Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!

Learn about mechanical timepieces and how they work, the history of the American watch industry and especially all about the Elgin National Watch Company! Check back for new content daily.

Although this is technically a blog, the content is not generally in a time-based sequence. You can find interesting items throughout. Down the page some is an alphabetical word cloud of keywords used here. A great way to dig in is to look through those topics and click anything you find interesting. You'll see all the relevant content.

Here are a few of my favorites!

There are some large images on some posts, so that might impact your load times, bit I think you will find it worth the wait. Thanks for visiting!

Vintage Wall Clock Quartz Conversion

OK, first off I want to be real clear about one thing: I know pretty much nothing about clocks. I fix watches. Watches and clocks are not the same. To fix a clock, you need a clockmaker.

That said... Someone asked me to put a quartz movement in this clock. It didn't seem like it would be hard. The sizes are pretty standardized, and this over-size dial would cover up any gaps. I should be able to use the same hands too. Just drop in a round quartz movement and put the front back in place. How hard could it be?

Pretty hard turns out...

It seems that this thing was not indented to be disassembled. Not one, but both hands were riveted on. No friction fit, no pin, no nut, but hard attached. I got them off OK though, but it took awhile. Next the paper dial is riveted to a thin piece of sheet metal attached with tabs to the front of the movement. That was fun to get off without tearing the paper.

Oh, and I'm skipping showing getting the glass off, that was not intended to be removed either. [insert long sob story here]. Nothing broken...

So here we are, I've come this far. And now I find that the movement is not a separate removable unit. It is built right into the brass casing with the large oval front. I have to disassemble the movement itself to make room for a new movement. The thing is built like a dollar watch. This is nothing like what I expected. Once I get the guts out, how will I make the battery changeable? I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

I did mention I don't know anything about clocks, right?

I would have expected the winder to be left-hand threaded so you could take it out of the way and lift off the back plate. It just wouldn't go so I gave up and cut off the handle. The back then lifted and the movement came right out as a unit after all. Success!

Now I have the brass cup that forms all of the oval front frame and the back as one piece, plus a back cover. It should be no trouble to put a quartz movement in there. I'll cut the back off completely so the battery can be accessed, and re-use the back cover, held on with some little nuts or something.

I ordered up the movement, so got set aside until it came.

When the movement arrived, the first thing I did was to cut off the back of the housing of the movement in order to make the battery and setting wheel accessible. The housing on this is all one piece that includes to frame around the front.

The round movement I found was just a little smaller than the hole, so I put a little cardboard in there to keep in from moving. The rest of the assembly was pretty easy, other than the fact that the hands were harder to get on than they should be. I really do not have the tools for this... But it worked in the end.

Here is the clock all ready to go, with a new, easy to use quartz movement. The old mechanical movement was really nothing special, and didn't work. The clock itself though is a unique and interesting one. The material is a composite of wood dust and resin that was, briefly, used on items like this prior to the arrival of early plastics. I have an antique tabletop radio made of this wood-like material. Perhaps the subject of another post in the future...

Post a Comment

Click "Older Posts" just above for more, or use the archive links right here.

Blog Archive