Friday, January 30, 2009

Lumitime CC-33 clock | Jiro Ochiai and Tatsuhiko Machida | Tamura Electric Corp., Japan | 1971

Lumitime clockJiro Ochiai and Tatsuhiko Machida
Tamura Electric Corp., Japan, 1971

Lumitime logoThe Lumitime family of clocks. Classic styling. Glowy coolness. I bought one as new old stock. Since I haven’t seen some of what I have posted elsewhere, I figured I’d share it here. I’ve got the box and all the literature and labels that came with it. Nothing about who was responsible for the design. Not even a copyright date. Well, it’s got as much look as the day is long and that’s enough for me.

There are a lot of different Lumitime models. Different colors: ivory, orange, red, black; alarm or no alarm; radio or no radio. But for this entry, I’m thinking mostly about the CC-33, it’s the one I think has the most bang. There are a lot of different models of this clock out there, for example, the C31 to the right is more or less the same as the CC-33 only without the alarm and with the time set knob on the back. Although they can discolor with time and UV exposure, ivory clocks do not suffer as much because they are already off-white. Lumitime clock, front Lumitime clock, back Image Source, eBay

Note: broken video link fixed 01/28/11.  Here is my Lumitime clock. It does make some noise as it runs, especially at hour changes. Remember that it is a mechanical clock that simulates LEDs so some noise is natural. It’s difficult to tell from the movie but across the bottom from left to right, there are four knobs: the first two turn wheels that allow the setting of the alarm, hours on the left and minutes on the right, the third is an alarm on/off switch, and the fourth is the time set. The buzzer is not too jarring, definitely a workable alarm.

Lumitime patent

The first page of the United States “Clock or Similar Article” design, number 230,302. The rest of the patent can be found here. Some related design patents to other Lumitime clocks in the same family can be found at D238,253 (1974), D244,261 (1975), and D245,198 (1974).

Orange Lumitime clockImage source. There is another example of Lumitime models on the Spaceage70 blog. Check out this blog entry for several Lumitime models as well.

Lumitime clock Tough to photograph and get the numbers bright, but here it is! The label on the base is shown below.

Lumitime CC-33 label

Lumitime advertisement

Lumitime advertisement, New York Magazine, October, 1973, p. 87. I have seen the “script bar” model. It is like the normal bar only all frilly. I don’t like it as much. Not nearly as clean looking but more uncommon. Cant believe it cost $2 more.

Lumitime advertisement

Newspaper advertisement, Nov 25, 1976. Link goes to entire ad. A slightly different variety than the CC-33, this has the snooze bar on top and no pedestal base.

The box certainly has a 70s flair:

Lumitime box front


Lumitime box side         Lumitime box side


Here is all the good stuff that came inside the box. First, the instruction card, below, followed by the warranty card. For each, the front is on the left, the back is on the right. Click for a larger image.

Lumitime operating instructions

Lumitime warranty cardThese come up from time to time on eBay and can go for as much as $100. They are uncommonly found in good condition. Hold out for one that works well and keeps time well.

The Lumitime is definitely one of my favorite clock designs! If you have any further information you can share, please be sure to pass it along!

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Unknown said...

WOW! Talk about a goldmine of Lumitime info!

About a month ago, I found a Lumitime CC-11 (the exact same one that's in the 11/25/76 newspaper ad; I had no clue what the model # was until I found this blog!) at my local Goodwill store. The moment I saw it, I had to have it. It ran fine for about 12 hours, then it got very noisy, eventually stalling. Oiling the mechanism solved the issue, and it now runs very quietly and smoothly (for the most part).

After watching the video of your lumitime, I must say that I'm impressed. Your clock seems a bit older; I've never seen a seconds indicator quite like yours before. Yours is also the only one (besides mine) that uses a single dot for the H-M separator (as opposed to a colon, which I'm guessing is what the later Lumitimes used).

However, I'm also very concerned. Your clock is MUCH louder than mine when changing the hour, louder than it should be IMO. I'm guessing it'll probably need oiling before too long. They're not super-hard to fix, as long as you don't throw the gear timing off too much in the main gearbox. The clock doesn't need to have the timing perfect to run (although it may skip numbers if it's too far off), but it MUST have the timing right to make the alarm function correctly. I know I spent a good 3 hours trying to get the alarm to work again after I finished oiling mine.

