of Western Union Clock Battery Packs
The Burlingame Cell
Note: I will update this page
as soon as I receive some Radio Shack C cell battery holders that are on
order. A friend improved on my design by using these holders.
The holders make it easy to replace the batteries and you do not have to
solder the leads directly to them.
I have three Western Union clocks, and each requires a pair of the old
#6 1 1/2 volt dry cells to rewind the clock mechanism. I have
been unable to locate a source for these cells, so I had to homebrew a
substitute. Once I located the component parts, I found this to be easy to do. Use of these
replacement cells does not require modification to
the clock, and they fit into the cell holders in the clocks.
You will need the following materials for
1. Six inches of 2" schedule 40 black PVC pipe.
2. Two 2" PVC "test caps".
3. One foot of black wire and one foot of red wire.
I used 18 gauge.
4. Two Alkaline D cell batteries.
5. Two 4-40 brass screws, 1/2" long, two
washers, and two nuts.
6. Two small solder eyes.
7. One styrofoam peanut.
I bought all of these items except the styrofoam peanut at the local
Home Depot. You will likely have to buy a full ten foot length of
the PVC pipe at a cost of about $4.00.
|The first step is to strip
about 3/4" of insulation from the end of the red (positive) wire. Then cut through the insulation about 2" from the stripped end and
slide the insulation toward the end leaving a 3/8" bare section.
Strip 3/4" of insulation from the black
(negative) wire. Then cut through the insulation 7" from the
stripped end and slide the insulation toward the stripped end, leaving a
3/8" bare section.
|Tin the bare sections of both wires and solder the
end of the red wire to the positive (+) end of the battery.
When the solder has cooled, solder the bare section of wire to the
positive end of the other battery. Use a soldering gun, and get in
and out quickly! Heating these batteries too much could be
dangerous. You will find that they take the solder readily.
|Solder the end of the black wire to the negative (-) end of one
of the batteries.
|Solder the bare section to the other negative end, taking care that
you leave enough wire so the batteries can stand in the case end to
end. Trim the wires to equal length and solder the eyes on the
|Punch two holes in a test cap. Be sure that the holes
are far enough apart so the solder eyes cannot contact each other.
Bolt the solder eyes through the holes in the caps and secure them with a
washer and nut. Mark the terminals "POS" and
|Put a test cap on the bottom of the case and insert the
batteries into the top of the case. Put a styrofoam peanut on top of the
batteries to keep
the positive screwhead from shorting out on the negative end of the
battery, press the top cap into place, and you
The cost of each cell is approximately $1.50 without the
batteries. When the batteries go dead, you can replace them by unsoldering
the old cells and soldering new ones in their place.
If you build these cells please drop me a line at
n7cfo[at]n7cfo.com and let me know how it went. I receive quite a lot of
correspondence about these clocks, most of which I am unable to answer. I
am only a clock owner, not a clock repair person, so if you need information
about repairs you should talk to a local clock shop. There is nothing
particularly unusual abut these clocks, other than the winding and synchronization
components, so your local clock shop will likely be able to help you out.
I suggest shopping around a bit and locating a shop that has worked on them
before - it will likely cost you less if the repairman does not have to do a lot
of research and parts hunting. Good luck!
Clock Repair and setup.
I receive a lot of enquiries about these clocks as a
result of this web page. The bad news is that I am not a clock
man. The good news is that a guy with a lot of knowledge about these
clocks has contacted me and is willing to help you out if you have a
problem with a Self Winding Clock Company clock. His name is Henry
Weiland. He provided me with scans of Western
Union instruction sheets (4+ MB in PDF) that will help a lot if you are trying to
figure one of these clocks out. Many thanks to Phil Chouffi for
digitally enhancing these scans and converting them to PDF.
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