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Custom Clock Face Making Ideas

Here are some custom clock face making idea’s I’d like to share with you.  Making a custom made clock face, or dial, can be fun. It’s a much appreciated gift, especially when specifically made with someone in mind.  An easy way to customize is to use small, fairly thin objects, glued to a blank clock dial of your design, to indicate the hours to show the passing of time. For example, buttons, guitar picks, stamps, bullets, fabric samples, embroidered badges, pins, medals, coins, keys, family and pet photo’s, matchbooks (am I showing my age?), refrigerator magnets, Casino chips, dice or playing cards, cookie cutters, seeds like beans or corn, dried flowers, soda and beer bottle caps, thin stones like river rocks, seashells, rope knots, fishing lures, beads, ticket stubs, and Boy Scout Merit badges.  The list is virtually endless. Let me know anything I may have missed. If you really want to keep it simple, just glue these “indicators” at the 12, 3, 6, and 9, positions on your blank clock face. You can also go all the way around and use 12 “indicators” indicating every hour. Please reference the 8-1/2 by 11 inch number template we offer on our web site. Just print it out and use to layout your custom clock dial.  It can really make laying out your clock face a lot easier. Make sure that the “indicators” that you have chosen are not more than 1/4 inch thick, and thinner is better. Think about if you want the minute hand to be just inside of, or actually over your “indicators”. It’s your choice. If you wish to have the minute hand actually going over the “indicator”, […]

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Custom Made Craft clocks

What can you make into a clock? The real question is what can’t you make a clock out of? Almost nothing. I have even tried turning my Yellow Lab into a functional timepiece, but it did not work out to well. She thought that the clock movement around her neck was going to be a tasty treat, so I had to take it away before we could start filming. Otherwise, if you can hold something still for a moment while you drill a 3/8 inch diameter hole in it, you can probably make a clock out of it. You can start with easy things like, CD’s, old vinyl records, even the nicely printed album covers (boy am I showing my age) or photos. All you have to do is cut a 3/8 inch hole in the object of your choice and you can easily install a modern, accurate Quartz Clock Motor. The most important thing for you to do is just measure how thick the material is at the 3/8 of an inch hole you cut or drilled. This will determine exactly which movement to buy. It’s all about having a hand shaft length long enough to go through whatever material you are making your clock out of, and being able to hold it in place with the washer and hex nut. If you are making a clock out of a vinyl record or record cover, then because the material is thin (About 1/8 inch), a short shaft movement kit would be best. Our short shaft MMKIT14B or MMKIT14G would work fine, depending on if either black hands or gold clock hands would look best. It’s your choice. Here we […]

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When and Why to use C cell clock movements

When should you consider a C cell clock movement?  The primary reason to use a C cell clock movement is longer battery life. Changing a common battery in your clock every couple of years is usually not a problem. But, when it’s in a hard to reach clock high up on a wall, or inside a case that’s hard to open or access, it can become a solvable problem. These larger C cell batteries simply store more electricity, so they last longer. A C cell movement is larger than a AA battery powered movement. It has to be to hold the larger battery. If you have room for it in your case, you can double the length of time between battery changes, especially if you use fresh Alkaline C cell batteries. We offer standard C cell time only, time and pendulum, time and chime as well a high torque movements. We even offer a continuous sweep high torque C cell movement. We simply have the best C cell movement selection anywhere. When using mini quartz  (AA battery) or standard quartz (C battery) time, or time and pendulum movements, there is a difference between the torque (or turning power) of C cell movements and the smaller AA battery versions. In this case the C cell movements will drive slightly larger hands easily. That’s why we offer optional hands in the 5” to 6” range in gold or black for use with our C cell standard movements. The C cell pendulum movements have a 3-1/2 once capacity, which is more than the AA movements. If you are using hands under 6-1/2” (measured from the center of the mounting hole to the tip), […]

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How to Determine What Size Clock Hands to Use

