Planning to move your grandfather clock to a new location? Consider hiring a professional for the job. Here’s a good reason why. Not only can your clock topple over during a move due to its height and weight distribution, but its precision parts and delicate workings can be easily damaged because of improper preparation and transport. Finding a professional clock maker who offers long distance moving is your best choice. If you can’t find one, then your next best option is to hire a professional moving company experienced in dismantling, packing, and transporting grandfather clocks. They can also reassemble the clock for you.
But, if you’re someone who prefers the do-it-yourself approach, and you have the means and muscle to tackle the job, here are basic guidelines to follow:
The natural skin oil on our fingers can tarnish the brass finish on a clock’s weights, pendulum, and clock face. To prevent this, wear cotton or vinyl gloves whenever you’re handling the brass parts.
2. Wind the clock, stop the pendulum, and remove the weights.
There are two ways to do this depending on whether your clock is cable wound, or chain wound:
Cable Wound Clocks
If the clock weights are held by cables, roll up some newspaper into three loose cylinders about 2″ in diameter. Then wedge each cylinder above each pulley between the cables and wind up the weight so that as it reaches the pulley. The newspaper will be squeezed and held tightly. This maintains the cable tension on the cables and keeps them from loosening or tangling during transport. Two-inch squares of Styrofoam blocks can also be used instead of newspaper. Hold the newspaper or blocks steadily as you wind. (Never wind a clock without the weights being installed.) Next, carefully stop the pendulum from swinging and gently remove each weight. As you do, use masking tape to label each one: right, left, and center. Weights might look the same, but they don’t all weigh the same, and later when you re-install them, you’ll need to know their proper order. Wrap each weight separately in soft, protective padding to protect the brass casings from denting.
Chain Wound Clocks
If the clock weights are held by chains, wind the weights halfway up. (Never wind a clock without the weights being installed.) Then, thread some thin wire through the chain links just where they protrude below the movement and secure the wire tightly. The chains need to be snug so that they won’t come off the sprockets. Carefully stop the swing of the pendulum and remove the weights, labeling each one as described in Cable Wound Clocks above. Secure the chains by bunching them up and wrapping them in newspaper. Use tape or a rubber band around the bundle so that they can’t come loose and possibly damage the finish. Wrap each weight separately in soft, protective padding to protect the brass casings from denting.
3. The Pendulum
Delicately remove the pendulum by moving it up slightly to unhook it. Be careful not to use force. The pendulum leader must not move around during transport and would need to be secured without putting a lot of pressure on it. A good way to do this is to loosely gather a few sheets of newspaper around it so the leader is loose but not able to move.
4. Secure the chime rods
Chime rods could break off if they shake during transportation. So, secure them with tape, foam, or another suitable cushioning material so the rods can’t move in any direction.
5. Secure other fragile parts
If your clock has glass shelves or a decorative finial on the crown, remove these parts and pack them securely.
6. The Movement
Before your clock is transported, make sure the movement is securely situated inside the case. If your clock has a movement that’s simply set on two sideboards inside the case, remove the movement, and pack it separately. If you have a tubular movement, remove the tubes and pack them separately.
Once your clock is prepped (steps 1 to 9) secure the doors by tying string around the case. Then, wrap the clock in a heavy blanket and tape it around securely so that it won’t shift. As an added precaution, tape cardboard panels directly onto the areas of the blanket that cover the glass surfaces of the clock case.
8. Transport the clock in an upright position
During transport, make sure the clock stands upright and is secured by straps. Laying it on its side or face down can cause the movement and dial to break away from the seat board.
9. What to know before setting it up
a. If the clock is being moved during cold weather, allow it to reach room temperature at its destination before setting it up. Freezing temperatures cannot only cause oil in the pivot points to gum up, but the delicate metal components in the movement can contract and restrict its operation.
b. Use the original manufacturer instructions to setup your clock. Ensure that the pulleys are properly engaging the cables and the chains are properly engaging the sprockets.
Last of all, now that you’ve done all the work, sit back and relax and enjoy your clock.