Help identify odd spin start mantel clock?

Discussion in 'Electric Horology' started by jba, Sep 23, 2008.

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  1. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    This is my clock from the hideously-over-did-it line of deco design. Truly scary, but I like it. I'm trying to identify the maker. The face is paper marked "Electric." No markings on the outside or on the works inside. Just a tiny scrap of some label as pictured. I have pictures of parts of the motor if needed, but I can't completely remove the back panel to see it all. The cords inside are woven cloth covered and frayed and someone spliced a new cord on before I bought it. It runs well and keeps accurate time. The case is painted (marbleized black) wood. Wood unknown. I've seen this clock in a variety of colors on commercial sites, all with no idea of the maker.

    I just registered for this forum today, so I hope I've provided enough info and ok images! If not, sorry!, just let me know.

    If anyone has seen this before, I would very much appreciate any leads as to who might have made this.

    Thanks!!
    :confused:
     

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  2. harold bain

    harold bain Registered User
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    I have moved this thread for better exposure. Just testing to see if replies will show up in both forums.
     
  3. skruft

    skruft Registered User
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    I have seen many of these clocks over the years, but never any information on their origin. Once I saw a post saying they had been given as premiums. I don't know whether this is true.
     
  4. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    Thanks so much for replying! You've cleared up a big mystery for me. Your analysis of where this likely fits in the clock industry of those times makes great sense. It really does look like the parts are a generic type. And thanks for the safety tip! This clock is truly dangerous with the cloth cords fraying inside, plus the condition of the plug. I'll get it expertly rewired, as I know the very old splice inside is very unstable. I very much appreciate your expertise!

    Thanks again!
     
  5. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    #5 jba, Sep 24, 2008
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2008
    Thank you. It's good to know any possible origins. I'm going to try to post a photo of a really small scrap of label that is on the base of the clock--it appears to refer to some kind of company, maybe just the one that distributed the clock. I certainly can't tell from the few half words on the label, though.

    Thanks!
     

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  6. burnz

    burnz Inactive User

    Jan 24, 2006
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    As for the spin start feature--"Warren"--- made a good number of clocks with that feature. Don't know if they could have made this one though.
     
  7. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    Thank you for your response--I have wondered about that--whether Warren or another major spin start maker put together experimental design prototypes in order to evaluate marketability, took another look at them and decided not to add them to the company line. One of my reasons for this thought is that the insides of this clock seem to have high quality parts, design, and workmanship. And it keeps time with my computer though it's approx. 80 yrs. of age. Thanks!
     
  8. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
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    I think this query needs closure.

    I tend to agree with Skruft that these anonymous electric clocks were offered as premiums for selling salves and magazine subscriptions door-to-door. Too they may have been in Sperry & Hutchinson's "Green Stamps" catalog. (later Blue Chip Stamps)

    I am reasonably certain that I have seen the motor used in the clock in question. I just happen to have an identical one on the shelf so I opened it an took a snapshot of the motor.

    Has anyone seen this style of motor on a name brand clock? Mastercrafters, United etc. Some maker supplied these motors. If Fred Bausch is looking, I'm sure he'd have the answer.
     

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  9. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    This is great! I knew there must be a historian out there somewhere. Thanks for finding that motor and posting it. !!:)!! I probably should have right from the start but I couldn't get the back plate off completely. In case it helps at all, I've added one attempt at a right side view I left out of the original post. Even though these are supposed to be officially "anonymous", I really hope someone has an idea who might have made the motor.
    Thanks!
     

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  10. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    Here is a different clock case with this motor. The clock is also unmarked. There is a separate small bulb inside the case which lights up the glass dial from below. The dial has numbers and a scene sandblasted into it from the back. The last photo simulates the light effect using a flashlight, since the electrical connections are in no condition to use.

    By the way, jba, the hand setting knob comes off its shaft by turning counter-clockwise. If it is stuck, perhaps you can grab the shaft with pliers while turning the knob. That will allow you to remove the back cover.
     

