Rebuilding Tips For Your Imperial's Clock

Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Accessories -> Clocks -> Rebuilding

Don't forget to check out our section on dashboard removal.

Tips from George on how to Repair Dash Instrumentation Clocks:

I don't know what these "auto clock repair" guys do other than convert them to a quartz movement, but I do know that most of the clocks in our Imperials can be made to work again with little skill and practically no investment!

Did you ever sit in an old car with the engine off waiting for someone to come out of a store, bank, etc? Did you notice that about every 2-1/2 minutes a "click" noise came from the dash area?

The noise was the clock rewinding itself electromagnetically. There is a set of points-quite like ignition points in the clock. One contact of the points is fixed and one moves on a ratchet attached to the mainspring. As the spring winds down, the moving point contact eventually touches the fixed contact and Lo! we have a circuit to the electromagnet, which pulls the moving contact arm back, winding the spring and breaking the circuit.

This action repeats itself--until the points become dirty and eroded from the spark jumping across them. Then the clock stops working. Anyway, remove your clock - you have to do this to send it off, so it's no big deal.

Carefully remove the cover over the workings. You should see the points then. Gently pull the moving contact side away from the fixed side and let it go--most likely the clock will start working. If not--a little WD-40 etc works wonders. Sometimes a gentle nudge on the rocking wheel helps too. Let the points close again. Then clean and flatten their surfaces with fine sandpaper, a very small flat file-etc. Don't overdo it.

To test it use 2 jumper wires: One to the metal body of the clock and negative, and one to the wire connector on the clock and positive. If you've been gentle and careful the clock should now work. Let it run and watch the points close and open on the back if satisfied it is working ok. Reassemble and install.

Tips from Dick:

The best type of cleaning solution to use when rebuilding clocks is purchased from a professional clock rebuilding. It apparently is a mixture of detergent, distilled water, alcohol, and perhaps a little acetic acid, (from the smell and feel of it), but I don't know the proportions.  DO NOT USE WD-40 to clean your Imperial's clock because it will become gummy over time and you will have to reclean it.

I bought my cleaning solution came from L & R Manufacturing Company, 577 Elm Street, Kearny, New Jersey  07032.  I bought it through a jewelry trade supplier in Los Angeles, and I suspect this product or equivalent would be readily available in any large city.  Check your "business to business" Yellow Pages. 

I paid $5.50 for a pint (in about 1982), which makes up into a gallon of cleaning solution, enough to last you the rest of your life.  The vendor suggests you also buy his #3 Watch Rinse Solution to rinse off the product, but being a very cheap ("frugal") person, I have been using distilled water to dilute the cleaner.

When cleaning your clock, remember to swish the movement so that it is completely immersed in the fluid (sans clock face, hands and electrical components, all of which come off readily) for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly in distilled water, and allow to air dry thoroughly, before lubing it. You can help the drying along by using a hair dryer on low heat, don't blast it with high heat or an air hose. Be very careful not to touch any delicate parts (like the hairspring or balance wheel) with your hands.

When putting the oil on, be sure to use only a very tiny amount, way less than a drop. I dip a sewing needle in a tiny puddle of the oil, and just touch the tip of the needle to each rotating or moving parts or it's axle.

Follow-up from Tony and Electoluminescent Dash Clocks:

In the U.K. you can buy a solution called "Horolene" which, when diluted with water will clean clock parts. You just immerse the brass parts in the liquid for a couple of hours and then rinse with water. If this is not available in the U.S. there is bound to be an equivalent cleaner which you can buy from a clock repair shop or a jeweler's supplier. I don't know which model Imperial you have, but if has E.L. lighting, take special care when removing the clock hands. They are easily bent and this will crack the E.L. layer and prevent the hand from illuminating.

Addition from Roy:

Also try:

L & R Manufacturing Company

577 Elm Street

Kearny, New Jersey



Addition from Jay:

A great no-residue solution for cleaning small mechanical wonders can be purchased from Radio Shack:

Cat no. 64-4327 Electronic Cleaner Contains no CFC's of HCFC's Safe on most Plastics Leaves no Residue Cleans away dust, dirt, and oxides

You get 5.5 oz of cleaner (under pressure) in a little white container with a little scrub brush at the end of the nozzle/wand.