Lots of people think whatever clock hands they have will fit a new clock movement. This is not usually true. The mounting holes are not well standardized. So, if you already have the clock hands, you can just choose a similar length and style from us. If you do not have hands, then a few simple rules should be followed so you can correctly choose what you need from us. This simple step is often overlooked, but it does make a difference. It all starts with tape measure or ruler, and measuring the diameter of the clock face, or clock dial. Take a look at this clock dial. Normally you would select hands that would come to about the middle of the numbers, but if you have these 2 parallel lines, also known as a time ring or chapter ring, then the minute hand should end right between the two parallel lines. To get an exact length to end in the middle of the time ring, it’s perfectly normal to trim the minute and hour hand to fit your clock face. Our black hands are aluminum and easy to trim with a good pair of scissors. Our gold hands are a brass plated steel, so a pair of tin snips or wire cutters works well. A lot of clock dials do not use this formal design, so the rules for hand length are more relaxed. This is especially true when unusual markers or indicators are used to indicate the hours.  These indicators could be adhesive backed numbers, buttons, wood toy wheels, nuts & washers, dried flowers, upholstery tacks, poker chips or dice, seashells, stones, bottle caps, photos, almost any small […]

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How to remove clock hands from Battery Clock Movements

If you want to replace your battery operated quartz clock movement, you have to be able to remove your clock hands. It’s really not that hard. Get yourself a small pair of needle nosed pliers and small cup to hold little parts. If you need reading glasses, then get them now as you are going to need them. Always work in a well-lighted area. Most clock repair starts with getting the clock hands off of the clock mechanism. Virtually all clocks have an hour hand (the short one) and a minute hand (the long one). Many clocks have a third hand, which would normally be a second hand. It rotates quickly (once every minute). If you have a second hand, grab it where it attaches to the clock motor and pull up, or away from the clock movement. It should come loose. If not, carefully place your small needle nosed pliers under the second hand. Each arm of the pliers should be on either side of the small brass bushing holding the second hand to the clock motor. Give the pliers a firm upward pull. If this has not removed your second hand, then you are just going to rip it or cut it off as it has to be removed. The worst that happens is that you damage the clock motor that you are going to replace anyway. Not a big deal. Now, if you don’t have a second hand, then let’s remove the minute hand. There are 2 possibilities. The minute hand either just presses on, or it is held in place with a small round nut. This is called an “I” shaft, which most of our movements […]

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Atomic Clock Movement versus the Auto-Set Movement

Auto-Set High-Torque battery clock movements have now changed the way we adjust clocks for Daylight Saving Time(DST). For the past decade or so a radio controlled movement, or Atomic clock movements, were the only way to do this. The battery clock movement would receive a radio signal, and either stop or fast forward an hour to adjust for Daylight Saving Time. In theory this was a great idea, because the time broadcast on radio station WWVB is based on the Caesium -131 Atomic Clocks in Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s very accurate and it’s broadcast on a low frequency AM radio wave. Unfortunately, there are a variety of AM broadcast issues which can potentially cause interference with the reception of the atomic clock signal being broadcast. In practice, AM (amplitude modulation) radio waves can achieve long distances. There are potential problems include interference from, power tools, appliances light dimmer switches and especially solar geomagnetic storms, which are quite common.  At their strongest, these storms cause the atmosphere to “light up” in northern and southern regions of earth, producing the northern (and southern) lights. An Auto-Set clock movement does not have the potential problems that an atomic clock movement does. It’s more reliable because it does not depend on receiving a radio signal. Now Auto-Set movements completely eliminate the need to receive a radio signal at all, and still adjust for Daylight Savings Time (DST) twice a year. All of the potential problems with a so called Atomic Clock Movement are gone. We at clockparts.com are proud to introduce our High Torque Auto-Set movements. We have both a US and a World version. They are unique because they will power clock hands up to […]

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Getting Your Money’s Worth From AA Battery Clock Movements

Battery operated clock movements  (or clock mechanisms) are truly a modern marvel. These “little black boxes” can easily last 15 or 20 years with normal indoor use, and they are accurate to within a few minutes a year. Normally they will operate for a couple of years on a good, fresh alkaline battery. The truth is though, that there is a huge difference in quality between a cheap imported movement made in a third world country in  factory with a dirt floor, a one made in a clean modern factory with a robotic production line. No one makes a better battery operated quartz movement than a robot. No human hair, sweat or parts of the employee’s lunch. I am a lucky guy. In the nearly 40 years I have been in the clock parts business I have been able to visit factories all over Europe, Japan and China. Much of what I have seen is very impressive, like the factory I once visited where the quartz crystals used in clock movements and other devices are made. It’s a “white room” operation that has a nearly “medical” level of cleanliness. This particular factory was in Japan and before I could enter I had to put on coveralls that covered by entire body, head and shoes. The latter was a problem because I think they had never seen a size 13 shoe before. After being properly clothed, I had to walk through a decontamination tunnel that removed any dust or contamination that was on my clothing before I could actually enter the factory itself. On the other end of the spectrum I have also been in factories that were unheated with dirt […]

