It was close to thirty five
years ago when my father made his last of his
original all wood Ball Clocks.
On October 30th, 1985 He
passed from a heart attack, And that was the
end of anyone making the Ball Clocks.
But I am
excited to say, The Ball Clocks are BACK! I am
building them again!
I think some history of the
clock and it's inventor is needed and really has
not been available.
my name is Joe.
I am the son of Harley Mayenschein,
the inventor of the Idle-Tyme Rolling
The worlds first clock that told time in
this new and unique way.
Little did I know when I was growing up, that
something like this clock would someday come out
of the mind of this man. But in afterthought
anyone that knew Harley, should have known that
something UN-usual would come out his thought
processes. Like all men that think outside
box, you never knew what to expect.
One of my earliest
memories of what my Dad did just for a hobby
was his unique and sometimes quite bizarre
He gave them away as awards and
or trophies for like golf tournaments.
they were all over the house all the time.
were the things he invented just for the
fun of it. And MANY times he was just
way ahead of his time, and never
thought of mass producing them. I can
think of two items from when I was
almost too young to know any
better. In the days of like 1965
or so the days when small one transistor
radios Like seen at the left, remember
them? Well, he built from parts
from wherever he worked at the time, a
electronic memory toy. It was
about the same size as one of those
transistor radios. And it had four
lights across the top, and under the
lights there were four button switches.
Say numbered 1,2,3,4. It ran off
batteries so you could take it
anyplace. Well you would
turn it on, and one of the lights would
flash once. You'd hit the button under
the light. Then two
different lights would flash, and you'd
hit the same sequence of the lights but
the buttons, if you did it
right then it would add another
light to the sequence. And this would
continue on and on until you messed up
with the buttons sequence. Then it
would beep and flash the number of
sequences you got right.
Does this sound familiar?
Remember I was playing
with this in 1965.
what in the late 70's or so,
what came out?
SIMON! As seen above!
In the late 60's and or very early
70's my mom did tons of
baby-sitting to help make ends meet.
This is of course before the days of
all the regulations in baby-sitting
there is now. We had people even
dropping kids off in the middle of the
night when they had odd shifts to
work. It was not uncommon for me to
come home from school to find a dozen
"Rug Rats" running amok all over the
house. Don't even ask me on what the
place smelled like with 90% + of these
kids being toddlers! Well Harley
also doomed to live in this
madhouse, where kids were here
on a rotating basis 7 days a week 24
hours a day. So to keep from going
insane, he came up with this crotchety
old sailor dude looking guy.
Sadly I don't have any pictures of
this guy. But he was something like
the old guy at the left here.
Except he was sitting on a old like
shipping crate. And he had the
exaggerated characteristics of the
older carvings he had done so many
years before. In the back of the crate
was a cassette player where you could
insert a taped story, and as it played
this old guys mouth would move
matching the sound coming out from the
cassette story being played. The
little "Rug Rats" stayed and listened
to this old guy for hours! Again
we just assumed it was something my
dad did and thought nothing special
about it. But by now of course
you by now know what eventually came
out in 1985. Teddy Ruxpin
Harley was working for a company
that had him design the electronic
parts of the Anaheim Angels New
scoreboard for their newly
project Harley had, I'm too young to
remember how or why he got the task, but
he devised a bacon cutting machine for
Oscar Meyer. Oscar Meyer had a problem
with the production line when it came to
packaging bacon after slicing it.
They needed to be as close to 1 pound,
(Or whatever the desired weight was)
They would cut as many slices as needed
to get close, but then to get the
exact weight that was desired someone
had to manually add small pieces of
bacon right at the end to make the
weight just right. How many of you
remember those small chunks of bacon in
the back of the pack? I know I
do. Well Harley devised the
machine that as the bacon was getting
cut, it weighed every slice as the pack
was being cut. And it continuously
adjusted the thickness of the slice ever
so slightly, so that when it finally
would come to the last slice to finish
the pack the weight was exactly where it
needed to be.
one I'm the most foggy about.. I'm
positive on one part, but not too sure
if Harley also designed the other part
What it is, he did for Gerber baby
food. You all know the lids of the old
glass jar baby food jars, that had the
pop up top lids, where they had
this depression in the center of the
lid, and if the seal on the jar was
still good it would be indented
in. And when someone would open
the jar you would hear this
"POP" of the lid popping
up. Now I do not know if he made
the lid or not, But I do know for sure
that he did make a sensor that would
detect any jars on the production line
that had this pop up thing not being
depressed, in other words the jar did
not seal correctly.
The machine he made detected
these jars and took them out of the
greatest memory of his achievements
was when he was working at Motorola.
To hear he was responsible for most of
the design in the radio that one day
would echo in the ears of millions
being. "One small step for man, One
giant leap for mankind! To know
that my very own dad made it possible
for man while standing on the moon was
able to talk to us on the earth. And
to watch the landing on our Quasar TV
set "with the works in the drawer"
that he also helped design and was
able purchase one for us with his
employees discount card.
Well this was to
be the history of the clock
right? Well here we go.
