Foodworks clock is marking time again

​MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Bob Mills outside Foodworks Oberon with the facia clock now working. Getting the clock going again took some investigation.

​MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Bob Mills outside Foodworks Oberon with the facia clock now working. Getting the clock going again took some investigation.

BOB Mills, who is interested in history and heritage, noticed the clock on the facade of Foodworks Oberon was not working and decided to do some investigating.

MASTERFUL: Bob Mills inside Foodworks with the master clock. A lot of time went into getting the clock going again.

MASTERFUL: Bob Mills inside Foodworks with the master clock. A lot of time went into getting the clock going again.

"I approached Inderpal at Foodworks some months ago with regard to setting the clock on his building’s parapet,” he said.

"Inderpal said he had been trying to find someone to fix it for some time. We mounted the roof to investigate. The slave clock had an IBM logo imprinted on it.

“There was no master clock to drive the slave clock and its whereabouts was obscured.

"I assumed it was a synchronous clock with remote correction which was the basic remote (inaccessible) clock system of the era and emailed a clock group for further information. 

"I was informed that it was an IBM slave clock (not a synchronous clock) and that the responder to my email had just thrown out a batch of them as they were worn out and nobody wanted them anymore. 

"He offered me a link to the IBM website for an explanation as to how they worked. Another member of the group offered to sell me a master."

Mr Mills has a collection of master clocks in his clock collection, and three were IBMs, but owing to their complexity, he had only got one going in the simple electrically wound clock mode. 

"My other masters were English Synchronome, Brisbane Synchronome and a Proud’s master clock. All these were English systems and simply create a one minute pulse to drive the slave,” he said.

"The IBM system, in contrast, is complex and, as well as having one minute pulses, it offers a burst of two second pulses just before the hour (main line) and a separate line with a minute pulse at the hour (secondary line). The slave is equipped with a contact which opens on the hour, isolating the main line from the slave, but leaving secondary line connected.

"The slave is equipped with a damping mechanism causing the minute hand to move in a controlled manner on receiving its pulse. This is presumably to stop the slave jumping two or no minutes on receiving a pulse and no English slave I have seen have this mechanism.

"Due to the complex IBM system it is vastly more expensive than the other (English) master slave systems available in Australia before the war. This system would have have cost Howells (former owners of Foodworks) as much as a contemporary Pontiac motor car. 

"One has to wonder at the prosperity in Oberon in 1938 when the Howells’ store was built and the faith in the future the Howells embodied.

"You only have to look at the Howells’ store and the Malachi Hall next door to see the prosperity in Oberon in 1937 and 1938."

Mr Mills said he has to thank Inderpal and his family for their ongoing support.

“Without their support the clock would have remained dormant,” he said.

"It definitely cost him a lot of resources and time - even for ancillaries connected to get this clock going. 

"I commend Inderpal for his faith in Oberon.

"I must thank Dave of HV Electrical for his skills and electrical contribution. He added markedly to the ease in which I got it going.

"Now it is there for everyone to enjoy and watch time go by."