Troubleshooting a Grandfather Clock

By Brian Adler
Grandfather clock with encased glass.

Grandfather clocks are a popular form of tall clock. Time is regulated by a pendulum that hangs inside a long case on the front of the clock. Three weights control the movement of various gears and wheels. Many grandfather clocks are highly decorated and feature moon dials and calendar wheels in addition to the usual clock face. With so many moving parts, grandfather clocks can at times prove temperamental.

Pendulum Will Not Swing

A common problem with grandfather clocks is a pendulum that will not swing. Grandfather clocks are extremely sensitive to any changes in position. A grandfather clock that has been moved might have been knocked off balance. Check the balance of the grandfather clock by swinging the pendulum from side to side, and listening to the sound of the ticking. If the ticking sounds uneven, tilt the clock slightly to the left or right. If the ticking still sounds odd, tilt the grandfather clock slightly forward, or backward. Once the proper position has been achieved, hold the position by placing a small wedge, or similar object, beneath the appropriate part of the base of the grandfather clock. Alternatively, the clock can be secured to the wall at a slight angle using a brace. Just make sure that the brace is strong enough to hold the clock in this position.

Fixing Moon Dials

Sometimes, the moon dial on a grandfather clock refuses to turn. To fix this problem, open the door, or panel, by the clock face. Find the click spring. The click spring is located just behind the moon dial itself. Pull the click spring back about a half inch from the teeth of the moon dial, and then allow it to fall back into place. The click spring should snap into its correct position, and the moon dial begin turning. Do not force the moon dial if it does not turn. Try setting the hands of the clock back three hours and moving the moon dial forward. If it still does not move, professional assistance may be required.

Chimes That Chime at the Wrong Time

Adjusting the hands can also help with clocks that do not chime at the correct time. At the precise moment of the wrong chime, stop the pendulum and write down the time of the incorrect chime. Remove the minute hand from the clock face. Behind the minute hand is a small, raised area that is called the hand bushing. It is near the shaft hole. Use pliers to turn the hand bushing to the correct time chime. Re-attach the minute hand to the clock. Reset the minute hand to the correct time by pushing it counterclockwise. Do not reset the hour hand, or push the minute hand in a clockwise direction.

About the Author

Brian Adler has been writing articles on history, politics, religion, art, architecture and antiques since 2002. His writing has been published with Demand Studios, as well as in an online magazine. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Columbia University.