I'll Start off with a pretty
good story that my sister wrote once
describing the very early years.
Dear reader of this
letter... this is the best way I can
think of on how to write what I'd like
to say. Even though I'm not certain
what I'm going to say for sure.
Perhaps this is a situation where an
old woman looks back in time on her
life and the major situations that
touch a persons life that changes
everything? I mean everyone has their
own stories and experiences where it's
like some supreme intelligence (I
named mine God) reaches down an shakes
up everything, where after the dust
has finally settled, we look at it and
say...oh dear now what?
So mine was when the dust
had settled I found myself back in my
parents house with two children in tow,
and all three of us sleeping in my old
bedroom. But it wasn't too bad
since my daughter was the first
grandchild and my dad sure did
think she was awesome.
So one day she walked into his little
tinker space of his cosmos ( My Dad
had a small workbench in the corner of
my parents bedroom as seen here to the
Well his granddaughter walked in
with a bunch of gum balls in her hand
and asked him to count them for her.
So he lined them on on his work
bench and placed her on his lap and he
began to count them out loud one at a
time. And the light bulb above
his head lit up, And that was how the
ball clock was invented. Yes it was a
event that simple and profound.
Harley made the first clock and gave
it away for a prize of a local bowling
tournament. And so many people saw it
and asked if he could make them
one. The one became two with
those two became four more and
so on, and so on, and so on...
Three months after that he was laid
off from his job at Motorola because
the economy was in the dumpster.
He also found while job hunting that
he was, "To knowledgeable", yet to old
to take a chance with.
Employment was all but impossible to
find. So out of necessity of food, and
a roof, Idle-Tyme Company was born.
The first employee was named Joey. And
the Idle-Tyme company moved out from
the bedroom, and into the garage that
we finished off to be a habitable
workplace as seen below!
Joey's pay was food and
a roof over his head. He was my
dads son who still lived at home
since he was still in high school.
So after school my father taught
him the fine art of clock
building. And please remember this
was way in the beginning when the
clocks wood was quarter inch
square runners, the tracks looked
like small rail road tracks. Yes
even before the any equipment was
purchased. No planner, no band
saw, or, well they had a small
table saw, a dremil, some exacto
blades, wood glue and black paint.
I became the head
of the parts department, making small
parts that they would then take and
put the clock together with.
I was a waitress, so at least the
bills were being paid somewhat, and I
didn't mind making the parts since I
got to sit down and rest my feet and
think of my recent divorce, and things
like that. It wasn't to much later
when one of Joe's friends started
working for Idle-Tyme.
It wasn't long until it grew to
the point of Idle-Tyme turned into
full time and overtime jobs with the
need to move into larger areas to hire
more people and more machinery. The
business was growing at an un expected
rate. So fast that we stayed in this
new building only for 6 months or so.
And again Idle-Tyme was on the move!
We ended up in a industrial park just
outside of Woodfield Mall still in
Schaumburg, Illinois. This building
seemed perfect. Great
access, plenty of room,
everything we needed. We thought this
was to be Idle-Tyme's home for a LONG
time to come. Little did we know
how wrong we were!
All was well, we had about a dozen
people working for us at this
time. Sadly I again do not have
one single picture of this place. We
were just too busy building
clocks. Well we were
chugging along and one day there
is a visitor in the front office. An
inspector for the city of
Schaumburg. He states he is the
Fire safety Inspector and wants to
make sure we are up to codes and all
that. Of course we agreed, and
had him do his inspection.
finished he said all looks pretty good
except for one thing. He wanted us to
install a sprinkler system in the
building. This all made sense we
were dealing with wood after
all, with sawdust, lacquer
finishes, and all that. It only made
sense and would no doubt help in our
insurance costs even though we were in
a rented building. Then the
other boot dropped. He started
giving us the specifications of this
system he wants us to install.
He states he wants 3/4" lines to each
sprinkler head, Ok, typical
install. Fed with one single 2" line
running down the center of the room.
Again a typical install, nothing
un-usual. Except for one
thing. Now remember this guy is
the Cities "Official" Inspector and
engineer. He is the guy that decides
if you are up to code or not and he
decides what is needed to make it up
to "Code". We all agree
that this is indeed a typical
we then ask Ok where do we get the
water to supply this sprinkler system?
And his answer is just connect it to
the main line coming into the
building. We tell him
uhhhh, the main is only a 3/4"
main. And his incredible
reply? Yeah? We say,
ummm you're only gonna get 3/4"
water from that main,, and again his
answer? Yeah? we state
that ummm, we have all those
heads being supplied by 3/4" water
main? he says yeah.
we say ummm, your only gonna get
3/4" water and it's not going to be
enough to supply all those sprinkler
heads! He says yeah you
will you have the two inch
line supplying the 3/4"
lines that go to the sprinkler
heads. You'll have plenty of
water. We tried to explain to
him, that you could have a 6"
pipe after the 3/4" main, or
even a 6 foot diameter pipe after that
3/4" main. And that all you are going
to get is the 3/4" flow of water.
just could not understand this, and
kept saying NO! WITH THE BIG PIPE YOU
WILL GET PLENTY OF WATER!
