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.
Your Independent guide to Grandfather Clocks
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