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Art deco Smiths Sectric


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This belongs to Penelope, a friend of mine, who inherited it from her parents. It's been sitting, broken and idle, on her kitchen shelf for a long time, but we were talking about it the other day and I said I would have a look and see if there was anything that could be done to make it work.

The first thing I discovered was that at some point it had suffered a heavy blow and the inside of the case had three pieces broken off where the mechanism bolts on. Fortunately, all the pieces were still there so Araldite sorted that out. I straightened out a couple of important bits that were bent, bought 4 metres of appropriately dated flex and started it up - it works!

At some point Penelope has decided to paint it cream but regrets that decision, so I scraped all the cream paint off to restore the beautiful green bakelite to it former glory. The only thing I am missing is the brass bush which fits on to adjust the hands. The electric motor needs to be started by pushing this bush in and that's difficult with the case back on as there's not enough of the metal bar, to which the bush attaches, protruding to get a purchase on.

But I think it's a very lovely thing and it's wonderful that a piece of 80-year-old technology still chugs away to itself.

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Yes, the dial is pretty good. I had to straighten out a dent right in the centre, where the hands' spindle protrudes. Whatever accident had caused the damage had broken the centre of the case where the motor is mounted, dented the dial and bent the hands' spindle and the starting spindle.

We had an identical clock when I was growing up in the 1960s and I well remember its idiosyncrasies. When working it kept excellent time - I understand that it is governed by the National Grid's 50 Hertz rate - but as a synchronous motor without an automatic starter, it needed to be started by hand and could be temperamental. I have a vague recollection of it occasionally choosing to go backwards.

I don't remember the going of ours - I think around the time my dad retired, just as I started work, got married and left home (mid 1970s), he decided to renew quite a lot of the household items and a wind-up chiming wall clock appeared in the room where our old Smiths Sectric had hitherto been whirring away quietly to itself.

Edited by Wowbagger
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I love the styling of it, I'm sure Penelope will be delighted with what you've achieved with it and will treasure it.  It looks fabulous for its age - I wish my face was doing as well.

I have a similar looking/era clock at my parents that's been unearthed that I don't remember ever seeing before, but it's a much wider wooden thing with similar lines - a huge hunk of a thing, but I did wonder if it might still go and clean up well.  

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57 minutes ago, BooJewels said:

I love the styling of it, I'm sure Penelope will be delighted with what you've achieved with it and will treasure it.  It looks fabulous for its age - I wish my face was doing as well.

I have a similar looking/era clock at my parents that's been unearthed that I don't remember ever seeing before, but it's a much wider wooden thing with similar lines - a huge hunk of a thing, but I did wonder if it might still go and clean up well.  

If you like old electric clocks, have you seen John_d's work on his Ferrantis?

They're lovely too. 

 

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Oh my goodness, I got all emotional when I saw the first one restored, it's gorgeous - I'll read the rest later. 

I'm going to have to pay more attention to the box of old clocks I put aside to go through - although I think they're all wind ups, apart from this behemoth on a shelf I found - that does have a cable attached - which is why it's still on a shelf, out of reach, the cable was snagged on something we couldn't reach, so we left it in place for now.

Thanks for the link - I keep going down rabbit holes on this place, finding interesting stuff to read.

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10 hours ago, BooJewels said:

Oh my goodness, I got all emotional when I saw the first one restored, it's gorgeous - I'll read the rest later. 

I'm going to have to pay more attention to the box of old clocks I put aside to go through - although I think they're all wind ups, apart from this behemoth on a shelf I found - that does have a cable attached - which is why it's still on a shelf, out of reach, the cable was snagged on something we couldn't reach, so we left it in place for now.

Thanks for the link - I keep going down rabbit holes on this place, finding interesting stuff to read.

I'm going to add another rabbit hole entrance......... Having now restored 11 of these vintage synchronous clocks I felt that I 'needed' a small Bakelite radio to complement them....

I initially bought this rather 'tatty' Ultra U 405, post-war radio (1947), and restored it,

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Then one thing led to another and this second slightly earlier offering, ( Ultra T401,1945), was acquired and also restored to working order, and then there were two.......

