Clock Repair

How To

Oil your Clock:

Set Time:

Move the minute hand forward to the correct time.  The hour hand will move as each hour is changed.  Allow each chime to happen before continuing the movement of the minute hand.  Always forward the minute hand and do not move backward.  You can always wait on moving the minute hand until the correct hour occurs, then set the correct minute.
Lower the pendulum bob to go slower, raise it to go faster. Many clocks have time adjust shafts which lower and raise the bob from the front. With time adjust shafts, turn in the direction indicated about one turn each try. Do not force. All clocks can be adjusted to keep accurate time. Raise pendulum to increase (+) the speed, or lower pendulum to decrease (-)  the speed.

Leveling your Clock:

Clock too slow or fast:

 All mechanical clocks should be level, both front to back and side to side. Use a bubble level to measure the left-to-right alignment of the clock. The left-to-right alignment affects the beat of the clock and is thus critical for it to keep the correct time.  Use a bubble level to measure the front-to-back alignment of the clock. This alignment is important in preventing the pendulum from resting on the clock's bell or its back wall. Shim any unevenness. Alternatively move the clock to a level location that is vibration free from heavy foot traffic and slamming doors that can bring it out of alignment.


Antique wind-up clocks are a piece of history from a time before automation and electricity. Made of fine brass and intricate wheel mechanisms, these clocks must be wound at least once a week to keep time. As the wheels move inside, they can become covered in dust and film that may make the clock sluggish. Cleaning and oiling the clock at regular intervals are essential parts of clock maintenance. If possible use synthetic clock oil.  A particular danger when oiling a clock is creeping. Oil can move from moving parts onto other parts, damaging those parts that ought not be oiled. Your oil should be thick enough so that it does not move too much when applied. In addition, the climate and temperature will affect clock oil's properties.  Test your oils creeping potential before applying it to the inside of your clock.  With age, the clock oil will solidify and become more of an abrasive rather than a lubricant. The oil ends up being this sticky tar like substance and creates wear on the movement.

How to Properly Wind Old Clocks With Keys:

Insert the clock key into the opening on the clock face. The left opening controls the strike on the half-hour, and the right opening controls the time. A third opening controls the strike on the quarter-hour if your clock has this opening. Turn the key clockwise or counterclockwise. The key makes a clicking noise when turned in the correct direction Rotate the clock key slowly until it begins to get tight. Insert the clock key into the additional openings on the clock face, turning it clockwise or counterclockwise until the clock is completely wound. Move the minute and second hands on your  clock  clockwise to set the time if your clock stopped before you could wind it.


If the winding procedure above is followed, then a clock in good operating condition cannot be over wound, there are probably other reasons it will not run. Many people have been told at some point in their life that a clock can be wound too tight, and that probably extends to a situations where a clock that is badly worn may not run when it is fully wound. If your clock has not been serviced in many years, is fully wound, and it will not run or you cannot get it to tick, then in all probability it needs service.  However, very old clocks the spring wear could cause problems winding the spring too tight.

Repair weights on a grandfather clock

First, determine what kind of grandfather clock you have. In order to figure out the proper placement of your

grandfather clock weights, you'll need to determine the type of grandfather clock you have. Generally speaking,

grandfather clocks can be classified as either modern or antique. For example, all grandfather clocks manufactured by

Howard Miller, Sligh, or Ridgeway are considered "modern" because they were all manufactured within the last 50

years or so, and were fitted with modern German movements made by the Hermle, Urgos, or Kieninger companies. Be

aware that the following weight placement rules are for "modern" grandfather clocks, and may not be the same for

antique American, English, or Continental grandfather (tall or longcase) clocks!

