Further adventures in plastic clock repair

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by kinsler33, Jul 8, 2018.

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  1. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Kinsler column: Follow me in merry measure

    Mark Kinsler Published 10:00 a.m. ET July 7, 2018

    “I suppose you set that to annoy me,” muttered my short spouse as “Joy to the World” rang out from our living room. She was right: at Kinsler Hi-Fi I used a Four Roses Whiskey Christmas record to demonstrate turntables and startle customers.

    The latest Yuletide enthusiast is an oval, wall-mounted ‘Joyful Nostalgia Oak Musical Clock,’ fashioned by the Rhythm Clock Company. Each hour it plays one of 18 tunes: please select from Hymns, Classical, or Christmas. The choice was obvious.

    As its song plays the clock performs acrobatics in which the dial magically splits apart to reveal a rotating inner sanctum of gold musical notes. Yellow lights flash to the rhythm of the music as a crystal crown revolves beneath it all. Then the tune ends, the dial closes up, the lights go out, and all is quiet for another hour.

    Inside, the repairman encounters a three section planetary gear system, three dial segments that run on rollers along tracks, a three reduction gears, two limit switches, a motor, a circuit board ornamented with two microprocessors, five light-emitting diodes, a phototransistor, a quartz clock movement, a loudspeaker, and a pair of size D batteries.

    Some two dozen delicate wires, each one eager to break, run through this inner world. So I took photographs like I was on assignment for National Geographic, gradually digging down to the broken reduction gear axle, which I rebuilt in brass on the third attempt.

    Then to my great delight I discovered that the clock’s hands stalled at ten minutes past the hour. Exploratory surgery revealed a tooth broken off a tiny, irreplaceable gear. It took an extra week and several attempts to adapt a new quartz clock movement using some of the old parts.

    After its observation period the Joyful Nostalgic Music Clock will go back home, but meanwhile it continues to perform for us each hour. Our friend Gracee, bright and funny at age 16, put it well: “I find it strangely mesmerizing,” said she.

    Mark Kinsler, kinsler33@gmail.com, is a science teacher from Cleveland Heights who lives in an old house in Lancaster with Natalie and the three cats.
     
  2. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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  3. tom427cid

    tom427cid Registered User
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    You forgot to mention that there is a good possibility that Mr. Goldberg had a hand in the design and engineering.
    tom
     
  4. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    What I didn't mention is that the clock is made entirely of plastic, that the twisted-off reduction gear axle is integral to the black ABS chassis, that repair parts are not available from the manufacturer, that the manufacturer is unreachable, that their flat repair charge is reputed to be around $200 but seems to vary depending on whose complaint you read, and that the retail price of this clock is around $550. And since the old couple who owns the thing lives in Lancaster, I mentioned nothing about taste, the wisdom of purchasing such an object to begin with, or North Korean art schools.

    It's not clear that the design could have been all that much better than it is given the amazing craziness of the performance and appearance.

    M Kinsler
     
  5. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    Oh, the joys of plastic!

    I have a Seiko "Melodies in Motion" clock that is similar, hanging on the "wall of cheesy clocks" (along with 2 "Felix the cat" clocks). My Seiko is way cooler, though, as it plays Beetles tunes. :cool: Seiko's clocks are far less expensive, retailing for around $160.00. I'm willing to bet that they're all made in the same Chinese factory.

    I had the joy of dissembling the movement due to ants taking up residence inside of it (certain species of ants love electromagnetic fields). Regular application of a barrier ring of insecticide now keeps the little beasties at bay.
     
  6. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    I have a couple of these plastic fantastics up iin the shed. Don't know why. The owners never came back to pick them up.

    As to ants in the house. A dot of Thiamethoxam at the place of entry, stops them forever.
     
  7. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Well, I'm learning a lot with this project, and I doubt that I'll ever get paid much. In the process of adapting a new movement I'm having a chance to test a new Permatex glue that's kind of half Super Glue and half Gorilla Glue, maybe. It may work to bond metal to the more miserable varieties of plastic, but I don't know just yet.

