MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you’re using the Minneapolis city hall clocks to get you where you’re going, you might be running a little late this week. That’s because the clock’s giant steel hands will stand still through Friday.

Engineers will spend a couple of days dangling by ropes as they rappel along the four clock faces searching out any cracks or defects.


It’s all part of a major renovation effort to keep the hands of time marching on into the foreseeable future.

The clock engineers are a lot like a high-tech Spiderman, dangling by ropes in search of potential problems.

The work, done by the company WJE, is aimed at heading off defects in the four-sided, 120-year-old city hall clock.

Believe it or not, there’s no better way to do the work.

“The clock face is about 400 feet off the ground, so it is difficult, other than [by rappelling] down the side of the building, to see the clock face,” Erin Delaney, of the Municipal Building Commission, said.

It’s one of the largest and most iconic public clocks outside of London’s Big Ben. So before the commission can develop a repair plan, it has to find the priorities.

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“We are aware of some cracks and some potential rusting, but we don’t have the level of detail that we need to repair it and restore it right now,” Delaney said.

In 2007, the original geared movement was replaced with more modern, more accurate inner workings.

The next phase will tackle the clock’s porcelain faces and steel frames, in addition to giving it a more subtle back-light on all four sides.

That’s why they’ll remove neon lighting from the clock hands, which never fit with the clock’s historic character.

“Part of the goal of this project is that it is up there for another 120 years,” Delaney said. The aim is “to both preserve it and [do] any repairs that need to be done.”

Workers will wrap up the outside work on Tuesday before spending two more days examining the inside structure.

If all goes well, it should be back to keeping correct time on Friday.

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