My Clock Keeps Stopping: Part Two – Grandfather Clocks


If your grandfather clock stops working, here are a few things you can check before calling a clock repairman.

1. Is the clock wound?
Forgetting to wind a grandfather clock is the most common reason it stops working. All grandfather clocks are powered by the gravitational force of its two or three weights, which drop slightly with each swing of the pendulum. When you wind the clock about every 8 days, the weights are lifted back up so they can begin their drop again and keep your clock going.

2. Are the hands touching each other?
Have a close look at the hour and minute hands to see if they’re contacting each other. If they are, gently press the hour hand slightly back toward the clock dial, making sure it doesn’t touch the dial. If the hands still touch, slightly bend the minute hand toward you. This should create the needed clearance space.

3. Are the hands touching the glass?
Check the minute hand to make sure it’s not touching the front glass. If it is, gently push it toward the dial a slight amount so that it no longer rubs against the glass. Be sure it doesn’t touch the hour hand or the dial. Check the second hand as well to make sure it’s not contacting the glass. Even a small amount of friction against the glass will stop the clock.

4. Has the clock has been moved?
If you have recently moved your grandfather clock, it may be leaning at a slightly different angle than it was before. This can change the gravitational force on the weights and bring the pendulum to a halt. To remedy this, first start your pendulum swinging and listen for a steady, even rhythm. The silent space between the tick and the tock should be even, and last the same duration of time. If it’s not, carefully tilt the clock a little to the left, then listen to the tick tock beat. If it’s still uneven, tilt the clock to the right and listen again. You may also have to tilt your clock backwards and forwards until the beat sounds even. Make sure that the pendulum isn’t touching the chime rods toward the back of the clock or touching the weights toward the front. The best way to check this is by viewing the pendulum through the lower side window of the case.

When the tick tock sounds even, adjust the levelers at the bottom of the clock or use a bracket to secure the clock at that angle to the wall. There is no need to use a level tool to make sure your clock is absolutely perpendicular to the floor. Just let your ears decide by listening for a steady, even tick tock, even if the clock appears to be slightly uneven.

5. Does the clock need to be secured to the wall?
Check to see if the clock case shifts position when it’s touched, or when there are floor vibrations from foot traffic or a nearby road. If so, the clock needs to be fastened securely to the wall behind it.

6. Is the moon dial stuck?
If your clock has a moon dial or calendar disc, try moving it slightly to see if it is free or frozen. If it’s frozen, move the minute hand back about five minutes and check the moon dial again. If it’s still frozen, move the minute hand back a few hours and check again. When you’re done, reset the clock time.

7. Are the cables or chains free?
Check the cables where they wind around the barrels to be sure they’re not looped over themselves. If your clock is chain driven, make sure the chains aren’t tangled or caught on anything.

So, if you’ve found any of the above problems and have fixed them yourself, congratulations!


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