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Grandfather Clock Tips and Troubleshooting

Are you having trouble with your grandfather, grandmother, or tall case clock? Below are guides on how to troubleshoot some of the issues that you may be having. You can also contact us and we'll do what we can to help you resolve the issue.

Pendulum Swings a Few Minutes and then Stops

There are a number of reasons why the pendulum will stop swinging. The most common and easily corrected reasons are listed here:

Clock is Out of Beat

Often a pendulum clock will stop when it has been moved, bumped or even a too aggressive push to restart a pendulum. It is not broken, only out of beat. This only takes a few minutes to readjust and all pendulum clock owners should learn how as this will happen eventually.

The 'beat' is the tick-tock sound made when the pendulum swings back and forth. If it is a nice, if the beat is not even and consistent, you'll be able to notice the pendulum does not swing evenly and the clock just sounds wrong, It should sound steady and even like a metronome. This is accomplished by having the pendulum swing exactly equal distances from dead center to the left as well as to the right. If a clock is out of beat, the pendulum will swing for a few minutes, then stop even if the clock case is level.

First check to ensure the case is level, especially if the clock has been moved. (see Leveling a Grandfather Clock elsewhere on this page.)


If your clock is of a more modern style, say manufactured before 1950, it will have a self-regulating beat adjustor. Once the clock has been properly leveled try putting the clock into by giving the pendulum as wide as a swing as possible by moving it all the way to one side until it touches the side of the case and then release it. The pendulum may tap the other side of the case but then it will eventually settle into its natural arc. If successful, the beat will sound nice and even once the pendulum is swinging naturally. 

In the event that you have an older movement or a movement that is not equipped with a self-adjusting escapement, we'll be happy to schedule a service call for your clock. 

Depending on the type of movement that is in your clock, yours may look different than the one in the diagram, but they all will have a crutch which will engage with the pendulum leader in some fashion.

If your pendulum leader has disengaged from the crutch, start by removing the pendulum from the pendulum leader. The crutch arm will insert through the pendulum leader about midway above where the pendulum hangs. Take hold of the pendulum leader and gently work to insert the crutch arm through the pendulum leader.

The Pendulum is Hung Incorrectly or the Pendulum Leader is Disengaged from the Crutch Arm

Leveling a Grandfather Clock

Your clock cabinet must be level both front to back as well as side to side or the clock may not operate. Most modern clocks (circa 1950 or so) have a leveler under the cabinet, located close to each corner, that can be screwed in (up) or out (down) to adjustment the position of the clock. 


Place a level alongside the clock cabinet from front to back and side to side, adjusting the levelers until level.


If your clock is sitting on carpet, it may be necessary to periodically check your cabinet, (especially if moved to a new location), as it might settle after original leveling.

If levelers are missing, use a shim or coins placed under the corners. Ensure clock is positioned square and firm on the floor so that it will not fall over.

You'll see this quite often after a clock has been moved.  The two most common reasons for the pendulum to rub against the weights or the chime rods is that the pendulum leader has disengaged from the crutch arm, or the clock is no longer level. See those sections for how to address either issue.

The Pendulum is Rubbing Against the Weights or Chime Rods

If Your Grandfather Clock Still Won't Run

Your clock might be in need of further service. Please give us a call at 301-542-1962 to schedule and in home service call.

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