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Telechron Electrolarm 700 Restoration
For obvious reasons, the 1929 to 1931 made Telechron Model 700 remains one of the most popular alarm clocks among collectors. Two other colors, green and ivory, are more rare than the walnut model you see here. Although easier to find, even the walnut model will many times fetch $100 or more in unrestored condition. The most appealing aspect of this clock is a real "Art Deco" look made in the actual "Art Deco" period. However, this clock also utilized an alarm, which sounded on a real bell, and was one of only a few Telechrons that actually had a light. It also featured a 24-hour alarm setting that allowed you to set a time and keep it, shutting the alarm ringing off with a lever on the front but retaining the setting for the next day.
One of the most distinctive problems on these clocks is the loss of the brass trim pieces on the front. Finding one of these clocks fully intact with the brass is very rare, and normally a collector would have to purchase several in order to accumulate all the pieces needed to make just one.
The loss of the brass pieces is just one of several problems one can expect. The rotor in this clock will determine if the clock actually runs, but even a running clock may be running poorly. The alarm may not function properly. The removable holder/switch for the light bulb might be missing. The female plug end that attaches to the back of the clock might be missing. Hairline cracks along the case are normal and happen most likely due to heat expansion and handling. However, chipped corners or larger cracks may be evident due to mishandling over time.
The clock shown in this guide was actually purchased off of eBay by a collector in San Antonio Texas. And we again thank Bob for the extra time he allowed us to have his clock for the preparation of this article. This is pretty much typical of what you find on eBay. The clock was advertised as “Running”, but did have a host of other problems. The alarm did not function. The light bulb was missing. The clock was slow on start-up. The case was in distress. Once again, we remind collectors that a clock advertised as “Running” doesn’t mean it’s ready-to-go! The following pictures show areas that you can’t see, and this is what is lurking inside!
When considering an Electrolarm on eBay, the first rule is “Don’t Believe it!” A recent eBay search for one of these clocks turned up a seller claiming the clock “Worked”. The seller also followed up with “Since the clock works so well, all that is needed for a total restoration is just some case work. “ What???? A movement overhaul is the heart of any restoration! Besides, without taking the clock apart, how would the seller know this? This so-called “Expert” opinion comes from a seller whose other items for sale includes fishing reels, crock pots, and toy trucks! His pictures showed a clock that looks like it was just unearthed from some long-forgotten shed! It was that crusty. So I find his statement hard to believe! Don’t you believe it either! And here is the best part! Another seller writes in asking “Hi there, I have one of these clocks and I considering listing it on eBay. Just curious what your reserve is. I have no idea what to ask for it”. Another misinformed Electrolarm on its way to eBay due to the blind leading the blind!
Readers, believe me! 99% of these clocks are sold by clueless sellers who copy their ads off of other clueless sellers! No? Then how does the word “Skyscraper” end up in every title for a clock that measures a mere 7.5-inches high? In all the ads I have ever read, I never remember Telechron ever describing this clock as a “Skyscraper” or refer to a “Skyscraper” in its design. (Oh, by the way! We used the word Skyscraper in our title ONLY because of search engine reasons!)
Below is pretty much what you can expect on any of these eBay clocks. Look at these clocks as if you are buying a 75-year old car where the seller claims “It runs, but in the past 75-years, the oil has never been changed.” That’s pretty much what you are getting!
The movement in this clock was in deplorable condition. The oil was completely dried out and hardened between the gears, on the pinions and in the pivots. This was probably the cause for the slowness at start-up. We were also able to determine Bobs alarm problem was attributed to corrosion and dirt between the electrical contacts.
The Before/After picture of the clocks rotor is an indication of the amount of soot that accumulates on the inside of these clocks. Bob was really fortunate here. Not only did he have an original brass rotor, but testing determined it still functioned properly. But since we didn't have a history on the rotor we rebuilt it so it would last for many more years. It is always a smart idea to have the rotor rebuit when servicing these clocks.
The movement, on the other hand was a different story. A total overhaul of the movement was required to do a proper job. This included bringing all the gears, levers, pinions as well as the plate back to a mirror finish. Notice even the case back is included in this photo. The entire inside of the case had to be cleaned of all the dirt and soot that accumulated over time. In other words, each piece had to be absolutely spotless before the movement could be re-oiled and assembled.
Like new, this completely rebuilt movement is now ready for a new generation of service. An internal overhaul is absolutely the first step in any clock restoration.
With the movement now completed and testing, it was time to turn our attention to the outward dingy condition of the case and missing trim pieces.
The difference in coloring you see is the result of dirt removal. You wouldn’t think that plastic could turn a bad color. Old fingerprints, oil, dirt, smoke damage, all of this accumulates and hardens on the plastic. Removal of this damage is the first step.
The second step is a special process we use to help remove hairline scratches in the finish that would otherwise dull the appearance. Afterwards, the clock is hand-polished to a fine gloss. In addition to the case work, we also cleaned the dial, hands, glass, and refinished the bezel.
Interesting to note here is on the before picture. Look at the amount of dirt on the bottom base of the clock. The entire base extending to the inside of the clock was loaded with as much dirt as you see. The hole on the top of the case in the before picture is where the light bulb attachment fits into. Bobs clock came with the attachment, but no bulb. We replaced it and the entire front of the dial lit up beautifully.
The missing brass trim presents a problem to anybody owning one of these clocks. Unfortunately, there are no aftermarket kits available. We ended up using a ribbed sheet of plastic to recreate the look. Each piece was individually measured, and hand cut. Afterwards, the pieces were sprayed with gold lacquer to reproduce the look of polished brass.
Bobs clock was fortunate enough to still have the hard-to-find female plug end that goes into the back of the clock. As a finishing touch, we replaced his worn cord with cloth cord that closely resembles the original.
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