Yesterday, I mentioned that I must clear my minor-repair project agenda before beginning to build the RMS Titanic model. This past weekend, I wrapped up three alarm clock fix-ups. Two were simple motor replacements in conventional Westclox analogue clocks for my across the street neighbor. The other was a vintage flip clock radio I had promised to examine for my pal Jonathan. I couldn’t guarantee that I could repair the clock radio because flip clocks are more complicated than standard analogue electric clocks.
Earlier, in anticipation of tearing down the neighbor’s alarm clocks, I purchased two standard clock motors from my watchmaker friend Charlie. With my trusty soldering iron and a screwdriver, the motor swaps went quickly. I cleaned up the gears and plastic cases, then reassembled both Westclox clocks. They are set aside to give to my neighbor after he returns from a short vacation.
Jonathan’s clock was in new territory for me. Although I once owned a flip clock back in the 1970s, I’d never taken it apart to find out how it worked. I had warned my friend that his clock radio could end up in the scrap heap if I messed up the display. He assured me that he didn’t mind because it was a thrift store purchase. Jonathan’s clock radio’s flip card display was out of sync. Fortunately the motor and gears seemed OK–which was a relief because I don’t have ready access to spares.
I needed to understand how to get the “:00” minutes to drop in place at the same instant a new hour card dropped into view. I watched a couple of YouTube videos, but they didn’t describe how to adjust the minutes card dropping problem that Jonathan’s clock had. That is, each hour card did not drop until the “:13” minute card flipped down.
I eventually managed to flick the minutes cards backwards, one at a time, while keeping the display upside-down. This had to be done carefully so as to avoid stripping any of the nylon drive gears. This is an ad-hoc solution that will hopefully last through the life of the motor. Care must be taken to never turn the clock radio upside down, or all bets are off.
I reattached the display to the base of the case, then reassembled the two halves of the case. I cleaned and polished the clock in anticipation of Jonathan’s next visit. I hope he gets some enjoyment from the old clock radio.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century novelist, Rex Stout. “The trouble with an alarm clock is that what seems sensible when you set it, seems absurd when it goes off.”