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“It wasn’t the same color but it fit. And I snapped it on and it worked. I thought, ‘Hey, this is fun.’ “

‘Something going all the time’

He had a few detours before settling down with clocks.

In 1959, he and a younger brother went to live with an older brother in Birmingham, Ala., while attending a mechanical drafting school.

But upon returning, Steiger couldn’t find a local drafting job. For the next decade, he instead picked up woodworking, building cabinets and furniture in his detached shop.

A new world opened when a friend showed him a disassembled clock.

“He brought it to me in a cigar box and wondered if I could put it together,” Steiger says. “Never seen one like it before. It was something new. But I thought, ‘Here’s a good challenge.’ “

Once done, he began building wooden clock cabinets, installing new movements sent by mail.

“And every movement I got, I had to rework. From shipping, they were out of balance,” he says.

“I had to make a lot of adjustments on them. That’s what really got me interested, when I had to put them in good condition.”

Though he loved wood, and still does, his woodworking trailed off. Unable to compete with hobby craftsmen and cheaper department store furniture, he looked elsewhere for a livelihood.

“I thought I better get into the clock making,” he says. “And it was very interesting.”

He built his shop, with its rough-hewn sides and beams, out of a smaller, older structure. In 1973, he opened for business.

At first, he also dabbled in wristwatches - until battery-powered quartz models came along and killed demand for mechanical repairs.

Now and then, he has plunged back into woodworking, making the occasional clock. One standout was an ornate oak grandfather clock, made to celebrate the nation’s 1976 bicentennial celebration, that featured a brass plate inscribed with the Declaration of Independence and 13 carved columns in honor of the original colonies.

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