Author Topic: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?  (Read 1806 times)

Offline www.eldorado-seville.com

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  • Gerald Loidl
  • Name: Gerald Loidl
DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« on: January 20, 2016, 11:03:36 AM »
I'm working on my 74 over the winter and just replaced the heater core. Today I took out the clock as it was so easily accessible while the dash was apart.
The clock still works on warm summer days or when the heat is on, but it can get stuck from time to time and does not work on colder days at all.
Its a clear sign that it needs a good cleaning and some fresh oil. My guess is that it was never serviced as the car is a low mileage beauty which was stored for longer periods of time.
While I have successfully brought some regular clocks from 1958 to 1967 back to life in the past ( http://www.eldorado-seville.com/files/tag-clock.php ), I have never worked on a digital rotating drum clock before, and somehow I can't find any information on the internet about it...
Has anybody here ever done this before, or should I just send it out to a professional to do it for me? I could send it to "The Clockworks" for example if there is no reasonable way to do it by myself, but I would have to send it out from Europe, where I live, to the USA. I have already asked the clockmaker in my town if he could service it, but he did not even want to touch it...
Any tips are highly appreciated!
Thanks,
Gerald




Gerald Loidl
1958 Cadillac Eldorado Seville
1966 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1967 Cadillac DeVille
1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado
1974 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
http://www.eldorado-seville.com
http://www.cadillac-bigmeet.com

Offline Dan LeBlanc

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Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2016, 11:30:08 AM »
If you spray the inner workings with Deoxit D5 and then lubricate the moving internal parts with a light synthetic clock oil you'll be fine.  It's put together differently than other clocks but they all have moving parts that need to be cleaned and lubed like other clocks.
Dan LeBlanc - CLC # 27657
1970 DeVille Convertible
1953 Series 62 Sedan (Parts Car)
1953 Fleetwood (Project Car)
2004 Deville

Offline www.eldorado-seville.com

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  • Gerald Loidl
  • Name: Gerald Loidl
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2016, 12:30:58 PM »
Thank you Dan! Would I have to disassemble the clock completely to do this. i.e taking the whole clock work and mechanism apart? Deoxit D5 unfortunately is not available here. If I understand correctly this is a kind of electronic and contact cleaner? Do you think a common electronic cleaner could do the job of cleaning as well?
« Last Edit: January 20, 2016, 12:35:25 PM by www.eldorado-seville.com »
Gerald Loidl
1958 Cadillac Eldorado Seville
1966 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1967 Cadillac DeVille
1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado
1974 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
http://www.eldorado-seville.com
http://www.cadillac-bigmeet.com

Offline Dan LeBlanc

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Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2016, 12:47:06 PM »
Unless there are worn out parts, you shouldn't have to disassemble the mechanism (if that's the case, definitely send it out).  Spray it liberally to get all the old oil out and re-oil and it should work like a charm.  I say Deoxit because that's what a friend recommended to me and D5 has lubricant in it as well.  Any cleaner of that nature should work fine so what you can find locally should be good.
Dan LeBlanc - CLC # 27657
1970 DeVille Convertible
1953 Series 62 Sedan (Parts Car)
1953 Fleetwood (Project Car)
2004 Deville

Offline Lagonia

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  • Name: S. Heracleous
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2016, 12:56:38 PM »
I bought spare ones to attempt to fix my digital rotating drum clock on my '77 Eldorado. There are two big problems with those and other of the same era clocks:
- They have many gears and they are all plastic. Due to age some of the teeth shear off.
- The fit of said plastic gears on their respective shafts loosens after 35 to 45 years and you will see them wobble enough to where they loose contact with an adjacent gear. So, I pretty much gave  up (for now). Unless you have fresh gears, you will always be fighting them to stay alive....
'73 Sedan Deville
'77 Eldorado

