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Need help restoring a Cleveland Neon clock - wiring

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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hey everyone. my father-in-law gave me an old Cleveland Neon Clock a couple years ago and i'm hoping someone here can answer some wiring questions to get it working again. here is a picture of the clock:

228.jpg

i just bought all new wiring parts from www.waynesneonclocks.com, but i need some help wiring the components. before disassembling the clock, i labeled some of the wires for reassembly, but not all of them. i also can't find any of the internal pictures that i *thought* i took.

the new parts i purchased were clock motor, transformer, cord w/ ground, pull chain, glass tube housings and GTO wire. i'm mainly having trouble figuring out how to wire the pull chain and GTO wire.

i'm hoping that someone here could either supply a wire diagram or maybe post a picture of wiring in a clock similar to this one that i can reference. i can take more pictures of what i have if needed. any help would be greatly appreciated.

thanks.
 

Ingulphus

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May 29, 2006
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One side of the grounded cord should be connected to one of the clock motor wires and one transformer wire (incoming - it will be a smaller diameter than the GTO outputs). The other side should be connected to the other motor wire, and to one side of the switch. The other side of the switch connects to the other incoming transformer wire. This allows the motor to always be energized while the transformer can be turned on or off via the switch. The green wire is the ground, and it must be firmly attached to some metal part of the case or motor gear box.

If you don't have replacement neon for the outside of the case, connect each GTO output from the transformer to each end of the inner neon. The connections should be covered with a "boot", a heat-resistant plastic cover that slides over the end of the tube and acts as an insulator. If you add an outer neon tube, its electrodes will fit into the two glass housings at the bottom of the case. Those housings terminate in a threaded screw and nut inside, which is where you would connect the GTO wires, in series with the inner neon's electrodes.

A nice clock, by the way. I'm working on a Roto-Dial, a Lewis and a small Neo-craft - I'm at the case and dial restoration stages, with a lot of work to do before I can order the neon, but it's very satisfying bringing these clocks back to life!
 

Scottie-TX

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Nice little project ya got there. I sold mine a few years back. Careful with that hour hand when you remove it that you don't loosen or separate the hand from it's collar.
Th' "GULPH" gave all the rest ya need. Questions? Come on back!
 

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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thanks for the info guys. i was having a really hard time finding information on this thing so i'm glad i stumbled across this site in my searching.
i'm slowly trying to make progress on restoring this thing. i won't be able to make it 100% perfect, but it will still look nice when it's finished. so far i sandblasted the housing and marquee, painted the housing, painted the clock hands, cleaned up the clock face and started rewiring with new components. in the near future i hope to paint the marquee, have the aluminum bezel polished and have new neon tubes made. after that it's just finishing the wiring and final assembly... i hope.
when i got this clock the outer neon tube was long gone. the inner tube still works though, but i'm going to replace it since all the other components are going to be new. the inner neon was a blue color. what outer neon color would have went with the blue inner one? all the clock pictures i've found on the internet similar to this one have a green inner tube and pink outer one. i'd like it to look original if possible. if i can't figure it out then white would look nice i guess.
 

Ingulphus

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Some thoughts on your restoration: I think the bezel is probably chromed steel, not aluminum, and polishing won't help it much - the rust needs to be removed, the whole thing sanded down to remove the small pits left by the rust, then rechromed. Take it to a plating shop or a place that does auto body work before you do anything to it - they may or may not advise blasting instead of sanding. And beware of it warping if too much metal is removed. It will never look as good as new, but it will still be a big improvement. Rusted bezels and faces (or re-painted faces) are the two biggest headaches in restoring neon clocks, especially the ones that were used outdoors.

The inner neon is most likely original - the "bubble" style Cleveland clocks used a combination of pink and green, but yours is more like the "exposed ring" clocks pictured at http://www.neonclock.org/Pages/Manufacturer/ENCC/ManENCCFunrl.htm. I strongly advise keeping it, even though you are replacing most other components. The outer ring could be any color you like - green would work, and white (although for me, neon is all about color). My first restoration was of the Glo-Dial pictured below - all glass was missing when I bought it, and the seller had no idea what it originally looked like, so I felt free to take "artistic" liberties. Now I'm tending towards softer, less garish color combos, but this one certainly makes a statement when lit... it's a line from the Mel Brooks' film, "High Anxiety". Someday I'll add another small transformer and pull switch, so the green can stay lit while the outer neon is off.

