Westclox alarm
Westclox LaSalle alarm clock

I collect alarm clocks but only those with non-luminous dials. I’ll explain later in this post.

Gee that old LaSalle ran great….those were the days! (a line borrowed from the theme song to All in the Family)

I have a small collection of alarm clocks and if something interests me I will buy it. However, my wife found this Westclox Alarm clock at an antique store in Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada). At $20 the price was right.  She brought it home and I immediately liked it. One, because it is solid, well made and attractive but two, it is made in Canada, well, some parts were at least assembled in Canada.

There is no information on which clock parts were made in Canada and which parts were manufactured in the Peterborough plant through the years
Westclox alarm back of clock
Westclox alarm back of clock showing winding mechanism; oftentimes knobs are missing on these old clocks

Westclox LaSalle alarm clocks are often called “Dura case” clocks because the Dura company of Toledo, Ohio (USA) made the cases. The cases are die-cast nickle-plated with a pewter like finish that Westclox called the Butler finish. The LaSalle series ran from 1930 to 1934. This is model 61C.

Patent dates
Bottom of clock showing Patent dates & “Case made in USA by Dura”

Inside is a Baby Ben movement. The Baby Ben movement was first marketed in 1910 and first nationally advertised in 1915. The 5-year delay occurred because the company was going through organizational changes and it took 3 years to improve the reliability of the Baby Ben. The patent date on this clock is 1914.

In 1912 Westclox opened a sales office in Toronto, Canada as part of its policy to establish world markets. Somewhere between 1920 and 1922 production began at the plant in Peterborough, Canada. At that time parts were shipped from the LaSalle-Peru plant for final assembly in Canada. Unfortunately, there is no information on which clock parts were made in Canada and which parts were manufactured in the Peterborough plant through the years. Thousands of Big Ben and Baby Ben alarm clocks were manufactured and sold through the 1920s to the 1970s. In the early 1980s production in Canada stopped.

I do not collect antique clocks with radium dials. Since radium has a half-life of hundreds of years even old radium dials are very hazardous. If working on a clock with a radium dial care should be taken to prevent the inhalation or ingestion of flakes or dust which may contain radioactive materials. In the past several years radium dials have largely been replaced by phosphorescent – or occasionally tritium-based light sources.

Side of alarm clock
Side view of alarm clock

I took the back cover off and found an inscription indicating that it was last serviced in 1955. The markings are unusual because alarm clocks rarely see servicing and once they stop they are simply discarded or used as paper weights.

That LaSalle may have run great at one time but not now. When I pick it up I can hear it ticking but once set it down it abruptly stops. The only good news is that the strike side works as it should. A thorough cleaning is surely required.

A nice piece of Canadian Horological history. I have put the clock in a queue to be worked on once I have completed other projects. In the meantime it will be on display in my front hallway.