Restoring the Mustang Clock
by Sam Goldwasser
Copyright © 2007-2008, all rights reserved
Photos Courtesy of Mike Goodnight
This note describes the modifications to retrofit an original Mustang
center console clock with an electronic controller. This preserves
authenticity while eliminating issues of contact point wear and failure.
The original Mustang clock uses a balance wheel movement that is
wound by an electromagnetic "kicker" every minute or so. Basically, the
spring is wound by a ratcheting mechanism (I have no idea of the technical
term!) when a set of points closes. The points carry the entire electromagnet
current (several amps) and eventually become worn, burnt, and pitted.
Should for some reason the "kick" not be forceful enough or if the points
stick, it's possible for the points to remain closed, burning up the coils
and draining the battery (or at least blowing a fuse).
Many Mustang clocks found on eBay show signs of this having taken place.
Some have the points totally blown off but most are at least severely
damaged. A few have clearly overheated and smoked coils.
The modifications described below can be used with any Mustang clock where
the timing mechanism itself is working even if the points are in terrible
shape. All that's needed is some metal where the points normally are
located to close the circuit. But with the modifications, the maximum
current through the points is less than 1 mA so the contact
resistance is almost irrelevant and electrical wear is essentially eliminated.
Modified Mustang Clock Showing Pulse Circuit and Start Button
- Authentic original external appearance is maintained (face, hands, etc.).
- Authentic original Mustang clock sound including tick-tock and winding
- Can be retrofitted to any Mustang clock regardless of condition of
points as long as there is any sort of metal present. (The prototype had
one of the points missing.) There is negligible point wear since maximum
current when the points close is now about 1 mA instead of 4+ amps.
Even a clock with burnt coils might work (though rewinding the coils
would be highly recommended!).
- Virtually impossible to result in coils smoking, blown fuse, or rundown
battery from any plausible failure. An energy storage capacitor bank
provides the current impulse rather than the battery, which charges the
caps slowly between winding pulses. The circuit is inherently current
limited by resistors at its input.
- Pushbutton starting to get it going if it doesn't start after being hooked
up. Automatic starting could be added but this seems to be of little
importance since the start button is only needed if the battery is
disconnected or the fuse removed.
The main change is that a 10,000 uF capacitor bank provides the kick current
instead of the battery directly. It is charged over about 10 seconds and the
maximum current from the battery is under 50 mA. This is reduced to near
0 mA once the capacitor charges. When the contacts (or
what's left of them) close, an AC-coupled transistor turns on a MOSFET to
provide the actual current to the electromagnet. For starting, the pushbutton
switch substitutes for the contacts.
The input to the circuit is via current limiting resistors. So, even if the
capacitor bank or MOSFET failed shorted, current drain on the battery would
be under 50 mA and nothing would overheat. Since the drive circuit is
AC-coupled, there is no current drain should the clock contacts remain closed
(as in forgetting to restart the clock after replacing the battery).
Closeup of Pulsing Circuit Prototype
The connection between the coil return and contacts inside the clock
must be unsoldered or
cut, and wires attached to these to go to the pulsing circuit. The pulsing
circuit will not fit inside the clock housing so it must be located
elsewhere, but as close as possible (no more than a foot or so). To minimize
resistance, #16 or #14 AWG wire should be used between the clock and
the circuit board for the two coil wires (see below). Tie or glue down
the two new wires that run inside the clock so that they won't break loose
and can't interfere with the clock mechanism. (Since routing and tying down
fat stiff wire may be difficult in the confined space inside the clock
housing, I used a #22 AWG wire for the coil return simply to exit the
housing and soldered it to a fat wire externally.)
Five wires need to run from the clock/wiring harness to the pulse circuit:
- Ground. Tap off of harness ground (black) and run wire to
- Pulse circuit +12 V. Cut green wire, splice a wire to the
battery-end, and run to pulsing circuit.
- Coil +12 V. Splice a fat (#16-#14 AWG) wire to the clock-end of
the green wire and run to pulsing circuit.
- Coil return. Run a fat (#16-#14 AWG) wire to pulsing circuit.
- Contact sense. Run wire to pulsing circuit.
Update as of March, 2008
According to Mike, the clock has been running for several months now
continuously and keeps nearly perfect time.