Pappy's F.A.Q.* Page

There's nothin' I like better than talking about clocks but I've reached the point where I'm having a hard time answering all the questions in any kind of timely and friendly manner.  To anyone I've ignored in the past year or so, I apologize.  Would that I could answer everybody's Telechron questions when I get them but some of them get lost before I get the chance.  I know this page will help us both.  Below you'll find some of the Telechron questions I'm asked most along with the response I'd like to give if I had the time.



Q. "I have a Telechron chiming clock but I didn't see it on your web page. It says: (some various model, motor and/or patent info) on it.  Can you tell me some more about this clock?"

A. Any Telechron that chimes was really a Revere clock, made in Cincinnati, OH.  It probably says: "Telechron Motored" on it although a very, very few were labeled as "General Electric / Telechrons" with "Revere" appearing only on the movement itself.  Either way, ALL chiming "Telechrons" are really Reveres and that's why I don't put them on this Page.  I don't know as much as I guess I should know about Revere clocks.  I can tell you their insides are a radical departure from your everyday Telechron alarm clock or even the strike clocks.  If you've got a few alarm clocks under your belt and think you want to tackle repairing a Revere clock, think twice.  Apart from the rotor and coils, you won't find too much in there you recognize.  These clocks are actually MORE complex than a three-train chimer run by springs.  They have to use a single power source instead of three and the drive wheels must move in and out of the rotor's drive wheel as needed.  I honestly don't believe the average person could take apart and reassemble a Revere clock and get it to work right again, regardless of how earnest the effort.

Q. "My clock is A.) making noise B.) stopped  C.) losing time D.) some combination of A, B or C.   What's wrong?"

A.  It's almost certain that your clock needs a cleaning.  There's also a good probability you need a new rotor.  There's also a small chance that something else is broken on your clock.  See below.
 

Q. "My clock is gaining several hours a day.  What's wrong?

A.  It's got the wrong rotor in it.  Your clock must have been built for a zone that didn't use 60-cycle AC.  You're going to need a new rotor.
 

Q. "My clock doesn't work (right). Where can I get it fixed?"

A. You need to find a good clocksmith. Ask your friends or ask antique shop owners who seem to have a lot of running clocks who they recommend. Don't trust anybody unless recommended by a close friend or relative.
 

Q. "Where can a get a new motor/rotor for my clock?"

A. Telechron is out of business.  Let's get that clear up front.  Now, before they closed their doors (1992) they went nuts making rotors--zillions of them--then (I was told this) they destroyed their rotor machines forever.  By the end, B and H rotors were made like the S rotors had been.  That is, made of aluminum and nylon.  They weren't built to last 30+ years like the old rotors but they were really cheap to build as it was all automated (really-- all those rotors were hand-built at one time by ladies with little, teeny fingers...).  Anyway, clock supply houses bought all these rotors and raised their prices.  As people began to hoard them, the prices kept going up until now they cost about $35 - $55 each!  (In 1946, a good H rotor cost $2.15 and the time set knob for a 2H17 Minutemaster cost a dime--I just thought I'd say that.)  B rotors for most Telechrons are completely  unavailable.  If you manage to find a B rotor, it's probably going to be a solid shaft one made for Revere chiming clocks.   H rotors are still available but not for long.  These new, old-stock crummy rotors are almost gone so if you want one, you'll need to go a clock supply joint like www.timesavers.com or www.slarose.com.  They're pretty good.  Now there IS a technique I pioneered for bringing dead rotors back to life that really works (not for every rotor but it usually works).  That method is covered in Jim Linz' Telechron book, Electrifying Time.  If you aren't going to rehab your old, dead rotors, please sell them on Ebay or just store them away for future generations.

Remember: H rotors are an exact replacement for F rotors except for the long-pinioned rotors in the F-series alarms and in the two pendulum models, the 8H30 and 8H31 which were different.

