My kitchen wall clock was ailing. I knew it was on its way out, because for months it seemed to be losing time. I kept replacing the battery, but it didn’t seem to matter much. The clock kept slowing down.

When I got home from Vegas, I saw that it had stopped completely. Apparently we had no more batteries in the house and apparently it never occurred to DD to go to the store across the street and pick up some new ones. (Kids these days!) So I got a package of batteries and popped a new one in, hoping that it would do the trick.

But no. The clock was dead.

Now, I love this clock. LOVE it. It’s a Seth Thomas, which is supposedly a very good brand. It was one of the first things I bought when I moved out into my own apartment in the early 1980s – other than furniture, of course. I have no recollection of how much I spent on it, but I do remember than my mom was very impressed that I had purchased a Seth Thomas. My mom was working in the housewares department of a major store at that time, so she probably knew what she was talking about. I do know that I only bought that particular clock because the numbers were easy to read and the white clock face was surrounded by a dark brown wooden square. The colour also perfectly matched my Ikea dining table and china cabinet, but that wasn’t planned at all. I just liked the shape and solidness of that clock.

And now it was dead.

Should I just throw it away and get a new wall clock? That just didn’t sit right with me. You know, that old reduce-reuse-recycle thing. I didn’t think I could do that in good conscience, because really, I LOVE that stupid clock. You don’t simply throw away things you LOVE.

Should I get it repaired? I could take it in to a clock repair place, but I feared that I would be told that it was just an old clock, hardly worth fixing. I mean, it’s not an antique or anything. It’s just a clock that I love, but I didn’t want to pay more than it was actually worth to get it fixed.

Then I considered doing it myself. How hard could it be to buy a new mechanism or motor or whatever that little boxy thing on the back is called, take the old one off, then fit a new one in? And where would one buy such a thing?

Lee Valley, that’s where. But there were choices in sizes of – something. Something in that little boxy thing on the back. I don’t know what the particular part is called. I don’t even know where it is. So I thought I’d better take off the old little boxy thing on the back and examine it closely. Perhaps I’d figure it out. Maybe I’d get some magical brain wave. Maybe there would be flash of light and divine intervention.

So I started mucking about with that little boxy thing on the back. I ended up twisting it round and round. I discovered that the clock’s hands are attached to this thing, so as I twisted it, the hands went round and round as well. The little boxy thing on the back got looser and looser, but because it’s attached to the clock’s hands, I realized that I’d have to get my screwdriver and take off the whole back of the clock.

I sighed. It was late already, and I didn’t feel like doing that right then. So I twisted the little boxy thing on the back in the opposite direction to tighten it back on. I flipped the clock over at one point and noticed that the clock’s hands were tightening up their movement as well.


(That was my brain. I seemed to have had a sudden mini-brain wave.)

I had just tightened the clock’s hands. Maybe the clock had been losing time simply because its frickin’ hands were loose?

I quickly put the new battery back in the clock.

The clock started ticking again. It worked!

I have amazed myself yet again. If I ever quit teaching, now I know that I can get a job repairing clocks.

10 responses to “Timely

  1. Yes, loose hands can wreak all sorts of havoc!
    Could you change the batteries in my watches please? I’m reduced to using my iPod as a watch because I can’t be bothered to get my batteries changed.

    • Jazz – That may be a bit out of my range, because although I have about four watches, all with good batteries, I can’t be bothered to wear them. I also end up using my iPod (or my phone) to tell the time.

  2. you really have to watch out for those loose hands.
    I love clocks and have a small but much adored collection. less than half of them work and I know it is bad feng shui to have clocks that don’t work, but I don’t care.

  3. Wow. That’s inspiring. And such a gripping tale. I was so afraid you were going to scrap the clock. It’s indeed a beautiful timepiece. It could well be one of the last Seth Thomas clocks ever made because I believe the factory closed in the 1980s. I love clocks.

    • XUP – Really? They don’t make ’em any more? So I own a collector’s item? That I could sell for big bucks on Craigslist? So much for LOVING my clock …

  4. Bravo for you. I like that story. Beautiful, smart and an excellent clock repairer too. I continue to be impressed. As an aside, I have a 120 year old grandfather clock that is also a Seth Thomas. They tend to hang in there, those Seths. I think maybe I’ll do a blog on my clock. You’ve given me inspiration. So, dear, you are all the aforementioned as well as inspirational. It truly hope PG fully appreciates what a gem he has.

    • mrwriteon – I’m kind of impressed myself that I actually own a Seth Thomas! When I was researching clock parts, I learned all about the brand, and they truly are well-made and almost indestructible. It seems to be quite an achievement to own such a clock. I look forward to your post about your Seth Thomas – I’d love to have a grandfather clock like that! And thanks again for your oh-so-sweet words! 🙂

  5. That’s so neat that you figured that out. I’m going to remember that in case of any future trouble with my clocks.

    • Nora – Who knew, right? It’s amazing what you can figure out when you try to take things apart all by yourself – and are too cheap to simply replace things that don’t work or to pay someone else to fix those things!