Introduction: Kit-Cat Klock Smile Juice

About: Retired navigation engineer/speech scientist by occupation, wanna-be artist by inclination

I'm assuming if you're here, you have tried without success the troubleshooting videos at Dr. Kit-Cat, and are wanting to make the tail and eyes keep wagging longer.

The sweet smiling Kit-Cat Klock by California Clock Co. is absolutely a wonderful piece of kit. They did a *lot* of clever and creative engineering to make not only a clock, but a pendulum that moves eyes and tail for months at a time...just on battery power! This is a lot more than just rotating a lightweight second hand, folks!

The eye/tail motion is done with an electronically synchronized copper coil, acting on a magnet contained in the moving tail/eye pendulum. Production tolerances require a small gap between the magnets and the coil. The smaller the gap, the stronger the kick. But too small a gap would cause a collision between the coil and the magnet - clank!

Because of tiny variations in that gap, sometimes the tail/eyes don't have enough battery "juice" to keep the animation going as long as the clock goes. Kit-Cat gets "sleepy" and stops wagging, even though the timepiece is still working.

This instructable shows you how to restore the magnetic attraction across the gap. You'll get tail wagging with a little more "oomph", longer battery life, and less need to carefully level or tilt the clock. Yay!


What you'll need:

  • Your 2-"C" cell battery operated full-size Kit-Cat Klock, the 15.5" tall one. I do not know whether this fix will work on the smaller 12.75" Kitty-Cat Klock.
    Magnets are *very* dangerous if two or more swallowed. They can stick together in the intestines and cause extremely serious problems, including death if untreated. Keep these magnets STRICTLY out of reach of children, including teens.
  • Two neodymium disc magnets, 8 mm. diameter x 1 mm. thick. These are so inexpensive you probably will not be able to buy just two of them. Mine cost $8.99 for 100, at amazon, searching on "neodymium disc magnet 8mm x 1mm". There are other online sources as well - just make sure that the magnets are made of neodymium (it's the strongest), and are 8 mm. diameter by 1 mm. thick. Maybe other slightly larger sizes could work, but I haven't tried them.
  • A small wooden stick like a popsicle or craft stick or some such. This will be used to reach under Kit-Cat's pendulum to add the two new magnets to the existing ones.
  • Some masking tape (I used blue painter's tape) to temporarily hold the magnets on the stick while you insert them under the pendulum.
  • A folded towel to cushion and steady Kit-Cat.
  • A flashlight to see what you're doing as you put the new magnets in position.

Step 1: Get Kit-Cat Ready

  • Open your Kit-Cat the same way you would when replacing batteries: Place clock face down on towel, with bottom of clock closest to you. Put your fingertips on the sides of Kit-Cat's neck, and your thumbs on the little square on the bottom. .Squeeze in and up on the square. The back is now held in place only by the tips of the ears, so you can just slide/lift the back off.
  • Remove the batteries.
  • Unhitch the tail, by pushing it gently toward the top of clock to release the small plastic hook from its docking bar. If the hook doesn't want to let go, you may encourage it by slightly gently rocking tail side-to-side.
  • Now your "operating theater" is visible.

Step 2: Prepare Your Wand

  • You will be placing two magnets into Kit-Cat. They will self-attach to the existing magnet, in the gap.
  • The place where they have to go is in the tiny gap between the existing magnet and the coil referred to in the introduction
  • The gap is way too small to get your fingers into, so you need a tool to carry your new magnets into position.
  • Your magnet insertion tool will be your popsicle stick, having masking tape sticky side out wrapped onto its end. The sticky side will be used to ferry the new magnets into position, one at a time. Let's call this tool your "wand".
  • You want the tape to attach to the wood stick, so you need to make a wrap around the stick with the adhesive side attaching to the wood. Make a full wrap or a bit more. Press it firmly enough to adhere to the wand. For my size stick, I needed to have about a 3 inch piece of tape.
  • But you also want the tape to have its sticky side out, to grip the magnet. So, double the tape back on itself and make a wrap-and-a-half back the other way around the wand.
  • Your wand, with its sticky end, is now ready to deal with the magnets.

