Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Critical Need for Discussion - Stop the alcohol bath? Why our flip clock motors may be doomed

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Critical Need for Discussion - Stop the alcohol bath? Why our flip clock motors may be doomed

    Why do flip clock motors stop working? And how do we fix them .... are our motors doomed?

    I'm starting to believe that, basically, our flip clocks are doomed unless someone starts manufacturing replacement motors.

    As anyone who's been around vintage flip clocks knows, one of the primary problems is that after 40 years or so, these motors just stop working. For a few years now, I was sure that the problem was dust and oils in the air getting between the spinning portion of the motor (rotor) and the stationary part (stator) - that's the part that looks like a squirrel cage, beneath which is copper windings. These motors were returned to service after spinning the motor in alcohol. This removed the oils and dust, I thought. In any event, the motors worked again. I believe now that for many cases I was wrong.

    When you get right down to it, the only thing that moves on these motors is the rotor the spins the axle. On the end of the axle (inside the gear box), you'll typically find a brass gear, that for most motors, turns nylon (plastic) gears that eventually power the clock mechanism. For years I figured the axle was located inside of a brass bushing or tube.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	rotor1.JPG Views:	1 Size:	156.9 KB ID:	3111Click image for larger version  Name:	rotor2.JPG Views:	1 Size:	184.5 KB ID:	3112

    Today, I tore apart a motor that had play in the rotor. It was an extra motor and I had no intention of using it. That play is what I think causes the motor to make a sound when running. I figured that perhaps the axle would show signs of wear. But there was none. However, as I pulled the axle out and pushed in back in I could feel a bump. This was only when as I pulled it out I sort of tilted the axle - that is, I didn't pull it straight out, I tried to run the end of the axle up against the tube. After a while I could sense that inside the center of the brass tube was a valley or indention. On a hunch, I put a wad of grease inside the tube to try to fill in that valley. Immediately I could tell that the rotor was more stable and had much less play (it spun, but not perfectly).

    I believe that these motors must have been manufactured with a permanent, self lubricating bushing of some sort of grease-type substance. Over the years this kept the axle lubricated but eventually the grease or bushing degraded, causing the axle to bind up. Using WD-40 or alcohol apparently liquefies the grease sufficiently allowing the axle to rotate again.

    I have no idea how long this will keep the motors going.

    Another person who restores clocks told me that he oils his motors yearly. He seemed to imply that he was preventing breakdown of the motor. But why would you need to yearly oil a motor that previously had worked without fail for 10, 20 and more years. Unless I'm right about the tube holding the axle having a grease-type bushing. Perhaps this practice of taking the clock apart and oiling the motor is a good idea. I'd say so, if you already had to free up the motor in the past. But if the clock has been working - I'd leave it alone.

    The thing is, we have to accept this ... these motors were not intended to last forever and are not designed to be serviced.... by anyone (even "authorized service personnel").

    The motor I disassembled would be very hard to get back into service. It could be done, but the results would be questionable. In most cases tearing down these motors to get some sort of grease in the axle would not be worth the likely damage to the whole system.

    Is Alcohol a mistake? Maybe so. Alcohol breaks down grease. Maybe the way I've been doing it liquefies the grease inside the tube enough to let it work again. But I'm thinking that we may need to go to another solvent/oil. WD-40 itself will act like a solvent, breaking down the grease. You know you can use WD-40 to clear parts and remove adhesives. Some have suggested synthetic oil. I've tried that on really frozen motors and it doesn't seem to work by itself. It works fine after the alcohol treatment though.

    Why don't we know any of this for sure? We have to keep in mind ... these clocks were designed and manufactured when very few if any companies kept records on computers. And for sure, none of this information made it to the internet.

    I'm going to cut into that clock motor eventually and see if I'm right about that valley. But looking inside that small hole with a light .. I'm pretty sure I can see it.

    So what's the next step. Well, we have to get those motors spinning. whatever is on that axle has to be lubricated. We just have to find a better solvent/oil solution.
    Last edited by Mackey; May 29th, 2017, 02:34 PM.
    ~ Mackey Site Administrator
    If you have any questions/comments Contact Me
    If you're not a member, you should consider joining!

