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Grandfather Clocks: How to Set One Up In Your Home

A grandfather clock lends an aura of elegance to any room. If you’ve bought one but are not sure how to set it up so that looks and works at its best, here are several quick tips to help you out. * A grandfather clock should always stand on a level surface. This sounds elementary, but failure to ensure this can affect its functioning adversely.

When setting it against the wall, sometimes you’ll find that the carpet is thicker towards the wall because of grip rods. Or perhaps there’s a skirting board where the floor meets the wall and so you don’t have a level surface.

If the case leans a little in any direction, compensate for it by using pieces of wood, carpeting or other material so that it stands vertically.

You can even screw a long case clock to the wall, provided it stands upright and doesn’t lean backwards.

* When fastening the pendulum, remember that most pendulums are not uniform — they have distinct front and back sides. The front of the pendulum is usually the flat side of the bob. It’s the side that’s highly polished.

The pendulum should hang free from all sides of the case. If it touches the backboard or makes a scratching noise, it may mean that the case is leaning backwards. You’ll need to compensate for it.

* Most grandfather clocks are weight driven rather than spring driven. After you hang the weights in the clock, ensure that they stand free of the pendulum at all times. They should not touch the pendulum or any part of the casing as they fall.

* Once everything is in place and the clock is wound up, start the pendulum swinging. Listen carefully for a steady tick-tock sound. The sound should be regular and evenly spaced.

If the tick-tock is not regular, you have some adjustments to do. The case may be leaning a bit in one direction or another. Use pieces of wood or carpet pieces to make adjustments. Keep testing until you get a steady tick-tock sound.

It may take a bit of experimentation to find the right direction to lean the case in and to figure out the amount by which it should be adjusted.

* When moving the hands of grandfather clocks to set the time, don’t move them backwards more than a few minutes. And never move them backwards past the number twelve.

You can safely move the hands forward. When moving the hands past the number twelve, wait until the clock has finished striking the hour before moving on.

* Some grandfather clocks come with moon phase and / or day count discs. When you adjust these discs, wait until they are unmeshed from the clockwork mechanism. Usually, they are meshed with the clockwork between 5 pm and 7 pm or between 11 pm and 1 pm. So avoid adjusting the moon phase and day count at these times.

Your clock may work a bit differently, so experiment to find out when the discs are unmeshed from the rest of the mechanism before making adjustments.

* As your long case clock runs for several days, you may find that it is gaining or losing time. To set this right, you need to alter the length of the pendulum.

To slow down the clock, increase the length of the pendulum. Usually, you’ll find a nut at the end of the pendulum bob. When you turn the nut downwards, the bob will move downwards thus increasing the pendulum length. Move the nut upwards to make the clock go faster.

These simple tips should help you set up your grandfather clock correctly. If necessary, get help from the store you purchased the clock from. Enjoy the look of elegance and grandeur a grandfather clock adds to your home!

About the Author

Peter Strides is a connoisseur of clocks. He has written on long case clocks, the history of pendulum clocks, details on how grandfather clocks work and more.

Written By: Peter Strides

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