Save The Clock Tower
March 4, 2011 9:59 AM   Subscribe

How can I fix this cheapie wall clock? Taking it back to the store isn't a good option.

So, I snagged the "Rusch" wall clock from Ikea a while back, and right away it didn't work. But I'm nowhere near the store and taking it back would not be worth it and would actually end up costing me money in gas. So how do I fix this cheap thing?

You put the batteries in (the problem is not dead batteries) and it starts ticking. But after 30 seconds or a minute or two, it does that thing where the hands twitch, but it doesn't keep time. Hang it on the wall, same thing.

I don't have it on me this instant but if you have any suggestions ("check the contacts, twist this, remove that, glue this, put a rubber band around that") I can employ later when I have the clock in my hands, that would be great.

I wasn't looking for something to set the room off, just something to keep time, and this thing won't even do that. I have basic tools and not much to lose so if you want to propose alternate suggestions of what to do with it if there is no fix, that's fine too because otherwise it's just going to sit around and eventually find its way into the garbage.
posted by cashman to Technology (15 answers total)
There's a company called Klockit. The have almost everything to fix clocks. I've had a wall clock for 20 + years and the motor stopped working. I got everything from them for a $10 bill and my old clock is working as new. Replacing the old works was child's play.
posted by JohnE at 10:17 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

It may just be binding at a certain place on the second hand's circuit across the clock's face.

Among other strange hobbies, I like to restore vintage electric wall clocks by replacing their original mains-powered (and usually no-longer-working) movements with new battery-powered quartz movements. These movements are sold in craft supply stores, or you can simply harvest one from a working wall clock bought for cheap at a thrift store or yard sale.

If you do this, decide whether to transplant the new movement's hands along with (easier), or to retain the clock's original hands (more difficult, but makes for a better restoration).
posted by squalor at 10:20 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ha! I have FOUR of those. Mine all work though.

They just have a cheap mass produced mechanism in the back. You could buy a replacement. Unfortunately, the places that keep crap like that are for hobbyists who want to make clocks with decopauged pictures of John Wayne or Wolf-With-Indian, so they would charge more than the Rusch clock to begin with.

Might want to just check that there is nothing interfering with the shaft. These things look like they just press together. You have nothing to lose by prying the clock out of the recess in the back and looking. The clear plastic face is held in place by three tiny tabs - a small screwdriver will get it loose, so you can get the hands back on.
posted by Xoebe at 10:20 AM on March 4, 2011

Beat me to it, JohnE. I fixed a wall clock that I liked the design of with a movement from
posted by zombiedance at 10:23 AM on March 4, 2011

Wait, is that this clock? Which is $2? Some things really aren't worth fixing, at least not for monetary reasons.

Howevery, if you just want to fix it on the cheap for fun, go to your local thrift store and get one of their wall clocks. Bring a battery so you can test it. Pop the little square clock unit off the back of the ugly thrift store clock and put it on the back of your Ikea clock.

Or, just keep the thrift store clock.
posted by echo target at 11:00 AM on March 4, 2011

It sounds like a gear inside the mechanism is damaged or otherwise not meshing properly. I'm with echo target; this doesn't sound worth fixing.
posted by jon1270 at 11:05 AM on March 4, 2011

Response by poster: Yes, the $2 clock! That crappy cheap-o $2 clock. It is worth fixing because I paid money for it and don't have another clock, and need it to tell time. So when I have time to spare, I'll tinker around with it. I just wanted to do some pointed tinkering, if that makes sense.
posted by cashman at 11:31 AM on March 4, 2011

OK, so basically, if you make this work you have a working clock plus the satisfaction of making it work and if you destroy it, you can say, "Meh, it's just $2."

First thing I'd do is get a strong magnifier of some sort (like a cheap harbor freight jewler's loupe) and see if I couldn't find something rubbing or bent that was interfering with the clocks works. First see what you can see without taking anything apart - are the hands rubbing the face? Is one set funny so that the minute hand is binding the hour hand's central pin?

If not, you can start to dig deeper, but you will eventually reach the point where mortals can't put it back together again, that may come very soon since i'ts likely they glued it together such that the only way to get it apart is violent and irreversible.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:25 PM on March 4, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, the operation has started. Put in the battery - it worked for about 3 minutes. Twirled the battery and felt a weird clicking, and it's going again, and has been for about 2 minutes. Let's see what happens next.
posted by cashman at 5:53 PM on March 4, 2011

Response by poster: Dead. Works for a few minutes, then stops. I put it up on the wall and it stopped. I had been just laying it on the table and it stopped there. Guess it's time to open 'er up.
posted by cashman at 6:33 PM on March 4, 2011

Response by poster: Tried to get it out of the housing and couldn't. I got the main part out of the little plastic clips but it didn't want to come any further and I didn't want to break it (yet). So I bent the metal contacts for the battery even though the fit was already super snug. Put the battery back in, back on the wall. Seems to be going strong.
posted by cashman at 6:41 PM on March 4, 2011

Response by poster: failed 10 mins later. Not even twitching now.
posted by cashman at 8:25 AM on March 5, 2011

Response by poster: Still can't figure it out. Anybody got any ideas why it works for 4 or 5 minutes and then stops?
posted by cashman at 10:48 AM on March 5, 2011

Everything I know about the subject comes from this book, so I'm about 700 years out of date. But gears still work the same and there are still sixty minutes in an hour so....

What I think you have is a hanging tooth, somewhere in the gear train between the minute hand and the hour hand, though five minutes seems a little short for that, so it may be a situation where two teeth on the gears between the second hand and minute hand don't play well together but only meet up every so often. Either that, of something is hanging in the escapement.

If you are trying to build a weight driven clock, solving these problems is not easy because they're subtle and hard to spot. (Or so they say.)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:03 PM on March 5, 2011

Response by poster: So.... anybody remember the film The Andromeda Strain? That part where they had a super sophisticated alert system that never went off and the people trying to figure it out never caught on because they were looking at the machinery and there was simply a sliver of paper stuck between the striker of the notification bell and the bell itself?

The second hand of my clock - the back end of it was bent just enough that it would catch on the minute hand. It would make it past sometimes, but then catch and stick, and twitch.

Sigh. I wedged out the plastic covering, bent the second hand so it doesn't get caught on the minute hand, put the plastic back. Fixed.

Might want to just check that there is nothing interfering with the shaft.

Yeah, when you said this and followed it with talk of the part where the battery goes, I thought you meant some piece of the actual clock mechanism. Jeesh.
posted by cashman at 2:05 PM on March 6, 2011

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