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 Chime Clocks
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CHIME CLOCKS

(Setting Up, Operation, and Care)

Wind or pull up all three weights, or wind all three springs fully.  If the clock is weight-driven, with chains, do not lift the weights while pulling down on the chains, as the chains may then run off the chainwheels.  If the clock has a pendulum, hang it on its hook, gently move it 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. 

Some clocks have a self-setting beat mechanism, and some are manually set.  Manually-set pendulums have various types of beat-setting mechanisms.  The type of mechanism will determine the method for adjusting the beat.

For a self-setting beat mechanism, move the pendulum to one side of the case and release it.  After the pendulum swing has settled, listen to the "beat" to determine if it is even.  These self-setting mechanisms do not always work properly, and the clock  must then be placed into beat manually. To set this mechanism into beat manually, move the pendulum to one side until it ticks.  Then move it to the other side until it ticks.  Determine in which direction the tick you hear is closest to the pendulum being in a vertical position, and move the pendulum in that direction until you feel a slight resistance.  Move the pendulum a bit beyond this point, and test again for an even beat.  When it appears to be even, gently start the pendulum swinging, and listen to determine if the beat is even.  It may take a bit of experimenting to get it right, as the pendulum may have been moved too far, and will have to be moved in the other direction. 

If the clock has a balance wheel movement and does not start instantly after winding, move the minute hand forward and backward slightly, and it should start. A balance wheel clock does not  have to be leveled or set into beat.  If it does not run, it will have to be brought in for adjustment.

 

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 set into beat as described above.

 

SHELF OR MANTEL CLOCKS

Shelf or mantel clocks with pendulums 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.  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 set into beat as described above.  Also, as mentioned above, clocks with balance wheel movements do not have to be leveled or set into beat.

 

FLOOR CLOCKS

Floor clocks must be leveled front to back, as well as side to side.  Check the clock, front to back and side to side, with a level, and make adjustments as necessary.  Most floor clocks have adjustable feet under the four corners of the case.

 

SETTING THE TIME

To set the time, move the minute hand only in a clockwise direction, waiting for the clock to chime at each quarter hour and strike at the 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 gently pressing it toward the dial, as it is a press fit on a tapered shaft.

 Most of these clocks feature a built in synchronizer, so if the quarter-hour chime is not synchronized when the clock is initially set (or after being silenced, if it has this feature), it will synchronize itself within a two hour period.

 

STRIKE SYSTEM

These clocks have the "rack and snail" type of strike system which keeps the hour hand and the strike count synchronized. If this strike system does not strike when it reaches 12:00, the "rack tail" gets 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 lift clear of the "snail".  Move the minute hand clockwise until the clock shows the correct time, allowing it to chime at each quarter and strike on the hour.

 

TIME RATE ADJUSTMENT

Pendulum Clocks

Pendulum clocks are adjusted by turning a nut at the bottom of the pendulum bob.  Lower the pendulum bob to make the clock run slower, and raise it to make it run faster.

Balance Wheel Clocks

Balance wheel clocks are adjusted from the back, inside the case.  A  "+" or "-" is stamped onto the plate to indicate in which direction to turn a screw or rotate a disk to make the adjustment.

 

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