Sometime Saturday evening, with an assist from numerous reminders all across the media, most folks in Athens will take a few moments to wander through their homes, changing the clocks on their walls, their microwaves, their stoves, their coffee makers, their vehicles, their whatever, in advance of the 2 a.m. Sunday arrival of Daylight Saving Time.
That won’t happen, though, with one of the community’s iconic timepieces, the four-faced clock that graces the top of City Hall, just under the building’s distinctive curved green dome with an eagle perched atop it.
Until sometime Monday morning, the City Hall clock will be slow by an hour. That’s when Keith Lunsford, the county government electrician whose duties include keeping the clock in synch with Daylight Saving Time and Eastern Standard Time, will climb into the building’s cupola and bring the clock forward an hour.
In the fall, when clocks across the United States are moved back an hour as the country moves to Eastern Standard Time, Lunsford’s job is an easy one.
“I can just turn it off for an hour,” he said.
The spring, though, presents a challenge, as Lunsford has to remove a part of the clock’s motor and turn its gears manually to advance the time showing on the clock faces.
“That makes me a bit nervous, but I haven’t messed it up yet,” Lunsford said Friday during a visit to the clock cupola.
When City Hall construction was completed in 1904, the clock operated on a system of weights, like a giant grandfather clock. At some point in the intervening years, the clock was switched to run on electricity, but its mechanical workings remained much the same. The clock mechanism was manufactured by the Seth Thomas Clock Company in Thomaston, Conn., on March 15, 1904.
The cogs on the clock’s gears move almost imperceptibly slowly, driven by a two-revolutions-per-minute — that’s right, 2 rpm — motor. An intersecting network of gears branch out to each of the clocks’ four faces.
“I enjoy taking care of it,” said Lunsford “I keep it well-oiled, but it’s well built.”
“It’s my baby, I guess,” he said. “So I enjoy taking care of it.”