I used this stuff to clean the mechanicals in our '62's AM radio. All the pushbuttons and tuner's moving parts now glide effortlessly. I wouldn't hesitate to use it to clean our Imperils mechanical clock if needed. I would be careful around plastics just because of the "Safe on most Plastics" statement on the can.

Don't remember how much I paid for it, but it wasn't' more than $5. I even cleaned a spare '63 radio and still have 1/2 can left.

Tips from Tony:

When I am not up to my elbows under the hood of my Imperial I sometimes repair old clocks (I'm an antique dealer). Although an auto clock is no antique, the mechanism is much the same. Dick Benjamin is right of course. Most clocks don't run because they are gummed up with accumulated dust and grease and the answer is clock cleaning solution. BTW watch out for the fumes, they can stun an elephant. However, sometimes the problem can run a little deeper as with my own electric clock. These items were never intended to run for forty or more years and were made of fairly poor quality brass. Over the years the steel pins on the wheels of the clock can wear an oval groove in the brass backing plate causing the gears to lock up. In my case the wear had occurred in the plate supporting the re-winding wheel. The solution is not for the faint hearted but here goes:-

De-solder the lighting wire from the terminal.

Remove the solenoid plate from the back of the clock.

Release the re-winding spring from the brass bar supporting the re-winding wheel

Undo the two nuts holding the brass bar and gently lift it away. (Try not to disturb the rewinding wheel as it is made of several components and will fall apart given half a chance.)

Place the bar on a firm flat surface. Find the worn/enlarged section of the hole with a magnifying glass and place a center punch close (about a sixteenth of an inch) to the worn edge. Hit the center punch with a light hammer to squeeze the worn section back into shape. If you make the hole too small you can always re-drill it.

Re-assemble the clock and pray.

Watchmakers have used this technique for years on clocks that were not worth re-bushing.

A good way to establish if a dead clock will work is to spray the mechanical part with WD40. THIS IS NOT A CURE! Just a way of seeing if the clock will run. If it does, you can just clean it. If not then the problem is probably more serious. Anyhow, if all else fails you can always take the quartz solution, but as a purist I prefer to keep things original if I can.

Tips from Dale on replacing to a modern quartz movement in your Imperial's clock:

I removed the clock from my '68 last fall (make sure and reference those FSM dash removal pages) and I rebuilt it the other night with a quartz movement. I purchased the kit from Instrument Services. It arrived in 2 days via UPS and also came with an instructional video.

Well it was a snap. Glad I did it myself. Instrument rebuilt one other clock for me and their service on that repair was great. Now I am looking forward to when I get the cars back from storage so that I can reinstall my now working electric clock! I really like having all the accessories work in my cars.

Instrument Services Inc

11765 Main Street

Roscoe, Illinois



I had them rebuild the clock for my '60 New Yorker. It cost about $100 for the quartz movement and the s&h. I bought the quartz movement for the '68 for $49 and did it myself. The hardest part was getting the damn clock out of the car!

I found that they are not the cheapest, but their service has been very good.

Addition from Dave on Mechanical versus Quart Movements and costs to replace:

I have also used The Clock Works.  Here is a recent email I received from them with some valuable information for the Imperial owner:

The Clock Works

1745 Meta Lakes Rd.

Eagle River, WI




We still have an NOS mechanical movement available which we can install in your '64 Chrysler clock for $49.95 plus $8 shipping which is only $10 more than the cost to service your old movement. This is a brand new movement which is no longer being manufactured and supplies are limited.  Since the NOS movement includes new plates, points, and gearing, it can be expected to outlast a reconditioned movement and carries an 18 month warranty. Turnaround time is 24 hours. My recommendation would be to take advantage of the NOS mechanical movement as long as it is still available if you opt to keep the clock ticking as original.  Installation of a quartz movement in the clock would cost $89.95 plus $8 shipping. This movement should run 10 years without the need for periodic service and keep much more accurate time than the original type movement. The installation of the quartz mechanism will not alter the hands or face on the clock. Conversions carry a 2 year warranty. Please keep in mind that a quartz movement is not original for your clock and may lead to a point deduction should you have your car judged. It is most noticeable in the motion of the clock's seconds hand which would move with a smooth sweep as opposed to the original ticking motion. Turnaround time should not exceed a few days.


