How to Select Grandfather Clock Weights & Pendulums

Written by wade shaddy
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How to Select Grandfather Clock Weights & Pendulums
(Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Grandfather clocks come in different sizes: grandfather, grandmother and granddaughter, the latter being the smallest. A clock's size is a key factor when choosing replacement pendulums and weights. Because of the wide range of diameter and aesthetic differences in pendulums for these clocks, be careful when selecting one. Also, even though weights may look the same, they have a particular function and can’t be interchanged without first matching up.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Rubber gloves

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  1. 1

    Measure your clock. If it's 12 inches or less across the front of the case, it's a grandmother or granddaughter clock. These won't accommodate large-diameter pendulums. If it's at least 6 feet tall, it's a long case clock.

  2. 2

    Pick up one of the weights and look at the bottom. It should be marked left, right or centre. If you can’t find the mark, place the heaviest weight on the right (as you face the clock) and the next heaviest in the middle.

  3. 3

    Find your chain length. Lay down one of your reference weights, stretch out the chain and compare the length. If the chain length differs more than 2 feet, your weights are from a short case clock and won't work. Get long case weights.

  4. 4

    Hang the weights. Thread the chain through the respective gear, keeping the weight 3 inches from the bottom of the case. Each chain has a brass ring that can open; attach it to the chain on the slack end of the chain where it enters the gear. This stops the chain from coming off the gears and confirms that your weights won't bottom out.

  5. 5

    Measure the pendulum. Your replacement should be within 1 inch of the original in length and very close in diameter. If you don’t have a reference pendulum, measure from the clock movement to the bottom of the case. Get the longest pendulum that will fit this measurement without contacting the sides of the case when swinging.

  6. 6

    Start the clock by giving the pendulum a gentle swing. Listen to make sure the pendulum isn't making contact with the case. Now take a reading of the time the clock shows. The next day at the same time, take another reading. If your clock is slow, turn the dial on the bottom of the pendulum counterclockwise a few turns to raise it; this will speed up the clock. Mark the time, check again the next day and adjust accordingly.

Tips and warnings

  • Antique clock components need to be special-ordered.
  • Follow manufacturer recommendations when selecting new components.
  • Wear rubber gloves when handling clock parts. Oils from your skin can damage the brass finish.

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