I bought an old Westclox school clock for the shop right before our building’s 2018 Christmas party. Why did I buy a clock for a party? Read this.
When I received the old clock I plugged it in. Nothing happened. So I did the natural thing with old mechanisms. I made sure it wasn’t heating up, and I walked away.
About 30 minutes later, the clock was running. After some testing, I determined it was losing 10 minutes a day (this model has no way to adjust its run speed). So I did the natural thing with mechanical devices. I corrected the error every morning and let it run.
Nine months later, the clock is running perfectly. I haven’t touched it in a month.
Unlike many digital products, mechanical devices tend to work better the more you use them. The more I use my laptop, the more disk errors accumulate, the processor slows and eventually something crashes and I have to restart. With my old machines, the more they run, the better they run. Yes, there is maintenance (lubrication, of course). But a squirt of grease while the machine is running is all it takes to keep things moving.
I operate the about the same. Mornings are hard. When I teach at schools where they want you working at 7 a.m., I warn my students that my mental capacity hovers at 40 percent until 9 a.m.
I’ve always been this way, even when I was 16. Coffee helps. But being awake and moving is the only real solution. By 11 a.m. I will talk your ear off (about woodworking). And I’ll go until midnight – until I pull the plug on my brain.
I was reminded of all this today because I had to buy a turntable. My old 1970s-era BSR finally crapped out for good. I tried some of the new turntables that have flashy electronics but few mechanical amenities (you want me to change the belt to go from 45 to 33 rpm like on a drill press?). I have not been impressed.
So I went to the local used stereo store where I’ve been shopping for 23 years. I’m not an audiophile. Vinyl is just the way I prefer to consume music. So I told them I wanted to spend $200 or $300 on a turntable. And they said: That’s not possible.
All the vinyl enthusiasts have scooped up the old and excellent turntables.
“So what have you got?” I asked.
“An old BSR,” he replied. “It might last you another 30 years.”
It looked like my old BSR with its fake wood-grain stickers, but this one is a tad fancier as it has pitch control. An upgrade.
I paid the guy (it cost almost nothing) and took it home. I plugged it in and turned it on.
You know the drill. I walked away.
Now I am on my fourth album, fine tuning the tone arm so it will neither skip nor wear out my old records, some of which I’ve owned since 1986 (R.E.M.’s “Chronic Town” on blue vinyl for one).
I know that Britt Daniels of “Spoon” sings “Don’t buy the Realistic.” But honestly, in this day and age, you should probably buy the Realistic.
— Christopher Schwarz