I am not sure that we would have the exact set knob for your clock. However, if we have a generic replacement that will fit the cost is usually in the $3 to $8 range. If you have a description of the missing set knob it may be >helpful in our search for the correct knob. Correct set knobs of this vintage usually run about $12 when available.


You can pack your clock up and ship it by UPS, Fed-X, US mail, or any means convenient to you. You can enclose a check or money order, or bill the service to MC/Visa. Be sure to include a street address for UPS return.


Follow-up from Rick:


I used Instrument Services Inc. for my gas tank sending unit that now works great. They also do clocks, tachs, cruise control just about anything in your dash. I'm going to have them put a quarts kit in my clock. free catalog 800-558-2674.

Tips from Paul (1965):

The clock in my 1965 Imperial wasn't working, and when I heard about how they worked, I wanted to try repairing it.

I opened the clock up, which turns out to be the hardest part. This clock had previously been opened, and was kind of bent, which I unfortunately added to. The problem is the front plate that retains it in the round case also has some gears on it; for setting the time, mostly. Very easy to bend, unfortunately.

I got it opened and moved the electromagnetic winder, and it started running, only to stop very shortly afterwards. The workings were a little dirty and sticky. I used what I have found to be reasonable cleaners and lubricants for mechanical clocks... A zero residue electronics aerosol spray to clean, and TV tuner cleaner/lubricant for lubrication. I don't know what will happen when they stop making that TV tuner stuff. Anyone seen a mechanical TV tuner recently? My TV is of the 1979 vintage and it's got an electronic tuner. This stuff works fine in a indoor home environment; I'm not sure how it will work in the temperature and humidity extremes in a car. The problem with a lot of lubricants is they eventually thicken and gum up.  But thankfully synthetic lubricants have less of a problem with this.

With the workings cleaned and lubricated, the clock runs fine moving the winder back by hand. I cleaned the points with some 240 and 400 grit sandpaper. I then got out my trusty 12 volt power supply and hooked up the clock. That electromagnet winder absolutely intrigues me. The clock works flawlessly after the points were cleaned and the gears cleaned and lubricated. So I left the clock running overnight on the power supply to see if it would keep running and to see how accurate it was. This morning it's still running fine. I'll leave it running for a while, then straighten out that bent plate, retest, and then re-install.

More Tips on Rebuilding Clocks:

I had three '56 DeSoto clocks that were non-functional. Played with the points, lubed up the gears and got all but one of them working. The non-functioning one appears to be caused by the points not getting enough juice from the coil to pop them back open. Either that, or the winder is incorrectly set and I can't get the points to pop back and wind it (it may be in the wrong place). However, in getting these items up and running, I noticed that many of mine had the soldered parts broken. Once I resoldered the connections (between the coil and the points), they worked fine.

Tips from Paul:

Here is how I repaired the clock on my 1970 Challenger... I used a points file on the electrical contact--because that's basically what it is--so that the surfaces would be parallel and not just clean. After a couple false starts (i.e., not clean enough) I got it to run for about three days straight, at which point I trusted it enough to put it back in the car.

Now that it is in storage, when I go out to run the Challenger for a while, I can tell when the battery switch makes contact because I hear that "click" that the clock makes when it winds. It's a nice sound. :^)

Speaking of batteries, it is my understanding that these clocks go bad when the battery is allowed to run down; e.g., when leaving the parking lights on. Eventually the voltage drops to a point where it cannot wind the clock any more, so the points just stay closed and fry.

Tip from Milburn (1962):

I had Jeff Carter redo the gauges on my '62, and I have to say he did a great job. He's also a really nice guy to deal with. However, if you have him do the work, count on a little more time than what you're told up front. So what else is new? He does great work, so it's worth the extra time. I also had the clock movement replaced with a quartz unit, and was told by the clock folks that the hands would not light up as a result of the new movement. Jeff assured me that was not correct, and he was right. What a treat to see them light up after all! Chrysler products with electroluminescent dashes make quite a light show at night.