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  11. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    Wow: You did it. Yep, that's the motor.:)And that is a really nice clock you have. That glass is great. Plus the light! Some nice designers out there really deserve some credit. I think I've seen that clock somewhere before, since I've searched an incredible number of collectors' sites. Think I might just go back and check.

    Thanks for the tip on the winder...ahem...I was too afraid I'd break something. Pliers did it. So now I'm able to add my motor to the images.

    I think this motor search will end up with someone out there recognizing the maker. Maybe this forum can take at least some credit for shedding some light on buried history. Maybe give a partial source for at least the insides of some nice "orphan" clocks.
    Thanks!
     

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  12. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    #12 jba, Sep 28, 2008
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
    Update:Re: Help identify odd spin start mantel clock? Found Patent?

    I think I might have found the patent for this basic motor design. My motor, at least, has most of the parts in most of the right places. Even though it is not exact, the patent application does provide language which allows for that.

    I know you need a couple of side views of the innards and all the gearworks, but hopefully those of you with this general design can look at your motor's insides and the outside images of mine, which differ slightly.

    I'm sure those of you with mechanical knowledge can tell if this is basically it.

    Good luck with his drawings!!

    http://www.google.com/patents?id=2ctCAAAAEBAJ&pg=PA1&dq=synchronous+clock+motor&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=0_1#PPA1,M1


    He does note in the text his intention to allow for variations within the overall design scheme.

    Anyone know who Max Knobel is?
     
  13. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    #13 Jeremy Woodoff, Sep 28, 2008
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
    Re: Update:Re: Help identify odd spin start mantel clock? Found Patent?

    Very interesting. I have not re-opened the case of my clock, but I think that's the motor. I compared the spin to start feature of this clock with a Hammond I have, and it's true that equal turns of the start wheel result in a slower movement of the seconds hand on this clock--almost the correct speed of the hand--compared to the Hammond, which turns the seconds hand a good deal faster. But I'm not sure why this matters.

    I Googled Max Knobel and found another patent issued to him, in 1945,for a "soundproof clock," this patent assigned to the William L. Gilbert Clock Corp. Here is the link:

    http://www.google.com/patents?hl=en&id=goFjAAAAEBAJ&dq=%22max+knobel%22+clock&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=hJJwZd7VYT&sig=PLKXMCjrKI6y7Uz1rrrEHaokBa4&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result#PPP2,M1

    And here is another patent for Mr. Knobel. This is for a balance-wheel type clock movement with a slow beat of about 45 per minute rather than the standard 120 bpm. This patent is not assigned. http://www.google.com/patents?id=IPp4AAAAEBAJ&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=%22max+knobel%22+clock&source=web&ots=mzoZMbqqgy&sig=5CruKE5mLLu_ntQDFaJHdWWYxOU&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result#PPA11,M1
     
  14. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
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    Apparently, Max (no middle initial) Knobel or rather Dr. Max Knobel graduated from MIT and served there as professor of engineering. Graduated from Walpool HS in 1915. Max Knobel was born in 1898 and died in 1982, married and had one son Kenneth Max Knobel.

    As a prolific inventor Knobel formed a company Knobel & Savoy Engineering Inc.

    We still don't know the name of the company who manufactured these "spin-start" clock motors but one day we will stumble on one of these motors in a well know brand-name electric clock.
     
  15. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    Aha....This get's even more interesting! I decided to follow Jeremy's and your information. And I went research crazy. So, here goes:

    First, I’ve compared the structure and gear works with the patent drawing to my motor and it’s definitely that design, too.

    Please correct me if I am wrong on this: That motor was manufactured by someone in the clock industry, without attribution. A lot of people have some version of this anonymous motor in their clocks. The motor has not yet been identified in any clock history or id guides thus far. (I think, anyway…)

    I acknowledge that many people don’t exactly admire this motor. And I believe it was manufactured with variations which were permitted by the patent text. But since I admire audacious inventors, and this one did try to make a contribution to the clock industry, I’m posting this synchronous clock motor patenter’s resume! Sorry! I believe it is relevant to those of us who have unwittingly acquired one of these couldn’t find any information about it. Those with this motor who want to know it’s origins can (at least partially) point to this person:

    Max Knobel, Massachussetts (as you have pointed out)

    MIT: 1918, BS, Electrochemical Engineering, MS Physics, PhD Physics, 1921, Professor MIT Department of Physics, 1919-1931.