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I have since replaced the knobs on the upper radio with a more suitable set.....

veQ2xX3.jpg

 

I then remembered that 30 or 35 years ago I picked up a Marconiphone P20B midget battery valve portable, also from 1947, so while I was on a roll I retrieved it from the cupboard that it has been hiding in for longer than I care to remember...

qF6xKYr.jpg

It had a couple of valves missing, but surprisingly these were sourced on eBay very cheaply, the whole set of 4 costing less than a fiver! The battery connector was in a bit of a state, but that was easily fixed.....

RaSnuor.jpg

As this set was designed to run on a combined HT (69v) and LT(1.5v) battery, which is no longer manufactured, the choice is to either make a mains driven battery eliminator pack or reconstruct a 'correct' battery, populating it with eight, series connected, PP3 9v batteries, giving a nominal 72volts, for the HT, and a single alkaline 1.5v 'C' cell for the valve heaters.

I chose the latter option.......

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The set now lives again......

'Cover girl' in 1949...

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You've done a beautiful job with the radios - it's astonishing how well the Bakelite comes up with some attention - it looks like mahogany - positively glows.  I imagine that it might get brittle over time though.  I'm pretty sure that my Grandfather had a radio like those in his office (they lived in an old mill building that was also their business premises above) and another on the factory floor - it looks very familiar to me.  We used to listen to horse races in the afternoon - he'd give me pennies to bet with and good tips and my horses always seemed to win!  The way I'm finding old junk clearing my parents' house, I'll probably turn the blooming thing up.  If I do, you can have it.

I love the Woman's Own cover - him digging - in a tie - and her just looking lovely - and yet totally contemporary.

 

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5 minutes ago, Wowbagger said:

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Back at home in Penny's house. The goose egg was from her parents' place in Camerton, Somerset, and Penny blew it herself, more than half a century ago, I think.

The green Art Deco look is evocative of the late1930's but the Smiths Sectric ones were actually manufactured in the 1950's. My green alarm version here....

TFsLrQI.jpg

It would be quite easy to remake the setting button, if it is totally missing, any piece of rigid plastic rod, suitably drilled to fit over the existing spindle, Araldited in place, as long as it doesn't stop you getting the back off.

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  • 1 month later...

Now an "Oh bugger!" moment.

When the time came to change the clocks at the end of March, Penny tried to do so with this, but didn't succeed. I sorted it out for her had decided to try and put my bicycle brake cable idea into practice. It didn't work, and I thought I'd buggered it up completely, having araldited the piece in place. I did manage to remove all my "handiwork" and got the clock started again, but twice yesterday the minute hand fell off. Clearly something was pushing it from behind as it turned, and on both occasions it was pointing at the 3.

This morning, whilst putting it back together, I didn't have the glass seated properly and I've broken it. Hopefully it shouldn't be too difficult to replace, because it's flat and square. The only issue is that it's just 1.3mm thick. I asked a local glazier and they said that the thinnest they had was 2mm. Hopefully that won't be an issue, but of course it would be better to have the correct stuff.

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8 hours ago, Wowbagger said:

Now an "Oh bugger!" moment.

When the time came to change the clocks at the end of March, Penny tried to do so with this, but didn't succeed. I sorted it out for her had decided to try and put my bicycle brake cable idea into practice. It didn't work, and I thought I'd buggered it up completely, having araldited the piece in place. I did manage to remove all my "handiwork" and got the clock started again, but twice yesterday the minute hand fell off. Clearly something was pushing it from behind as it turned, and on both occasions it was pointing at the 3.

This morning, whilst putting it back together, I didn't have the glass seated properly and I've broken it. Hopefully it shouldn't be too difficult to replace, because it's flat and square. The only issue is that it's just 1.3mm thick. I asked a local glazier and they said that the thinnest they had was 2mm. Hopefully that won't be an issue, but of course it would be better to have the correct stuff.

In the meantime I have restored this Ferranti Bakelite clock, initially only bought for bits, but when I realised it was one of Ferranti's first, being their Model No1 and the narrow spade hands and long second hand with the large counter balance, appears to date it to the first months of production in 1931, I decided that it needed saving.

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Interim stage of case repair...

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And the finished article....

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And an advert from 1932, ....

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Also now completed another two early valve radio restorations, this very basic Champion Model 830,

Before......

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And after......(cosmetically and electrically restored)

MaKibEI.jpg

And this rather nice, upmarket Philips 141U, from 1956, after an extensive restoration.....

1GyAqGC.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by John_D
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