace the electrical cord and nothing else. It’s not something I’ve done before, but hey, I’m an engineer! I am totally up for a challenge.
Unfortunately the two motors inside the clock were basically screaming “I’m an electrical fire waiting to happen!” They both operate at a full 120 Volts and 60 Hz straight from the outlet, and the time of the clock is actually maintained by those 60 Hz. 60 Hz, for those who don’t recall, means 60 rotations per second, which for a clock maker is easy to convert with planetary gears to be 60 rotations per minute aka seconds.
So to fix this clock I’ll need two new 60 Hz AC synchronous motors, and some way to power them. Because 60 Hz is fairly insignificant, I’m thinking of just rigging up a battery pack and putting it in the back of the clock case. It would probably be easier than rewiring the clock and making sure that it can handle 120 V plus power surges.
I’m in the middle of finals now (grad school… ugh) but as soon as I get the time (Wednesday hopefully?) I’ll be exploring for a nearby electrical hobby shop. Radio Shack doesn’t cut it anymore, and other hobby shops don’t carry enough electrical parts to do me any good. I can count on Radio Shack for a partially labeled motor, but I won’t know its rpm by looking at it. I may stop by there for a battery pack – I know they have a few types of those. Before RS though, I will be hitting up a few stores within a 30 minute radius to see if I can find a good go-to hobby store to satisfy my soldering and motoring needs.
I’ll let you all know how it goes!