Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some hints and things to check before calling for help when your clock doesn’t run properly.

Making sure your clock is set up properly:

When your clock runs only for a short period, say a couple of hours or less,

  • First check whether the clock is wound.

  • Ensure the clock is on a firm base and doesn't rock at all.

  • If your clock doesn't keep good time and runs either fast or slow, trying adjusting the time regulation nut on the pendulum bob or turning the small regulation shaft on the dial, depending on your clock. 

  • Check whether the pendulum swings freely and in a smooth arc. The pendulum should not wobble or twist or hit any part of the case.

  • Check that the weights are in the correct positions and that the weight chain or rope is not tangled.

  • Listen to the beat and make sure the clock has an evenly spaced 'tick-tock'. If it does not, the beat needs to be set.

Setting the beat:

  • Getting a pendulum clock in beat is the most important thing you need to do, but is often the least understood. Many of my customers think that a clock must be on a level surface to run. Not so, the clock must be on a firm surface. But as long as the pendulum swings freely, the clock can be on any bookcase, shelf, table or floor space. However, the clock must be in ‘beat’. So what is beat?

  • Beat is simply the rhythmic “Tick – Tock” of the clock as the escapement wheel is released from one side of the escapement verge or the other. Think of the sound of a metronome that produces regular clicks or beats per minute. This is the same thing a pendulum must do for the clock to run properly. You should hear a very even rhythm of ‘tick - tock - tick - tock’ when a clock is in beat and not an uneven ‘tick - tock - - - tick - tock’.

  • If your clock has an uneven rhythm, try gently and ever so slightly raising one side of the clock base. If the rhythm improves, lift the side a little more or less until you have the even ‘tick-tock’ rhythm. If the rhythm got worse, try raising the other side of the clock in the same manner. Once you have the even ‘tick-tock’, you can see how much to adjust your clock case so the clock is in beat. Slip shims such as pieces of cardboard, popsicle sticks, or coins to keep that spacing and the clock in beat. Yes, there are ways to set the clock in beat without using shims.  If you can’t get an even ‘tick-tock’, then the escapement requires professional servicing.

What to do before moving your clock:

  • First, remove the pendulum!  Besides damaging the case or breaking the glass, moving a clock with the pendulum in place could also damage the thin steel suspension spring.  If that’s damaged, the pendulum will not swing properly.

  • Second, remove the weights from any weight-driven clock for obvious reasons. They are heavy enough to do a great deal of damage. Also, don’t let the weight chains or ropes get tangled.

  • Third, be careful that the clock case doors can’t swing open; long case grandfather clocks can be particularly awkward when being moved, particularly those with removable hoods.

  • The bottom line: be very careful when moving your clock.

  • When shipping clocks, all of the above applies, and more.  Best check with a professional before shipping.

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The Perpetual Pendulum 

John Barth

 (843) 285-8109 or e-mail ThePerpetualPendulum@gmail.com