Offline TJ Hopland

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Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2016, 02:34:34 PM »
I too have tinkered with a few from that era with limited to no success.  The fairly complex mechanism made up of plastic not very precision parts when new just does not seem to age well.  On one I found some of the numbers and gears were kinda binding on the shaft.  It didn't appear to be a lubrication or contamination issue, it was like the plastic warped or expanded or something like that.   I measured the shafts and then found a drill bit slightly larger (from a full number and letter set) and reamed out the holes.   Got it all back together and it looked good but quit again after about a week and this time everything was loose like it was terribly worn so temp and humidity along with age apparently really effect the plastic.   
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
75 Eldo rusty but trusty
80 Eldo Diesel
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

Offline Aprules2

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  • Name: A Perna
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2016, 03:37:29 PM »
Most clocks in the mid 70s were made by the same manufacturers,Ive fixed a lot of them and Id say Ive had an 80% success rate. I broke 2 75-76 Caddy clocks to finally get it right. Once I did, as long as the clocks werent internally damaged before I got them I always got them to work. The 20% failure is ones bought from swap meets or ebay with broken gears. Do not totally disassemble the clock odds are it will break!!! Also its hard to get the pressure right on the motor nd then it will run slow or not at all.The disassembly is very minimal. Im doing this from memory so I may miss a detail on disassembly somewhere just be careful and take your time.  First you need to bend back all the little tabs that hold the metal shell together, then in the back of the housing is a little round clip that slides onto a flat tab. That is what holds the clock body tight to the metal housing, remove that. So you know you cant remove the knob you use for setting the clock so the front cover will stay attached to the clock. Now you should have the inner clock out in your hands with the front cover on still. There is a black cover that covers the clock motor, it has a TINY silver ring holding it on. Very carefully work this ring off, dont worry if you lose it the cover stays on without it. Now that its off you will see what looks like a tiny blackish record between 2 posts that is the motor that drives the whole clock. Blow it out with keyboard duster (air in a can) just looking to get the dust off. Now look down at "the little record" you may need a magnifying glass on the end of the shaft should be a very small plastic gear, its easy to break the record so gently turn the record to make sure that gear isnt broken anywhere. Thats the only thing that will keep your clock from running. Ive had many where the gear was completely missing or had broken teeth. Now you need to just lube the clock. Be very careful of the type of oil! the reason I broke one of the clocks was I used the wrong oil and the gear disintegrated. You want to go to the hobby shop and get light oil for Slot Cars. Like you would use on your old Aurora AFX HO cars. Put a couple drops on the ends of the shaft the record rides on and on any gear you see, then a few drops in between the reels, to help them slide. Try not to get any oil on the numbers because if you're like me you'll only notice it when its in the car and the one shiny number will annoy the heck out of you every time you see it.  Now carefully hold the sides of the clock and turn the time adjuster a few times just to help circulate the oil. After that I put 2 leads on the clock and on an old battery and let it run, some times you have to help it start either by shaking it or just gently rolling the record. Let it run and just drip some oil on those pivots and the gear as it runs along, also try to get some on the gears below it. Then let it run over night if it keeps good time you're all set if it doesn't, then keep dripping oil on all the friction surfaces. Basically you want the new oil to loosen up the old dried junk and the clock will run. Also if you get any oil on the little record its not the end of the world just wipe the spot with alcohol and a q tip. I may have a spare 75 clock I fixed sitting in the basement if I do Ill try and take some pictures for you.

Offline www.eldorado-seville.com

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  • Gerald Loidl
  • Name: Gerald Loidl
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2016, 03:03:23 AM »
I may have a spare 75 clock I fixed sitting in the basement if I do Ill try and take some pictures for you.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to write this excellent description how it should be done. It really sounds like it can be done. I'm a little afraid that I could break it though... I broke two spare clocks on my 67 before I got it right on the third clock... Maybe I'll try to find a really cheap clock first where I can practice how to take it apart and put it back together or I just send it in to "The Clockworks".
If you have any pictures of the insides of your spare clock it would of course be extremely helpful!
Thanks a lot!
Gerald

Thank you to all the other gentlemen who chimed in on this topic as well. As always its highly appreciated info.
Gerald Loidl
1958 Cadillac Eldorado Seville
1966 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1967 Cadillac DeVille
1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado
1974 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
http://www.eldorado-seville.com
http://www.cadillac-bigmeet.com

Offline Evan Wojtkiewicz

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  • Name: E. Wojtkiewicz
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2016, 06:05:54 PM »
Say Gerald, one of my projects is repairing the clock and I have a Westclox unit like you did in my '67. The mechanism works well, but the coil is fried. I read that you re-wound the coil in your '58s clock, did you ever attempt that on the 67s Westclox? After doing the one coil, would you recommend me attempting it myself? Should I just skip the hassle and send it to The Clockworks?

