Door Chime Clocks

The most deluxe chimes included a clock. A few extremely rare models have a time chime function in addition to the doorbell function, but for the vast majority the clock was just an add-on feature to make the housing more than a simple cover. 

The clocks are powered by the same stepped-down voltage provided by the system transformer for the door bell function, usually using a variation of the GE Telechron clock motor.  These consist of essentially two components: the field coil and the rotor.  They were designed so that that the rotor could be replaced when it wears out, which is what happens in normal use. The other problem that these occasionally have, caused by mishandling is that the delicate leads of the field coil windings get ripped out, which is not so easily repaired.  By my experience it is unusual to find 50 year old Telechron that is in working order.

Iím no expert on clocks, but what Iíve read is that Telechron closed shop many years ago, but just before closing, made tons of replacement rotors to keep Telechron clocks running for a very long time.  The effect of this is that there is a significant, but definitely finite number of replacement rotors out there to be had.  The result is that what was once a couple dollar item can now cost $50- $200óif you can find one.  There are a few specialists who rebuild these, so the long term prognosis is good, though certainly pricey.  Equally hard to find may be a clock repair shop that wants to help.  I heard of one person trying to get her 24v Telechron repaired and was told by one repair shop that it was hopeless because the rotor was discontinued.  Well, duh!  I have been told that rotors are largely interchangeable, specifically that any part number across a letter series is interchangeable within that letter series.  For instance if you have a clock with a H3 M3151 rotor, it can be replaced with any other H3 M-series rotor.  I have replaced a few rotors with new rotors of non-matching numbers with excellent result, so the interchangeability is true as far as I can tell.

There begins the debate about repair vs. replacement.  Personally, I prefer the repair route, keeping everything original.  Telechron movements are a significant part of time keeping history and an engineering and even cultural milestoneóand that is the argument for repair. It comes at a price though, in terms of dollars, in terms of the difficulty of finding parts.

On the other hand, I am not exactly religious about the restoration route. Telechron movements are in no way a fine bit of handcrafted clockmakerís art.    In this particular case, a clock is largely an adornment to a door chime.   If the primary concern for you is the utility of having an accurate and dependable clock, a battery operated quartz movement conversion may be the better choice.   They are accurate, very low cost, readily replaceable, and donít stop during a power outage.  Yes, they are ďcheapĒ...just like a Telechron movement was a "cheap" clock in 1935.  

In addition to the popular Telechron movements, Rittenhouse used time clock motors and sequencer motors by Haydon Manufacturing in early chimes. By my limited number of data points, I believe these were used in the pre-war era; Rittenhouse later switched to Telechron motors.  Finding replacement  parts for Telechron can be a challenge, but easy compared to finding Haydon parts. Some chime makers including Edwards used Synchron motors.

Here are a few considerations if doing a quartz conversion. Fitting the old hands is a simple if tedious task that just requires patience and a set of jewelerís files. Iíve been using continuous motion movements so the hands have the smooth motion of the vintage movements. When converting to new quartz movement there may be a tradeoff to deal with:  the new clocks typical have longer shafts, and the stack of hour, minute and second hands might not fit under the original glass (if the clock has glass).  Eliminating the second hand, not using the glass, or using a higher domed glass might be the choices.

Oh yeah, if youíre thinking of writing to say that Iím a bad person for advocating quartz conversion, save itómy reputation is already well established.  However if you have any constructive insight about restoring Telechron movements, advice is always welcome.

A   A typical Telechron motor assembly.  The aluminum spec plate tells power rating.

B   A Telechron field coil.  The metal frame splits and pivots at the center line to allow replacement of the rotor.

C   A Telechron rotor.  A gear on the back side drives the gear clockworks.  The rotor part number is stamped on the top of the housing. All that I have seen in chimes are type H3 M-series.

D   A Telechron gear clockworks attached to a mounting plate. For good operation, this needs to be free of accumulated dust and gummy oil. Decades of accumulated gunk can easily lock up this machine.  Nothing electrical here, so aggressive cleaning is possible.

E   A typical problem with these-- contact terminals torn out of the coil wrapping.   The way that NuTones plug the clock power cord into the power socket on the mechanism, it is likely to cause strain on the coil contacts, hence this damage.  The solution is to delicately glue it back together or wrap the coil in electrical tape.

F   A common problem with NuTone clocks is that the power cord gets brittle and breaks or insulation deteriorates causing a short and an unsafe condition..  Here's a rebuilt cord where the bayonet base connector is grafted onto new wire.  The original design provided no strain relief, resulting in the torn coil syndrome shown above.  When rebuilding the cable I like to make it much longer and tie it to the coil frame in order to provide much needed stain relief.

G   Many people think that door chimes with clocks also chime on the hour. In truth, almost none of them do. I know of a grand total of two. One is by Edwards, circa early 1940's.  Here's the clock motor from that chime. As you can see, it is quite a bit more complex than a regular Telechron. Labels on the two controls at rear read " Hand Set" and "Auxiliary Wind". 

H  The other time chimer is a very rare version of the common Jefferson model, which uses this Telechron clock motor with some peripheral gizmography.   This particular example is from a Nutone Madison CH4000 model time chiming clock, but the door chime used the same parts from the NuTone parts bin


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vintage door bell   vintage doorbell   vintage doorbells  vintage door bells  antique door bell  antique door bells  antique doorbell  antique doorbells  Rittenhouse   Edwards   NuTone 



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