It’s About Time

Lion lends a hand to fix broken clock

The Little Beaver Lions from Darlington, Pa., had just wrapped up a productive four-day work weekend at Beacon Lodge Camp in Mt. Union, when Lion Mike Seiber had a question. They were in the main lodge of the 550-acre campus and preparing to leave for home, some 200 miles away.

“What’s up with this grandfather clock?” he asked. “That thing hasn’t worked in the 30 years I’ve been coming here,” answered another Lion. Mike looked at them incredulously. “Why?” he said. And then, “Get me some tools – I’m taking the insides home.”

Three months later, in mid-July, the third generation clockmaker spent the better part of two days reinstalling and timing the complicated mechanism back. Now Beacon Lodge once again has a working timepiece. But it wasn’t easy.

Battling 91 degrees and high humidity on Saturday, Seiber re-installed the delicate clockworks and worked on timing the piano-like hammers that would strike different tunes on the quarter-hour, half-hour, three-quarter hour, and top of the hour. There were also four separate hammers that would chime the number of the hour.

Sweat and high humidity don’t go well with precise movements. Two of the four ‘Westminster’ hammers would fall flat no matter how many times he adjusted them. The hour mechanism would ‘jump time’ inside its transmission, either sounding at the wrong time or not at all. After much tinkering and a little under-the-breath grumbling, Seiber prudently walked away for a break and went to his motel for a cool shower and early bed. The next morning was 20 degrees cooler and things lined up much easier. He buttoned up the face, the case, and the top, and hung the heavy, specially weighted pendulum. All that was left was some wood polishing.

No one knows for sure how old the clock is. It was donated to Beacon Lodge in 1965 by the Tarentum Area Lions Club, but a Google search on its model and serial number came up with no matches. The brand, Revere, made clocks from the 1930s until the late 1960s. Its motor is consistent with those from the ‘30s but may have been used for decades after.

“I had it running perfect in a stand in my shop [in Darlington],” says Seiber. “I knew it would work eventually. Jobs like these just require a little time and patience.” Seiber had the patience. But the ‘little time’ it took to repair was at least 30 years.