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Automobile Clocks and Daylight Time

It’s time to set the clocks ahead an hour and for me, this means rereading the owner’s manual for our 2011 Sienna to figure out how to step through the display until I find the program to reset the clock. Of course this has to be repeated in the fall when the clocks are set back. Even worse were the clocks in some Ford products made in the late 1960s. These mechanical clocks had a mechanism whereby if one set the clock up, the regulator increased the speed of the clock and setting the clock back made the clock run slower. The idea was probably o.k. except that the clocks had to keep being readjusted after the change to daylight time or the change back. The cars I owned that were made in the late 1940s and 1950s had clocks that were always inaccurate. I solved the problem by pulling the fuse. The clocks were then correct twice a day. Isn’t it amazing that something as simple as a clock can become so complicated in an automobile?

Tell me about your 1940s and 1950s car clocks that would run for only for a few years until they failed. I am thankful for the quartz revolution. Electromechanical car clocks were less than what was needed.

The clock in the 1947 Pontiac I purchased in 1961 didn’t work. It was in the glove compartment door, so it was easy to remove. I cleaned the mechanism and lubricated the clockworks by dipping a feather in some kerosene. It then worked for a while, but I never could regulate it to make it tell time accurately. Years later, I had a 1948 Dodge I bought to restore and had the same experience with the clock. The 1954 Buick that my dad purchased in 1955 had a clock. I bought the car from him in 1963. The clock was never right even when I adjusted the regulaor, so I just pulled the fuse and gave up. The owner’s manual had a procedure to reset the clock if the battery was disconnected. When reconnecting the battery, the positve cable was to be connected first. Then one was to make sure everything in the car was turned off and the doors were closed so that the dome light wouldn’t be on. One then hit the negative clamp against the battery terminal, removed it and immediately scratched it against the terminal again. If there was a spark, one let the clock run down and repeated the process until there was no spark. This insured that the initial winding of the clock was fully made.
I don’t remember any car we owned having a clock after the Buick until I bought a 1990 Ford Aerostar.

I had to remove the battery on my Corolla last year to fix something, which reset the clock, and I’ve never set it since. It’s been blinking 12:00 for the past year. I just can’t bare trying to figure out by trial and error which combo of buttons I need to press. It’s too frustrating. There’s a button title “set”, but you know what? That button isn’t used to set the clock. So I figure it’s easier just to igore it and let it blink. If I want to know the time, I just look at my watch. Which has not a single button.

" I am thankful for the quartz revolution".
So am I. When I was in college, my aunt gave me a watch that had been her late husband’s watch. After a year, the watch stopped, so I took it to a local jewelry store. The estimate to repair the watch was $65 which was quite a chunk of change back in 1960. I put the watch in a dresser drawer and bought a two cheap Timex watches. I would wear one watch until it stopped and get out the other one. I would send the first watch back to Timex and for about $5, the watch would be repaired with a new movement. I used this method of maintainig a watch for a number of years.
About ten years ago, I was at our jewelry store for something else and happened to mention the watch my aunt gave me to the jeweler. He became very curious about the watch and wanted to examine it. I brought it in and he sent it to a watchmaker he had gone to school with. A week later the jeweler called me and said, “The estimate to repair your watch is $250. Before you say “No”, I should tell you that the value of the watch is $4000.” I did have the watch repaired and it does keep good time, but I am almost afraid to wear it. However, it is not as accurate as the quartz movement watch I bought at Big Lots for $5. The old watch is in a gold case where the Big Lots special is in a stainless steel case. After 3 years, I did have to put a new battery in the Big Lots watch–the battery off the shelf at WalMart was $6.50.

" I just can’t bear trying to figure out by trial and error which combo of buttons I need to press. It’s too frustrating".
Maybe auto makers should just put sun dials on the dashboard of the car. It could be oriented so that you could tell the correct time when you are traveling north. The sun dial could be equipped with luminous numerals so that you could also tell the time at night.

Sometimes new technology actually makes the job easier, rather than more difficult.
Case in point is the clock in my car, which is linked to the factory GPS system, and thus receives the updated time automatically from the satellite(s).

Tomorrow, when I start the car, the screen will ask me whether I want to accept the updated time, and as long as I press the “yes” button, it will display the new correct time.

I really never saw a clock in the 50’s or 60’s that ever worked very long. Even on brand new cars. They were mainly for appearance.

I wish they’d just leave DST in all year round instead of continuing to confuse the cows. I’ve got about 20 clocks to reset so I changed them all this morning. Wife didn’t realize it so we ate an hour early. My Pontiac is easy to set-just hit clock button and turn the radio knob-didn’t even have to check the manual this time. I think the Acura sets itself so we’ll see tomorrow. The Olds, I’ll just leave alone until standard time again.

I don’t know why we have to have so many clocks when I’m retired and all I really use is my watch.