Tips from Roger (1969):

While I have been working on my 1969 Imperial I decided to fix the clock. After getting clock out I removed it from metal case sprayed with wd40 cleaned relay contacts hooked it up to power supply and whalla it runs and looks like it is going to keep time and you cannot hear it run.

Addition from Chris:

What many people do not realize is that older car clocks with breaker points are essentially wind-up clocks with an electrical winder. The breaker points are on a cog that makes them close every few minutes, at which point a burst of current winds the mainspring (and resets the points) to keep the clock going for a while. That's why these clocks normally make a slight noise every ten minutes or so. Often it takes nothing more than cleaning the points (or, on a clock that has not moved in years, lubing up the mechanism with some WD-40 or such) to restore working order.

Many of these clocks were also self-correcting. Setting the time ahead also speeds up the mechanism slightly (vice-versa for setting it back a few), so that with a series of a few adjustments, you essentially re-calibrate the clock's pace.

Someday I'll fix the one in my '67... It's moved 57 minutes in the eleven years I've owned the car (I set it to 12:00 when I became the car's second owner in 1989)...

The new-for-1978 fluorescent digital clock in my NYB Salon is still, as advertised, accurate to within one minute a month!

Also from Dick:

As Chris points out, these older car clocks (usually made by George W. Borg Company) are basically simple pin-lever movements which are electrically wound.

In addition to the electrical contacts which need to be cleaned periodically, the clockwork mechanism also needs service.

Just spraying WD40 on a clock will indeed get it going for a short while in warm weather, but a proper repair is to disassemble the movement and immerse it in a clock cleaning solution which removes all the old lubricant and crud, and leaves it spanking new looking. Then you need to re-oil it VERY SPARINGLY with special clock oil, which is very, very thin and does not thicken with temperature. Both of these products are available at your friendly local wholesale jewelry supply house.

I bought a lifetime supply of each about 30 years ago for under $10. My oldest such repair job, in my 1947 Packard Limo, is still ticking away keeping perfect time after 33 years! Of course I disconnect the battery when the car is parked, to avoid wearing out the mechanism (and for safety) but the point here is, the oil is still as thin and clean as when first done. The car has been driven about 140,000 MI in the 33 years.

The other clocks I have done are all still tickin' away, most many years later.

As our friends the Kanter Brothers say, do it once and do it right!

Question from John (1961):

How do you get the clock out of a '61?

Reply from Tony:

First remove the instrument panel. This involves undoing the four screws that hold it in place and releasing the speedo cable and trip meter cable from the back of the unit. Problems usually arise when you try to pull the instrument panel out from the dash. Before you do, make sure you have released the wires to the panel from any metal tags behind the dash. If you do it right, the whole unit can be gently pulled out and rested upside down on top of the dash pad. Always put some card or a cloth over the metal panel beneath the instrument panel or you will scrape off the paint.

Once the panel is out, the clock can be removed by undoing the two nuts which hold it in place and pushing it backwards and out.

Question from Jay (1964-1966):

I was successful in cleaning, lubricating and generally getting the clock in out '62 to run again. With my confidence level running high, I made an attempt to perform the same operation on the clock in our '66.

The clock insides looked good with the exception of accumulated grime around some of the bearing points and dirty solenoid contacts. I cleaned and lubricated the mechanicals. When the clock was wound by hand it had a good strong "heartbeat".

After a few minutes of testing, it was time to put it back into the dash.

With the power lead connected, I touch the case to the dash. CLICK!...the clock's first solenoid winding in who knows how long. Sounds like it's running. So far so good.

Using both screws I mound the clock back into the dash and anxiously await for the second firing of the solenoid.

After about two minutes...Instead of a "click", I am met with a hissing. SOMETHING IS SHORTED!!!

A strange smell of burning windings and a wisp of smoke come out of the dash. Having the clock mounted in the dash left the clock with no hope of quick rescue.

I SMOKED THE CLOCK! @#$1^!$^!%1@^#1@&&*%^$!!!!!

Seems that I inadvertently messed with the spring that returns the contact arm after the solenoid fires. The contact arm didn't return, and it fried the solenoid!

Now I have to decide whether to replace the clock with an original or have it converted to quartz.