I also have a video of my Lumitime on Youtube (the quality's pretty low, though). Keep in mind that this was before I oiled it (though the sound in my video is very low to begin with)

Copy and paste:

Feel free to reply if you have any questions/comments/concerns.

Unknown said...

EDIT: I just now realized that you bought yours NOS, so I was probably exaggerating when I said that you needed to oil your clock soon. The worst that can happen (from my experience) is that the clock will simply stall. Should this happen, lifting the clock about an inch and dropping it should get it running again temporarily, but to prevent future damage, I would stop using it the moment you see that the clock is no longer running.

One more correction: when I was talking about the H-M separator being a single dot, I meant to say that yours was the only one THAT I'VE SEEN (besides mine) that uses a single dot.

Anonymous said...

hi there
i bought a tamura lumitime clock/alarm off ebay, mine makes no sound and i thought it WAS l e d .sometines on mine the left hand hour bar fails to light or flickers ?, and it gets very hot on full brightness hence i use it on low dimmer setting also mine has a colon separater.....thanks for previous info.Ray

Anonymous said...

hi there,
how can i upload a scan of the clock on this site ? cheers Ray...

kevin404 said...

Hi Ray! Thanks for your interest. Please email any pics or information you have to me at objectplastic@hotmail.com. I'd be happy to post them. Cheers, Kevin

Unknown said...

It's good that your clock makes no sound. The quieter the better. As for the leftmost hour digit: That simply sounds like dirty contacts. I'm guessing it'll probably fix itself over time; if not, you could move the time set knob back in forth between 9:59 and 10:00 to remove any oxidation (CAUTION! Make sure the hour dot isn't between :55 and :05 seconds! You may want to unplug it when you do it just in case). That section of the clock is a ROYAL pain to work on from what I've heard.

As for the heat issue: It shouldn't get too warm. My Lumitime CC-11 doesn't have any brightness settings, and it only gets slightly warm where the vents are.

Anonymous said...

thanks for that teraforce, ill try what you say about left hand hour bar, i was the first person to open the clock as the aluminium strip was intact? when opened it looked very complicated so i shut it up again LOL...

Anonymous said...

I got one of these for a couple bucks at an estate sale...I popped it open to figure out what that thing on the right was and I found out that the clock actually has neon bulbs in it.

Unknown said...


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Barcoboy said...

Hi there. I just bought a Lumitime CC-11 off of Ebay, and I am about to take it apart to attempt to clean it and get it functioning again. A couple of the segments flicker, which I'm sure is just the switch contacts that need to be cleaned, but the clock also stalls trying to change over the 10's and hours digit sometimes, so I'm hoping a cleaning and oiling will fix it.

I do have a couple of questions though that maybe someone can answer.

1) On the Alarm On/Off switch, I noticed that there are two On positions. I can't get the alarm to work by switching to the first position (perhaps the gear timing is off), but the alarm will buzz if I turn to the second position and wiggle the switch a big (again maybe a dirty switch). Is the second position just to test the buzzer, or does it serve another purpose?

2) The time set knob seems to turn very freely. It does change the minutes digit, but to get the 10's digit to change, I have to spin the knob very quickly. I also read that the knob should not be turned between the :55 second and :05 second mark as the gear train is engaged at that point. I figured that there would be some resistance if the knob was attempted to be turned at that point, but there doesn't seem to be any. I'm afraid that the previous owner did this and that gears might be stripped. Just wondering what the normal behavior is for the time set knob?

3) Has anybody ever attempted to replace all of the NE-2 neon bulbs? Seeing as the NE-2 is somewhat difficult to find nowadays, is there an equivalent part number that could be used?

Thanks in advance,

Unknown said...

@Todd (Barcoboy):
1. You are not supposed to turn the Alarm knob to the second position yourself (The position past the "on" setting). What's supposed to happen is that you set whatever time you want the alarm to go off, and then you set the Alarm on/off switch to the first "on" position (the one that's marked). When the clock time reaches the alarm time, the knob then turns past the marked "on" position to the second (unmarked) "on" position, and the buzzer will sound.

