Grandfather Clock Do It Yourself Repair – Part I

Grandfather clocks. Amazing pieces of machinery. Very few people understand how they work and even fewer know how to fix one, should something go wrong. Bringing to a repair shop is going to cost you an arm and a leg, so if you have a grandfather clock that’s not exactly running up to snuff and you don’t have the bucks to fix it, then you might want to try to tackle the job by yourself. In order to do that, aside from needing some mechanical expertise, you’re going to need some troubleshooting tips, since these marvels can get pretty complicated. This article is going to cover some of the things to do when trying to fix the old man.

Let’s start with the most common problem of a grandfather clock. The pendulum itself stops swinging.

The first thing you have to do is make sure the clock weights have been pulled up. Sometimes all that needs to be done is simply wind the weights. This can really save an unnecessary repair.

Next check the hands. Are they touching each other? If they are this will stop the pendulum from swinging. If they are touching and the time train is jammed all you need to do is push the hour hand slightly towards the dial in order to clear the minute hand. Just make sure it doesn’t touch the dial.

Next, check to see if the hands are touching the glass. If they are, all you have to do is bend the minute hand away from the glass.

If by some chance you’ve recently moved your grandfather clock (they are very temperamental and don’t like to be moved), the pendulum may have stopped swinging because the case is now leaning at a different angle. To fix this you simply have to start the pendulum swinging and balance your clock. Don’t use a level. Continue testing until the swinging sounds more balanced. This requires a good ear and a lot of patience. Balancing the clock itself may require you to do one of several things.

First you may have to actually place something under the clock on either the left or right side to get the pendulum swinging just right. A bracket or shim will probably do the trick for this.

Second, you may have to actually tip the clock itself towards the wall so that it is slightly leaning. You have to be very careful when performing these tricky manoeuvres. You don’t want to tip the clock too far in either direction or back. The clock may fall too far off balance and spill to the floor. Trying to catch one of these falling monsters is not easy so care is needed.

In the next article in this series we’re going to continue with troubleshooting techniques to figure out just what is wrong with the old man, including running too fast or slow, weights not falling, chimes out of sequence and others. By the time we’re done your grandfather clock should be as good as old.

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