From Greg:

You can make this cable, I minced the cable and went to the hobby store, I was able to get it in 4 ft lengths for pennies. You need un-annelid wire and I am sorry I don't remember the gage. If you don't have a micrometer handy just take a piece of the old stuff with you. they use if in model airplanes.

From Kerry:

I've had mine out and cleaned it a couple times. It works for a few months then stops. Removal is easy. There are several places in Hemmings that rebuild them with a quartz unit.

I've often thought about getting adapting a battery alarm clock movement and putting the 1.5V battery somewhere I could easily get to for changing ever couple years.

Question from John (1965):

I'd like to get the clock working on my '65. I've pulled the clock and cleaned it and it's running fine. The feed wire to the clock doesn't seem to be getting any juice. I know next to nothing about electrical circuits but as far as I can tell, using my tester, there's no continuity so maybe the wire is toast somewhere behind the dash. 

Is there an alternate location to run a hot wire to power the clock?  I'd also like to hook up the clock and see if it winds itself properly. Is the clock one of the items using a voltage limiter or is it OK to hook the positive terminal to the battery and ground the case to the frame of the car?


From Ray:

Is there a feed available on your fuse box? My '69 Fury has 2 of them, one that's ignition (I think) and one's accessory. I think the ignition one runs all the time and the accessory one only is activated when the key is switched to the accessory position. I have an electric solenoid trunk popper from a '77 LeBaron wired to my accessory one.

From Ronald:

You are right to question whether the clock needs l2 volts or the regulated voltage source used by the instrument cluster. Some good soul out there may have a factory manual for your year of car, and it will give procedures for testing. Caution is always the best approach. Good luck. PS: I can count on one hand how many clocks actually worked and told time in all the cars I have owned (something around 200)!

Question from Randy (1965):

I have removed the clock which was not working. Is this something I could fix myself just by cleaning the point contacts?


From PEN:

Perhaps that may work, but after that check for two fuses going to the clock: the first on the fuse panel, and there should be another one all by itself in the hot wire going to the clock. Check that the clock is getting voltage after you clean the points and hook it up. The points on these clocks fail the first time someone leaves the lights on and runs down the battery. Then, with the points stuck closed, when they get the car started it will blow one or the other of the fuses. It is the low voltage of a near dead battery that eats the points. If the points work, and the clock rewinds itself but ticks for a while and quits, then the clock will have to be cleaned or sent away to be reconditioned.

From Chris:

Unless there is an electrical short, the clock can likely be repaired by you. Check the points and clean VERY carefully. On my '60, I discovered the rewind spring had come off its mount. I attached it and the clock is still running perfectly. Hopefully your repair will be a simple.

From Mark:

Yes, and they'll run forever, until....

Until the larger gears (which bear the greatest of the brunt of the spring tension) "egg-out" their pivot holes. Remember, these are NOT jeweled movements. Once this happens, the clock's time is up....

Fortunately, a few well-placed drops of high quality lubricant can keep this from occurring. Use a small jeweler's screwdriver as an oiler. It only takes a little bit at the pivot points.... (You need just a single molecule between the pivot and the hole.) Over-oiling will cause the excess to make it's way to the hairspring, then the clock will become erratic, and eventually stop.

I use Amsoil 75W-90 gear lube. The clock in my '66 Plymouth hasn't missed a beat in 13-years....

Question from Dave (1966):

The clock on my '66 has gone dead. When I first got the car in '99 it was dead but I put some liquid graphite inside and it started working. Anyone have an extra one or know where I can get one. Ebay has nothing.


From Steve:

If you want a used one look under the parts section of the website and call some of the salveage yard vendors listed there. I'm sure many of them could help you with it.

Perhaps a better sollution would be to send your existing clock to be rebuilt. There are tons of companys out there that will fix your existing clock for less that $100 or replace the movement with a quartz movement for less than $150. The quartz movement is a lot more reliable, but the clock wont tick anymore.. The second hand moves at a setady pace instead.

From John:

You can get your clock repaired, or have a NOS movement installed by The Clock Works. See: 715-479-5759

The movement was made by Borg and is common to many makes of cars.