What is the purpose of the grandfather clock weights? Each weight provides the motive power necessary to operate the time, chime and strike trains of your grandfather clock. The weights simply store the energy that you exert when you either pull the chain or crank the lever, that raise up the weights. You are truly the power behind your grandfather!  My grandfather clock weights look the same, so how can they be different? While the brass weight shells of your grandfather clock are equal in length and diameter, and may look the same, they all contain a lead or steel insert which may be of different heights. The resulting difference in weight means that you must be careful when hanging your grandfather clock weights. Will improper weight placement adversely effect my grandfather clock? Yes, because the time, chime, and strike trains of your grandfather clock were designed by the manufacturer to be powered by a weight of an exact number of lbs. For example, if you hang a weight that is too light on the chime train, the chimes will run slow, or perhaps won't run at all! On the other hand, if you hang a weight that is too heavy on the strike train, the strike will run too fast, and result in movement damage and eventual failure! Help! I have no idea which weight goes where on my grandfather clock! Don't feel alone, because many grandfather clock repair persons don't know for sure themselves! Grandfather clock repair secret: Look on the bottom of each weight. If you luck out, you will find a letter of the alphabet printed, or stamped on the weight. The letter "R" means the weight belongs on the right side. The letter " L" means the weight belongs on the left side. And the letter "C" means the weight belongs in the center. Remember, it's right or left as you look at your grandfather clock, not right or left from your grandfather's view. You can now hang your grandfather clock weights correctly, but be skeptical if you find hand written letters on the bottom of your weights. They may or may not be correct, so I would suggest that you read on just to make sure you get it right! The "general rule" to use when hanging unmarked grandfather clock weights. If your grandfather clock is equipped with a wood stick pendulum, hang the heaviest weight on the right side chime train as it needs more power to run all of the independant chime hammers. The other two equal and lighter weights should be placed in any order on the left side strike train and center time train. It seems there is always an exception to the rule, and here it is: If your grandfather clock has a lyre pendulum with a pendulum bob of 6.5 inches in diameter or more, then place the lightest weight on the left side strike train, and the other two equal heavier weights on the center time train and the right side chime train in any order. Remember, it's right or left from your view towards the grandfather. Your grandfather clock repair problem of mixed up and out of order weights should now be solved!
View video below for setting clock beat:
How to set your clock beat A clock is in beat when its ticks and tocks are even....tick...tock...tick...tock..., and is out of beat when they are uneven...ticktock...ticktock...ticktock...or tick...tocktick...tocktick... When a clock is out of beat, either it won't run at all, or it will run for a bit and then quit. There are two ways to put a clock in beat. The first, and simplest, is to tilt the clock sideways, one way or the other, and listen for the beat to even out. When the beat is even, prop the clock to stay tilted that way. Now it will run, but it will look funny tilted. The second way is to adjust the crutch to one side or the other, until the beat is even. The crutch is the rod that extends down from the pallets —the things that rock back and forth. The pendulum rod passes through either a loop or a forked foot at the end of the crutch. If the crutch is a simple rod or wire, it is adjusted by bending it to one side or the other. If it attaches to the pallets with a friction joint, it is adjusted by holding the pallets still with one hand, and shifting (pushing) the crutch right or left on the friction joint. Which way to tilt it? Rich Jones has formulated a simple rule, known here as Arjay's Maxim: Tilt her till she ticks with pride Then adjust the crutch toward the high side First, use the tilting procedure to make the beat even. Note which side is the high side. Now, straighten the clock so it's vertical, and adjust the crutch toward the side that was the high side. How much to adjust it? Trial and error. Adjust the crutch, then start the pendulum swinging and listen to see if it's in beat. If it isn't, repeat the procedure. If it goes out of beat the other way, you adjusted it too much: adjust it back a bit. Generally, in two or three tries it will be in beat so it runs AND it will be level, so it doesn't look funny. Can I turn the hands backward? This is a tricky question and the answer depends on the model of your clock and when it was made. In general, it is best NOT to turn clock hands minute hand backward unless your manual specifically states it is ok to do so. Be careful! You can severely damage your clock if you turn the hands backward and your clock is not designed to do so!  The hour hand can be moved either way without any problem.  It only has tension on the hour shaft. What determines the rate of my clock? The length of the pendulum determines the rate your clock runs at. Moving the pendulum bob up or down using the nut at the bottom will adjust the rate of your clock. There is a nut on the bottom of the pendulum that moves the pendulum bob up or down. Twist the nut to the right and the clock will run faster, twist the nut to the left and the clock will run slower. The basic rule of thumb is 1-turn of the nut per minute per day. For example, if your clock is running 2 minutes fast turn the nut on the bottom of the pendulum to left 2 full turns. Then set the clock hands to the correct time and test the clock for one day. If the clock is then 1 minute slow, twist the nut 1 turn to the right and adjust the hands of the clock to the correct time. Repeat this process until the clock keeps time to within 2 minutes per week. How to move Grandfather Clocks? Always wear gloves to protect the finish on all brass parts.  