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Grandfather Clock Do It Yourself Repair – Part III

November 15th, 2007 · 58 Comments

By Michael Russell

In this last article of the series, repairing your grandfather clock on your own, we’re going to go over some more things you can do at home before taking your grandfather clock in for repair.

Another common problem with grandfather clocks is for the chimes to go out of sequence with the time that’s displayed. This usually happens on the quarter hour chimes. If this happens there may not necessarily be anything wrong with the chimes mechanism. Most grandfather clocks that have been manufactured in the last 50 years have a chime correction device that should recycle the chimes back in sync with the minute hand when it reaches the hour. If your particular grandfather clock doesn’t have an automatic chime correction device, the problem can be manually corrected by turning the minute hand back 15 minutes then forward past the quarter hour. Just keep doing this until the number of chimes match the quarter hour the hand is pointing to.

To give you an example, Westminster chimes play 4 notes on the first quarter hour, 8 notes on the half hour, 12 notes on the three quarter hour and 16 notes at the top of the hour. If the problem still continues it may mean that the minute hand has been installed on its arbor in the wrong direction. To fix this, remove the nut holding down the minute hand with a pair of pliers. Then, pull the minute hand off, rotate it to the quarter hour indicated by the number of chimes being played and then reinstall the nut. This should get the chimes back in sync with the timing mechanism.

One final problem is when the weights refuse to drop. Every quarter hour the time train causes the chimes to strike. That in turn causes the left strike weight to fall at the top of the hour. So if the time train center pendulum doesn’t drop then the chime and the strike weights won’t drop either. The first step in fixing this is to get the pendulum swinging again. We covered that in the first article.

If the right and left weights refuse to drop, meaning the pendulum is swinging and the clock hands are moving but the chime is not operating, then what will happen is the chime will not operate and in turn the strike will not operate either. What you do is check to see if the chime lever on the grandfather dial is properly centered over a chime and not in the off position. After doing that, you take the side panel off your grandfather clock and check to make sure that the steel chime retard bar has NOT been lowered onto the chime hammers causing the chimes not to operate.

If only the left weight will not drop that means only the hour strike is not operating. To fix this open the side panel and make sure that the steel retard bar has not been lowered onto the strike hammers causing them not to operate. Also make sure the hammers are operating freely. Finally, check and make sure that the trip lever from the chimes is releasing the strike train.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Grandfather Clocks

Article Source:

Tags: Clock Repairs · Grandfather Clocks

58 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Herb West // Feb 1, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Hello, I have checked the weights and they Are all the same! My trouble started when I changed the main spring on the penddulum! I get no ticking sound when I starts it. The chains look good. My clock is 25 years old . Also I checked it for being out of balance? Any ideals? Herb

  • 2 Rita Hughbanks // Feb 1, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    My penddulum stopped when I over tightened the chain on my middle weight. I drew the chain down so the weight would move up and the weight is now up tight against the upper part of my clock. I can’t get anything to work due to that. TX

  • 3 Robert Pavlick // Mar 12, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    To Rita,
    If the weight is up tight against the upper part of the clock you will need to open the back of the clock, remove the weight, pull the chain through and rethread it through the wheel anew and then rehang the weight.

    My problem was that I had pulled the strike and chime weights up too high and had to take the weights off and rethread the chains as I told you to do. But after I did that, neither the strike nor the chimes would work anymore and the weights would not drop. Finally I followed Michael’s instructions: “Finally, check and make sure that the trip lever from the chimes is releasing the strike train.” I manually tripped the chimes, which released the trip lever and seemed to bring everything back into sequence and now both the strike and chimes are working perfectly.

  • 4 Betty Holder // Dec 14, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    My husband and I just bought a 1986 Ridgeway grandfather floor clock in an estatate salel. We moved the clock in & out of that house into our truck and then off the truck and into our house. The clock is keeping good time, but it won’t chime. The clock has probably never been cleaned. What should we do? We hate to have to pay high repair bills, but we know nothing about repairing or cleaning clocks. We live in the eastern part of North Carolina about two hours east of Raleigh. Thanks for any information you can give us.

  • 5 Irene // Feb 17, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Hello, we have a grandfather clock that the left weight will no longer drop. The chimes are sounding off much slower and it only strikes once (if at all) on the hour no matter what time it is. The time is kept perfectly though.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • 6 rick // Mar 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    hi i need help we just bought a used older grandfather clock it keep great time but wont chime at all anybody know why if i slowly turn the chime in the back it will but not on its own

  • 7 David // May 7, 2010 at 12:09 am

    It sounds like my problem is very common… We bought a mid eighties Howard miller clock at an estate sale. It was weathered and we moved it from the site to our truck-laying it down in the process- and then into our den. It keeps time and the center weight drops but the side weights do not. – I have double checked the silence bar and placed them as far away from the chime bars as possible. The lever is set to the westminister setting. ????