From Robin:

I got the clock on my '72 working by cleaning it and, also, dressing up the points as they were burnt pretty bad. Seems that when the points touch the instant voltage(12V) kicks the lightly weighted arm back(which has one side of the points contact attached to it) which winds the clock. After 30 years of this the points were not too clean. Very crude but effective system.

From Paul:

If you take it out and file the contact points, clean and oil the rest of the movement, it will probably work again for another couple of years. I service the clocks in all of my cars regularly, and find very little trouble keeping them going. The most serious thing seems to be a broken stop for the contact points which can cause the movable point to swing past the movement and ground against the case. This causes a short circuit, will blow fuse, and make sparks. Even so, this is also repairable, but requires more skill.

The only Imperial car clocks that I have ever found to truly be worn out were those that came in the '56 models. They were not spring wound, but rather a continuos running electric motor. These clocks kept running, and did wear themselves out. The symptom of this is that they run very quickly occassionally (like when you hit a bunp in the road), and then stop. This is due to broken pivots and worn holes in the plates.

From Keith:

I have a friend who suggested liguid graphite but I wasn't sure about that. A local clock repair shop in my area suggested Radio Shack. They have a fine electronics lubricant that doesn't collect dust or wear out. Right now I have the clock out on my '70 LeBaron and found that the spring that runs the clock is suffering from fatigue. I am going to try and find a replacement at my local clock repair shop. And if there is a shop in your area, ask him about springs or rebuilding.

From William:

As mentioned, those clocks had a pair of contact points (similar to distributor points) that energize the movement. With age, they get corroded and "burnt" just as the distributor pionts used to, so cleaning and dressing them can usually put things back to normal. Also, cleaning and lubricating while the case is apart is a good idea too.

There was also a "rewinding" procedure that I read about somewhere. It could well have been in a Chrysler manual from back then, but I don't recall exactly. What it amounts to is somewhat time consuming in that you have to have the battery cable disconnected when the clock is installed. Then, you touch the cable to the battery post, which should cause a spark, and then let the clock run from that electricity. Then you repeat that procedure several times until there is no spark when you touch the cable to the battery post. That was supposed to be the "correct" way to re-hook-up the clock if it ever ran down from a dead battery. Seems like each "click" was about 15 minutes?

Most mechanics just put the cable on and let things take care of themselves. While they could keep pretty good time, it seems that no one really cared just how accurate they were back then, also knowing that at some point in time, they'd stop working.

The clocks are also self-regulating too. When you adjust the time forward or backward, the clock will alter it's regulation slightly. Remember, those clocks run on DC voltage instead of the self-regulating AC voltage as a house clock does.

Putting a quartz movement in the clock case is an option too. A much more accurate movement that probably takes less power to run too. If I went that route, I'd make sure that it looked just like the original (hands and their finish) so no body might know unless they were told about the conversion.

From George:

Check in Hemmings. there are places that rebuild clocks. They can even retro yours with a quartz movement that will work even better than the original.

Follow-up from Arran:

I find that point debatable, the old clock mechanisms, while primative by today's standards, were actually cleaverly designed and quite well made. The only design flaw that I can think of would be the lack of a capacitor to suppress arcing between the contacts for the winding solenoid. In contrast many of the quartz movements on the market today are very cheaply made and are non servicable.
The point being that when you send off your dash clock to one of these outfits to be "upgraded" you don't really know what you are getting. Besides that, the old clocks made a satisfying ticking noise and that to me adds to the whole experience of operating an old car along with waiting for the radio to warm up. For me there is a certain pride in getting the old technology working and showing it off, if I need to keep more accurate time I can always wear a watch or pack a GPS unit.

Follow-up from Paul:

I happen to agree with you Arran, but in the '66 Imperial, the clock is not easily accessible. When it needs service, it is very difficult to remove.

Some of my older cars have their clocks mounted near the glove compartment so that when service is required, they can be taken out without disassembling the rest of the dash. Even early '60s Imperials are not all that difficult to work on. The '61 through '63 models are quite easy, but'65 and '66 (and maybe '64, but I don't know for sure) Imperials are a different ball game. They require that the heavy chrome bezel, and the clear plastic instrument cover over the gauge cluster be removed to access any of the instruments including the clock. According to the shop manual, to do it correctly, this involves dropping the steering column, and to do that one needs to disconnect the transmission indicator needle. It is necessary to disturb too many things in order to work on the clock in these cars.

