Those of you who follow my Instructables probably have noticed that I like to take something old and non-functional and save it from the scrap heap by giving it life once again. I love to frequent flea markets and the challenge of fixing that which others have thought unfixable.
During my outings I'm always on the lookout for an old clock, particularly old alarm clocks and mantle clocks.
Why clocks? First, the mechanical nature of old clocks intrigues me -- I mean they have gears, and sprockets, and springs, and levers -- all sorts of neat stuff that, when working as designed, actually captures the passage of time! Second, except for rare expensive clocks, when an old clock quits working, most people assume it is done for.
What I have learned over the years is an old clock can generally be fixed -- often very easily. And, if it can't be fixed, AND it is of a style that is interesting, it can always be converted to a quartz movement, but I only do that as a last resort.
This Instructable won't make you an expert in clock repair, nor will it cover the details of clock repair, but I will try to go over what I generally find wrong with these old clocks and how I get them running.
Step 1: Misaligned gear trains
The first thing I do when I look at a clock is to look for evidence of damage to the case. If a case is cracked or broken, quite often a gear train has popped loose inside the clock. The clock if the photo below is a good example. It is an old General Electric clock from the '50's, and refused to run when plugged into the wall, On the back of the case was a large crack, indicating it had been dropped. Upon removing the case, I found the set of gears that had popped out of place, popped them back in, and the clock has now been running constantly (and keeping perfect time) for the past 3-4 years.
The case on this clock was plastic, and I fixed the crack (not shown) on the back with super glue. Super glue tends to work well on old plastics. I glue the crack shut, then fill any small gaps with more super glue. If the crack is on the front of the clock housing, I then overfill the crack, sand it smooth, and paint the entire housing. If it is on the back or the bottom, I simply glue the crack.