The marquee on your clock sets it apart from the more common Clevelands - it's usually seen on the "Aztec" model - and the fact that most of the wood letters are still there is a big plus. Please post photos of the restoration as you progress. Neon clocks are somewhat "off-topic" in term of early electric clocks, but there is no one site that gives much information on the specs of the major manufacturers (the Neon Clock Museum site is good for photos and some anecdotal info, but it hasn't been updated in years), and I wish I had both the time and knowledge to create one!
 

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Ingulphus

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By the way, there is a mint (apparently unused) version of your clock on eBay as of today - and the tubes are pink and green... The bezel is finished in hammertone paint instead of chrome, as well.
 

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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just checked out that ebay clock. it's amazing that thing is still in the original box after all these years. looks cool lit up. those pictures are good for reference. i'm considering getting a similar pink neon for the outer ring on my clock now.
here's a couple pictures of my clock restoration progress. i painted the housing with Rustoleum hammertone spray paint. it doesn't look exactly like hammertone, but i think it still looks alright.

3.jpg

for the face, i just cleaned it up using Castrol superclean on clean rags. it did a good job except where there was some rust on the face from sitting outside for who knows how long. i was going to buy a new face from waynesneonclocks, but the face they offer doesn't have the right neon tube hole and lettering combination. (nevermind the CD cases. i just used those to keep the neon tube from touching the clock face when i was testing it out.)

4.jpg

with lights off
5.jpg

i'm going to make new wood letters for the marquee since these original ones are all dried out, cracked and some are missing. the original letters look like they were painted silver or gray? do you think it would look OK if i stained the new letters? i think the color combination with the hammertone case will look nice, but it might be hard to see the dark letters when the neon is on. not sure what to do with that yet.
 

timetraveler

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Jun 27, 2011
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Just joined and wanted to reply to this thread.

Pretty cool watching the progress of this clock restoration. In the last post, you said you were going to make all new wood letters for the top marqee. How did they come out:???:
 

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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unfortunately i haven't had time to make the letters yet. also, for some reason my new clock motor wasn't working so i had to send it back last week for a new one. hopefully i'll get the new one soon.
a couple weeks ago i found a local neon sign company to make a replacement outer neon tube. i ordered the tube in pink. with tax and everything it will only be $75. i thought that was very reasonable. it should be done by the end of the month.
once i have all the parts here and fabricate the new letters, i can start final assembly. i'm hoping to have the clock all done in about a month.
i'll definitely post more pictures as i make progress.
 

Scottie-TX

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Yeah; I would say, "reasonable". I know most bubble Clevelands were Pink 'n Green. Mine was. Even if yours was not - you'll LOVE the combination. Looks like yer doin' GREAT!
 

Ingulphus

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Yes - a very nice job! The satisfaction of bringing these clocks back to life is huge. I've decided to take a 5-session course on Neon 101 at The Crucible, a local industrial arts school here in Oakland, which will also give me access to their lab & equipment. I doubt I'll be able to make neon circles anytime soon, but it's exciting to think I'll get to do some hands-on bending and forming, pump gas and bombard tubes!
 

Scottie-TX

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This is not an avocation for the faint of health. I've been in many neon shops. I've never found one air conditioned so imagine holding a torch in front of you, hot glass in holding hot glass with gloves and it's well over 90 in there. OUCH!
 

Ingulphus

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"I've never found one air conditioned so imagine holding a torch in front of you, hot glass in holding hot glass with gloves and it's well over 90 in there."

Scottie -

That's because you live in a town named after one of the better BBQ charcoals...:D.

Here in civilized Oakland, we have the bay breezes keeping everything breezy and cool (this is the only place I've lived that has two winters a year, and the second one starts in August, same as the classes). The Crucible also offers courses in blacksmithing - that's the one to bring the weenies and marshmallows to.