A couple of companies are making a replacement "Telechron motor".  These are designed for chiming clocks--not Telechrons.  They supposedly have 20x the torque of a rotor (I have my doubts.  The one I looked at had nylon gears.) so they will chew up your clock before they stop.  George and I decided the best way to safely use these things were to grind the drive shaft almost completely through so it would snap off if it encountered a stoppage.  I'm not saying not to use these things, I'm saying to be careful.  Don't install them in a dirty clock--it'll just force the clock to wear itself out until it can go no more then POP, something's going to bust.
Contrary to the ad copy, they won't fit in every Revere/G.E. chimer.  I've seen two where the motor had to be reworked (not a small job) before the motor body would clear the chime gears.  It's certainly possible with the right tools to tap the end of the shaft and install a drive pinion so they could power B rotor Telechrons.  Please contact me if you have any experience with this.

For some, the best way to get a new rotor is from another clock.  See below.

Q. "Where can I get parts for my Telechron clock?"

A. People asking this question really DO want to know if they can order a new dial for their 2H15 from somewhere.  That's so cute!  Unfortunately, (unless it's the best kept secret ever) there's nowhere to get Telechron parts except from other Telechrons.  The good news is that Telechron models shared many, many parts.  (for that matter, G.E. models shared many parts with each other too.  Except for motors and knobs, they didn't share too much with their Telechron cousins.)  The BAD news is that it's usually the same stuff that's ruined on every clock.  For example, if you have a 7H125 Dispatcher with a big crack in the top (and you probably do), every 7H125 you find with damage will have damage to front case in some way.  That's life.

Q. "I'd like to find a model (some model) clock.  Can you sell me one or tell me where I can find one?"

A.  Telchron.net is not and will never be a commercial venture.  The site isn't here to make money and I will never sell clocks here.  I chose "telechron.net" and not "telechron.com" for a reason.  Because of Internet fair use laws, this allows me a little latitude to swipe pics to use on the site.  :-)

The best places to find Telechron and G-E clocks are (in order of economy):
1) yard, tag , garage sales
2) estate sales
3) live auctions
4) Ebay (this is also the most likely place to find a specific model)
5) antique stores
6) antique malls (groups of several dealers all together under one roof)
7) on-line (Internet) antique store

Notice Ebay is right in the middle of this list.  It's not a co-incedence that Ebay prices, on average, are a good representation of the actual value of a clock.

Q. "(I just took my Telechron/GE clock apart.)  How do I clean/fix it?"

A.  It would be an insult to any real clocksmith if I thought I could instruct you on how to fix your clock in an email or in this FAQ.  If you're really serious, you should either buy an actual book on clock repair or sit down and figure it out for yourself.  My first ever clock repair was a 711 which I thought was the most complicated thing in the world.  Later, I was blessed with the chance to apprentice for a gifted and patient master clocksmith who showed me what a real complicated clock was and also that I was probably hopeless as a clocksmith.  Still, I get by and you can too with the right attitude and patience.  As much as I love them, Telechron and GE clocks aren't very complicated and they rarely need any "real" clocksmithing.  You can do this.  (Please remember, most set knobs on clocks built after 1932 are reverse-threaded.  You unscrew them clock-wise!!)

Q. "I have (some model).  What's it worth?"

A.  I don't ever, ever give appraisals.  Questions like this usually come in just like it says above.  No "hi".  No "I was wondering".  No "sincerely yours".  Very rude and most of these requests come from Ebay sellers wondering how much reserve to put on their clock.  These clocks are worth whatever you want to pay or they're worth whatever someone has just paid you for one.  Please don't ask me.

Q. "Will you fix my Telechron?"

A.  Now here's a more serious question.  I have repaired clocks for folks but I don't anymore except for the rare exception.  I honestly have 100 clocks in my basement (it's more but I can't admit it to myself) that need refinishing and fixing.  I just don't have the time anymore for outside work.  I DO recommend supporting your local clocksmith if he or she is any good.  Check around to see if they have a good reputation.  There's no excuse for bad clocksmithing (I see enough evidence of it apprenticing for the Master.) and there's no need keeping those clowns in business.  But, if you look in your local yellow pages, you may be surprised to find a clocksmith right in town.  It may be a dying vocation but the irony is, they usually have all the work they can stand so you might have to wait a year or more for your clock.  Just warning you.