  • #2
    Well, no need to cut anything. I took a punch and punched out what are essentially two brass bushings that hold the axle in place. I have no idea what was in there initially, but there is definitely a gap between these two and I guess the gap was filled with grease.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	dime1.JPG Views:	1 Size:	210.0 KB ID:	3114Click image for larger version  Name:	dime2.JPG Views:	1 Size:	176.8 KB ID:	3115

    Again. There's no practical way to take down flip clock motors like this on a regular basis. What may not be clear is that you have to drill out the case to release the gears to get to the axle. Then you have to pull off the brass gear to remove the rotor/axle. Not only is it a chore to get the gear case back together, you have to use glue/epoxy or somehow tap screws (very, very difficult as the rivets you have to drill out are very small). Not to mention, that when you're removing pins and punching bushings as well as pulling gears, that were never designed to be disassembled, you risk damage all along the way. A pin that was designed to be pushed in once to hold a gear, will almost certainly not hold as well after being removed.

    Last edited by Mackey; May 29th, 2017, 02:37 PM.
    ~ Mackey Site Administrator
    If you have any questions/comments Contact Me
    If you're not a member, you should consider joining!

    Comment


    • #3
      Reproduction of whole motors or parts would be great/grand! The biggest challenge is that of the Copal motors alone, there are at least 10 different ones, let alone the other manufacturers...

      Comment


      • #4
        Mackey it seems to me the only way is to pull a part a a motor on a new old stock flip clock but to do that would be a financial burden for one person I myself would love to know the answer to that question it seems sacrilege to pull one apart but it seems like to me the only way .maybe we can have a slush fund to buy an unboxed cheap flip clock copal of course.(something common) And those that can contribute to the sacrilege could go into the draw for the clock minus the motor I myself will pledge $20 US for the cause unless someone has pulled apart a brand new motor we will never find out as you say they never kept records what do you think of this idea

        Comment


        • #5
          Troy. I’ve got a new mechanism that I could sacrifice. I wouldn’t expect any help monetarily. It would make an interesting video.
          Ive gone back and forth on this. Most recently on an RC-1003 oil did not work, but alcohol did. I believe in that case, crud had built up between the rotor and the windings. Sometimes the only thing that works is an alcohol dunk. (See video below )

          However, I’ve has motors that the outter wheel (which is the rotor in these motors) was way out of balance and loose. There’s no fix for that I’m afraid. These motors were not meant to be rebuilt.
          Anyway, I’ll let you know when I tear into a new motor.

          ~ Mackey Site Administrator
          If you have any questions/comments Contact Me
          If you're not a member, you should consider joining!

          Comment


          • #6
            Well that's a relief maybe finally we can put this puppy to bed i've just given the red one of that clock away as a present one that I had had the switchable Hertz and voltage I think it's always going to be trial combination of the two I found if isopropyl don't work try the oil or vice versa if neither of them work then you know the motor is kaput fortunately I ran my Cameron for a month or so only to realise the motor in that is gone I think what I'll have to do is offer someone in the US the exchange of me buying the clock and sending it to their address and they pull the motor out send it to me and they can keep the rest because I've stopped buying us clocks because of the postage it's killing me .....shame because you got a far better range on eBay than what we have

            Comment


            • #7
              I am unsure if they actually applied lubricant to the main axle shaft during assembly or not. They definitely put some lubricant inside the gear case, and over time this lubricant works its way down the axle shaft. Eventually the lubricant degrades and gums up the works. This is why the alcohol bath gets things going again, it gets up in there and melts the old lubricant. Adding some new oil dilutes the old stuff and gets things going, but whereas alcohol is thin and easily gets in there and washes everything, the oil is much thicker and harder to get in there. I think the best course of action is open the gear case, wash everything and then apply the oil from the gear case side. This ensures that the oil goes directly onto the axle shaft and down to the brass bushings as well as on to all of the gears.

              1- Remove tiny screw and cut sealant around edges to open gear case cover.
              Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_4046.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	725.6 KB
ID:	4368

              2- Bath time!
              Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_4047.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	714.2 KB
ID:	4369

              3- Apply oil to gear side of main axle shaft.
              Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_4048.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	580.6 KB
ID:	4370

              4- Let motor sit so oil can work its way down the axel shaft.
              Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_4049.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	698.0 KB
ID:	4371

              5- Run motor and let old get to all the gears and than put the cover back on.

              Jeremy

              Comment


              • #8
                Excellent. Do you reseal the case with anything in particular?
                ~ Mackey Site Administrator
                If you have any questions/comments Contact Me
                If you're not a member, you should consider joining!

                Comment


                • #9
                  After putting the cover on I smear a bit of rubber cement around the perimeter.

                  Jeremy

                  Comment

                  Working...
                  X