How to Maintain Grandfather Clocks

Written by max stout
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How to Maintain Grandfather Clocks
How to maintain a grandfather clock (grandfather clock image by Paul Moore from

Maintaining a grandfather clock is one of the responsibilities of ownership. While the more technical aspects of grandfather clock maintenance such as the removal, dismantling, and thorough cleaning of the movement should be left to the professional clock technician, there are important procedures that can be done by the owner to preserve and protect their investment. Situations and circumstances are different within households and the individual grandfather clocks, however most clock owners can perform specific maintenance tasks in one hour with a minimum amount of tools and materials.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Clean cotton cloths
  • Newspaper
  • Furniture polish spray
  • Glass cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Circular bubble level

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  1. 1

    Open the front access panel of the grandfather clock.

  2. 2

    Stop the pendulum from moving by placing a hand into the path of the swinging pendulum bob while holding the cotton cloth. Do not allow your bare hands to touch any of the brass parts of the pendulum.

  3. 3

    Remove the weight canister on the left from the chain or cable hook (whichever applies) in which it is suspended using a cotton cloth.

  4. 4

    Wipe the brass weight canister clean with the cloth and set it on newspaper.

  5. 5

    Remove the middle weight canister, clean it and place it to the right of the previous weight on the newspaper.

  6. 6

    Remove the remaining weight canister on the right from its chain or cable hook, clean it and place it on the right side on the newspaper. The weights must be in the same order on the newspaper as they were suspended in the clock case. This is important as the weights are different according to their individual function.

  7. 7

    Remove the pendulum from the grandfather clock case by gently lifting its hook from the pendulum suspension rod hole. Use cotton cloths to handle the pendulum while removing it.

  8. 8

    Clean the pendulum by wiping carefully on both sides with a cotton cloth in each hand and place on newspaper.

  9. 9

    Spray a small amount of furniture polish onto a soft cotton cloth and wipe the wooden interior parts of the grandfather clock case.

  10. 10

    Clean the glass side panels (if applicable) and the glass of the front access door with glass cleaner and paper towels.

  11. 11

    Move the grandfather case away from the walls and clean behind the case and the area beneath it.

  12. 12

    Remove the grandfather clock bonnet or crown from the case. These are generally free of screws or bolts and can be lifted off or they may slide off from the rear of the case. This will allow greater access to the movement and the remaining interior area for which to clean.

  13. 13

    Clean the wood area surrounding the movement with a cotton cloth and a small amount of furniture polish. Remember to spray the polish onto the cloth before wiping wood parts. Avoid getting any spray polish onto the brass parts of the movement.

  14. 14

    Wipe the entire backside of the grandfather clock case with a cotton cloth and furniture polish.

  15. 15

    Replace the bonnet or crown back onto the grandfather clock case.

  16. 16

    Place the grandfather clock back into its proper wall position. If the grandfather clock case was resting on carpeting, be sure that its feet are in the exact same location.

  17. 17

    Place the pendulum hook carefully into the pendulum suspension rod hole. Be certain to use cotton cloths to handle the pendulum while installing and to avoid any twisting of the pendulum during this process. Do not set the pendulum into motion after securing it onto the suspension rod.

  18. 18

    Place the right weight canister back onto its respective chain or cable hook and gently release it after any slack has been taken up. Do not allow the weights to be dropped while attached to their chains or cables. Always handle the weight canisters with cotton cloth.

  19. 19

    Install the middle weight canister onto its chain or cable hook.

  20. 20

    Place the remaining weight canister on the left side and secure to its chain or cable hook.

  21. 21

    Place a bubble level directly below the pendulum and check the case for level. Adjust the feet of the grandfather clock case if necessary to bring the case into level side to side and front to back. Remove the circle bubble level from the clock case.

  22. 22

    Set the pendulum into motion with a gentle swing of the pendulum bob. Do not push on any other part of the pendulum and do not allow the pendulum bob, the round lower part of the pendulum, to impact the side panel or glass. Always perform this function with a soft cotton cloth.

  23. 23

    Turn the minute hand of the grandfather clock gently counterclockwise until the correct time is set. The chimes will automatically reset themselves in 2 to 4 hours.

  24. 24

    Close the front access door of the grandfather clock.

Tips and warnings

  • Have your grandfather clock serviced and lubricated according to the manufacturer's recommendations. In the case of antique grandfather clocks, it would be prudent to consult with an experienced clock technician regarding the proper servicing cycle.
  • Use a helper if necessary to move grandfather clock cases to prevent injury or damage.

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