Blodgett Master Clock
By Ernie Jenson
These pictures show one of the last Blodgett Master Clocks made before the company went out of business in 1912. The company was formed around the turn of the century by two brothers, Aaron & George. Most Blodgett clocks had movements made by other companies, Standard Electric Time Co. (SETCo) and the Self Winding Clock Co. SETCo was one of the most successful clocks companies making master clocks and other electric clocks in the USA and eventually gained controlling interest and finally owning Blodgett by 1909 and ending sales in 1912. Jeff Wood has a very interesting web site on SETCo and Blodgett clocks. http://clockhistory.com/setclocks/index.html
This clock, serial #584 was made in 1912. According to David Rooney, a recognized authority on Blodgett Clocks, the last serial number known to exist is serial #586 and the first serial number known to exist is #202 which was sold in 1896. Our clock appears to be in excellent original condition. The Union Pacific logo on the glass appears to have been updated in the 1950’s.
Master clocks were “work horses” whose main job was to keep all the secondary clocks through out a railway center, factory, or school building, all together in sync in near perfect time. The systems, many times, involved bells, buzzers, time stamps, and time clocks. Master clock literature describes accuracy times of around 10 seconds a month depending on the choice of pendulum purchased with the clock. This clock has the Waltham Pendulum which is a three cylinder mercury compensating pendulum. It was the best technology available at the time.
An interesting fact in the collecting of master clocks is that it is common for a master clocks to not have its original movement. The dependability of the master clock was so important that most clocks were maintained by a service company that was provided by the manufacture or in conjunction with the manufacture. If a movement needed any serious maintenance, it was replaced by a refurbished one that the service person carried with him so that there was the least down time to the entire system. It was not uncommon for very important locations to have a backup clock that could be switched in immediately if there were problems.
Many Blodgett clocks have had their movements, pendulums and clock faces changed to SETCo hardware. This must have happened by SETCo service people in the normal course of the maintenance of these clocks systems after they bought the company.
A portion of a clock collection belonging to Paul Metzger was given to Chapter 190 with the proceeds to be used for education. The desire of Mrs. Metzger (Dolores) and her son (Paul Marinos) was for this clock to be given to a museum in honor of Paul Metzger. Paul was a contractor before he retired in Thousand Oaks.
The clock was restored by the efforts of people from Chapter 190, most of which are also members of Chapter 133. Ken McWilliams was the contact person that provided knowledge and great effort with the entire collection along with Mike Schmidt. George Antinarelli made new monel contacts which were badly worn. Ernie Jenson provided electrical assistance with the power supply and relays to limit the current and extend the life of the clock’s electrical contacts. It isn’t expected that this clock will be running additional secondary clocks in its new location, but it could if so desired. Mike Schmidt and Ernie Jenson restored the finish on the clock. It is now, “a thing of beauty and, hopefully, a joy forever”!