Sometimes you just walk right into something pretty awesome, and this old clock is one of those situations. My father and I were doing business last year near Pittsburgh, PA with a family that my Dad has known and worked with for nearly fifty years. While standing in one of their shops I couldn’t help but notice this old clock barely hanging on the wall. And it was rough! As you can see in the before photos it was in pretty bad shape externally with bent up hands, decades and decades of black dust, cobwebs, and some rust. The domed glass was long gone, but luckily it seemed like the face was intact and the art looked in pretty good shape!
The clock was made by Dualite and dated 1954, and most likely has been in this shop since them. The artwork on the face was for Hastings Piston Rings, who has a fantastic logo in my opinion. I love cartoons from that era and Mid-Century styled mechanic in his red stripped shirt holding a piston ring really caught my attention, and I knew this would look great in my shop! While my Father made was on the phone with the owner who couldn’t be there that day, I jokingly said, “let him know if he ever wants to part with that old clock!” My dad relayed the message and the owner said, “Take it!” WOW! So I am very thankful!
So while making the 800 mile trek back home, I was imaging in my head what I was going to do and what all I was going to need to bring this old relic back to life. My original thought was I was going to sandblast everything down and re-spray with a silver hammered paint that is very similar to what was on it from the factory. Obviously, I was going to need new glass for the front as well as some new clock hands. And who knew what kind of shape the movement and motor was in!
After getting home I got on the disassembly right away to make a plan. As I started cleaning parts and looking at what I had, I decided to keep this thing away from the sandblaster. Any rust was merely surface patina – and dang it – it looked pretty cool as it was! The BEST news was after cleaning and lubricating I found out the motor and movement STILL WORKED! So parts were really going to be at a minimum with just a new glass dome, some arms, and some bulbs to light it up.
I placed an order Jim at PetroRelics.com, who I very much recommend, for a glass dome and some hands. He was quick to answer the questions that I had, was friendly, his prices were reasonable, and he shipped things out quick! By the next weekend I had everything cleaned up and ready for reassembly.
After careful cleaning of the Hastings Piston Rings face, I decided to spray a clear coat over the back, similar to what I have done with some pinball back glasses in the past. There was some loose paint and places starting to peel on the back, and I wanted to try to seal and lock that down. Like a pinball back glass it worked. I also opted to straighten the original minute and hour hands out to re-use, but I had to use a second hand from Jim that fit a PAM clock as I couldn’t get the exact Dualite hand that had been broken on mine. I am still keeping my eye out for the correct second hand if I cross paths down the road. I also went with LED bulbs inside, as they light the clock up fine and put our far less heat than incandescent bulbs. This is the same thing I do with my drive-in speaker restorations that have glow-tops or circlite rings.
A video of the clock back to life!
Everything went back together and it has been running above one of my workbenches now for eight months without a glitch! It’s a beautiful clock that is nearing 70 years old and I hope it keeps ticking for decades more!