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How Auto Set Movements Saves Time in Our Everyday Lives

Auto set movements have changed the way we adjust clocks for Daylight Saving Time (DST). For the past decade or so radio controlled movements were the best way to do this. The clock movement would receive a radio signal, and either stop or fast forward an hour when needed. In theory this was a great idea because the time broadcast is based on the Caesium -131 Atomic Clocks in Fort Collins, Colorado. The accuracy is the result of the process of radioactive decay. The term decay in this case means “change.”  A radioactive substance naturally changes by emitting particles (protons, neutrons, or electrons) which results in the production of a different element. For example, uranium decays into lead.  Caesium decays into barium. The detection of these particle emissions by a sensor (as in an atomic clock) generates the time signal.  The accuracy of this natural process is not affected by temperature, pressure or any other environmental factors. An atomic clock will work just as well in space as anywhere else.  Atomic clocks are accurate to better than one second over 200 million years. Unfortunately, there are a variety of AM broadcast vulnerabilities which undermine the reception of the atomic clock signal.  Although AM (amplitude modulation) radio can achieve great distances, these vulnerabilities include interference from appliances, power tools, light dimmer switches and (especially) solar geomagnetic storms which are quite common.  At their strongest, they cause the atmosphere to “light up” in northern and southern regions of earth, producing the northern (and southern) lights. Fort Collins, Colorado is a significant distance from many areas in the US, rendering locations in Maine and Florida susceptible to signal interruption. Further issues are the […]

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Measuring the length of the hand shaft

The most difficult part of replacing a clock movement for most people, is just measuring the length of the hand shaft. These two measurements are the most important measurements you have to take. You check the overall length of the hand shaft (A) and the length of the threaded part (B), where the hex nut goes. It’s really not difficult to do. Clock movements are normally attached to a clock dial or other surface from the back side. The thickness of whatever the movement is mounted to will determine the shaft length needed. To check this, you must have the clock movement removed from the clock case. Remove the clock hands and check for a small brass nut that would be under the hour hand and holds the movement in place. Turn it counter clock wise and this should release the clock movement from the clock case. A pair of needle nose pliers usually works well here. Occasionally, you may see a clock movement that is secured from the back with screws, and does not have a brass nut on the clock dial. If this is the case, then removing the screws on the back of the movement should release it from the case. For example, if your clock has a thin metal dial (1/16” ?) that is mounted to a ¼” plywood base, then the thickness the hand shaft has to go through is ¼” + 1/16” = 5/16”. It’s usually a good idea the make sure that the threaded part of the shaft is 1/8” longer than the thickness is. This extra 1/8” is used to secure the movement in place with a brass washer and hex nut. […]

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Do I need to get new clock hands?

Assume yes. Most of our clock movements (or motors) include a FREE choice of clock hands for a good reason. The high torque movements are the exception, as the large hands vary in price. The problem is that the mounting holes in clock hands are not well standardized, and the holes are hard to measure. The tolerance is plus or minus 0.002”. The drawings of the hole shapes and sizes are listed at the top of every opening page to a group of clock hands. We want you to have this information. If your old hands actually fit our movements, then buy a lottery ticket, as it’s your lucky day. Clock hand size and style are an important consideration. Please remember that most styles of clock hands are easy to trim to a shorter length. Our black color hands are made of aluminum, so they can normally be trimmed with a good pair of scissors. Gold color hands are actually a brass clad steel, so trimming may require a pair of tin snips. Clock hands are measured by the minute hand only (the long one), from the center of the mounting hole to the tip. Ornate styles like the Serpentine below cannot be trimmed much at all. The more plain rectangular or Spade styles are easy to trim to shorter length. See the hands below: Serpentine Spade Rectangle Repairing an old clock does not have to be difficult at all. Just have all the parts handy, and a good ruler, and give us a call at 1-888-827-3787, ext.#300 with any questions you may have.