2). It sounds like the time set knob gear(s) may be stripped there. What's supposed to happen is that when the 55s mark is reached, the clock engages the time set knob to advance the time by 1 minute. If you look closely, you should see the time set knob turning itself very slowly. If you try to turn it when it's doing this, you should encounter tons of resistance. The 10's digit should increment no matter how fast you turn the time set knob.

3). Never attempted to replace the neon bulbs in my clock, so I really don't know.

In case you're wondering, here's a pic containing the guts of my CC-11 (be sure to check out the next two):

And here's a question for you: When the clock is running, is the motor noisy at all? My CC-11 is no longer usable; it got very noisy and started reversing/stalling itself. The gear that sits on the motor's rotor wore out :(

Barcoboy said...

Hi Teraforce, thanks for the reply. Sorry I did not get back to you before this, as I've been out of commission with a knee injury.

I took a look at my clock again, and the mechanism inside is completely different than the pictures you sent me. Then I realized why... I took a look at the back label of the clock, and my model is a C-11, not a CC-11. Sorry about that. Once I get around to taking it apart and cleaning it up, I will be sure to take pictures and post a link here. Now to comment on your comments:

1) Thanks for that information. I wasn't sure, because my clock actually has both on positions marked with a white dot on the case. Knowing how the alarm works now will make it easier to fix.

2) I watched the clock in operation today, and yes it does turn the time set knob when advancing the time. There is a cam which is attached to a gear under the motor that turns a funny shaped gear(?) which then turns the knob. But there does seem to be some sort of clutch mechanism as well so that nothing is damaged if you try to turn the time set mechanism and the rest of the time mech is jammed. I do get some resistance between the 0:55 and 0:05 now when trying to dial the time backwards at that time, and from what I see, nothing looks stripped, so I think all that is needed is a cleaning of the hour, 10 minute, and minute gear mechanisms to get my clock restored and running.

3) It looks like the neon bulbs are all in good shape. I just have two flickering segments, but I believe that is the contacts and time discs that need to be cleaned to fix that.

And to answer your questions... my clock is nearly silent when it is running. However, my motor is definitely different than yours, as my motor is a shaded pole motor with a coil on the top corner of it. Again, once I get pictures of it, I'll be sure to post them.

Thanks again for your assistance.

Unknown said...

Interesting! I'm looking forward to seeing some pics!

Interesting that you mention a clutuch system on yours. On mine, there is no clutch system, which means between :55 and :05 seconds, you cannot turn the knob, even if you tried really hard (unless you want to break some gears)

The motor in my CC-11 is a 300RPM synchronous timing motor, with a removable magnetic rotor that sits in a fixed plastic cup. The motor itself is silent; it's the gears that are driven by the motor that are noisy.

Also, there used to be a custom-shaped nylon "o-ring" underneath the magnetic rotor that would prevent the rotor from starting backwards (there's a corresponding tab on the bottom of the rotor), but that has since deteriorated, which means my clock will start up backwards 50% of the time.

I had to strip out the gear that's attached to the rotor on mine, because it had worn out so much that it would randomly stall out/reverse itself while running :( Hopefully, rushgears.com can build me a new one...

Yours appears to be an earlier mechanism. Those tend to pop up far more often than the later mechanisms (like mine), which apparently had some cost-cutting measures applied to them. They seemed to have cut the reliability in the process though, too. The gear that's part of the rotor is apparently known to wear out easily on the later models... or so I'm guessing....

Barcoboy said...

My clock is fixed and running great! It's so good to be able to watch that rotating flower and the morphing digits again. I remember as a child my parents had a Lumitime back in the late 70s/early 80s, which is why I bought one for myself... I used to love watching theirs back then too!

Pictures on my website: http://staarage.ubishops.ca/Lumitime

As it turns out, there is no clutch on the time set knob. The shaft of the time set knob is connected to a gear to run the snooze mechanism, and it all is linked to the time set metal shaft via a nub. The plastic shaft of the knob shaft/top gear was loose enough on the nub that it would turn the time set shaft to advance the minutes, but didn't have enough power to turn over the ten's or hour digit and would slip. A small blob of silicone on the nub was enough to bond the nub to the plastic shaft, but allows me to remove the shaft if I ever need to in the future.

