Moving hands of time

Published 8:05 pm Friday, March 12, 2021

For the last ten years, Floyd Gardner had the job of setting the four clock faces at First Presbyterian Church forward each spring and setting them back each fall.

He does not have to physically move the clocks, but he said it is a lot more complicated than just pushing a button. He said each clock face runs on its own motor, and while there is a button for daylight saving time, it has never worked any time he pushed it.

“I have stopped trying because I have tried so many times,” Floyd said. 

Each clock face has to be set individually because they each run on their own motor, he said. He makes the adjustment for daylight saving time on Saturday afternoon so he does not have to set the clock at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, he said.

It is easier for Floyd to set the clocks forward than it is to set them back, he said. It will take about 10 minutes to when he changes the time Saturday.

“It will get in that fast set mode and the minute hands will move,” Floyd said. “It won’t move as fast as the second hand, but you can look up at it and tell that the speed is definitely increased on it. When we fall backwards, you can’t really set it to go backwards. I have to go in and shut it off and come back in half an hour or so and get (the clock) back on track.”

He said he used to work for the Aluminum Company of America in Vidalia, and he knew several people who were members of the church. He began working in maintenance for the church in 2008, and he was able to learn how to fix the clock by talking to reps, and consulting the Internet for help.

By doing so, he saves the church money because a company called Verdin in Ohio makes the clock’s equipment. He said for them to drive and do maintenance it would cost a lot of money. There is a person who comes and services the clock once a year, he said.

The motors that run the clock are actually set in vats of oil to keep the gears lubricated, he said. All of the old sandbags, ropes and pulleys that used to run the clock before electronics are still housed in the clock tower, he said, if the church ever wanted to convert to the traditional method.

He said he does not have to climb into the bell tower itself to change the time, but he does have to brace himself for when the bells ring on the hour.

“You look at what time it is and you keep it in the back of your mind what time it is,” Floyd said. “When it comes time for it to strike it is going to hit that bell and you need to not be startled by it. I always keep an eye on the time, but it will startle you a little. It is very loud if you are up there by it.”