Somehow this reminds me of a Jay Lenno piece about his parents, the vcr was always blinking 12:00 and they kept the remote in a drawer because they were afraid if they aimed it wrong they might blow up a vase. There is a support gaining ground to do away with daylight savings time altogether.
I say lets just change everything by 1/2 hour and call it a day. What do you think?

Sometimes new technology actually makes the job easier, rather than more difficult.
Tomorrow, when I start the car, the screen will ask me whether I want to accept the updated time, and as long as I press the “yes” button, it will display the new correct time.
@VDCdriver–I wish that setting our old Seth Thomas pendulum mantle clock that I inherited from my grand mother was that simple. Theoretically, all I have to do is move the minute hand around the dial once, stopping to let the clock strike. I do this and all seems ok for a couple of days and then the striker falls an hour behind the time indicated on the clock face. In other words, when the clock indicates 6, the clock only strikes 5. I readjust the clock and all will be well for a couple of days and then the striker mechanism falls behind an hour. I usually repeat this process a couple of times and then the clock is fine. Strangely enough, when I set the clock back to regular time in the fall, there is no problem.
The only explanation I can think of is that my late grandmother didn’t like daylight time because President Roosevelt put the nation on daylight time in WW II. My grandmother didn’t like FDR and hence didn’t like daylight savings time. Maybe the old technology in this clock is able to reflect my grandmother’s attitude toward daylight time.

Daylight saving time is kind of stupid. Why don’t we just set our clocks a half hour ahead tonight and just keep that as Forever Daylight Time. We have a lot of people working in our government; why don’t they help with this easy problem?

@triedaq Or maybe your Grandmother is still controlling the clock?

There’s a question for you on line 2 on the 47 Buick when you get around to it.

“We have a lot of people working in our government; why don’t they help with this easy problem?”

Uh, they’re the ones the caused it.

Why don’t we just keep setting our clocks back and gaining an hour? Sure, it’ll be kind of weird when it’s pitch dark at noon after some years, but the problem will eventually correct itself in 12 years or so… At least I’ll get enough sleep.

I reset the clock in my Toyota this morning in about half the time it took to read your post. It has simple Hour and minute buttons; just push till you get the right setting.

I also had a 1988 Chevy Caprice with the deluxe dashboard. Setting the time on that one was a pain.

yes, forever daylight time! government has too much control over our lives without having to tell us what time it is!

We have a grand-father type clock,. If you want to set it back you are supposed to advance it to the next hour, wait for it to chime and move it to the next hour etc until you reach the desired time. So I remove the bateries until until the next day at the desired time and replace the batteries. Triedaq, maube you could have pulled the fuse until the right time in the 40s and 50s. (Too late now tho, isn’t it?"

@EllyEllis–I’m still living my time in the 40s and 50s. I really liked the way things were made in a heavy-handed way and were built to be repaired as opposed to being thrown away when something goes wrong. In addition to the pendulum clock which was built in the late 1800s, I have a Westclox Big Ben alarm clock that I received as a present in 1949. When I went off to college in 1959, I took that clock–it got me out of bed to go to my 8:00 classes.
I rescued another pendulum clock–a school house clock–from the kitchen of a church that was being torn down in 1955. The clock, having been in a kitchen, was covered with grease and didn’t run. I cleaned up the clock and my mother told me that it would probably work if I took a feather, dipped the feather in kerosene, and swabbed it over the clockworks. I did that and the clock did work. I gave that clock to my brother and it is hanging on the wall in his living room and still keeps almost perfect time. We think it was probably manufactured sometime in the late 1890s.
I did manage to set the clock in my 2011 Sienna without looking at the manual. I took me about 5 minutes, but was more difficult than it used to be to turn the stem on the clock on my 1947 Pontiac, but the Sienna clock does keep accurate time while the Pontiac clock was never right. Maybe we have made some progress since the 1940s and 1950s.

Since Daylight Savings Time is not going away, how about changing when it’s implemented? We spring forward at - say 9:00 AM Monday, an hour of work disappears (but not an hour of pay). And we fall back at noon on Saturday, so you get an extra hour for projects, or just to watch sports on TV.

There is actually a serious movement to change the whole planet to Universal time. That is, all clocks everywhere on the planet would show the same time and date. It sounds horrid, but once I thought about it at some length, it makes sense.

The British government, which at one time controlled the seas, would determine when the sun was at its highest, and called that mid-day. So, we ended up with a system that more or less measures sun-time.

That means we have no idea what time it is in other parts of the world, thus a lot of mistakes are made, even in important legal documents and other things. People can even lose track of what day it is, when they cross the international date line.

With Universal time, you would always know what time it was, anywhere in the world. Yes, some would see sun-up at totally different hours, but as is usually the case, to adjust takes about two weeks, then it seems normal.

All you would need is a chart to tell you when people you wish to call will be sleeping.

No I do not think this will ever happen, but I do think it is a good idea for the reasons I listed.