I wasn't able to fully take apart the lower gear box, because the top set of contacts are glued to the top cover, and I would have had to unsolder them from the main board (my contacts run perpendicular to yours, as you can see in a couple of the photos). Was able to get a flat VCR head cleaning swab inside with some contact cleaner to clean the time discs as they were pretty dirty, but it didn't correct the flickering problem I had with the two rightmost segments of the one's digit. I was able to cut a thin piece of emery cloth sandpaper and lightly sand the necessary contacts, and after passing a small piece of paper through the contacts to clean out the sandpaper grit, the segments are now flicker free.

The other problem the clock had was that the ten's digit had a problem displaying the number 2. It would display fine at the 20 minute mark, but then the top and bottom segments would go out between 21 and 29 minutes. I noticed that they would briefly appear while the clock was advancing to 30 minutes, and was able to correct the problem by advancing the ten's time disc/gear one tooth... was able to pry the front cover up enough to do so. Now as the time turns to 20, the 2 forms completely, then the top and bottom segments go out for a fraction of a second, then come back on. Might be a bad spot on the ten's disc. I then had to jump one tooth of the hour gear/disc, as the hour segment would start to change to the next hour at the 51 minute mark.

Last thing I had to do was sync up the alarm mechanism. The last guy who had this clock forgot to re-engage one of the springs on the arm that activates the buzzer contacts, so I re-engaged that and took a couple of tries to sync up the top gears, but got the alarm working. The clock only makes noise when changing time when the alarm is engaged, making a similar sound to the noise yours make on your YouTube video. Probably a bit of grease on the ends of the plastic activate levers would quiet that noise, but I'm not going to use the alarm anyways so it's not a big deal. Also, you can see why I was confused initially with how the alarm worked... if you look at the full size IMG_3392 file, you can see that both of the "ON" positions of the alarm knob are marked with a dot.

I noticed while working on the clock that the motor and gear mechanism is quiet most of the time, but some times when the clock is plugged in, I'll hear either some motor or gear noise... not too loud, but not really noticeable unless you're right next to the clock. It will stop between the 55 and 05 second mark as the time advances, but then it comes back. However, if I unplug the clock and plug it back in, the noise goes away and does not come back, and when the noise is present on initial plug in, it continues until unplugged. I wonder if it is dependent on which way the motor initially starts.

Hopefully you will be able to get your gear replaced and get your clock running again. Sorry I didn't get any pictures of the gears underneath my motor... I had the motor out, but forgot to take pictures.

edwarda@iprimus.com.au said...

I just bought a C11. It seems that my alarm does not work, the knob sometimes turn towards off and just springs back towards on quite freely... then sometimes I can switch between all 3 positions normally but it does not sound any alarm when the time is reached.

The numbers seem to display correctly and there is minor flickering in the starburst.

any ideas on the alarm and flickering would be great... thanks in advnance.

Oh, its wood grain case as well, looks nice

Anonymous said...

Can Someone Tell Me Where I Can Repair/Restore Early 70's Lumitime Clock? Contact Me At koernerrom@aol.com. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Greetings Lumitime Lovers...
I've owned a number of Lumitime desk-type clocks over the years but have always coveted the huge oval wall clock[ 15" X 9" ] that I once saw in a modern shop on Melrose in Los Angeles about 10 years ago.
I recently found one that did not work. All the lights were good but the mechanism simply buzzed. Being familiar with the drive I dis-assembled the clock. The problem was the large diameter nylon gear that coupled with the output shaft. It had several sections of stripped out teeth. This gear box is swaged together and doesn't lend itself to ease of gear replacement.
The clock is a Model No. C-61.
The gearbox is marked on its side ZH1N.

I'm looking for ANY help/experience in repairing this great-looking clock!!!

A new gearbox,
A new drive gear,
A gearbox dis-assembly technique,
A repairman for Lumitime clocks.

Thanks for your considerations.


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