Sorry to distract from your issue.
CLC 29623

1967 DeVille convertible

Offline www.eldorado-seville.com

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  • Gerald Loidl
  • Name: Gerald Loidl
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2016, 12:40:22 AM »
Hi Evan,
i would not do the coil myself again. It really is not worth the hassle. It was more like to prove that it is possible. It took forever to do it. I would only do it again if nobody else could help me. You can buy complete clockworks for the 67 clocks from The Clockworks, so you would not even have to send the clock in.
As you mentioned that you have a Westcox clock - these have two coils and are much more difficult to repair. Also parts are much harder to come by unfortunately. I would probably change to a Borg clock or ask for professional help.

All the best,
Gerald
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 12:49:44 AM by www.eldorado-seville.com »
Gerald Loidl
1958 Cadillac Eldorado Seville
1966 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1967 Cadillac DeVille
1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado
1974 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
http://www.eldorado-seville.com
http://www.cadillac-bigmeet.com

Offline Aprules2

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  • Name: A Perna
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2016, 06:14:42 PM »
OK, I finally got around to getting some pictures for you the clock is super simple, nothing like what youre used to. I apoligize that its dirty I aparently took it apart cleaned and oiled it and never put it back together and it sat in my tool box all this time.

So this is a picture of the front of the clock this part wont come off.


Once this case is open youll be able to see this. This is the black cover that protects the clock motor. Just carefully get under that silver ring and work it off so you can remove the cover.



Now youll be looking at this that thin round piece standing in the middle is what I was calling the little record. Thats actually the armature of the motor. Try not to get any oil on it but its not the end of the world if you do. Just drip some on the ends of the shaft it rides on and put a bunch on any gear you see including the one on the end of the shaft the record rides on. If you do get oil on the armature just wipe it carefully with a q tip with rubbing alcohal on it.



Heres another shot of the motor that round brown part is what I called the record.



Make sure to really oil these gears you want to try and get oil on every tooth you see. This isnt like the old school mechanical clocks that wont run right with too much oil. These seem to run better when oiled.


Heres the back side of the clock put a liberal amount of oil between each reel, and youll notice the real with the seconds on it has a gear built into it try to oil all those teeth too. Sometimes once its running Ill dribble some on while it rotates.



Once youve done all that plug it in with it still apart. If it doesnt start instantly, give the clock a slight shake or GENTLY roll the record just to get it started, it should start spinning and your clock will now keep time. I usually leave it to run all night, and if it stops in the middle of the night I add some oil and restart it. Im pretty sure its the same issue as most old mechanical clocks and watches the oil dries up and becomes sticky and because the motor has very little torque it cant keep the clock running. But adding the slot car oil loosens it up, its just got to migrate through all the friction points. So its not uncommon to have it stop 2 or 3 times, before it starts running reliably, which is why I like to bench test them. If you end up having trouble and cant do it, I will do it for you just pay me for the oil and round trip shipping.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 06:27:11 PM by Aprules2 »

Offline www.eldorado-seville.com

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  • Gerald Loidl
  • Name: Gerald Loidl
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2016, 05:07:37 AM »
Wow - thanks for taking the time to shoot the pictures and for posting this perfect description.
It really does not look too complicated at all. This looks like a good DIY project!
I'm a little upset about myself now that I did not wait for your pictures and encouraging description and that I have already sent out the clock to the USA to "The Clockworks" yesterday morning. I definitely should have waited to try this by myself :-(
But I do have a 1978 Eldorado clock that will need service in the future as well. At the moment it still works perfectly fine, but it is getting a little noisy from time to time.
May I ask you what the slot car oil exactly is? I know you use it to lubricate slot cars, but what kind of oil is it? Should I try to find clock oil instead?

