Giving Life Back to Your Car’s Vintage Clock
A vintage car restoration is not complete without a fully-functioning car clock. And a digital car clock upgrade will look out of place inside the car. What you want is an interior that looks synched and complimentary with each element, including the dash instrumentation clock. The good thing about clock restoration is that it's easy to do and you can even do it in your home garage. Never mind those auto clock repair guys because all they'll do is to convert the clock to quartz movement. With a few tweaks and practically no cost, you can make your clock work again.
Difficulty level: Easy
What you'll need:
- Needle-nose pliers
- Phillips screwdriver
- Clock oil
- Electronic Cleaner Spray
- A stopwatch
Step 1: Using the needle-nose pliers, remove the set stem knob on your clock. Normally, the clock mechanism will not be the problem but the electric winding function that's the problem. So, the actual repair that you will do is a common electro-mechanical job.
Step 2: Open the clock. You can do this by bending the tabs that hold the face of the clock on. Then, lift the back case of the lens and face.
Step 3: Once the back case has been removed, you will see that the clock is assembled in layers; the upper layer houses the solenoid and connector plug. Usually, these clocks have auto calibration feature; it nudges the speed calibration plate in the same direction that the setting knob moves. However, the clock speed is affected by its average temperature and the calibration will drift seasonally. Also, if you seldom drive the car, the clock can get off the correct time. You will need to clean and lubricate the clock assembly inside.
Step 4: Next is for you to be familiar with the mechanism of the clock. The most important thing to check is the oscillator wheel. It's a flywheel-like part that is actually connected to the mainspring. After lubricating, you may need to give this wheel a spin to get it started. Make sure to be gentle when you do it as it is a precision part and rides on a very small pivot points.
Step 5: Diagnose the clock. Some clocks simply got old and dusty that the gears stopped turning before the points made contact. In this case, there is nothing really wrong with it; you just need to clean and lubricate the gears to get the clock going again. If that's not the case, you can now begin with basic diagnostics. Check the fuse and wiring to make sure that you have 12 volts at the plug to the clock. You can do this by check the plug contacts with an ohmmeter. If there is a closed circuit and the points are good with the wiring on the solenoid intact, you only need to open it up, clean and lube it.
Step 6: If you need to fix the wiring, make sure to check the clock works itself first. You only need to push the moving arm opening at the contact points to wind the clock. If it doesn't begin running, flip the oscillator wheel to get it going. Make sure to be gentle. If you need to clean any gear, use the electronic cleaner spray (make sure it's the one with lubricant).
Step 7: While the clock is opened up, you want to address the aesthetics. If the hands' colors or the numbers on the face of the clock are faded, you can go and clean or repaint them. You need to pop the retainer out of the frame to get the hands.
Step 8: After you are done with the necessary repairs or cleaning, it is now time to reassemble the face and knob. Next, connect the clock to a 12volt source and check the calibration against a stopwatch. Move the slider farther outward if the clock is running faster than usual. Do a one-hour test to see if the clock is now running correctly.