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 Striking Clocks
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WALL AND MANTEL STRIKING CLOCKS

(Setting Up, Operation, and Care)

Wind the clock fully, and hang the pendulum on its hanger.  Gently move the pendulum to one side and release it.  Listen for the "tick-tock" sound.  This is known as the "beat" of the clock movement.  Proper beat is the sound of equally spaced "ticks" and "tocks".

                                Correct:   tick tock tick tock tick tock

                                Incorrect:   tick tock   tick tock   tick tock

Clocks will not run correctly, and may stop, if not set with an even beat. 

To set the time, move the minute hand only in a clockwise direction, waiting for the clock to strike at each hour and half hour.  The hour hand will set properly unless it has been bumped loose.  If the hour hand is loose, it can be moved to the correct position and set there by pressing it toward the dial, as it is a press fit on a tapered shaft.

 

WALL CLOCKS

Wall clocks must hang flat on the wall to operate properly.  Be sure that the nail or screw that the clock hangs on is secure and does not project too far out of the wall, so the clock is held flat against the wall.  After moving the bottom of the clock until the clock is in beat, a small nail may be placed in the wall on both sides of the bottom of the case so the clock will not move out of position when winding or pulling up weights.  If the clock must be tilted an excessive amount, the problem is most likely due to the clock being moved without removing the pendulum, and it will have to be brought in for adjustment.

 

SHELF OR MANTEL CLOCKS

Shelf or mantel clocks must be leveled front to back, as well as side to side, to operate properly.  Check the shelf, front to back and side to side, with a level, and make adjustments as necessary.  Start the clock running, and listen to the beat.  Shims such as cardboard, wood, coins, etc., can be used to level the clock and put it into beat.  Usually a small shim is all that is necessary.  However, if the clock must be tilted an excessive amount, the problem is most likely due to the clock being moved without removing the pendulum, and it will have to be brought in for adjustment.

 

STRIKE SYSTEMS

Rack And Snail

One of the two main types of strike systems is the rack and snail.  It has the advantage of keeping the hour hand and the strike count synchronized.  If this type of clock does not strike when it reaches 12:00, the "rack tail"  may get caught on the "snail", and the clock will stop.  If this happens, move the minute hand counter-clockwise to 12, and wind the clock.  The clock will strike, and the "rack tail" will be lifted clear of the "snail".  Move the minute hand clockwise until the clock shows the correct time, allowing it to strike at each hour and half hour. 

Count Wheel

The other main type of strike system is the count wheel.  This type of strike system can get out of synchronization if the spring or weight for the strike runs down before the clock stops running.  After winding the clock, the strike can be made to correspond to the time shown by doing the following:

1. Advance the minute hand until the clock strikes. 

2. If  it does not strike the same time that the clock shows,  move the minute hand back to the 9, and bring it back up to the 12.  The clock will then strike the next hour or half-hour.  Some French clocks do not permit this type of adjustment.

Some clocks with a visible pendulum have a wire that hangs down below the dial to the left of the center of the dial. Lifting this wire will cause the clock to strike the next hour or half-hour.

3. Repeat Step 2 until the clock strikes the hour shown by the hands. 

4. Move the minute hand clockwise until the clock shows the correct time, allowing it to strike at each hour and half hour.

 

TIME RATE ADJUSTMENT

Lower the pendulum bob to run slower.  Raise it to run faster.  Most clocks with visible pendulums are adjusted by turning a nut at the bottom of the pendulum bob.  Clocks without a visible pendulum usually have time rate adjustment shafts which lower and raise the bob from the front.  For time adjustment shafts, use the small end of your double-end clock key to turn the adjustment shaft (usually found near the 12 on the dial) in the direction indicated on the dial. If it is not indicated, turning clockwise usually makes the clock run faster.

 

CALENDAR MECHANISM

The calendar hand points to the number designating the day of the month.  It advances at approximately midnight.  To set it to the correct position, it may be manually moved in either direction unless the calendar mechanism is at the position where it is advancing the calendar hand.

 

CLOCK CARE

It is usually recommended that a clock be oiled every 5 years, and cleaned, oiled, and adjusted approximately every 10 years.  My experience has shown that it may be more cost effective to only oil the clock when it doesn't run, and to clean and repair the clock when oiling no longer works.  Have the clock oiled when it begins to run slow,  strikes slowly, or doesn't run at all.  To be properly oiled, the clock mechanism  must be removed from the case.  Do not spray the clock movement with WD-40 or something similar.  Dust in the air can enter the case and will be trapped by an excessive amount of lubricant.  This will necessitate more frequent cleaning and cause the movement to wear faster.

 

Send mail to:  jack dot ne1r at gmail dot com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2016 Jack Niewoehner, Clock Repair, Elkader, Iowa
Last modified: 11/22/16