    As to ants, note that Mr Mauleg lives in the Northern Marianas Islands. I think they have the kind of ants that march in armies and carry off water buffaloes.
     
  8. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    ;) Australia has lots and lots of ants too.
     
  9. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    Water Buffaloes?
     
  10. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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  11. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Ah. I imagine that Australian ants are not to be trifled with, either. Do they like clocks?

    The ants in the more temperate regions of the US are reasonably peaceful; it seems that the fire ants that plague our southern states can't live where the soil gets cold in the winter. I was in Orlando, Florida near Disney World some years ago and was fascinated by the Mexican guys assigned to seek out and destroy fire ant nests. I don't know how they found the nests--I guess if you grow up with them you know where to look--but for nest elimination they had these neat steam generators mounted on their trucks. These were connected through some serious-looking hoses to a sort of flat nozzle, which they'd lay on the nest and then pull the trigger. The cloud of steam had a look of finality to it.

    M Kinsler
     
  12. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    We also have the fire ants and the crazy ants, chance imports after Australias strict quarrantine laws were relaxed. They are a real problem in the tropics and look like competing with the cane toads.

    Our ants include monsters from the past which have long since disappeared elsewhere in the world.
    Some of which are capable of killing people.
     
  13. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Like, this is central Ohio. Someone saw a black bear and it made the headlines. We have squirrels and chipmunks. Birds build their nests every spring.

    Do you mean to tell us that other places might be different, perhaps populated with unfriendly animals?

    M Kinsler

    shocked by the very thought of a barbaric environment
     
  14. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    If you take the time to look, everywhere is a nightmare waiting to happen.
     
  15. dAz57

    dAz57 Registered User

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    Yep, I've had them in my tv, stereo, they even took up residence in a cable internet junction box that hangs from the wires up the power pole in the street in front of the house, any that was weather sealed and they still got in.
     
  16. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    Have you noted which species? To my knowledge, It is the red fire ant or crazy ant which is mentioned in this regard and though such species have been found in Australia, only in the warmer tropical regions.

    So far, I can't find evidence that it is the electrical fields that attract but there is plenty evidence that ants like warm dry places.
     
  17. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    The ones that infest clocks here are the right size and coloration and have behavioral characteristics consistent with "crazy ants". In the house, there are plenty of warm, dry places, including mechanical clocks and bric-a-brak in quantity, but they consistently go exclusively for the interior of battery-driven quartz movements.
     
  18. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    I have seen one battery driven quartz movement that obviously was imported with some insects in it. They were all dead. I don't recall if they were ants or which species but from memory they looked like ants. I've also seen warehouse beetles in all sorts of such places.
    but I lived near a rice mill.
     
  19. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    A quartz clock's electric and magnetic fields are rather small, though each one contains an electromagnet plus a permanent magnet rotor. But they are made of plastic, an ABS (I think) plastic that probably everybody gets from the same factory. Plastics are pretty fragrant, and I wonder if the scent or emitted gas or something is what's attracting the ants.

    M Kinsler
     
  20. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    This is a very salient point. There are factors which may be accidental to the ant and its requirements but it seems unlikely that it actually has anything to do with the electronics.Why do "crazy rasberry" ants infest electronic devices?
     
  21. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    It's also worth recalling--and this was a big discussion when electronic equipment was first exported from Asia to the West in the 1970's--that circuit boards are routinely treated with some weird chemical that prevents the growth of a troublesome tropical fungus. Perhaps it's an ant pheromone as well.

    M Kinsler
     
  22. dAz57

    dAz57 Registered User

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    Most of the ants I've seen in electronics, steam iron, are little black ants, they seem to like to get in where it's warm.

    I did have a newer Schatz ships bell clock with a Hermle movement that had that horrible plastic platform escapement, it attracted some tiny white insects, they looked like ants or crickets, anyway they seemed to be attracted to the plastic pallets and escape wheel and were stuck by the oil which then jammed the escapement,

    It happened several times until I guess the guy finally sprayed the wall with insecticide.
     

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