For these cars, I would say that any clock that would stay working for a number of years without service would be an improvement, but only because of this problem with accessibility.

Question from John (1966):

I have been able to remove the clock which does not work. I had hoped to open up the clock and try a little lubrication to see if that is the problem. This
clock does not look like it was meant to be worked on - no screws to open it up. Is it a throw-away and are replacements readily available? Any suggestions - fix or replace? Where to get a replacement?

Reply from Arran:

These clocks can be cleaned and repaired very easily once you figure out how to open up the cover. I would wash the mechanism out with varsol or kerosene, to get rid of any old grease, and then rinse with rubbing alcohol. After that a drop of fine oil, like diesel, on each gear shaft should do for lubrication.

These clocks are spring operated and the spring is wound with a solenoid actuated by a pair of contacts touching. The contacts complete an electrical circuit when the clock winds down energizing the solenoid, which magnetically pulls a lever over, which winds up the clock. After a while these contacts, much like distributor points, start to get rough and need to be cleaned up with a small file to keep them working. In the case of my clock I am going to connect a .1 mf condensor across those contacts to cut down on the wear from arcing, much like the distributor has for the same purpose.

Question from Joel (1966):

Any tips on how to take the clock apart once you've removed it. Also, the only knob on the dash I couldn't remove was the light knob.

Reply from John:

To get at the inside of the clock, you have to pry open the tabs on the case that hold the movement in. Once you do that you can get at the contact points which could well be fused closed. That may be what's causing your clock to not run. Dick Benjamin has good advice for cleaning and lubricating your clock: carefully. Put the WD-40 away! I bought a NOS movement from Clockworks. Runs great after 6 months. They will also repair your movement for a flat rate, with guarantee.

The light switch knob: you have to reach under the dash and feel around the headlight switch. On the left side (as you're facing forward) there is a spring-loaded tab that you have to press. That will release the switch knob which will pull out. It has a shaft that's about 6 inches long.

Question from Joel (1966):

Has anyone had any luck replacing the clock in a 64-66 with something that works, and if so, what?


From Zub:

I took mine out and sprayed the life out lf it with WD40, It worked fine after that. There is a little thin wire where the motor attaches to the clock make sure that is not broke. IT is as thin as a spider web.

From Bob:

First thing you want to do is take the original clock out of the dash. Two things to be very careful of. #1 : DON"T LOOSE THE KNOB AND SET SCREW! They are very small and you want to keep them in a safe place. #2 : Whem pulling out the dashboard assembly, you must first
drop or lower the steering column. If you don't, you will scratch all the paint off the steering column on the top trying to remove the front panel of the dashboard. There is a company in the Midwest I used to repair mine for under $50.00. I can try and find the receipt, but I think it was
called The Clockworks. Anyway, two trains of thought on repair: You can go quartz movement or you can go original snd get that great sound in your car that only an old clock will make (remember that sound ?). Anyway, my idea on the subject was you could always go to quartz movement, but while you can get it repaired original, why not do it while the parts are still available? That's the way I went and turnaround time was one week and it worked perfectly. I couldn't be happier. Ok, found the card, They are called the clockworks (24 hour turnaround time stated on card). Phone number 715-479-5759 or

Question from Jerry (1970):

The only thing not working on my '70 Imperial is the clock. It appears to me that you have to pull the dash and most of everything else under it to remove the clock. Anyone know a short cut for the clock removal? If the dash has to come out, I'll just buy a watch.


From Keith:

You will not have to remove the dash, but you may have to get some ducts out of your way. The duct work is easy to remove, taking the glove box out may be necassary. When I took my clock out my glove box was already out ( it's destroyed, so if you have an extra one....). After all that is out there should be 4 screws and a wire. After you remove the wire do NOT take out all four screws. Only the two on the right ( "right" meaning you are sitting on the seat looking at the face of the clock). The two on the left only need to be loosened, then pull the clock out and to your right. If I remember correctly, if you leave the glove box in you will have to get to it from underneath.

