Chain Drive: If your weights hang from chains then it will be necessary to pull the chains (using a cloth or glove to avoid handling the brass chains directly) straight down once per week to move the weights back to the top of the clock and start another weeks run. Never lift the weight when pulling the chain! Contrary to popular opinion, this is not necessary or desired. (See my article on Clock Myths) It is best if the chains are not pulled so far that the top of the weight hits the bottom of the mechanism or the seat board on which it sets. If you do this you are stressing the chains and may very well be damaging the tops of the weight shells as well. It is best to stop with an inch or two to spare. Leaving a little space here also allows for easy removal of the weights should the need arise. If you do not do this you will be unable to remove the weights until it runs down a little. This can be really inconvenient if your clock fails to operate after winding.
If you forget to wind the clock the weights will hit the bottom of the clock and the clock will stop. It is best if you do not let this happen. There is a chance in doing so that the clock’s chime or strike will jam and it will be difficult to restart the clock.
Always be mindful when pulling the chains that the pendulum is not far from the ascending weights. Bumping the pendulum with the weights on their way up may cause you a problem and the cost of a house call to potentially reset a beat or replace a broken suspension spring.
Cable Drive: If your weights hang on pulleys it will be necessary to wind the clock using the crank that came with it. Although it is possible to wind the clock with a key, a crank is the preferred method. Generally it is not possible to wind a clock too high or too tight, but as mentioned earlier, on weight driven clocks it is usually best not to go all the way to the very top. Many of the most modern cable driven clocks will have a special set of gears (Geneva stops) that stop the winding process before there is any possibility of winding too much cable onto the barrel inside. However, these limits are set for the movement only and do not take into count different case styles. This means that the clock may still allow the weight shell to come into contact with part of the case itself. Again, we do not want the weight to go up high enough to hit anything. When this happens we put too much stress on the cable and we will not be able to remove the weight if we need to. It is best to always leave the pulley exposed. Do not wind it so high that you are unable to actually see the pulley.
Special Note: Most cable driven clocks do not allow the weights to drop so far that they hit the bottom of the case. In many instances the weights will stop as far as 12-24 inches from the bottom. What is important is not how far the weights go down but whether the clock runs a week on one winding or not.
What Do I Do When I Am On Vacation: The best thing to do if you are not going to be home on winding day is to simply stop the clock before you leave by reaching in to stop the pendulum from swinging.
Setting the Hands
There are a few basic rules regarding hand setting. These are:
1. Use the minute hand only.
2. Never move the hour hand by itself to set the clock.
3. Never move the minute hand while the clock is chiming or striking.
The minute hand can be turned either direction; clockwise or counter clockwise. If you go clockwise it will be necessary to stop at each quarter hour and let the clock chime before advancing to the next quarter hour. If, when going forward you hear the click at the quarter hour and the clock does not chime then it is okay to move to the next quarter. Bear in mind that depending on how well your clock is adjusted the clock may not chime exactly on the quarter. It may be necessary to move slightly beyond it before you hear the click that releases the chime. If you go counter clockwise, the clock will not normally chime so there is no need to wait for anything; simply go back to the correct time and your done. After moving the hands backwards you may hear the clock chime the wrong chime. If this occurs, it means that it is “out of synch”. For the clocks I am referring to in this manual, the clock will resynchronize itself. It will usually do this within an hour.
So then, next time the time change occurs do not panic. When we “spring” forward simply advance the minute hand clockwise, stopping at each quarter before moving on to the next. When we “fall” back, move the minute hand backwards one hour. It is really that simple. Do not do what so many people do and move the hour hand forward or backward one hour by itself. If you do this the clock will strike wrong until you put the hour hand back where it was.
As nice and expensive as most grandfather clocks are they are not perfectly accurate! This is true because they are temperature sensitive. What runs accurately in the summer will typically not run accurately in the winter unless the temperature in your house never changes. The manufacturers know this is an issue and that is why there is always a way to compensate for these changes by adjusting the pendulum’s length. The means of compensating is done through the use of the regulating nut that is normally found underneath the round brass disc at the bottom of the pendulum. Tightening the nut or turning it to the right raises the pendulum’s disc and will make the clock run faster. Loosening the nut to the left will lower the disc and slow the clock down.
Generally speaking one complete turn will make a difference of approximately two minutes per day. The very specific words in italics in the previous sentence are crucial to understand if you desire your clock to run as accurately as possible. First of all we are talking about a complete turn of the nut, not a twist of the finger. The next important word is approximately. It is impossible to come up with one rule that will apply to all clocks so the phrase “one turn equals approximately two minutes” is a generalization or a starting point. Now we must stress per day. For example, fourteen minutes fast per day is not the same as fourteen minutes fast per week. Fourteen minutes fast per week is only two minutes per day (14 minutes divided by 7 days equals two minutes per day).
Therefore, here is the process you should follow.
1. Set the hands on the clock according to a clock you know is accurate.
2. Set the hands as accurately as possible. For example, there is a significant difference between nine and half minutes after ten and nine minutes after ten.
3. Wait twenty four hours.
4. Determine how fast or slow your clock is by comparing it to the same clock you set it against.
5. Using that information make the appropriate number of turns (according to the rule stated above) of the adjusting nut in the correct direction. Up speeds it up, down slows it down.
6. Reset the hands accurately (using the same clock again).
7. Wait another twenty four hours.
8. Keep repeating the above process until you achieve success. This will generally take several days to a week.
After you have let the clock run a while without regulating you may notice that over the course of time the clock has gained or lost a few minutes. It is important to remember that the clock did not do this overnight but it took several days or more for a small difference to accumulate into that greater gain or loss. You must divide this number of minutes off by however many days have passed since you set it last and adjust accordingly.
Once you have achieved success in regulating your clock you must remember that in a few months you may very well have to regulate again. As the season changes so will your heating or cooling patterns which in turn affect the clock’s accuracy.
Changing the Chimes- Using the Chime Selector
Your clock may or may not give you the ability to change the chime on your clock. Some play the Westminster chime only and cannot be changed. Many of the more expensive grandfather clocks have what is called a “Triple Chime”. This simply means that the clock will play three different “songs”. If you have this feature then there is normally a lever that protrudes through a slot in the dial. 99% of the time this slot or lever will be near the number three. A few have the selecting lever above the number twelve or below the number six. There are also some clocks, normally more expensive ones that have a rotary dial (circular dial) for chime selecting and or silencing. When these are present there are normally two of them toward the top of the dial, one on the right and one on the left. Other clocks have the lever for chime selecting inside the case and can only be reached by opening a side door or removing a panel. These levers are rarely marked.