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So what do you do with clocks?I collect antique clocks. I learned repair and remodeling of them from my father. He got me started in it. Little by little, I’m building my own collection. And it’s something I hope to do when I retire.

When’s that?Oct. 21, 2011. I just re-enlisted on a TDY to Belgium. Unless I make senior (master sergeant), and my wife will have me extend for another two years. My wife is afraid of me retiring.

You said you learned about your hobby from your father. What did he do?My dad did it as a hobby while he was a police officer in New York. He retired and after about 10 years, took full retirement. He had a clock shop in an antique mall in Chadds Ford, Pa. I worked with him in the shop and he would teach me all the fine points …

How do you go about making a clock?A lot of mathematics. First, you have to figure out how large a clock you want. You have to figure out how large you want the pendulum to be, how much you want it to show … It’s an expensive hobby. My father said the way to learn was by doing it the old-fashioned way. I learned gear-cutting by hand. It’s the most tedious thing I’ve ever done in my life. My first one took a very long time. Now I have a machine that makes them in five minutes.

Italy isn’t exactly known for its clocks. Germany, however, is. Have you been assigned there?Six years in Spangdahlem. That’s where I got most of my collection.

How many clocks do you have?Between what I inherited from my father and myself, about 300. We didn’t bring them all with us to Italy. I have about 50 (in Italy), some of them I’m still working on. The downstairs is just wall to wall with clocks. They’re all over the house.

And they all make noise? How does your wife feel about your hobby?She loves it. Unknown to each of us when we met, both our fathers were collectors and clockmakers.

And your kids?I have two sons. They don’t have any interest in it and, at their ages, I didn’t have an interest in it either. I didn’t until I was 30.

Are all the clocks in your home set at the same time?Yes. When we were in Germany, we had it set up so they would sound off one after another. It took 45 minutes for them to finish at midnight. It doesn’t bother me at all. I sleep right through it. I can only hear it when one of them stops working.

Interviewed by Kent Harris at Aviano Air Base.

Master Sgt. James ColyerAge: 48

Hometown: West Chester, Pa.

Title: Clock collector/repairman/maker

Day job: Maintenance production supervisor for the 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy

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