Grandfather clocks are one of the most common and collectible types of old clocks. Most stand over 6 1/2 feet tall. The grandfather clock is a variety of long case clock. The long case contains a pendulum that regulates the movement of the gears. A system of weights slowly moves the hands that tell the time. Many grandfather clocks sport beautifully decorated faces and moon dials. With so many parts, it is inevitable that some will require replacement.
Clocks That Won't Tick
Before hunting down replacement parts, it is best to determine if the grandfather clock is actually broken. Grandfather clocks are exquisitely balanced machines. Moving a clock from one location to another may prevent the pendulum from swinging. Swing the pendulum, and listen to the sound of the ticking. If the ticking sounds uneven, gradually adjust the entire clock to the right, or the left, while continuing to listen to the sound of the pendulum. Leave the clock in the spot where the ticking sounds most even.
Pendulums will not work properly if they are the wrong length, or if the bob is incorrectly adjusted, or missing. The bob is the weight at the bottom of the pendulum. Move it up and down to get just the right swing. Grandfather clock pendulums also come with one or two nuts. The two nut models keep better time. If the pendulum has two nuts, do not use the second nut to lock the pendulum in place. Simply ensure that the second nut is not touching the first. Pendulums, bobs, and nuts, can be purchased from sites such as Black Forest Imports, Timesavers, ClockParts.com and Murray Clock Craft.
Weights and Movements
The weights are another essential part of the grandfather clock. Clocks contain three weights. Any one, two, or all even all three, may fail to descend. The weight of each is carefully adjusted to the clock's specific movement. A slight change in the weight may correct a problem with pendulum swings. In other instances, the retard bar may not be regulating the movement of the striking hammers. New weights and movements can be purchased from Black Forest Imports, Timesavers, and other on-line sites.
The clock dial contains the hands and face of the grandfather clock. Many models feature additional dials that record date or moon phases. Each of these features works in tandem with the gears inside the clock movement. Many also trigger chimes that work with an additional weight. If the problem is with the gears, the movement may need to be replaced. If the problem is with the visible moving parts, new faces and dials may also be purchased from grandfather clock parts dealers.
Problems with Chimes
Chimes can present their own problems because of their extreme complexity. Many have choices of up to 3 melodies that can be played on the hour. Chime, strike, and time trains are interconnected with a series of wheels, levers and hammers. Many newer clocks have front wheel arbors that can be released separately from the spring. This makes it easier to fix snagged cables. The arbor is a kind of crankshaft. In other models, these pieces may be concealed inside the mechanism. Klockit, and other manufacturer like Hermle and Kieninger offer complete chime mechanisms.
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.