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How to adjust mantel clocks

Updated April 17, 2017

Mantel clocks are small clocks designed to rest on a shelf or fireplace mantel. Newer electric clocks don't need regular adjustments, but traditional mechanical mantel clocks require winding in order to operate and lose time as they wind down. Many mantel clocks also contain a pendulum, which can be adjusted to correct a clock that keeps incorrect time. Proper time adjustment and regular winding keep a mantel clock ticking.

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  1. Wind the clock according to the directions for your specific brand. The clock should be fully wound before you adjust the time. If the clock has a pendulum, set it moving by pushing it gently to the side to begin keeping time.

  2. Test the clock to see whether it keeps time accurately. Set an electric timer for one hour. At the end of the hour, compare the electric clock with the mantel clock. If the mantel clock is keeping incorrect time, it needs adjustment. If it appears to be keeping time correctly, monitor it for 24 hours and compare times again to determine whether it needs adjusting.

  3. Reset the clock by moving the minute hand clockwise until you reach the correct time. Don't move the hour or second hands -- they will move automatically as you adjust the minute hand.

  4. Adjust the timing on the clock according to the results of the timing test. If the clock has a pendulum, use the nut on the bottom of the pendulum to adjust the clock. Turn the nut to the left to lengthen the pendulum and to the right to shorten it. The longer the pendulum, the slower the clock runs. In a clock without a pendulum, use the timing lever in the back of the clock, moving it toward the minus sign to slow the clock or toward the plus sign to speed it up. Make very small adjustments on the pendulum or the lever, because even small changes make a significant difference in timekeeping.

  5. Repeat the timing test and make further adjustments as needed. When the clock is correctly adjusted, it should keep time accurately as long as it remains wound. Some clocks need slight timing adjustments every month or two, while others can go for years without adjusting. Test your clock frequently to determine how long your particular model can go between adjustments.

  6. Tip

    Even with frequent winding and correct timing adjustment, most mantel clocks still need to have their minute hands corrected once or twice a month. This is normal for mechanical clocks, which are not as precise as electric timepieces.

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Things You'll Need

  • Electric timer

About the Author

Denise Howard has been writing since 2004, specializing in home and garden, travel, music and education. A private music instructor and professional accompanist, Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts in music, studying both piano and voice.

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