Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The value of time: Saving money and earning satisfaction by re-building the clock

One of the jobs I did not look forward to was the clock restoration. I knew that I would be restoring some of the external bits but was pretty sure that the mechanicals would be sent to a watch specialist for refurbishment. The problem is that it costs some $400 to have the service done on a Veglia clock and that was a sum that I was not looking forward to paying. This weekend in a moment of inspiration I decided to tackle the full timekeeping overhaul on my own. The clock had not run in over a decade so I knew I was in for a rough ride.

First step was to take everything apart and categorize everything. There was evidence of previous work attempts and the case had been painted gold rather than the correct yellow zinc.

After taking the entire movement apart, it was re-assembled and lubricated with great care. Below shows the moment of truth as power is added and the clock operated for the first time this millennium.

With the internals now operating the face and hands were installed and the clock was run for a day to set its time keeping. With a little adjusting it is now keeping perfect time. Well perfect for an Italian made auto clock :)

With the clock running next step was to make a new acrylic crystal. All of the gauges on the Dino have glass lenses with the exception of the clock which used plastic. This is because a small hole is needed to allow the time setting knob to pass through and glass would break. Dino's commonly have scratched, yellowed, or cracked plastic. Ours was tired and needed to be re-made. In order to execute a perfect circle I decided to turn the plastic in a lathe. A sheet of 0.080" (2mm) thick acrylic was bought at my local Lowes and I did a rough cut to get the size close. Next I grabbed a socket that was close in size to the finished lens and put 2 sided tape on the end. You will see below how this held the plastic in place for machining.

With the 2 sided tape holding the plastic in place I was able to turn a perfect circle

Here I am at work doing the final de-burring prior to dismounting from the lathe.

Once finished I drilled the hole on the surface and gave the lens a light polishing by hand. As you can see the edge looks perfect like a production part.

An now for a bit of real awesomeness. I was able to find a small number of 100% brand new light bulbs as delivered to Ferrari. These came stamped with 'FIAT' on them and I saved one for use on the clock.

Lastly here is a pic of the finished article. New lens, re-painted hands, re-plated case, and cleaned EVERYTHING. I hardly consider myself a horologist but I'm pretty proud of this result and happy to have both saved some money and learned a little about clocks.


  1. I love that Olio Speciale Box......Typical Italian. Everything we do is special....LOL!

    1. Thanks for the comment Marlon. Gotta have special oil for a special job :)

  2. i keep checking nightly for some pictures of the body in paint!!

    1. We are saving that for the new year but keep following as there are lots of other interesting jobs in process.