Also thank you for your generous offer to send my clock to you. Its highly appreciated.

all the best,
Gerald

Gerald Loidl
1958 Cadillac Eldorado Seville
1966 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1967 Cadillac DeVille
1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado
1974 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
http://www.eldorado-seville.com
http://www.cadillac-bigmeet.com

Offline TJ Hopland

  • Posts: 6643
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2016, 08:37:35 AM »
That is a lot different than the ones I have been into.   Is that a Westclock?
StPaul/Mpls, MN USA

73 Eldo convert w/FiTech EFI
75 Eldo rusty but trusty
80 Eldo Diesel
And other assorted stuff I keep buying for some reason

Offline Jeff Moffo

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  • Name: J. Moffo
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2016, 09:30:18 AM »
I've sent my 1976 Cadillac's clock out to them twice. And twice, the end result was the same: a dead clock after 3 months.   And a dashboard that had been taken apart a few times which on those cars is a PITA. In fact, my top dash pad even developed a slight crack from that nut centered in the middle of the pad that connects it to the bracket near the firewall.  Car is all original (35,500 miles) with no cracks anywhere except here now. I recall my father's '75 clock gave him many problems even when the car was new. Several times before we bought our 1979, he had the clock serviced.
Now, I simply accept a non-working clock tells the correct time twice a day!
Good luck

Jeff in NJ.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2016, 10:11:21 AM by Jeff Moffo »
Jeff M
North Jersey
Best of all, it's a Cadillac....
'76 Coupe DeVille - Claret (Sold)
'73 Series 60 Fleetwood (Sold)
'76 Coupe DeVille-Dunbarton Green

Offline www.eldorado-seville.com

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  • Gerald Loidl
  • Name: Gerald Loidl
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2016, 11:07:11 AM »
I've sent my 1976 Cadillac's clock out to them twice. And twice, the end result was the same: a dead clock after 3 months.   And a dashboard that had been taken apart a few times which on those cars is a PITA. In fact, my top dash pad even developed a slight crack from that nut centered in the middle of the pad that connects it to the bracket near the firewall.  Car is all original (35,500 miles) with no cracks anywhere except here now. I recall my father's '75 clock gave him many problems even when the car was new. Several times before we bought our 1979, he had the clock serviced.
Now, I simply accept a non-working clock tells the correct time twice a day!
Good luck

Jeff in NJ.
Ouch - Im very sorry to hear that Jeff! Do you know why it stopped working after such short time? Did they repair it under warranty - how did they react to your issue with the clock? This is the first bad experience I do hear about this repair shop. I assume that in general these clocks leave a lot to be desired quality wise? I really do hope that it will work for a long time once it returns...
Gerald Loidl
1958 Cadillac Eldorado Seville
1966 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1967 Cadillac DeVille
1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado
1974 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
http://www.eldorado-seville.com
http://www.cadillac-bigmeet.com

Offline Aprules2

  • Posts: 169
  • Name: A Perna
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2016, 11:50:06 AM »
I know Ford an GM used them, which is how I got all my practice with them. Other manufacturers may have also used them. It seems the clock mechanism is the same on all just the numbers and the metal shell its dropped into changes for each model. That being said junkyard/eBay clocks Ive bought over the years or even originals for all my different cars have lasted 5 years so far without any failures. You just need a good core to get started. So as long as when you open it up the gears aren't broken you can get them to come back to life. Figure if they were total junk 2 of the big 3 wouldn't have used them. The last thing they want is to be replacing clocks under warranty every few months.

I wouldn't use clock oil simply because I don't know whats in it. I had used some precision oiler I bought from home depot years ago and it made the gears get brittle and fall apart so now I am very leery. I know the old slot cars had plastic gears that were under stress the whole time you used them, so if they worked for that with out damage they should work for plastic clock gears. Plus the clock motor has very little torque so you want a very light oil so it seemed like the best choice. Every time I go to the hobby shop they have a new brand of oil and stop carrying the others. So usually when I go I tell them I decided to play with my old AFX cars and I just want a nice oil for them, they best they have. Its usually around $5 and that's what I use. A lot of the also have a nice thin long tip almost like a syringe which helps you direct the oil where you want it.

