Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Where do you find these clocks?

A:  Some of my clocks have come from school buildings that are being converted to another use, most typically apartments.  I've found a couple in dumpsters on remodeling sites.  The majority have been ebay purchases.  I usually search for '"standard electric" clock', with the "standard electric" in double-quotes, and 'search title and description' checked. I tend to find more clocks that way.

Q:  The school I work at has a Standard Electric clock system, and we'd like to purchase new clocks for a reconstruction project.  Can you help?

A:  Yes I can.  Drop me a line, and I'll help you get brand new compatible clocks or used Standard Electric clocks from other schools.  I also fix impulse slaves as well, send me e-mail for more information.

(updated 10/31/06) Q:  The mechanical master clock at our facility has died after half a century of service, and we need to replace it with an electronic master clock.  We have a Standard Electric Time impulse system.  What master clock do you recommend?

A:  I've had experience with several different electronic master clocks including the Lathem X-128 and X-384 series, the Lathem Mini:Master (LTR-0), the Simplex 6400 Master Time Control and the Applied Technical Services MC41. I also have a Standard Electric Master Time Programmer 1400 that was made by Faraday. The 1400 is an excellent master clock and I consider it to be top of the line. It runs two dissimilar clock types, has two bell circuits in the base model and does an excellent job at running the older slave clocks in that the impulse is three seconds long instead of industry standard two seconds. In addition, the 1400 corrects the AR-3 clocks properly by including a "normal" impulse during the correction impulse, allowing any non AR-3 clocks (for example, a circuit of older series, non-corrective mechanisms) to advance normally through the minute. The 1400 also can run two circuits of identical clocks on each clock type, which is great for the collector looking to run AR-3s, series and AR-2s. It can do all of them at once! The Simplex master (with optional impulse module) does an excellent job running a Standard Electric AR-3 system. I'm not sure of the pricing, but I'm pretty sure you have to purchase it directly from Simplex. The ATS MC41 (and presumably MC81) does a great job as well.  Both execute the intended correction impulses correctly, the MC41 and the Lathem clocks issue a correction impulse ONLY during from xx:58 to xx:59 so if you're using the AR-3 correction method you have to be a little creative with wiring in series clocks. It's compact in size, reasonably priced and easy to install.  And honestly, though I thoroughly enjoy working on Lathem systems (they are well built), I've had problems with the Lathem LTR-0.  It likes to send out an impulse on both the main and correction wires at the same time, which doesn't allow the minute hand to freely swing to :59 like its suppose to.  I've sent e-mail to Lathem regarding this, but I have not heard back from them as yet. I haven't had the same issue with the other Lathem master clocks, notably the 4-384 and the 8-128.

If I were to recommend a new clock for your existing clock system, I would suggest a Standard Electric Master Time Programmer.


Q:  I have a Standard Electric clock.  How much is it worth?

A:  I hear this question a lot.  The best suggestion I have for coming up with a value is: watch ebay. See what the clocks are going for on there.  I've seen pendulum based master clocks go for as little as $400, yet as high as $2,000.   I can help provide details on the age and type of the clock if you send me pictures and as much background on the clock as possible.  The wooden cased clocks are usually worth more than the metal clocks, and the master clocks are worth much more than the slave dials.

Q:  I hooked up a power cord and plugged the clock into the wall, but nothing happened.  How come?

A:  DON'T EVER DO THAT AGAIN!  I repeat, DON'T EVER DO THAT AGAIN!  The clocks you see on the wall in school, the ones without a second hand, are called impulse clocks.  They DO NOT have the capability to keep time on their own.  Plugging them into 110VAC household current is dangerous for you and the clock.  Impulse clocks, or more commonly, slave clocks, receive a low-voltage impulse from a master clock, usually located in the main office of the school or commercial building.  This low-voltage impulse activates an electro-magnet in the clock, and then releases it when the impulse ends, causing the hands to advance one minute.  That's why you usually hear two clicks, one for magnet 'on', the other for magnet 'release'.  Plugging an impulse clock into 110VAC household current is a sure-fire way to destroy the clock, and puts you in immediate danger of electrocution.

If your Standard Electric clock DOES have a second hand, then it may run on 110VAC.  Be forewarned that some of the clocks ran on 24VAC rather than 110VAC, so it may move really fast for a couple of seconds before it's fried.

Always, always, always, get as much information as possible on the clock in question before plugging it in.  If in doubt, start with low DC voltage (like two AA batteries wired in series) and go up from there.  Send me e-mail if you have questions.  I'm more than happy to help you.

Q:  O.k., I have an impulse clock.  How do I get it to work?

A:  You have a couple of options.  Find yourself a master clock (new or used) and run it just like they did in school.  Or, go to my links page and find the link for the "slave driver", a nifty electronic device that will act like a master clock.

Q:  Why Standard Electric Time clocks?

A:  I think there's a couple of answers to this one.  First of all, Standard Electric Time clocks were the first ones of this type I'd ever seen, way back in kindergarten.  To this day, I remember sitting on the floor in Mrs. Mosher's room (Room 5) at then Pulaski Elementary School for the first day of kindergarten, and noticing the clock clicking ahead every minute.  And whenever the clock clicked to 9:10, the buzzer buzzed. Every day, without fail. Then in first grade, I noticed that the clock was different in that room, but it did the same thing, at the same time.  I was fascinated by it. In my later elementary years, we were taken to the high school for six weeks each year for swimming lessons.  I noticed they had clocks that did the same thing, but they were made by someone else, and never seemed to agree on what time it was.  (A chronic problem of that clock system - it wasn't Standard Electric).  As my travels brought me to other schools,  I noticed the other manufacturers of these clock systems, but Standard Electric seemed to be the most prevalent (with Simplex/IBM running a close second). Standard Electric is the oldest manufacturer of these clocks.  I also like the looks of these clocks in comparison to other clock system manufacturers.

Q:  Why were you so hell bent on getting a clock from your elementary school?

A:  A couple of reasons on this one too.  First, it's the clock I remember the most.  These clocks were a perfect compliment to the architecture of the school.  Secondly, as I've traveled and spoken to many other people about Standard Electric Time equipment, I've come to the realization that this particular style of clock may very well have been custom made for the school. I've never come across another school with this type of slave clock.  Jeffrey Wood, who has done many, many years of research on Standard Electric has never come across any design schematics for this slave clock, and has never seen this type of slave clock before.  Since the clocks in my elementary school were recently replaced, it was the perfect opportunity to get one of these clocks, and it may be one of the last complete clocks in existence.

Q:  My question isn't here.  What about my question?

A:  Send me e-mail.  I'm always happy to answer questions and just chat about these old clock systems.  I'll probably include your question on the FAQ as well!

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