  • 8 Jarman // Jun 30, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    My grandfather clock Chain is stuck, how would I fix this. Thanks. Jarman

  • 9 Pam Walker // Jul 9, 2010 at 10:38 am

    My grandfather clock bought in the early eighties, it is a denclock a Danish make.
    The problem is the chime weight continually drops and therefore continually chimes.
    The clock keeps the correct time but the chime and strike just do whatever they like…help!

  • 10 Tavi Or // Aug 2, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    How do you manually trip the chimesÉ

  • 11 Mary // Sep 8, 2010 at 9:25 am

    My grandfather clock MFG. is Colonial model 1698M, Movement 44.
    The pendulum will move and only the center weight works and comes down. The left and right weights will not move and will not come down from the top. No chimes! However It does keep time. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  • 12 frank // Sep 12, 2010 at 8:54 am

    My clock will only give one strike on the hour regardless of what the actual hour is.
    my clock is koeninger westminster chime.
    please help.

  • 13 melva // Sep 15, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I recently moved my clock, took weights off, and failed to identify where they went. Now that I’ve put the clock back together, it is keeping perfect time, but when it chimes the hour, it’s 2 hours fast. I’m sure the weights are in the wrong place, but how do I figure this out?
    Thank you for any & all help.

  • 14 Wanda // Sep 20, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    I recently moved from Europe and after having the clock unpacked and placed where I wanted it. The pendulum only swings for a few minutes and then stops. I also noticed that the middle weight is not dropping. The right and left are dropping whenever the clock is operational for those few minutes it works before the pendulum stops. I did not wind the chains too tightly as others have.

  • 15 DJ Hall // Oct 5, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    After trying to adjust the speed of my clock, (it was running too fast), my grandfather clock will only run for about 25 minutes, then it stops. It chimes properly on the hour and such, but it will not run for more than about 25 minutes. Can you give me some suggestions on what the problem might be?

  • 16 Bill // Oct 24, 2010 at 5:26 am

    I bought a Ridgeway LaMarie II grandfather clock today. My question is I have it leveled front to back and side to side and it is in the bubble but when I start the pendulum it will run for about 10 minutes and just slows down and stops what am I doing wrong? or what have I done wrong? I have it wound up also. Thank you for your help.

  • 17 doris perovich // Nov 5, 2010 at 10:40 am

    middle pendalum comes down clock wont chime

  • 18 Tariq Alvi // Nov 9, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Dear Sirs,

    I have an antique grandfather long body clock having 3 weights on chains which are pulled up to wind the clock for 8 days. The clock is running fine that is time, quarterly chime and hourly strike is working alright. But the hour weight is coming faster than the other 2 weights that is on 7th day the hour weight is almost touching down and the other weights are 6 inches behind to cover the 8th day. So I have to pull the chains 1 day before otherwise the hour strike will stop and get disturb.
    Please tell me why the hour strike weight is coming down faster than the other two weights? I have already checked the weight is lighter than the time and strike weights. Since i have changed the old chains which got weak and could not hold the weights and fell it has the problem. The new chains are made of s. steel but the links pitch is slightly big comparatively with the old one. But the time is regulated plus by making 2 turns of the nut on the long pendulum.

    Kindly diagnose!


    Tariq Alvi

  • 19 Linda // Nov 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Hello Mr. Russell,

    I was glad to find your website. Did what adjustment you advised for the pendulum problem. Than found out the hour hand is loose and not tracking.

    My husband thinks I should get rid of the clock, but it was my mom’s and with her decline with dementia I know she won’t be with us long. I am having a very hard time getting rid of any of my mom’s things right now.

    Have not called a grandfather clock repair person out yet. I wanted to see if I could do anything to tighten up the hour hand.

    With sincere thanks for anything you can suggest, and warm wishes for the holidays. Merry Christmas.


  • 20 Annie Sukunda // Dec 19, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Hi Mr. Russell,

    We moved our grandfather clock to the other room because we were painting the whole house. When I put the chimes back on, I forgot the order and overwound the the 2 outside chimes. They are stuck up at the top and I cannot get the weights off. Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Best wishes for the holidays and Merry Christmas!


  • 21 Babs // Dec 27, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Finally was able to get clock to chime…but only once…all weights are dropping equally!

