Repair of Grandfather Clock: A guide

antique mahogany grandfather clock

Do you struggle to adjust the speed and chime of your grandfather clock? Is it out of sync? If your antique timepiece doesn’t work the way it should be, then maybe it’s time to get it repaired. However, if you’re out of budget, you may find it costly. But if you’re a DIY-er apt for a challenge, fixing it on your own can be an excellent way to save some money and gain experience in repair. It can be very challenging, but this guide can help you troubleshoot the problems in your classic timepiece. 

How to Adjust the Speed of Your Grandfather Clock

The length of the pendulum determines the speed of your grandfather clock. Most of the newer timepiece uses a stable metal pendulum. But the older ones typically use wood stick pendulum which can also keep good time if the temperature and environment are stable. 

So, to speed up the grandfather clock, the trick is to move the pendulum disk up and push the bob up. But if you need it to run slower, you should turn the nut to lower the bob. 

  • The longer the pendulum is, the slower the grandfather clock.
  • The shorter the pendulum is, the faster the grandfather clock.

Here’s how to adjust the pendulum disk to alter the speed of your grandfather clock.

1. Start by checking how far off the time is over the 24 hours then set the correct time using your phone. Watch your phone time as it proceeds to the next minute on whatever hour it is on and place the minute hand to that location.

2. After 24 hours, see the clock if it is slow or fast. Then, move the nut either up or down depending on its speed for about a full turn for a minute a day.

3. After another 24 hours, recheck the clock if it is slower or faster then move it again depending on if it is slower or quicker for about 1/2 turn for a difference of around 30 seconds a day and reset the minute hand to the correct time just like the previous step.

4. Finally, repeat the above step until you achieve the pendulum’s correct length and the speed is in-sync. 

What to Do if the Speed and Chimes are Out of Sync

In most clocks can automatically synchronize the chimes after resetting the clock, but if it doesn’t happen, try letting it run for two hours without any obstruction to give it time to correct itself. 

Sometimes, you need to check the clock from time to time for a day or two after resetting the time to make sure it is on time. If you need to make some adjustments, you can do so by turning the small screw under the pendulum to the left to slow it down or to make the speed faster as mentioned above. 

Keep in mind that you need to make tiny adjustments over and wait and check it after a day to assess the grandfather clock’s performance before making additional changes. 

How to Adjust the Chimes of Grandfather Clock

It could also be a problem if your grandfather clock’s chimes are striking the wrong time, but there’s a quick fix for that. 

1. Count the number of strikes when the clock strikes the next hour.

2. Move the to the number on its dial that you’ve just counted when the clock chimed. The chime should be now in-sync with the hour count, but the dial can be wrong.

3. Lastly, set the time on the clock with the use of a minute hand to correct the time to ensure that it is chiming correctly and indicating the right hour. 

During the first hour after completing the process, strange sequences of the quarter-chimes may occur, but it will correct itself after an hour of operation. 

If you’d rather not hear the chime of your clock, you can silence it by flipping the small manual protruding lever located somewhere near the 3 or 9 o’clock positions. You can find it if you open the access door of your timepiece to reach the clock dial. And around the slot, you should be able to see labels that indicate the chime’s names and the word “silent” or “silence”. 

How to Clean a Grandfather Clock

Just like any other furniture that stands still, it can get dusty and dirty over time. You can keep it clean by removing the dust, but it needs to undergo a thorough cleaning at least once a year to prolong its life. It can be tricky to clean its movement, but here’s a step by step guide in cleaning your grandfather clock.

1. If you want to clean your grandfather clock thoroughly, you may remove the pendulum, weights and movement and set them aside and be careful not to tangle the chains.  

2. Start with cleaning the back by moving the clock case away from the wall. If you haven’t removed the movement, make sure to avoid shaking the clock too much when you’re trying to move it.

3. Then, clean both sides of the glass panels with a soft cloth with non-ammonia cleaner by opening the doors. Keep in mind that if you’ve removed the movement, you need to support the case to prevent it from falling due to heavy doors.

4. You may then clean the woodwork using a high-quality wax polish. Apply it every 2 to 3 months using a soft cloth and rub it into the wood. Remember to avoid getting it into any glass surfaces and shaking the clock if you haven’t removed the movement. 

5. Clean the weights and pendulum if you removed them but if not, lightly dust it. If your grandfather clock is a modern one with a lacquer-coated design for superior finish, you won’t have to polish them because a soft dry cloth it can do the trick. 

6. Remove the dust from the batons and face using an ostrich feather duster. 

7. If you have put off the movement, place it and the clock case back into its position securely and make sure it stands squarely. Then, replace the weights and pendulum and restart the timepiece.

8. Lastly, reset the time by moving the batons clockwise. If you have a hard time adjusting it, you can wait until the time indicated in the clock comes before starting it again.

How to Maintain a Grandfather Clock

Many grandfather clock fall victim into poor maintenance practices. 

It can result in different issues that would require more repair works and can be costly in the long run. So, to prevent your timepiece from getting damaged, you need to do a little upkeeping. Here are some tips to comprehend to make sure your clock remains functional for a longer time.

1. Keep it on a Flat Level Surface

Since grandfather clock is designed on a flat and level surface, keeping it at rest is essential because if you tilt it, the pendulum and the weights inside will be thrown away and it will cause pressure on small parts inside the clock.

2. Keep Using the Clock 

Letting you grandfather clock sit on the storage for a long time can cause the metal to turn brittle and the internal lubrication to dry out. Therefore, it would be better to let it operate all the time. 

3. Clean the Clock Properly

Keeping your grandfather clock clean can help extend its life. You may use a soft and non abrasive damp cloth(not wet) when cleaning the exterior of the timepiece and remove the dust. A lightweight vacuum might cleaner might do the trick, but you should avoid blowing instruments to make sure other parts won’t be touched.

4. Lubricate the Clock

It will be beneficial for the clock if you would oil it every two years or whenever it is slowing down. You can buy oil kits from furniture stores that sell grandfather clocks or some upscale clock stores. 

Oiling it requires expertise in taking off the hands and dials for you to access and apply oils on the front of the movement. Lubricating the grandfather clock helps to reduce the friction in it and make the timepiece last up to 20 years or more. 

How to Oil a Grandfather Clock

As mentioned above, before putting oil on the clock, you need to remove the movement or dial first so that you can reach the front plate. Then, you may start to lubricate each intersection of the clock plate and gears and fill the oil sink(a small dip located outside the clock plate) with clock oil half full. 

You may then put oil on the gear and work your way up and complete around 5 or 6 trains. Some models of grandfather clock may need 35 places that require lubrication. So it would be best to check the manufacturer’s guide before oiling your classic timepiece to ensure that you’re not going to miss any spot. 

We recommend using original oil in the clock kits or those recommended by clock repair professionals because using the wrong one can be more harmful instead of being helpful. You may also find it beneficial to ask for a second opinion at a clock repair shop or look at some blog to help you make the right choice.

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