And how cool it would be to make the neon I need for my restoration projects (a Neocraft, a Roto-Dial, an American Clock Co. and a big-a@@ed Lewis). I'm sure bending a large neon circle is just a flick of the wrist...:eek: (I also have to practice cutting large circles of glass.)

Mark
 

Scottie-TX

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I've never bent tubing but imagine it can be readily learnt. Now, bending incursive script? That just FLAT amazes me. Now about that bombarding stuff: You gonna walk into your local power provider ofc. and ask if you can buy one of their discarded pole transformers?
 

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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got an update for you guys. i received my replacement clock motor a few days ago. haven't hooked it up yet though. i'm waiting to complete the wiring once everything else is restored. my new outer neon tube should be finished tomorrow too. that's exciting!
yesterday i started making new wooden letters. i measured the original ones and drew them on a nice piece of hardwood. after that i used a scroll saw to carefully cut them out. they're not 100% perfect, but at least i can say i made them myself. i still have to cut out the word COMPLETE and also cut the inside parts of the letters (like in the O, A, and P, etc...).
once the letters are finished i plan to stain them with Minwax American Chestnut Polyshades stain that i bought at Home Depot. can't wait to see how they look on the marquee.

here's the stain color:

1.gif

picture of the letters in progress:

48.jpg
 

Ingulphus

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Very cool, indeed. I myself would paint the letters, as the originals were, but the stained wood will add an interesting touch. Bravo on the saw work - I can't cut a straight line to save my life...
 

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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what color would the letters have been painted originally? it kind of looked like my original letters were silver, but i painted the case and marquee silver hammertone. silver letters wouldn't really stand out, unless the marquee is supposed to be some other color.
ideas - help??
 

timetraveler

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Jun 27, 2011
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I don't have a lot to draw on as I've never seen an untouched original marquee...but since you have a base color of silver, how about black letters? The contrast should make them pop.
Paul
 

eskmill

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If you want the lettering to stand out from the marquee, make them contrast.

You've stated the metal case blue hammertone which has a lot of white metallic. I would paint the marquee a pale blue or preferably chinese or mandarin red for contrast.

Paint the three-dimensional letters on the their sides and edges with white or silver using spray. Next, coat the front surface of the letters black using a roller. This will make the letters stand out during daylight when the neon is off.
 

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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ok guys - i need your opinions about the letters and marquee color.
i made up all the letters for the marquee and painted them black. it looks pretty good, but i'm thinking the dark letters on the silver marquee will be hard to read in low light. it's hard to tell how everything will look until it's all put together though. it may be fine with the neon lit. if i'm going to change something i'd rather do it now because once this clock is together i don't want to touch it again.
so here's where i'm at with the black letters on a silver marquee to match the case:

195.jpg

i quickly worked up a couple color options in photoshop. the first one keeps the black letters and then has a white marquee. the color combination would mimic the aesthetic of the clock face.

196.jpg

the next one has a blue marquee with white letters. my inside neon is blue so the color choice kind of makes sense. only problem is it would take quite a while to repaint all the letters white. maybe i could leave the sides of the letters black? not sure how that would look.

197.jpg

so should i keep it the way i have it or do one of the other options??
 

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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made the decision to repaint the marquee blue and paint the letter faces white. i'm glad i did, because it turned out great. i finally assembled everything tonight and tested it out - everything works!
the only thing i'm not super pleased with is my new outer neon tube. the original clock had the tube mounted right on the face of the clock bezel. i couldn't do that because the guy didn't bend the tube "legs" at the right angle. the tube is mounted with stand-offs. it doesn't look bad, but i know it's not exactly how it should be.

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Ingulphus

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WOW - a beautiful restoration! I think your final choices were all great, and the outer neon compromise doesn't look bad at all. Here are photos of a Lewis clock showing the special bends needed to attach the tube to the bezel, in case you ever have to replace the outer tube again. I have a Lewis in my repair queue, but that queue is frozen until my kitchen tear-out/redo is complete (sometime in 2020, by the way things are going :eek:).
 

