How to set up a weight-driven grandfather clock

Written by elizabeth sobiski | 13/05/2017
How to set up a weight-driven grandfather clock
The weights on a grandfather clock regulate its operation. (uhr image by Lars Koch from

Weights are a critical component of a grandfather clock; without them the clock cannot function correctly. There are three weights to a grandfather clock, and each one has its own job to do. The left weight strikes the hour, the centre weight keeps the time and the right weight controls the chime melody. The weights are not interchangeable and must be properly hung. They also have to be raised every seven days or the clock will stop. The weights are raised by a crank, often located on the face of the clock.

How to set up a weight-driven grandfather clock
Use a level to ensure accuracy. (level image by Willee Cole from

Determine where the clock will be located. The best place is on a solid surface that is already fairly level. Many clocks have levelling feet to help compensate for mildly uneven floors. Check for level front to back, side to side and upright.

How to set up a weight-driven grandfather clock
The pendulum swings by using gravity and marks the seconds as they go by. (pendeluhr image by Zeit4men from

Put on cotton gloves to protect the brass pendulum and weights.Remove any packing film from the pendulum. Slip the pendulum hook through the slot or over the pin on the pendulum guide. Release the pendulum when it is secure on the pendulum guide.

Make sure the cables on which the weights hang are on the winding barrels. If they are not, remove the pendulum and put them on. Once the cables are on the winding barrels, it is time to hang the weights. Each weight should have left, centre or right marked on the bottom; hang the weights accordingly.

Set the moon dial, if the clock has one. With the gloves still on, apply light pressure to the moon dial on the face of the clock. Turn the moon dial clockwise until it is in the proper location. Check the local paper or the Internet to set the dial to the right phase of the moon.

Set the time by moving only the minute hand in a counter clockwise direction. Moving the hand counter clockwise will keep the clock from chiming on the quarter hour.

Start the clock. Move the pendulum to the far left side and release. After a few minutes the clock will settle into a normal rhythm.

Things you need

  • Small level
  • Cotton gloves

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