After several hours of discussion,
drawings, diagrams etc. he
finally says install it as I
specified or I'll just shut you
down, it's that simple.
You have 30 days to install it! And
walks out the door!
Well that did it for Harley. He
says we are moving again. And to
someplace where people do not care, or
are at least willing to listen to
reason. He grew up near Bangor
Wisconsin, and said that that's the
area we will be going and the hunt was
on! It didn't take too long to
find the perfect place. It was a
small property of about 6 acres or so.
That had this GIANT old farm house on
it. That was plenty large enough for
all of us to live in. My mom and dad,
as well as Joey and myself and my two
kids. It was great! Then
out behind the house was this GIANT
old two story tall Quonset hut.!
This building was
used for many things in it's history
and you could tell from what was
left behind! From upstairs a huge
and heavy thick steel backdrop for a
target shooting range. to
downstairs all the oil and grease
stains on the floor from when it was
a shed to house road equipment and
snowplows and such.
Well it was just back to the three
of us building clocks. Dad,
myself and Joey. But of course we
had to make the building habitable
for the shop for all it was is the
metal shell, no insulation or
anything just the bare metal walls
etc. After that was completed
clock assemblies began!
Idle-Tyme grew, and grew Fast again
as before. More room, and planers
and band saws, and parts
departments, shipping department,
office, taxes, payroll, bigger
building, more equipment, And then
Joey turned into Joe and got
wasn't too long before we had
hired a large crew! We were up to
about 50 people or so in less than
clock shop crew grew by leaps
and bounds, at peak production
we had to be making close to
sixty clocks a day! And people
were even asking for custom
made ones of exotic special
woods from all over the world.
. Zebra, Paduke, rosewood,
Mahogany to name a few.
Celebrities from all walks of
life wanted a custom made
Clock! One of the
funniest was Tommy Bartlett of
the famous Tommy Bartlet's
Water show in the Wisconsin
Dells! He came right to
the factory and spent the day
watching the clocks being made
and ordered several for
himself as well as gifts. Then
continued to "Hang Out" with
Harley, and show him off to
all his friends, somewhat Like
"Look who I know, The
inventor of that fantastic
Rolling Ball Clock!"
Personally when he came to
visit I was hoping he'd let me
take a spin in his awesome red
sports car, but never got a
chance to. He even put one of
the clocks in His Tommy
Bartlett Exploratory, In those
days it was called Tommy
Bartlett's Robot World. And
the clock is still there today!
We bult custom
ones with different
balls, like a golf ball
clock, base ball clock,
etc. But the best had to
be the Bowling Ball
The owners of blue Bunny Ice
Cream also owned a Bowling
Alley In Green Bay Wisconsin.
They requested us to make one
that uses Bowling Balls! I
have to admit that was a BLAST
TO BUILD!!! We had to
construct it outside the shop.
there was just not enough room
to do it inside! Here is
a Picture of the finished
clock with my daughter
Melissa, this is her standing
by the Bowling Ball Clock.
All was happy
in the world of the
Idle-Tyme Ball Clock. And things were
going just fine until the
outsiders entered and said,
if you give me I'll give
you, and like a cancer it
made the people grumpy or
sad, or confused, until one
day in late October when the
clock stopped just long
enough to...make us all cry.
The passing of Harley from a
Heart Attack. And that was
it. It was over. We all got
off the rollar-coaster ride
and said to ourselves, never
again... But time marches on
tic, tic, tic..
That little girl in the
photo above standing next to
the Bowling Ball Clock is 46
years old now, the very same
Girl that asked her
grandpa so many years ago to
count her gumballs for
her has now turned 46.
Tyme sure does slip away.
Anyway....here it is 2007
and my baby brother
correct that,, "Joe"
e-mailed me saying he lost
his job, what can I do? I
don't want to loose
everything I've worked so
far for. And I
thought...well I can give
him a temporary fix of one
house payment, but my
husband and I are also
feeling the crunch of gas
prices one minute, food
prices the next, since we
are also living the life so
many americans are presently
And then I thought
about how many times I would
go to that popular auction
site (E Bay) and say, my
stars..Look at the price
that that old clock sold
for!. And to think what we
sold them for in the
beginning. So one day when
Joe wrote about him going
for his job searches and how
no one is hiring...I
said...if you make only one
clock a week...and he kind
of laughed and said...heck,
remember when I would make
ten clocks a day? And I was
a goofy kid not taking
anything to seriously?
You see my dad invented the
clock, but my brother made
them, and fine tuned them.
When dad was out there
wheeling and dealing. Joey
was sitting at his work
bench putting the clocks
together. There is not a
single person on this planet
who know how to actually put
a ball clock together better
So dear reader...this is
chapter two, or the
reincarnation of the ball
clock. Included in this
letter (or on this site)
will be links of interest,
links of history, links of
links, and even a link where
you can order a clock...
Drop him a E mail message if
you want one.
Patrice Ann Gunville
Daughter of Harley