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Grandfather Clocks

7 Sandringham Road, Widnes
Cheshire WA8 9HD
United Kingdom
tel / fax: +44 (0)151 4249189
e-mail: john@johnshone.co.uk

The John Shone Collection
A Tradition Of Excellence
Specialist in the buying, selling and renovation of fine antique grandfather clocks for over 30 years


How to set up a grandfather clock

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1.Stand the case in the position that you wish your clock to be in. If there is a skirting board at floor level, it may be necessary to fix to the back of the case a similar thickness piece of wood so that the case will stand up straight and not lean backwards. If the clock is to stand on a carpet, sometimes the carpet thickness against the wall is greater due to a hem or grip rods. It may be necessary to compensate for this by using a piece of matching carpet or wood and placing it under the front feet so that the case stands flat and solid against the wall. If you wish to screw the case to the wall, this can now be done as long as it is standing straight up and not leaning backwards. If it is leaning a little to the left or right, this can be compensated for later on, but only a small amount.

 

2. Placing the works into the case

Before doing this, always check, on every occasion, that the gut lines are still on the winding barrels and have not dropped off onto the winding spindles. If they have, undo them and put them back onto the barrels. It may be necessary to undo the guts from the seat board and take the pulley wheels off, to unwind the gut off the spindles. If this is the case, always remember to replace the pulley wheels before fastening the gut back onto the seatboard.

Place the works onto the case and position in a central situation. Most works will sit reasonably squarely in the case, the edge of the seatboard level with the front and sides of the case, although there can be a small overhang at one side or the other. The works should be just forward enough from the back of the case, to allow the crutch, through which the pendulum swings, to be free from the backboard.

 

3. Hanging the Pendulum on

Most pendulums have a front and back. The flat, polished part of the pendulum bob, should be at the front. If you have had the pendulum sent to you fastened to a piece of wood, the feather or suspension spring, may need a turn to get it correctly positioned on the pendulum rod.

Feed the pendulum through the door in the clock trunk up through the hole in the back of the seatboard, threading the feather or suspension spring through the eye of the pendulum crutch and hanging it between the cheeks of the bar at the back of the clock works. The pendulum should be hanging free from the backboard of the clock case. If it is scratching against the back, the case may still be leaning backwards and a thicker piece of wood will have to be fastened to the back of the case. It may be possible to move the whole of the seatboard forward, but only if this allows the hood to fit on properly. If the case is leaning too far forward, the pendulum rod when set swinging will rub against the seatboard. The case must be positioned so that it is standing up straight.

 

4. Hanging the weights on

Again, it is most important, before hanging on either weight, that you check that both gut lines are on the winding barrels. If they have come off, then remove the pendulum, and put them back on. You may find that one weight is heavier than the other. To start with, the heaviest weight should be put on the going train side. This is the right hand side as you face the clock. This applies particularly to clocks which have a rolling moon or automatum mechanism. If, when you get the clock going, you find that the strike is sluggish, you may change the weights over, as long as the lighter weight will still drive the going train and pendulum. The strike train is the one on the left as you face the clock.

The two weights should now be hanging free from the pendulum at the back and free from catching on the closed door at the front. If they are not, then adjustment must be made to the case so that the weights, pendulum, and door do not come into contact with each other during the eight day fall of the weights.

If you have to work on the case, or dismantle it, try to do this when the weights are easily accessible through the case door. Never wind the weights right to the top and then try to take them off. You may eventually do it, but it will be most difficult, if not impossible, to get them on again

On the winding barrels, there is a tongue-paul that engages the teeth. This is only visible at certain times because it moves round with the barrels.   The one on the strike or left side, can be brought round by making the clock strike. On the going train or right side, it is only visible as and when time brings it round. By lifting the tongue-paul and disengaging it from the teeth, the barrels that hold the gut will be released. This is useful if you need to lower the weights, or the gut has come off the barrels and dropped onto the spindles. By lifting the tongue-paul and pulling on the gut, the barrel and spindle are free and will spin round. The gut will become unwound from the winding spindle and can then be  wound back as normal onto the barrel. Never lift the tongue-paul while the weights are still on, because if you are not holding them, they will fall down into the bottom of the case.

The tongue-paul is kept in place by a spring which rests on it. This spring can sometimes lose its tension, break or become disengaged because it moves in front of or behind the tongue-paul. Never put the weights on until you are certain that the tongue-paul is engaged in the teeth and will stay engaged when the weights are put on. When you are winding the clock, it is the tongue-paul that makes the clicking noise you hear as it passes over the teeth. As soon as you stop winding, the tongue-paul engages in the teeth because of the pressure from the spring.

 

5. Setting the pendulum swinging

The clock should now be ready to go so you can start the pendulum swinging. What you are listening for is a nice steady tick-tock-tick-tock.

If you hear this even sound, the clock is in beat and should keep going.

If the beat is irregular e.g. tick---tock------tick-tock, an adjustment must be made or the clock will stop. This can be done by placing a small thickness of wood, carpet, etc. under one of the front feet to lean the case in the direction which brings about the steady tick-tock-tick-tock beat.

A better method is to bend the pendulum crutch (the thin wire rod that the feather or suspension spring on top of the pendulum, threads through).

By standing in front of the clock and placing your arms either side of the dial, with one thumb at the top of the crutch and one thumb at the bottom, the crutch can be bent in the direction of the bottom thumb. It may only need a small bend to level the clock, so by bending it a little to the right or a little to the left(you will need to alter the position of your thumbs) a nice steady tick-tock-tick-tock  beat will be found when you have this beat, the clock should be in running order.

 

6. Setting the moon or day count

Before putting the hood on, you may have to set the moon phase or day count discs. This can be done by rotating the discs with your finger until the correct position is obtained. This will also have to be done when there are less than 31 days in a month. The day count disc or hand, will have to be moved to the no.1 setting for the first of the month. The moon phase disc should not need re-setting. When moving either of these discs or hand, be careful that they are moving freely and not in mesh with the works and due to be moved by the clock mechanism itself. If they are, you will need to wait until they become unmeshed. Usually, they will be meshed together either between 11 am and 1 pm or between 5 pm and

7 pm., so avoid trying to set either the day count or the moon phase between these times. However, only by trial and error will you learn what times the mechanism moves the hand or discs and what time you are able to do it manually.

 

7.Bell hammer

Sometimes the bell hammer may need adjusting to make it sound harder or softer. This can be done by slightly bending the hammer rod. You may also place a plaster on the bell or hammer to soften the tone. If you do not wish the clock to strike at all, remove the strike weight ie the one on the left hand side as you stand in front of the clock..

8.Moving the hands

If you need to move the clock hands, never move them backwards more than a few minutes, and NEVER at all past the number 12.

When moving the hands forward, always allow the clock to strike the appropriate hour when moving the minute hand past the 12.

 

9.Winding the weights tip

When winding the weights, always leave the weight on the going train, right hand side as you stand in front of the clock, half an inch lower than the striking train or left side. In this way, the clock will always stop running before the strike runs out and the strike will always remain in the correct sequence.

 

10.Gaining or losing

An adjustment will have to be made to the bob on the pendulum rod. Below the bob is a small nut (no, it isn’t me) which can be turned either up or down, thus allowing the bob to move either way. To make the clock go slower, the pendulum must be lengthened so the bob will need to move downwards and to make it go faster,it will need to be shortened and the bob will have to be moved upwards.

 

11.Summer And winter timing

When time  goes forward one hour just move the minute hand forward, remembering to let the clock strike where necessary.

When the time goes back one hour merely stop the clock for one hour and then start it again.