Why does my grandfather clock keep stopping?

Written by rosemary gemmell
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Why does my grandfather clock keep stopping?
A grandfather clock requires careful maintenance. (Oli Scarff/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

An original grandfather clock, sometimes known as a longcase clock, is an often valuable heritage item that needs careful looking after to ensure it remains in tiptop condition. The mechanical parts, hands and pendulum can be sensitive to conditions such as its location and being moved too often. It also requires correct winding and positioning of the hands and weights in order to keep accurate time.

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Position

A grandfather clock should be positioned standing on a flat surface such as an uncarpeted floor. To ensure accuracy of time, it needs to be wedged to prevent it from moving about as this can interfere with the mechanism, causing it to stop. According to horologica, the best idea is to screw the back of the clock casing to a wall once it is correctly set up as this will prevent unnecessary movement from uneven floorboards or carpet.

New location

Before moving a grandfather clock to a new location in a house, it is essential to remove the pendulum and weights first to avoid damage to sensitive parts. Geoffrey Walker Clocks warns that if you need to touch the works of the clock while moving and setting it up, you must wash and dry hands thoroughly first, or wear light gloves like horologists. Any fingerprints left behind can contain natural oils that might cause erosion over a long time, which in turn may cause the clock to stop working.

Clock hands

The minute hands of a grandfather clock are delicate features and need to be handled with care. How to Repair Clocks advises making sure the clock hands do not touch each other, or any glass casing, as this can cause the pendulum to cease swinging and the clock will stop working. If necessary, gently bend the minute hand to avoid contact with the hour hand, the dial, or the glass. It is also essential to move clock hands forward clockwise and never to turn them backwards.

Mechanics

Grandfather clocks come with a variety of winding options, depending on the number of days over which they keep ticking. Check that the weights have been hung correctly and that the pendulum can swing free. According to British-antiqueclocks, you must ensure the clock is wound up and ticking in an even manner or it may cause the clock to stop working properly. Allow the clock to strike each hour and adjust the date if applicable.

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