Q. "Do you mind if I outbid you?"

A.  Here's another cute one.  If people see me bidding on a clock on Ebay, they sometimes ask if I'll get mad if they outbid me.  (I also get apologies from people after the fact.)  I'm flattered that people even think to ask me.  To be honest, you're probably doing me a favor by outbidding me.  I have enough clocks now (just ask my wife) so I probably don't need anymore.  There's a couple of warped, frustrated old men out there who outbid me on principle and I have to be sneaky to avoid their attention.  If I really want a clock (usually an alarm clock), I use one of my Ebay aliases or just get someone else to bid for me.  (I DO wish a particular close friend of mine would show me some mercy once in a while...)  Anyway, happy bidding.
 

Q. "Who are you?"  "Where did you get the name, 'Pappy?' "

A.  I'm a systems analyst for a big software company in Massachusetts and an apprentice clocksmith (a journeyman clocksmith I suppose is more accurate).  The "Pappy" nickname I earned in college and it's a boring story.  I was a history major at U-Mass Amherst (you don't say the "h" in that word if you went there) and I got into Telechrons for no explicable reason.  My previous manias had been cartoons, girls and doo wop music.  I don't belong to the NAWCC because "hey, what do THEY know about Telechrons?"  and that's enough about me.

Q. "What's with the "red dot"?

A.  The "red dot"  was offically known as the reset indicator or reset signal .  It is also variously known on Ebay as the "A.M./P.M. indicator ", "magic eye", "moon phase dial" (ugh!) and my personal favorite description (verbatim):  "There is a small round hole above the manufacturer's name on the dial, through which can sometimes be seen a red imprint on some type of sheet goods positioned behind the hole."

When electric power was first introduced and for a long time afterward, it wasn't exactly what you'd call "reliable".  Power outtages were frequent in certain parts of the country and this posed a unique problem for Telechron.  Telechron sold "self-starting" clocks meaning it wasn't necessary to spin a little wheel to get them going, they just started .  Of course, if your clock loses power today, it annoyingly flashes 12:00 A.M. until you set the time but back then, your clock needed a way to signal you it wasn't giving the right time.

The reset signal came in two basic types but was basically just a two-color flag --half-red and half-beige or brown or whatever the dial color was.  The flag is steel and during normal operation it is held in the set (dial color) position by magnetism.  In early clocks, this magnetism comes right from the coils themselves.  On later clocks, one of the field screws is longer than the other and extends right through the back plate and into the movement to attract the flag.  In either style, if the power fails, there's nothing holding the flag up and it falls into the red position.  The trick is, when power is restored, the flag stays down, in other words, the magnetism does not pull the flag back up.  TIP:  As with all gravity parts in a clock, you never put oil on the reset signal.  Oil can only keep it from falling freely.  Don't worry, it won't wear out in ten thousand years of power failures.

How the reset signal gets set differs too.  Early clocks had a "spinner" (my word) you turn until a counterwweight on the shaft was close enough to the coils to hold the flag in the set position.  Later clocks had a "kicker" (still my word) next to the time set knob that knocked the signal over to the set position.  If the clock is on, it should stay there.  Beginning in 1941 (with SOME models) the kicker was omitted and the whole clock had to be turned upside down to set the signal.  Kitchen clocks retained the kicker since it's kind of a pain to take them off the wall just to set the reset signal.  In the mid-1950's the reset signal began being left off models altogether.  If you find a pivot holes and recession for a signal in a clock without one, don't worry.  They continued using the same movements whether or not the signal was included.  And that's all I have to say about that.
 

Q. "How do you spell mantel, as in 'mantel clock'?"

A.  M-A-N-T-E-L -- Thanks for asking!  G.E actually spelled it m-a-n-t-l-e in a couple of their catalogs further contributing to the dumbing down of America.

Q. "Hey, Pappy.  What's the deal with the General Electric model 3H172 'Candlelight' "?
A.   All right, you got me.  No one really asks me that question.  I only WISH people asks me about it. because it's easily the most mis-represented clock on Ebay.  The clock came in two distinct versions.  One was some kind of animal hide; sometimes, pigskin but sometimes, lambskin or goatskin too.  I'm betting they used whatever they could buy cheaply.  The other version was GLASS--not marble, not onyx, stone, amethyst, black diamond or unobtanium.  Please click HERE to see the original catalog shot and description of the 3H172 that I hope will put end all debate.  I'll leave it up indefinitely so you educate anyone who needs it.

If you've got a question for me you're sure I've not covered above, click HERE



*frequently asked questions