Your hands have an acid that will tarnish the brass. Now, remove the weights and be sure the weights are marked (left, center, right).  This ensure the weights are put back on correctly.  Next remove the pendulum.  Be careful and not damage the pendulum suspension spring. Now, the case and movement can be moved without problems.  After the move, be sure to level the case before put the pendulum back on and then the weights.  You are now ready to enjoy the clock in the new location. Definition of Grandmother and Granddaughter Clocks Grandmother Clocks A grandmother clock is considered a longcase clock that was 6’ 3” tall or less. If a clock is very slim, spring-driven, has a dome top and an 8” or less square or arch brass dial, (many of the movements in this type of clock tend to play chimes) I will definitely class it as a grandmother clock even if sometimes it is slightly over 6’3”. However if the clock is weight driven, has a dome top or swan necks, is more substantial in stature and defined grandfather shape, and has a 10” dial, It will sometimes class it as a small grandfather clock even if it is less than 6’3” tall. The standard grandmother clocks tend to have been made in the 1920’s and 30’s and vary between 5’4” and 5’9” in height. This is the height that I find to be most popular. Granddaughter Clocks Any clock less than 5’2” tall is considered to be a granddaughter clock. Generally, because most of them were made after 1930, the cases and are not normally of high quality and many of them tend to be veneered on plywood. The veneers used are normally oak, mahogany and walnut. You will sometimes see them in solid cases, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule. They were not expensive clocks when first made, and so a lot of outlay in their manufacture was prohibitive. The vast majority of them have round, electroplated silver dials, with numbers that are painted on rather than engraved. They are still not expensive clocks, and I often think they are possibly undervalued, and may come into their own one day. Grandfather Clocks with Moon Phase The moon dial is designed to show the shape of the moon as it appears in the sky, the number alongside it being the lunar date. The numbers on the dial are of the Lunar Calendar and NOT the calendar date. A lunar month has consistently twenty nine and a half days in every month and these are usually lettered in Arabic (English) numerals. The Full Moon always occurs on the 15th day of the Lunar Calendar. If it were a full moon today, the image of the moon on the dial would be centered below the 15 on the dial. There are two moons on the dial and it makes no difference which one is under the 15. Grandfather clock moon dials consist of a round disk displaying two pictures of the moon. A one half rotation of the disk occurs every 29.5 days which is one lunar cycle. If you have a Grandfather Clock with moon phase, follow these instructions. To set moon dial, apply slight pressure with your fingers to the front of the moon dial. Rotate the moon dial Clockwise until the moon is directly below the number 15 on the dial. (See figure 5).  To find moon phase click this site: Traditional Moon Dial on a Grandfather Clock If the moon dial will not rotate, wait 6 hours and try again. Never force the moon dial as it should move easily. It may be in the 3 hour cycle where it is moving the dial…wait a few hours and you should be able to easily move the moon phase dial: 1) Using an almanac, lunar calendar or the chart to determine the date of the last full moon. 2) Position the moon dial so the moon is under the 15 on the dial. 3) Count the number of days past the last full moon on a calendar. 4) Turn the moon dial Clockwise one click for each of the number of days past the last full moon. The moon dial is now set and will indicate the proper moon phases as long as the Grandfather Clock operates continuously.   longcase clock A longcase clock, also tall-case clock, floor clock, or grandfather clock, is a tall, freestanding, weight-driven pendulum clock with the pendulum held inside the tower or waist of the case. Clocks of this style are commonly 1.8–2.4 metres (6–8 feet) tall. The case often features elaborately carved ornamentation on the hood (or bonnet), which surrounds and frames the dial, or clock face. The English clockmaker William Clement is credited with the development of this form in 1670. Until the early 20th century, pendulum clocks were the world's most accurate timekeeping technology, and longcase clocks, due to their superior accuracy, served as time standards for households and businesses. Today they are kept mainly for their decorative and antique value. What Happened to the old movement? With age, the mechanical clock movement’s oil solidifies and becomes black and sticky. By the time 20 or 30 years go by, the oil has solidified and is creating wear on the movement’s brass plates. If you look at your old clock movement, you will see holes in the brass plates where there are small pivot arbors sticking into these holes. These pivots are what the gears of the clock ride upon and as the pivots spin in the solidified oil, this makes the holes oblong instead of round. With the pivot holes oblong, the holes are pinching the pivots and creating resistance in the gear train. With the solidified oil and the pinched pivots, the clock will eventually stop working or chiming. Why is it necessary to have my clock movement oiled? In mechanical devices with moving components, oil acts as a lubricant to help prevent friction and wear. Over time, the oil must be replenished. The frequency of oiling depends upon several factors, some of which include humidity and temperature controls and cleanliness of the environment. Based on these factors, oiling should be performed every 2 to 5 years. Can I adjust the chime volume of my mechanical clock? No, the volume of the chime, strike, melody or "tic toc" sound is not adjustable in a mechanical clock. Can the volume of the ticking or "tic toc" sound be changed? No, the volume of the "tic toc" sound cannot be changed.