How it all started


I think I must have got my interest in clocks from my late father who repaired clocks and watches in our living room when I was a small boy. That was in the 1940’s when his “workshop” was an oak writing bureau in the corner of the room. His customers were his work mates at the Climax factory in Camborne where he worked as a draughtsman and later as a quality control inspector.

My first practical electrical clock acquisition came in the 1970’s when I came across a Synchronome slave (wall) clock with no glass or hands. Although I knew nothing of the Synchronome system then – and there was no Google or internet in those days – I could see that it required half minute impulses to operate it. Later, when cmos chips became available I built a digital oscillator, phase locked to the Droitwich carrier frequency of 200Kcs, and divider chain to drive it. It did work ok but the pp9 battery would only last a week and the idea was not in use for long.

Some years later – I forget when – I happened across a horological fair and came across the Synchronome name again. A seller had a Mk2 movement, complete with pendulum and I parted with £90 to buy it. I fixed this movement directly to a wall in my house and wired it to the slave clock mentioned above, where it worked for less than a week before causing domestic upset ! With no case, the reset clunk was not a hit with SWMBO and so was taken down and put into storage.

I had often thought of making a clock from scratch and have collected a few bits and pieces over the years. I remember visiting a amazing clock shop in Brixham where all sorts of master clock type junk was piled up. One of the pieces I bought there was a 1950s Synchronome case and homemade case suitable for a clock of the Synchronome type. The later was a bit of a wreck but I thought it might be basis of a clock I might make one day.

Time passed by, other interests came and went, and the clock projects were never started. However the thoughts were always there and when the internet arrived, in particular eBay, I had periods of searching, looking, learning and even buying a few things.

In 2003 I retired and went a little mad buying master clocks. First I bought a Post Office No36 in nice condition and fixed it up in a side room where it worked perfectly until recently. I really liked the Hipp toggle ! Next came a Gents C7 in poor condition requiring complete restoration. Then another C7 in ready to run condition.. Nothing however was done with these last two and they remained in storage.

Over Christmas 2014/2015 for some reason I made a start on the various clocks. The two Brixham cases were taken to the workshop and stripped of old varnish. The Synchronome case was in sound condition and was refinished with three coats of clear lacquer and the MKII Synchronome movement I had had for years was put into it. A pilot dial was made from a shallow baking tin and a plain dial from eBay and the clock set to work.

The Synchronome marriage S1) clock that took 30 years to complete !

This clock inspired me to greater things and the two Gents C7,s were taken from storage. The case of the first Gents C7 had to be completely taken apart. At some time it had stood in an inch of water and some of the joints had opened. It was scraped, sanded, re-glued and re-varnished. The movement was stripped, cleaned and adjusted. That was put to work in a side room alongside the PO No36 master clock which drives a separate dial.


Po No36 and Gents C7 master clocks.

I was not completely happy about the homemade and inapropriate pilot dial on S1 and was looking for an original type. A tip-off came from a fellow clock enthuesiast that there was a listing on eBay for an incomplete Synchronome clock which had a very nice dial. I won the auction at a very reasonable price and it was soon delivered. It turned out that it was not as incomplete as the listing suggested and I soon had it repaired.

Bythat time I had found out how to make suspension springs and gathering arms so after straightening the Invar rod and making the new suspension spring and a gathereing arm, the clock (S2) was put to work. The only difficult to get missing part was the solenoid coil on the pilot dial so I made one from an old GPO Strowger relay. So S1 it didn't get its new dial until later in 2015 when I got a nice "flat 8" Gents 7" dial from eBay.


The MK1 Synchronome (S2) bought as spares or repair.


Things have moved on a little...it's now a few days before Christmas 2015 and three more clocks have been added to the collection. the first is another PO No.36 which I have yet to try and two more MK2 Synchronomes which I will describe here. I have only one wall space where new clocks can be trialled so the No36 and the Gents pictured above have had to be taken down. In their place are the two Mk2's.

Both have been cleaned and oiled and set to run on trials. The one on the right came from London seller, is numbered 3340, which dates it to 1975. There were a few minor problems; the suspension spring was mangled and was far too long, the gathering arm was missing and the rating thread was broken and bent, the tail of the back stop roller was broken off and the curved part of the gravity arm catch had been straightened so the it caught in just about everthing around it..

The case needed some TLC as there were pieces of veneer missing from around the front edge and lots of chips to the arises. Look carefully at the left edge beside the pilot dial to see a repair. So. when I saw a MK2 case in an auction I was lucky to secure it for a very small sum. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my case contained a very late MK2 movement and a pendulum rod. Also present were a beat late, a gathering arm and a set of what I assume are original adjustment weights. This one, number 4990 dates to 1979 and must be one of the last ever sold. It had no pilot dial and the door glass was blacked out right to the top. The lock was stuck and so it came as a surprise, when I did get it open, that I had a complete clock less a bob.

So I have robbed the bob from my marriage Mk2/Mk1 and made a new brass bob for it from a ww1 75mm shell case and 15lb of lead.

Synchronome afficianardos will have noted that I have removed the black paint from the door glass of both clocks and replaced it with 50% window glass tint film. I think this makes the MK2 clock a more interesting display item. The door of the later clock, which had no pilot dial has the same structural bits as the one that does so the tint is only applied to the level of the dial section and I am making a dial to go in there. It will not look original though so if any reader happens to have a pilot dial for a 70's Mk2 that would like to sell please get in touch !

 
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