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timetraveler

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I agree, she came out very sweet! I think the color combo you chose for the marquee was a hit. Nice job!

Hey Ingulphus, I've never seen a lewis neon clock before, infact I've never heard of it prior to seeing the pics. Is it a Canadian?

Paul
 

Ingulphus

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Paul -

I haven't been able to find any info on Lewis neon clocks - the photos came from a Flickr-like website showing a family's neon clock collection. I didn't know mine was a Lewis (I thought maybe a Brubaker), as the dial was badly overpainted - once I got the paint off, there was "Lewis" as a faint shadow. I associate Lewis with Los Angeles, but that may be because I have an outdoor advertising clock that looks exactly like a Glo-Dial, but with "Robert K. Lewis Co., Los Angeles" on the dial. The Lewis cases are heavy-gauge steel, with a wrinkle coat, and the few I've seen feature that outer tube on the bezel, with those interesting bends to the ends of the tube. I'll try to post some "before" photos - I really wish there was a central database of neon clock manufacturer's and styles - http://www.neonclock.org/ has some good info, but it's limited and the site hasn't been updated for a long time. There's also some photos of an interesting double-face Lewis at auction here: http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/3068847.

- Mark
 
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Danno55

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Hi Battmann, I noticed this thread and joined the forum in order to contact you. I have been collecting neon clocks, telechron clocks and others for years now. I've sold many of them off over the years but have kept some. I have a rare Cleveland "Neon Bar" Face Aztec clock with the same marquis as yours. I have none of the wooden letters, and I have no knowledge of the specs on the original lettering or the attachment to a the rail channel. Since you have done this on your very nice restoration, I was wondering if you could give me some information. My clock is all original, unrestored, with a repainted marquis from a later Cleveland Aztec with the silk screened numbers that I sold many years ago. I'm looking for information about the size (height/width) of letters. Do they attach to a piece of metal or plastic that slides into the channel? Do they do this on a continuous piece or on individual pieces. Thanks in advance, Danno
 

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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i attached two PDF files to this post for everyone's reference regarding the letters on my clock. if you print each PDF file on 8.5x11 paper, the letters should print in full scale.
for letter attachment, there are metal clips with tabs in them on the marquee. these metal clips are tack welded into place based on where the letters go and then the wooden letters are pressed onto the metal tab on the clip. i couldn't get good pictures of this since my clock is already assembled so i tried to draw an illustration:
 

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nevets14

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WOW - a beautiful restoration! I think your final choices were all great, and the outer neon compromise doesn't look bad at all. Here are photos of a Lewis clock showing the special bends needed to attach the tube to the bezel, in case you ever have to replace the outer tube again. I have a Lewis in my repair queue, but that queue is frozen until my kitchen tear-out/redo is complete (sometime in 2020, by the way things are going :eek:).
My dad has a Lewis clock like with the out neon ring. This outer ring is missing. I would be able to get it repaired, with a new pink tube, with 2 plugs at the bottom of the clock. Was just wondering about getting some authentic type of hangers for the outside tube. Any suggestions? Thanks again.
 

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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it looks like the files i uploaded previously for the marquee letters were cut off. sorry about that. below are the full images of what i tried to post before. hopefully it works this time.
if you print each of these files on 8.5x11 paper, the letters should print in full scale.

marquee_1.jpg marquee_2.jpg
 

mauryaustin

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Does anyone know if Wayne's Clocks is still in business?? I've tried calling and emailing but can never get through!!
 

harold bain

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Based on complaints over the past year or so, I don't think they are still in business.
 

battmann

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May 28, 2011
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even when they were in business while i was doing this clock, they were EXTREMELY hard to deal with. i had trouble getting them to return emails or call me back. it shouldn't have been that hard to give people money for parts. unfortunately, i couldn't find the parts i needed elsewhere so i had to deal with them.
 

Charles Tona

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I am in the process of restoring my Cleveland Neon Clock and am hoping to locate a service or repair manual that I can download. Does anyone know a link where I can download a diagram? Free is good! Thanks!