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How to Repair a Grandfather Clock

Grandfather clock repair does not always need professional watchmakers. You can take care of some of the common problems with some simple troubleshooting tips.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani Nov 18, 2018
Grandfather clock and other classic items are a great addition to any home or office. They provide special grace and grandeur to the room. Commonly known as tall-case or long-case clock, the origin of this unique clock dates back to 1670, by William Clement, an English clockmaker, but the name grandfather clock was given much later in the 19th century.
Different names are used to designate the clocks according to their heights, e.g., a granddaughter clock is less than 5 feet tall, while a grandmother clock is more than 5 feet tall. The tallest of them is the grandfather clock, measuring more than 6 feet in height.
The unique feature of this clock is the pendulum. The pendulum is attached below the clock face inside the body tower. It is quite heavy, which is why the clock body is made long enough for supporting its weight. The frame of the clock is made up of wooden material, carved with decorations and markings.
Majority of the models are configured with a sound system to signify time after every hour or fractions of hours (say half an hour). As with any timepiece, malfunctions develop with this type of clock too. In such cases, trying to troubleshoot the problem on your own will save both time and money.

Repairing a Grandfather Clock

Before you try your hands at fixing a grandfather clock, go through the user manual provided to you. Based on working mechanism, there are two types, viz., 30-hour movement and 8-day movement.
The former unit is cheaper and requires daily winding to make it function properly, whereas the latter type is more expensive and needs winding only once a week. If you have an antique model (more than 50 years old), it may be difficult to repair on your own. Here are some do-it-yourself (DIY) tips for grandfather clock repair:

Fluctuating Time

If sometimes your clock shows the correct time and sometimes not, adjust the level at which you have placed it, as a slight inclination in the balance may cause fluctuation in the timing. Try several level positions and check whether the pendulums are swinging in a proper manner or not.

Incorrect Time

The most common complaint with a grandfather clock is indication of wrong timing. This is probably caused due to misalignment of the weight. Check the markings (left or right) in the weights and alter according to the mentioned side. Once installed in the correct position, the clock will show right timings.

Slow or Fast Time

It is not unusual for a grandfather clock unit to run very slow or very fast. In most cases, the underlying cause for this problem is the bob of the pendulum. Expose the pendulum and manually swing the bob up and down. If it is too tight, loosen it slightly (not too much) with the help of a screwdriver.

Pendulum Not Swinging

If the pendulum is not swinging, the causal factor is interlocking hands of the clock. Open the face glass and examine the hands in the clock's face, and you can consider separating them from one another. Then, adjust the alignment of the weights for trouble-free working.

Weights Refuse to Fall

Most grandfather clocks have 3 weights from which they derive working power. The weight on the right side operates the chimes, the left one operates the hour strike, while the one at the center operates the time. All 3 weights drop equally when the clock is working without any trouble. If they are not falling equally though, the clock will need servicing.
The slightest amount of dirt or grease is the most common cause of this problem, and the weights will need to be removed and serviced properly in order to get the clock up and running again. Slightly pulling the right weight with one hand and turning the minute hand in a 90° angle will make the chimes start working again for a short while.

Chimes Out of Sequence

The chimes go out of sequence many times for a variety of reasons. In such a case, you can readjust the time and let the clock run for an hour or two, after which the chiming will catch up on itself. If the chimes do not catch up even after a day of working, then the minute hand is in the wrong position.
In such case, move the minute hand by 90° angles until the clock chimes again. Leave the clock in this position and unscrew the nut that holds all the hands in place. After this, remove the minute hand, reposition it to the correct hour, and secure the nut back in place.
Try these tips for repairing a grandfather clock, and hopefully, you will not have to visit a professional clock repairing center. For any replacement, you can purchase spare parts from supplier companies. Understand all the parts and components properly before trying any of these tips though, to ensure that you do not damage the clock.
Last but not the last, oil application and regular maintenance should be followed to ensure the longevity of this classic clock. In case you face problems in troubleshooting the malfunctions, it is better to hire a watchmaker.