    Published through MIT: (1923-1926): Commutator measurements on polarized electrodes; Theory of overvoltage; Effect of surface condition on overvoltage;Porous electrodes for oxidations or reductions; Effect of current density on overvoltage.(all listed on Amazon).

    56 patents between 1931 and 1966: Clocks: Synchronous clock rotor,‘31; **:)Synchronous motor-driven clock,‘32:)**; Self starting synchronous motor,‘34; Clock balance wheel,‘35; Clock/watch motor fix re overbanking,‘37; Timing device for oscillation in clocks/watches,‘41; Soundproof (non-electric) clock motor,‘45, for W.L. Gilbert Clock Co.; And just for his bigger picture: Laminated field device for electric motors,‘41,& Coil winder for electric motors,‘41, both for Houdaille-Hershey; Air flow measurer,‘41,and metal part production method,‘66, both for General Motors; Pen ink filler,‘53, Ball point pen,‘47, Ball point,‘47 all for Sheaffer Pen; Air pressure electric switch,‘56 for Pratt&Whitney; Nine weighing machines between ‘48-‘58 for Pneumatic Scale Corp; Machines to test razor blades (for Gillette Safety Razor‘31,‘36). Photo print cutter for Winthrop-Atkins,‘49; Balance test device,‘44 for Spaulding Sports.

    Okay, I realize I repeated some of your information, Jeremy and Eckmill, but I really did go research-crazy.:D

    Thank you for your knowledge and help for the steps it took to track this down!
     
  16. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
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    I have uncovered another variation of the no-name novelty. This, a favorite in our home, has the same Knobel motor without the rear hands setting and spin-to-start knob. It's started by rotating the windmill.
     

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  17. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    Oh my. That is a really charming clock. Great scenery. Is that hand painted ceramic or enamel or does it have wood backing?

    The location of that spin knob is interesting to me. Is the motor in the center back? If so, is there an extension of the spin knob going over the motor and out the front of the clock? Or does it come through the base? Or?

    Regarding case design: I think yours adds some mystery as to source. Obviously these are widely varying designs. I think the pleasant nature scenery is in sync. with the child/animal scene of Jeremy's backlit glass, both of which I think are diametrically opposed to the severe skyscraper style of the others (especially mine). Yours is the first I've seen that doesn't look to me like art deco. Not even art nouveau? (sp?) It has a charm all it's own. Jeremy's looks like art deco on the clock face and art nouveau in the scenery. Just my (extremely amateur) impressions. If someone with real art history knowledge can place these in the right categories, that would be great.


    I haven't posted for a few days as I have been doing a lot of research. This whole anonymity thing just does not sit well with me at all. Even if it was common during mass production. Not giving up yet.

    Once again, thanks for your knowledge, leads and photos!

    ---Anyone else out there have this motor?
     
  18. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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  19. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    Jeremy did it. He found an actual NAME. The seller sent photos of the motor. Look familiar? Good catch, Jeremy!

    Anybody know who Royal is?
     

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  20. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    Hey, jba,

    Did you buy it?
     
  21. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    No. Unfortunately, I saw it after it sold. Darn. That could be the only one out there. At least ebay let me contact the seller (whew) and compare motor images, so I did and he responded right away. By the way, he said there were no other markings anywhere, except the "U.S.A." mark.
     
  22. jba

    jba Registered User

    Sep 23, 2008
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    Okay, so I'm replying to myself now, but it's for a good reason. I've found a well known name brand maker who has this motor in their clock. It's a nice looking clock. And I am going to try to get it. :| With luck,this case could be closed...:Party:
     
  23. ticktock19852004

    ticktock19852004 Registered User

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    Hello!

    I used to have a clock with this same motor in it. It was a gothic bakelite style clock. The dial read "royal". I sold it a number of years ago. However, they are commonly found on e-bay.


