Clockwork part II

Got around to finishing up the conversion of the Simplex secondary clock. Wasn’t much to do besides grind down the shaft for the minute hand, install it, and seal things back up.

Kinda interesting how the concave glass cover is retained. There’s a really long spring wound around a piece of wire, with one spot where the spring is cut and bent outward to provide a place to hook it. To remove the glass, you loop something through there and pull, and it’ll pop right out. To reinstall, you seat the spring along the edge and just shove it in there.


Way back when I frequented municipal surplus auctions with my dad. Among the many lots we picked up over the years were several pallets of fixtures and equipment from one of Anchorage’s high schools, removed during repairs performed following a fire and subsequent remodel.

There’s still a bit of it squirreled away, mostly mid-century relics dating to the school’s original construction. Among those, there’s several boxes of old Simplex slave clocks. These things all ran off a pulse sent out periodically from a master console. Pretty cool looking, but also not very useful on their own.

I’m converting one of the nicer examples out of the stash to use a movement out of an old General Electric 2131 kitchen wall clock. The GE unit was from the 70s, old enough to have a nice smooth-second-hand movement but new enough to have a hideous cheap plastic case with a supremely tacky design. So, I took its heart for the cause…

The movement went on pretty easy, just had to drill a few holes.

The hands were a little more complicated. The GE movement fit almost flush to the face in its original application, but the Simplex case is designed for a recessed movement with the shafts extended much further.

The hour hand had enough of an offset to work with, so I soldered the press fit base of the GE hour hand onto the end of the Simplex hand’s shaft and put it into place.

The minute hand didn’t have an extension fitted to it, so I improvised a bit. I pressed the core of a butt splice connector into the hole in the hand and soldered it into place, then soldered the press fit base onto the other end. I still need to grind down the press fit part a bit so that it’ll clear the middle of the hour hand and fit into place.

Was too late to break out the Dremel and grind it down tonight, so part 2 and final assembly will have to wait ’til later.

Find of the Week – 1890s Württemberg Uhrenfabrik clock

I’m always thrilled to find truly old things at thrift stores. This clock was instantly recognizable as being a true antique when I found it on a shelf with a motley assortment of quartz wall clocks and electric clock-radios at the Goodwill on SE Grand. It was priced at $8, ‘as is’. I greedily snatched it up and took it home, feeling like a thief after I checked out and paid the token price.

The only writing on the case is a fragment of a label on the back, with some handwriting in pencil. It looks like…

Shar(p|f)(unk.)(u w/ umlaut|i)(d|2)
June 22, 189(7|9)

On first glance I was worried the movement was incomplete because of all of the vacant screw holes. I think the frame is actually provisioned for a few different variations of the mechanism though, maybe some kind of date display thing because of the ‘window’ in the front plate?

The movement has a few makers markings. ‘Württemberg Uhrenfabrik’ and a stylized ‘WUS’ logo with the text ‘Bürk’ beneath. Based on similar logos found in Mikrolisk’s [1] database I think this movement was made by Württembergische Uhrenfabrik Bürk Söhne [2].

Output shaft and the geartrain for setting the clock.

Backside of the dust cover. Hand formed and soldered modification to make the ‘sealed’ area smaller.

Also interesting is a bit of text visible on the piece used in modifying the dust cover.

The hands are two pieces soldered together as well.

Another dust cover strip on the side removed reveals the rest of the movement.

The spring was wound absurdly tightly already, I gave it a bit of a crank not knowing this and am probably lucky I didn’t break it. I gave the balance wheel a bit of a shove and it actually started right up… It’s been running for two days now. Kinda want it to stop so I can leave it be and avoid putting any more wear on the parts.

I have a feeling the case is not original, though it’s clearly quite old. Not sure how I’d go about further tracing that aspect of it.