Originally Web posted Wednesday, 27 May 2009.
Content last modified Tuesday, 22 January 2019 .
External links last verified Tuesday, 22 January 2019.
Telechron/G.E. electric clocks tend to run for decades with no complaints, yet sometimes they get noisy and/or stop working. The intent of this page is to provide a(nother) source of informative tips on revitalizing these (usually) nice vintage clocks.
These clocks are plenty old enough to have had their lubrication become gummy, dried out, or otherwise no longer viable for its original purpose. It’s pretty likely that the whole gear assembly will need cleaning and lubrication… this is (or should be) straightforward, so will not be covered on this page, beyond mentioning that i like to use a strong solvent (i’m presently using Fedron®) to remove the old lubricant, followed (once dry) by a good Teflon®-based light oil (i am presently using Tri-Flo®).
The tough, and often essential, challenge is lubricating the gears and whatnot inside the sealed motor rotor units on these clocks—the heart of the Telechron design. When these were current products, one could merely buy a new rotor assembly for some reasonable price (50¢? $1?, $2?). Not likely in modern times! The only opening is the very slight clearance between the output gear shaft and its bearing. Seem impossible? Read on!
Some clever person in the 1950s or 1960s figured out that one can set this little “can” on top of an incandescent light bulb of, say, 60 to 100W. The old oil heats up, expands, and seeps out of the gear shaft opening (assuming there is any old oil left in any sort of fluid form!). One soaks up any old oil, then applies new oil and removes the assembly from heat. Suction is created, and the new oil is sucked in. One keeps adding oil until the assembly refuses to accept any more.
I have used the above method in the past, and it does work: my original 1970s treatment was good for over 20 years… especially noteworthy since i was using vegetable-based 3-in-1® oil and did not clean nor lubricate the exposed gearing.
Each subsequent attempt has included experimenting with different techniques to maximize the efficacy of the relubrication. While it is too early to tell if any of these will last as long or longer than the original method, the early results seem sufficiently good to keep using the improved methods. Here is an outline of my current optimized method of rotor treatment. It is assumed that the clock has been disassembled and the motor assembly removed:
One popular alternative method involves carefully drilling an access hole into the rotor housing. Another, a variant of the methods above, uses vacuum to assist pulling out what’s inside the rotor.
If you want to follow the current state of relubrication art, including the techniques mentioned in that last paragraph, i (used to!) know of no better place than the Clock Talk Forum > Telechron & G.E. Clocks. Especially the topic “My rotor rejuvination machine - need some more bad rotors” (which is a broken link, not in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine as of 22 January 2019. It remains here for researchers to attempt to find something in the future).
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