  • 22 William Murphy // Jan 4, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    what is the best stuff used to clean a clock movement?

  • 23 Nick // Jan 6, 2011 at 9:14 am

    My center chain fell off of the sprocket. How do I put it bac on ?

  • 24 Rick Wasatonic // Jan 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Dear Mr. Russell: I have a Colonial grandfather
    clock with a chime problem. The clock keeps
    good time, but the chime weights (the left and the right ones of the three weights) do fall at all. The center time weight falls normally. The problem is that the chimes only “sing” every hour on the hour. So it takes four hours for the chimes to go through a cycle, where a cycle is 4 notes at 15 past the hour, 8 notes at 30 past the
    hour, 12 notes at 45 past the hour, and then the
    full 16 notes on the hour. On this particular
    clock it will chime normally on the hour, say at
    4 PM, with the 16 notes and then 4 bongs to
    indicate it is 4 PM. But then the clock waits
    until 5 PM to chime 4 notes, at 6 PM it will
    chime 8 notes, and 7 PM it will chime 12 notes,
    and then at 8 PM will chime the full 16 notes
    and bong the normal 8 times. Did you ever
    hear of a problem like this? If so, would you
    know how this can be fixed?

    Thank you.
    Rick Wasatonic

  • 25 Rick Wasatonic // Jan 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Mr Russell again:

    In my earlier message to you I meant to indicate
    that the chime weights do NOT fall at all. I for-
    got to put the word NOT in my original message.

    Thanks again, Rick W.

  • 26 rita // Jan 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    my grandfather clock is not loud enough

    how do i turn it up

  • 27 Babs // Jan 29, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Perle grandfather clock just clicks instead of chiming….this seems to be the generic answer on at least 15 sites: “To fix this open the side panel and make sure that the steel retard bar has not been lowered onto the strike hammers causing them not to operate. Also make sure the hammers are operating freely. Finally, check and make sure that the trip lever from the chimes is releasing the strike train.”

  • 28 Babs // Jan 29, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Checked 15 times ;)

  • 29 Terry // Mar 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Hi My deceased father nlaw gave us his grandfather clock he did want it chime,and i don’t know that much about it.It will not chime and the left hand and right hand weights won’t drop but the centered one does and also it does keep good time how do i make it chime.I quess thats what im asking.

  • 30 Terry // Mar 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    is there anything i can do with this

  • 31 Mary // Mar 16, 2011 at 7:58 am

    have a colonial zeeland clock model 4099 serial#8004110, problem my clock strikes on the hour correctly and goes till 3/4 of the hr, than on the hour it does not work or go through any chimes till the following hr and then works till the 3/4 of the hr. So it is striking and chiming every other hr. does anyone know how to correct this. It was working the way it should and we oiled it and now we have this problem. There is no problem with the way it keeps its time. Please help if you can. Thanks

  • 32 deedee miller // Mar 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I have a very old I have a very old williamdaldieth grandfather tall but it just decieded to ring 12 bells every hour and i am not sure how to fix family treasure in great shape thank you

  • 33 deedee miller // Mar 23, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    sry willam dal kieth

  • 34 Roger Allsbrook // Apr 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    My grandfather clock has a key to raise the weights (which are suspended by wire cables). I wound the cables without the weights and the center cable appears to be jammed. I cannot raise the weight and clock will not run. Is there a way to unjam the center cable. Thank you.

  • 35 Stuart Rubenstein // Aug 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    What do I use to clean the main parts of a grandfather clock? Could you reply with a particular product. Thanks


  • 36 Bob // Sep 1, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I have a King Arthur clock, my wife pulled the chains and the weight is now jammed at the top. I have removed the back of the clock, but can’t get at the chain. Any suggestions?

  • 37 Stan // Oct 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    My chime weight chain is stuck. It won’t pull the weight up. However, if I remove the chain and restring it on the gears, the chime works fine.

    All other functions of the work properly.

    Any suggestions?

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  • 43 Mary Lou Miller // Apr 23, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Hello, My granfather clock’s minute hand gets stuck always 8 minutes after the hour which in turn the pendulum stops. It’s not stuck on the other hand, face, or glass. It runs for the full hour till it reaches the 8 minute time. What could be wrong?

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  • 56 Leslie // Jun 21, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Hello, we purchased a ridgeway grandfather clock for my mother in law about 18 years ago, and for the past 7 years the middle weight is all the way down and will not go back up, it chain driven, not sure what to do, we want to keep it she has passed away ,it’s been 6 years now, please help thanks….

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