Saving Time Daily

Back in the days when I worked for a living, the concept of Daylight Saving Time posed an unusual challenge twice a year at the Golden Gate Bridge. Think beyond the idea of sleeping in for an extra hour, or getting up 60 minutes earlier than the day before. Think about your clocks.

Did you reset yours last night before you went to bed, or are you doing it during the day today? Alarm clocks, kitchen clocks, wall clocks, mantle clocks, wristwatches; Clocks on thermostats, microwave ovens, stoves, dashboards—OMG, the car(s)—and time clocks for sprinklers.

At the Golden Gate Bridge District offices we had all of the above clocks and more (over 50). Guess who got to reset all of the clocks twice a year? That’s right, the Electric Shop.

Every Fall and Spring the Swing shift electrician would spend a few hours going into every office and shop with a ladder and adjusting the time ahead or behind by one hour. Once a year all of the batteries in all of the clocks would be replaced. Experience taught us that a AA battery lasted just over a year in a clock and that it was easier to replace all of them, once a year, rather than onesy-twosy-at-a-time over the course of several months.

The Graveyard shift electrician had the most important clock to adjust, the one on top of the Toll Plaza roof canopy. This clock is a double-sided beast that is eight feet in diameter with lighted numerals on each side. A drive shaft syncs the motor-driven clock hands on one face to the hands on the opposite side.

The procedure in the Spring is for the electrician to turn off the neon-lighted numerals and advance the time on the clock by one hour. This is accomplished at 01:58 in the morning by using a small control panel on the side of the clock. At 02:00, the neon-lighted numerals are turned on and the Toll Plaza is in sync with the rest of the country. Spring Forward!

The procedure in the Fall is even easier. Rather than advancing the time on the clock by 23 hours, the electrician just turns off the lights on the clock and shuts off the power to the clock motor at 01:00. An hour later he returns to power up the clock and the neon lights. Fall Back!

I don’t miss this former part of my life one bit, but I have to be honest: Day or night, the view at work was fantastic.

  15 comments for “Saving Time Daily

  1. March 13, 2016 at 11:54 AM

    Makes me tired just reading about it, Allan. We have only a few clocks that needed to be reset and of course our phones and computers reset themselves. My watch is still on yesterday’s time, because I always have to check the instructions to see which buttons to push in what order to change time. Pulling the stem out and turning was much easier. 🙂 Love your neon clock, BTW.



    • March 13, 2016 at 5:43 PM

      Thanks, Janet. The first couple of years the automated Toll System was in effect were dicey. It crashed while the electrician was on the roof setting the clock. Talk about shifting priorities!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. March 13, 2016 at 11:49 AM

    Very interesting. Thanks!


  3. March 13, 2016 at 8:57 AM

    I know and love that clock. Every time I see it now I’ll think of you turning it off and on. Fun essay.


    • March 13, 2016 at 5:40 PM

      Thanks, Carol. Climbing inside to work on it is like something out of an old Buster Keaton movie.

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 13, 2016 at 10:48 PM

        The ones with the wonky ladders? I can see it. Must be glad it’s in the past.


      • March 14, 2016 at 9:02 AM

        Yes, I am glad to have it in my rear-view mirror.

        Liked by 1 person

      • March 14, 2016 at 2:20 PM

        I bet you were in a lot of headlights. Hehe


      • March 15, 2016 at 6:24 AM

        I was just that, literally, on some nights.


  4. March 13, 2016 at 7:57 AM

    Absolutely love your neon clock image. Would love to know more about its history, where it’s located, yada yada yada, if you have any details.


    • March 13, 2016 at 5:32 PM

      Hi, Jann. Funny you should ask. I have been kicking around the idea of a post on the clock and wondering if anyone would be interested. I will gather my thoughts and put one together in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. March 13, 2016 at 7:53 AM

    Thanks for sharing a bit of the historical facts of that iconic place that filled your days with a treasure trove of memories.


    • March 13, 2016 at 5:31 PM

      Thanks, Sally. I loved every minute of it—some more than others.


  6. March 13, 2016 at 7:31 AM

    Now this is something that I am sure most people don’t even consider in a place like the GG, Allan. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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