Step 3: Organize Your Magnets

  • The thing about magnets like this, each one has what is termed a North pole on one side, and a South pole on the other. But, it's impossible to tell one side from the other just by looking at them!
  • You will be using two magnets, and you may find it difficult to keep hold of individual slippery little discs. To make matters more difficult, we need to be able to distinguish which pole is up.
  • To give ourselves a reference, you might think you could just use a magic marker on the discs. Trouble is, the marker just gets rubbed off the slick surface.
  • What you do instead, is take a bunch of the magnets and let them stick together N-to-S in a cute little column. You wrap some tape around the column, and label one end of the column as "N". We don't care whether it's *really* N or *really* S, we just need a consistent reference. Now we can always find which way is North otherwise known as "up".

Step 4: Place the First of the Two Magnets

  • Peel off one of the discs by just "thumbing" it off - pushing it to the side with your thumb to detach it from the column. The shorter the column the easier it is to thumb off the top one. Be sure to keep track of which side is up. Squish that disc *face up* onto the tip of your wand, adhering it pretty firmly.
  • If perchance the disc slips out of your fingers and you lose track of which side is up or down, just put the disc back on top of the column. It will automatically align itself to the column with the correct side up, and then you can just thumb it again.
  • Remember the caution about keeping magnets out of reach of children!!Any discs that escape should be corralled and added back to the column for safekeeping.
  • Now, the big moment!
  • Squinch yourself down, and use your flashlight, to get a good view into the gap. You might need to pry *slightly* up on the pendulum near the magnet, to enlarge the gap. Manipulate your wand so the magnet goes into the gap. You will find that the wand magnet jumps up onto the existing magnet. It will jump either to the left or to the right side of the magnet.
  • Give the wand a twist with your fingers - the object is to leave the new disc magnet stuck to the existing magnet. Pull the wand out.
  • Congratulations, now just one more magnet to go, but it requires some care - see next step.

Step 5: Place the Second of the Two Magnets

  • The second magnet is placed very similarly to the first magnet, with one exception: This time, when you thumb a disc off the column, turn it face down before you squish it onto the wand tip.
  • You can now put the wand into the gap, but beside magnet #1. In other words, if the first magnet jumped to the right side of the existing magnet, put the second magnet on the left side. Or vice versa. It should jump into place.
  • The object is to have your two new magnets side by side, adhered to the original existing magnet. You do not want two new magnets stacked on one side with none on the other.
  • If the pesky magnet #2 somehow jumped on top of #1, you most likely did not get it facing the opposite way of #1. You will need to get the second magnet out of the gap and try again. To remove it, put your sticky wand tip on naughty #2, and *slide* it out. Don't try to lift it out, the tape adhesive isn't strong enough. You need to *slide* it out, kind of the same way as when you thumbed a disc off the column.

Step 6: Done! All That's Left Is Testing

  • Put the batteries back in
  • Hook the tail firmly back onto the docking bar.
  • Put the back on: Slip the ear tips into place, then put your thumbs on the bottom square and flex the back to allow the back to pop into position
  • Give it a try, maybe just holding against the wall while you check out its operation. If you use the wall, try to get it reasonably close to straight up and down.
  • The tail might start moving by itself, but if it doesn't then give it a push to start. Hopefully the new magnets will not be bumping into either side of the gap.
  • Now you can hang it on the wall.
  • You do not need to use a level to get it vertical. What I do is duck my head down and observe how the tail swings. I want the distance from the left swing to the left edge of the slot, to be about the same as on the right side.
  • Woohoo! Kit-Cat is happy to have more smile juice*

I hope you and Kit-Cat share many more smiles together!!

If this works out for you, you could help other people find this procedure by posting your results on facebook at the Kit-Cat Klock Fan Club.

* Merriam-Webster definition of juice: "a motivating, inspiring, or enabling force or factor"

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