How do pendulum clocks work?

Written by china zmuida
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How do pendulum clocks work?

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In order to operate, pendulums require a weight attachment at the end of them. With gravity, the pull of the pendulum will move from side to side at an even rate. The path at which the pendulum swings is called the arc of the pendulum. As the pendulum continues to swing, the arc becomes smaller due to the drag of air surrounding it.


Pendulums that use weights must be wound in order to work accordingly. As the clock is wound, the weight is pulled up by a wire or chain. While the clock is being wound, the chain or wire wraps around a drum. Energy is released as gravity pulls the weight down.

How It Works

The clock operates when the drum turns a succession of gears known as the train. The gears of the train turn the clock hands. Since the gears are of different sizes, they turn at different speeds. The minute hand will move more quickly than the hour hand. In order to work correctly, the pendulum, with an escapement, keeps the weights of the clock from turning too rapidly. The escapement is a device that is connected to the train (an escape wheel) along with a piece called a verge. The verge has hooks that keep the escape wheel from turning out of control. The movement of the pendulum regulates the speed of the clock's hands and how it tells time.


As the pendulum moves from side to side, the verge rocks and releases the escape wheel. Because of this, the movement of the pendulum slows down the fall of the weight. The continual falling of the weight makes the pendulum swing until the weight reaches the bottom and is no longer able to swing. The pendulum will not swing until the clock is rewound, and the process begins anew.

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