    Thanks!

    Neal
     
  24. Piecat

    Piecat Registered User

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    I have the Gothic shaped bakelite model (sorry, no photos at this stage).

    The motor is the same as pictured and described earlier, and the dial reads as follows:

    Made in USA

    Lincoln

    Electric

    Electric Clock Corporation of America, Chicago.

    (on the coil of the motor is the name "Wheeler".

    Piecat
     
  25. dccrane1952

    dccrane1952 New Member

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    Hi,
    My name is Darrell Crane. I am married to Max Knobel's grand-daughter. I met Max in the late 70's and found him to be a very interesting man. As an engineer myself, I was honored to have at least met him. I came to know his son, Ken Knobel, who was involved with the start-up and manufacture of wind turbines for U.S. Windpower (later known as Kenetech).

    I've been researching my wife's family history and am amazed at the contributions made by an easy going, soft spoken man like Max Knobel.
     
  26. eskmill

    eskmill Registered User
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    Thank you Darrell for your reply to the thread of your grandfather-inlaw's invention.

    It is obvious the the inventive genius of Max Knobel lives on. His spin-to-start synchronus clock motor has been found in many early AC electric clocks made durable and inexpensively during the 1930's and well into the 1940's.

    Although not self-starting, the design lends itself to reliability. AC electric clocks with this motor are easily overhauled and made to run again reliably without replacing parts; especially when compared to other designs.
     
  27. Mr Thom

    Mr Thom New Member

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    #27 Mr Thom, Sep 5, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
    I have a Windsor which I found on a dusty shelf of a storage sale at MIT Alumni last weekend. It is a spin to start looks like mantel clock. Under the veneer is terra cotta (painted ceramic) coating under than thin wood appears to be cherry. Maker is Windsor and patent numbers are evident. This is likely to have been in some way related to Max Knobel the late inventor referred to in this thread. It was partially peeled down to terra cotta and gears locked. I cleaned it with electric cleaner then used spray silicon. Now it is keeping time smoothly. Amazing clock the gears SO old and now working with minimal intervention. My wife loved it so it is now mounted above her oven. about 24" long 4" side and pockets built in the front (probably for matches).
     
  28. Jeremy Woodoff

    Jeremy Woodoff Registered User
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    Thanks, Mr. Thom, and welcome to the message board. Could you provide pictures of your clock?
     
  29. Movementman

    Movementman Registered User

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    I did see two of these motors with the "Kodel" brand name on them.
     
  30. Movementman

    Movementman Registered User

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    I saw one with a company name on it. It was the Electric Clock Corp. Of America, Chicago IL. I also saw one with the name Kodel on the movement.
     
  31. Movementman

    Movementman Registered User

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    #31 Movementman, Aug 19, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2013
    I did find a Gilbert branded clock with what i believe to have this movement. I looked at the knob positions, and they are the same as your clock.
     
  32. Spaceman Spiff

    Spaceman Spiff Registered User

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    Very interesting thread! Thanks to everyone who contributed.

    I had recently started a thread about a clock I own which has the same word "Electric" on the dial and the same movement. Les ("Eckmill") was very helpful in sharing information about Max Knobel and the clock movement/motor he invented. I decided to do some searching under "Max Knobel" and wound up here in this thread.

    Not sure if the original thread-starter jba is still monitoring this thread, but just in case, I thought I would draw his attention to the thread of my clock particularly so he could see the label on the back. jba had posted the following back in Sep 2008 (post #5 on page 1 of this thread):

    jba, if you compare the few words visible on your scrap of label to the label on mine (see pic) it can be seen that this was undoubtedly the same label. Just thought I'd pass this along as an FYI in case you still have the clock. Now you'll know that your clock was marketed or facilitated by the Merchants Advertising Company out of Adrian, Michigan. (From the other posts in this thread I'm gathering that your--and my--clocks were made by the Electric Clock Corporation of America out of Chicago, Illinois).

    Anyway, hope this helps, and thanks again, everybody!
     

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