How Does a Grandfather Clock Work?


How Does a Grandfather Clock Work?

  • A grandfather clock is a popular piece of furniture not only for decoration, but for its practicality as well. Grandfather clocks are known for keeping extremely accurate time as long as they are set correctly. The clocks work on the laws of gravity. A large pendulum hangs in the center of the clock. A system of weights are attached to the clock, and the pendulum moves them as it swings. Gravity causes the pendulum to continuously swing back and forth, moving the weights at the proper times to keep the hands on the clock accurate.

How Does a Grandfather Clock Keep Time?

  • A grandfather clock cannot work properly unless the weights are adjusted weekly. While the pendulum works off gravity to pull the weights, the weights themselves will begin to get off balance, and the clock will not keep the right time. The owner must adjust them to the proper heights. Each weight has a different height so that the pendulum's swings affect it differently. They move the hands around the clock, based on a certain number of swings from the pendulum. If a weight is set too high or too low, it will cause the corresponding component of the clock to move at the wrong speed, throwing the time off.

Chain-Driven or Cable-Driven

  • While they are all moved by the pendulum and rely on gravity to work, chain-driven clocks require the chains holding the weights to be moved by hand, whereas the cable-driven clocks are wound by a key, or sometimes a small crank. This adjust the weights without the owner having to adjust each one manually. Instructions are often provided detailing how to follow this process. Once the weights are adjusted, they can continue to keep time until the next readjustment.

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