Now heres a question for you. I have a 55 Buick Special that I work  on when I'm not working on the Caddy, Lincoln, or Mustang. HAHA. It has one of those old style electro-mechanical clocks like you are familiar with. Can I just take it out open it up and dribble some oil on everything or is this a much more precise operation. If I tap the glass the clock ticks 2 or 3 times so I don't think anything is damaged just sticking.

Offline www.eldorado-seville.com

  • Posts: 123
  • Gerald Loidl
  • Name: Gerald Loidl
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2016, 03:40:49 PM »

Now heres a question for you. I have a 55 Buick Special that I work  on when I'm not working on the Caddy, Lincoln, or Mustang. HAHA. It has one of those old style electro-mechanical clocks like you are familiar with. Can I just take it out open it up and dribble some oil on everything or is this a much more precise operation. If I tap the glass the clock ticks 2 or 3 times so I don't think anything is damaged just sticking.
Most of these old clocks mainly stop working for 2 reasons:
- Lack of service. These clocks need a good cleaning and lubrication from time to time
- The coil is worn or burnt or the contact points of the coil are completely worn down and oxidized. There is a small spark about every 70 seconds on the points and this can really wear these contacts down over the years.

You can take these old clocks apart and manually wind the spring. If the oscillator wheel and the mechanism comes back to life, there is an electrical problem. If not the mechanism itself has a problem.
Everybody I have talked to and whatever I have read on various sources say that the clock should be cleaned and then lubricated. The only oil that should be used for this old type of clocks is clock oil. Nowadays synthetic clock oil is available which will work for a much longer time than the original oils used in these clocks. Also it is said that this type of oil works with metal and plastic parts.
Be sparing with the oil. It should mainly go into the pivots only.
You should also lubricate the escape wheel and teeth and the spring. Its very important not to use too much oil, otherwise the clock will stop working again.
It can also happen that the spring is getting weak and tired. If this has happened I would hand the clock over to a professional. I tried to install one on a test clock and its extremely difficult. (at least I failed to do it)

There are some clock cleaning solutions available, or many hobbyists just use electronic cleaner which will evaporate quickly.

These mechanisms are pretty fragile, be very careful when you handle the clockwork. Especially the oscillator wheel can be troublesome.


« Last Edit: January 23, 2016, 08:02:19 PM by www.eldorado-seville.com »
Gerald Loidl
1958 Cadillac Eldorado Seville
1966 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1967 Cadillac DeVille
1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado
1974 Cadillac Coupe deVille
1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
http://www.eldorado-seville.com
http://www.cadillac-bigmeet.com

Offline Aprules2

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  • Name: A Perna
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2016, 05:16:04 PM »
The car sat from1973 until 3 years ago when I started messing with it. So hopefully the points arent fried. But maybe Ill try and take it out soon and take a look. Thank You.

Offline Jeff Moffo

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  • Name: J. Moffo
Re: DIY - Servicing a 1974-1978 digital rotating drum clock?
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2016, 07:09:08 PM »
Ouch - Im very sorry to hear that Jeff! Do you know why it stopped working after such short time? Did they repair it under warranty - how did they react to your issue with the clock? This is the first bad experience I do hear about this repair shop. I assume that in general these clocks leave a lot to be desired quality wise? I really do hope that it will work for a long time once it returns...

After I sent mine back (It was under warranty), it worked for another 6 months and stopped working - just in time for the summer cruising. >:(  They never told me what was wrong.
Nonetheless, it is one of the quirks about my car I think I am simply going to live with until someone perfects a decent way of keeping them running without having to take the dash apart each time it needs servicing. >:(
Jeff M
North Jersey
Best of all, it's a Cadillac....
'76 Coupe DeVille - Claret (Sold)
'73 Series 60 Fleetwood (Sold)
'76 Coupe DeVille-Dunbarton Green