The Pendulum in My Grandfather Clock Does Not Swing


Henry Clay Work wrote a song in 1876 depicting the story of how one of the earliest grandfather clocks stopped ticking when the owner died. The song, "My Grandfather's Clock" became so popular that the clock was named after it. These weight-driven, pendulum clocks are termed either "granddaughter" for clocks smaller than 5 feet, "grandmother" for clocks taller than 5 feet or "grandfather" for clocks over 6 feet. Check the weights on the clock when the pendulum stops swinging to save yourself a substantial amount of money on repair costs.

Things You'll Need

  • Level
  • Shims
  • Inspect the three weights on the clock. Each weight is labeled either left, center or right. The weights must be in the correct positions for the clock to operate properly. Raise the weights to the top of the case once a week or the clock will stop. The weights of cable driven clocks are raised by inserting a brass crank key into the crank hole on the dial face and turning it counter clockwise. Do not raise the weights by hand. Ensure that the cable is in the pulley. If the clock is chain driven, raise the weights to the top by pulling the chain down that is attached to the weights. This is also referred to as "winding" the weights.

  • Check the clock's hands. If the hands are touching, gently push the hour hand towards the dial but make sure it does not touch the dial. If one or both of the hands are touching the glass, gently push the hand or hands back away from the glass face.

  • Lay a level alongside the cabinet of the clock to ensure that the clock is level. If the clock is not level, readjust the levelers on the bottom of the cabinet. Shims may also be used to level the clock.

  • Use sound to balance the clock. Start the pendulum swinging to do this. Tip the clock and listen to the tictoc sound. It should sound even and balanced. If the tictoc sounds out of balance, tip the clock in a different direction. Continue tipping the clock until each tictoc sounds even. Shim the bottom of the clock at the angle when it sounds balanced. This method will require an experienced ear.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be extremely careful not to tip the clock over when you are using the "sound" method to balance it.

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  • Photo Credit grandfather clock image by Paul Moore from
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