Tower Clocks by The Standard Electric Time Company

High School of Commerce, Springfield, Massachusetts

Tower or facade clock at the High School of Commerce, Springfield, MA, built in 1916.
Tower or facade clock at the High School of Commerce, Springfield, Massachusetts, built in 1916.
High School of Commerce tower clock movement. Pilot dial is a later replacement. Note the original SQUARE electric    motor!
High School of Commerce tower clock movement. Pilot dial is a later replacement. Note the original SQUARE electric motor!

Chazy Central Rural School, Chazy, NY

Postcard of Chazy Central Rural School, Chazy, NY.
Chazy Central Rural School, Chazy, New York. Construction of this magnificent building was a spare-no-expense project which featured such amenities as a Kimball-Welte player pipe organ in the auditorium, and a multi-dial tower clock. But after approximately 40 years of service, the aging school was deemed obsolete and torn down.

Rockville (CT) Public Library

1904 facade clock at the Rockville Public Library, Rockville, CT
1904 facade clock at the Rockville Public Library, Rockville, CT. Diameter approximately 4 feet. Most likely one-of-a-kind. Powered by a motor-driven Standard Electric Time Co. tower clock movement.
Rear view of outside dial
Rear view of outside dial.
Tower clock movement
Tower clock movement (modern relay added).
electric motor
Motor, a replacement installed when system was converted to 24 volts DC, probably in the 1930’s.
Original name plate
Original name plate.
Pilot dial
Pilot dial. Note early hands by Phelps & Bartholomew.

From THE JEWELERS' CIRCULAR AND HOROLOGICAL REVIEW, Dec. 27, 1893

The World of Invention.

A COMPLETE STRIKING TOWER CLOCK.

The electric motor has been made to perform a great variety of work formerly done by manual labor. Among recent uses is that made by the Standard Electric Time Co., New Haven, Conn., in operating their tower clocks. A motor not only operates the hands, but also the striking apparatus for tolling off the hours of night. The mechanism which has now been brought out by this company is a complete striking tower clock, a cut of which is shown herewith.

Two electric motors are used to operate this clock. The motor used for driving the hands is connected by a gear and worm to an upright shaft, on the top of which is the usual gearing for the dial works. The motor circuit is closed every minute by a pair of magnets connected to a fine self-winding regulator, and after making the required number of revolutions to move the hands through a space of one minute on the dials, breaks its own circuit and there rests until the regulator closes the circuit on the next minute. A larger size motor is used to operate the striking mechanism; its size varies according to the weight of the hammer to be used. In this case the circuit is closed once an hour, and after striking the required number of blows breaks its own circuit, where it rests until the circuit is again closed.

Some appreciation of the labor saved by this arrangement may be gained when it is understood that the ordinary tower clock operating four pair of 6 foot pointers, and striking the hours on a 1,000 pound bell, requires from 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of weight, that must be wound up every eight days, besides the regulating necessary to keep it correct. One of the most important features of this arrangement is the use of the ordinary open-circuit batteries for operating the motors. The motors are so wound that but a small amount of current is used, and the motors will last from one to two years without renewing the elements, which are only sal ammoniac and zinc; and only ten cells are required for operating the hands of four 6 foot dials. The number used for operating the striking mechanism varies according to the weight of the hammer used. The speed of these motors is very slow, the efficiency high and so arranged that they will always start, even with a dead load

The electric tower clock complete, as shown, will weigh about 400 pounds. Besides the advantage of weight is the fact that secondary dials may be operated throughout the building from the same regulator. Both the time and striking machinery is very simple, and being operated directly by gears it is not liable to become disarranged in any way.

Electric tower clock with striking mechanism
Tower clock movement photographed at the Second Reformed Church of Schenectady, New York
Tower clock movement photographed by Andy DuBois at the Second Reformed Church of Schenectady, New York, where it once struck the hours on an 1856 Jones & Hitchcock bell cast in nearby Troy, New York. Clock movement approximately 100 years old; now in a private collection.

Elms College, Chicopee, Massachusetts

tower clock at Elms College, Chicopee, Massachusettsmovement of tower clock at Elms College, Chicopee, Massachusetts
Elms College, Chicopee, Massachusetts.

MassMutual Life Insurance Co., Springfield, Massachusetts

Exterior view of tower clock at the home office of MassMutual Life Insurance Co., Springfield, Massachusetts
Exterior view of tower clock at the home office of MassMutual Life Insurance Co., Springfield, Massachusetts, which has 3 6-foot dials.
Interior view of the east-facing dial at MassMutual
Interior view of the east-facing dial at MassMutual.
views of the tower clock movement at MassMutual
Tower clock movement at MassMutual.
views of the tower clock movement at MassMutual
Tower clock movement at MassMutual.
Dave Neal of the Paint Shop is romoving the hollow copper hands
From MassMutual News, date unknown, circa 1980s.

Vancouver Block, Vancouver, B. C., Canada

Exterior view of clock tower at the Vancouver Block, Vancouver, B. C., CanadaInterior view of clock tower at the Vancouver Block, Vancouver, B. C., Canada
Interior and exterior views of clock tower at the Vancouver Block, Vancouver, B. C., Canada. Electric motor not original. Building illustrated in SETCo Catalogs 33 & 35. Described in catalogs as “Largest Tower Clock west of the Mississippi River, 4 illuminated dials, 22 ft. in dim.” Photos taken by James Black of North Vancouver.
Single outside dial at Chicopee, Massachusetts High school
Single outside dial at Chicopee, Massachusetts High School.
American Optical Co., Southbridge, MA
American Optical Co., Southbridge, Massachusetts. Shown in SETCo Catalog #42 (1926).

Angelus striker

Angelus striker movement from a Roman Catholic church in central Massachusetts
Angelus striker from a Roman Catholic church in central Massachusetts. Motor not original. There is no provision for operating outside dials, which Catholic churches only rarely have. Photographed at the Brimfield, Massachusetts flea markets.
Name plate on Angelus striker
Name plate on Angelus striker.
Patent plate on Angelus striker
Patent plate on Angelus striker.

More Pictures From Schenectady

As the 20th Century began, Schenectady, New York, home of General Electric, was probably the most electrically-oriented city in the United States. Thus, the choice of an electric movement for this then-new new tower clock installation was a logical choice. The motors of this movement are wound for 50 volts DC. Note the bulb sockets. The 4-dial clock probably ran on a 110 volt DC lighting circuit using lamp resistance. A stock 72 beat Standard Electric self-winding regulator was used as a master.

These photos were taken in the early 1990's by the late Andy DuBois, former president of Tower Clock Chapter 134, NAWCC.

Schenectady, New York electrically powered tower clockSchenectady, New York electrically powered tower clockSchenectady, New York electrically powered tower clockSchenectady, New York electrically powered tower clockSchenectady, New York electrically powered tower clockSchenectady, New York electrically powered tower clockSchenectady, New York electrically powered tower clockSchenectady, New York electrically powered tower clock
Standard Electric tower clock movement and description
From Catalog No. 33, circa 1914.
Standard Electric tower clock movement
From Catalog No. 35, circa 1920.
Methodist Church of Chicopee Falls, MassachusettsMethodist Church of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts
Large secondary clock installation at the Methodist Church of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, 1946. Building

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To make this project a success, your help is needed. If you can provide a good picture of a special clock, it could well prove to be something that others would enjoy seeing here. Owners of clocks will receive credit unless they wish to remain anonymous. In return, or as a public service, we can provide in over 90% of cases, copies of original factory publications pertaining to a specific clock. These include master clock instructions, technical bulletins and wiring diagrams.

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