One of the interesting phenomena that happened aboard Navy ships was a ritual we called the winding of the clocks. Our ship was covered with Chelsea 8 day wind up clock movements. Generally they were of a black Bakelite body with a black face and white luminescent numerals and markings. These came in both 12 and 24 hour versions. Normally a low ranking seaman from the Navigation Department was assigned the task of walking around to those clocks in important spaces and insuring the clocks were on time and also wound. Important spaces might be the Captains Bridge, Admirals Bridge, CIC, Secondary Conn etc. etc. and he carried a shoulder strapped leather cased clock recently timed from the ships chronometer. The radio space guys took care of their own clocks. The radio guys pulled time ticks from a local R-390 in radio central. The Navigation Dept was also responsible for keeping the ships chronometer wound and looked after.
One of the more famous types of Chelsea Clocks found aboard ship was the Radio Clock. It was famous because it had the Quiet Periods marked on the face. Two red wedges signifying when all the operators guarding 500 Khz stood by for emergency traffic at sea. In all of my years aboard aircraft carriers I cannot ever recall seeing a single radio clock. Every Radio Central I ever served in had loads of the large 12 inch or 8 inch black faced 24 hour Chelsea’s but nary a single face with Radio Quiet times marked.
After I got out of the Navy and retired from real world work I had some time and thought it would be fun to have a few of these old time clocks to keep wound. Besides they might look nice in the Radio Shack. I have found some and mounted same until I needed my wall space for other things and so they got relegated to the shelf. Besides a few were running incorrectly and some had stopped altogether.
During this past weekend I made an effort to find a clock repair man in our area and take a trial clock to see if he can manage a repair. If successful I will follow with others that need some looking after. I have found a way to incorporate them into a shelf system and really want to have the clocks running again. I have two samples of ships radio clocks. One from a single hulled tanker that was scraped out due to oil spill potential which is a 12 hour model and a second off of a Chinese ship of some sort that runs well and is a 24 hour model.
If I manage to get my Russian Sub Clock repaired and the others cleaned and regulated I will post a picture of their new mounting. The rest of my Chelsea’s are of the US Navy variety in that they are all black faced clocks.
Thanks for reading my Blog. Best, Chas W5PG