Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Moving a Long Case (grandfather) Clock

Grandfather clocks are tall and sturdy looking, but the intricate mechanisms and components inside are delicate. If you have to move a grandfather clock, whether it is across town or out of state, you'll need to carefully protect the clock from damage. Failing to properly prepare your grandfather clock for transport could result in expensive repairs.   By paying attention to detail in your preparations, you can transport a grandfather clock safely on your own, as opposed to hiring a professional mover or clock specialist.
Put on cotton gloves before reaching into the grandfather clock to stop the swinging action of the pendulum.
Remove the pendulum gently, unhooking it from the lead.  The lead is attached to a suspension spring and the escapement crook.  These parts can be damaged if proper care is not taken when removing the pendulum.    To hold the lead in place during transport, gently place blue painters tape across the back of the clock movement, holding the lead against the back plate of the clock movement.  Wrap the pendulum with a soft cotton packing blanket and then wrap it with a layer of bubble wrap.
Remove the weights with gloved hands, one at a time, and label their positions with blue painters tape, LEFT, CENTER, RIGHT, This will help you reinstall them in the correct order.   For weights that are held by cables, use the box knife to cut a piece of Styrofoam with a two-square-inch thickness. Cut a slot in the Styrofoam for each pulley (the mechanism that holds each weight). Fit the cut Styrofoam securely onto the pulleys and wind up the weights until the pulley mechanisms stop.  This will protect the pulleys from being damaged during the move. You can then remove the weights.  Wrap bubble wrap around each weight after it has been removed.
If your grandfather clock has chains holding the weights, raise up the weights half way, mark their position as noted above, then gently remove them wrap bubble wrap around each weight after it has been removed.  Cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside your clock and place it behind the dangling chains.  Tape the chains onto the cardboard, as this will prevent them from tangling during transport.
If your clock has tubular chimes, mark their order (1 through 5 or 1 through 9) with blue painters tape and carefully remove them by gently lifting them up to unhook their cords from the hanging hooks and taking them out through the front door of the clock.  Wrap each tubular chime in bubble wrap. 
If your clock has chime rods, place two layers of blue painters tape horizontally across the rods to keep the chime rods from “singing” during transport. 
If  the clock case has ornamentation that come off (finials, carvings, et. al.) remove these, wrap in bubble wrap and place in a box along with the door key and winding key (if you have them).
The clock can now be carried to the vehicle it is being transported in and laid on its back or standing up during transport.  DO NOT LAY THE CLOCK ON ITS SIDE OR FRONT.
Once you reach your destination, carry the clock inside and set it up.  Prior to reassembling, make sure where you want the clock, try different locations until you are happy.  Once the final location is determined, level the clock.  Most modern clocks have leveling feet on the bottom that can be adjusted to level the case.  Antique clocks will require shims to level the clock.  Use a spirit level, and level the clock left to right and front to back.
Reassemble the clock, set the time, sit back and enjoy the sound of the clock ticking and chiming.


  1. Transporting an antique clock can be tricky, because one wrong move can lead to an expensive repair. Packaging it properly and very carefully is just one way to ensure its safety during the transport. Anyway, thank you for sharing your tips. It will surely help a lot of people.

    Clay Delgado @ World Packaging

  2. I got this used Howard Miller grandfather clock and it is not working probably. I think it is made in 1981. First of all, it swing really little. Almost to the point that it is about to stop. But it will keep running. The only thing is it is always fast. Even though I lower the pendulum to the lowest. I have to hang a piece of metal to the bottom of the pendulum to make the clock run a little bit slower but still it is too fast. I did some research and tried to replace the suspension spring with a new one but with no avail. I wonder if the main suspension need to be replace as well. But I really do not want to mess with it since I do not know much about taking the movement apart. I have a feeling the movement of this clock is worm out and there is no easy fixed for it and eventually it will just stop working all together. Can you take a look at these photo below and see if you see anything that can be done to savage it? Thanks!