If I knew how to scan stuff, I'd send you the instructions right out of my service manual. I too, have a 70 Imp. Is yours a Crown or LeBaron?
Once the clock is out, clean it (gently) with a fine electronics cleaner and lube it lightly with a fine electronics oil. A clock repair technician in my area recommended Radio Shack and thats where I got mine. Do NOT use WD-40! I found out after the fact ( by that clock repair guy ) . Which is why my clock is out again a few months later. I love WD-40 but it gums up.

Anyway, after that, gently file the contacts. You may have to relace the spring that is connected to the contact. After 34 years it may be suffering from fatigue and not be strong enought to run the clock.

nstallation is reversed of removal. Then your done. Sorry this was so long but getting my clock to work was my crowning jewel in my restoration process. Keep me informed on your progress.

From James:

I've seen a few posts in the past month about using WD-40 as a lubricant, from clocks, to hood release cables. Please keep in mind that WD-40 was not designed to be a lubricant. It was designed as a temporary corrosion inhibitor for aeronautic purposes. It displaces water and leaves a thin protective film of oils on whatever metal you wish to protect. It is mostly composed of volatile components, which will evaporate over a fairly short period of time. It may gum things up, and this is because the lighter oils (which solvate the mixture, keeping it fluid) have volatolised. If it doesn't gum things up, then after a short while it just won't lubricate at all. If you wish to lubricate something, use something like white grease, or whatever is best suited to your application. Frequently, the operator's manual will specify which lubricant should be used for a particular application.

From Chris:

On my '72 I was able to remove it through the glove box, after removing the glove box liner, I loosened the two screws closest to the driver's side, removed the two screws closest to the passenger side and pulled it out, the set-up in my '71 looks identical, but I can only guess on the '70 - it should be close. The clock's contact points are probably fried, gently pry back the tabs that hold the cover on the back of the clock and clean the points up with a small file, or fine sandpaper.

From Patrick:

I have made a clock repairs as a hobby of mine for a few years now. Also my collection of repaired clock's numbers about 300 or so. I was taught a lot about the skill from an elderly repairman in Berkeley, Ca. One of his first lessons to me was to discontinue the use of carburetor cleaner and WD-40.

Especially, WD-40... The fragile springs in the clocks mechanism will almost certainly fail and or gum up within weeks with its use. It was suggested to me to use sewing machine oil, the clear kind used with industrial sewing machines. I buy it by the gallon for my machine, it last me a few years. The best kind is the clear oil that tailors use while sewing wedding dresses or delicate materials that the other oil will stain potentially during a sewing process.

OT-Industrial sewing machines have a reservoir below the "head" which holds about a half a quart of this oil.
To apply such an oil to any clocks mechanism a fine wire or needle should be used to reach small areas which move. The cleaning portion can be done safely with ultrasonic cleaner, pivots can be lubricated as well as front and back plates. Keep oil away from the spring on the escape pinion and pallet (the part that moves the fastest and ticks).

Most imperial clocks are only repairable to a degree that I have had so far (4 total)
Frankly, I would suggest doing what I am attempting which is looking for a NOS clock. I located one on Ebay but haven't paid the auction and its been 2 months, my high bid was 46.00. Not too bad.

With all that in mind, on a personal note. I don't wear a watch and its unfortunate but Im always late to any destination. Someday I will have to pay more attention to time.

Question from Jonathan (1972):

Here's something that's plagued every car ever made up until about 20 years ago-- my clock is dead. Can anyone recommend a good and inexpensive car clock restorer, or some kind of non-professional "quick fix?"

Reply from Mike:

Clock restoration / repair

D & M Restoration

46 Grand Ave

Greenville, SC



They do excellent repair...did my 1978 clock, and it is still running. Cost me $80.00.

Question from Zack (1974):

With a Chronometer, the turning dial one, how loud are they supposed to click? On my 74, it clicks really loud, but my dad said when he was in high school, it did that all the time. I remember right when I got it after my 16th birthday, it clicked so soft I couldn't hear it. So, I'm just wondering, how loud is it supposed to click?

Reply from Roger:

I have two 74 IMPS both clocks click loud.

This page was last updated June 16, 2004. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club