Introduction: How to Bring a 1970s AM/FM Flip Clock Back to Life

Would it be cool to find an old flip clock to steampunk? 

Good News and Bad News:

Good News: My chance came a few days ago and I bought a 70s Lloyds Solid State clock in an antiques flea market for a whopping $5.00 …could not pass it up.

Here comes the bad news - we brought it home and ended up falling in love with the clock radio so steampunking the item was out of the question and restoration became the priority.

The clock radio had a few issues:

     1. Missing two knobs (possibly a future instructable): 
         a. Small timer knob on top of the case. I can live without it because
             I can move the nub with my fingers and I won't need that option for
             where it is going.
         b. Knob for setting the time on the side of the case.  I can live without
              this one too for awhile because I can set the time without it.  
     2. Small scratches in the 100% pure fake plastic wood grain case
     3. But most importantly a broken Flip Clock (that is what I will be working on)

The radio and alarm works.

For the mechanics, this Instructable will read like a diary.  I feel that I can write a how-to on just the steps that I took to solve the clock issue and ignore the discovery phase or I can tell the painful truths with all of my embarrassing hits and misses as I work my way to a final solution or call me long winded.


Step 1: Opening Pandora’s Box


1. Remove the plastic case
    a. Pull the knobs off (the one on the sides were the only ones left)
    b. Remove the screws
         1. The three behind the clock/radio
         2. Underneath remove all of the screws from the left and right side
         3. Underneath remove the center screw
         4. Underneath there are a few screws in the front - remove them too
         5. Do not remove the screws for the speakers and the screw that is
             sitting in a triangle shape (I don't know what that is for....yet)
    c. remove the case

Step 2: Motor

Locate the motor.

Looking at the motor, you will notice that there is absolutely no room to work.  The only solution is to remove the clock assembly from the base.

When I originally unscrewed the bottom of the clock case, I stated that all of the screws have to be removed except for the screws for the speaker and the one that looked like it sat on a triangle.  Those extra screws were for the base where all of the components are attached to.

Flip the base up and notice two screws underneath the clock – remove both and remove the electrical tape holding the wire bundle in place.

Now the clock assembly can be turned on its side so that you can access the motor.

Remove the shield for the motor.

Note:  most flip clock how-to instructions state that to fix these old clocks all one has to do is lube the motor with WD40.

Oiling being the easiest solution, that is what I did first. I shot the WD40 in the small holes just like what I had seen online.
As luck would have it…it did not work.  Motor spins and that is all.  So I added WD40 to the gears coming from the gearbox to the actual gears that run the flip clock.

That did not work either.

Step 3: Surgery!

Now I wanted to see what was going on in the gearbox.  I did not hear a grinding noise…could be a good sign.

Pull the motor from the clock (there are no screws holding the motor on except for the two nuts that were removed when taking the shield off.

Next, remove the tiny screw (don’t lose it) next to the wires.

Take an exacto knife and pry off the gearbox cover (that brown stuff is just old glue holding the cover on), and slide the cover back.

Find the gear that comes from the motor.  The gear that is the easiest one to rotate would be that first gear.  
Note:  As the gears step up, the gears will get harder and harder to spin.

Using the just the point of the exacto knife, turn the first gear; watch to see if it turns the other gears.

All seems to check out fine.  All of the gears fit well and spins without any slack.

I plugged the radio clock back in.  The motor spins, so I touched the first gear with the exacto knife while the motor was running and I felt a slight catch but it was not constant.

Next step; I’ll have to remove the gearbox from the motor.


Time to dig in!

Step 4: More Surgery....

Cut the wires that connect the power to the motor.  Be sure before you cut the wires to color just one of them with a sharpie because when you reattach the motor, you will need to know which line to connect to the other since they are both white.

Looking at the front plate of the motor to the gearbox, you’ll notice 3 pins.  The best picture that I have for the pin is when the motor was still together.

Drill out the pins but only as deep as to separate the gearbox and the motor. Swing/pivot the gearbox way.  The electrical wire inlet, will act as a hinge.  

Look at the condition of the main gear.  It looks great – it’s metal and no wear.

Look at the condition of the first gear….UGH!   It is gone.

Bad News: I have to find a new gear

Good News:  I get to go the Hobby Shop - Amusement Park for the geeks (besides Radio Shack)!

Before you head to the hobby shop, count the teeth. 

HINT:  Take a picture of the gear, blow it up as big as you can on the computer...start counting.

Step 5: New Gear!

Took a trip to the hobby shop.  Excellent place for finding just about anything you may need.  This shop has the best selection in scale models and they have best selection of RC kits and parts for airplanes, autos, and helicopters.

The staff recommended a set of gears used for RC helicopters.  I bought it and brought it home. 

I replaced the old gear with the new one.  There was one major issue; the gear was traveling up and down the shaft.

The solution was to cut the old gear.  Cut the shaft tube off of the old gear then place the cut piece above the new gear on the shaft, forcing the new gear down towards the metal gear of the motor (see schematic).

Reassemble the gearbox; attach the gearbox back onto the motor (since I did not drill out the pins all the way down, the gearbox and motor snapped together.  If it did not snap back, I would have glued the two together.

Put the dust cover back onto the gearbox.  Attach the entire assembly back onto the clock and solder the wires together then wrap with electrical tape.  Attach the clock back onto the base assembly then pull excess wire back through the base and tape them back to the bottom of the base.

Reattach the base back onto the bottom the clock case, and then reattach the rest of the case.

Step 6: Done!

Check out the little movie.  The corkscrew in the middle of the clock is the motor spinning.  Radio works, clock numbers flip and the alarm is very annoying.

This project was cheap with a final cost of cost $8.00.  $5.00 for the clock and $3.00 for the gears.

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