How to Adjust the Beat on Mantel Clocks


The first truth that antique mantel clock owners must accept is that their timepieces were designed in a time when time was relative and they were considered a piece of art, not simply a piece of machinery. Novice antique clock owners must learn to adjust the beat of their clocks periodically. They must also expect accuracy only within 3 to 7 minutes, difficult in a world where everyone has access to time on the world’s atomic clock. A few simple actions provide relative accuracy as time goes by.

Things You'll Need

  • Clock key
  • Liquid level
  • Wood or paper shim materials
  • Locate the winding stem or stems on the clock. Then find the regulator, a serrated horizontal wheel between the minute and hour hand stems in the center of the face and the number 12 at the top of it. The regulator may also be a third stem that fits a second key on the winding tool.

  • Wind the time stem clock until it resists or will not easily turn -- never force a mainspring. Wind the chime stem, if present, and set the time using a computer clock or other accurate timepiece. Set the clock on the table or mantel.

  • Level the clock from front to back using a small liquid level. Use wood splinter shims or thin, dense paper like shirt board to even the clock from front to back.

  • Level sides of the clock until both tick and tock sides of its beat sound exactly alike. Check front to back level again after leveling the clock from side to side.

  • Observe the clock over a period of three or four days. Note the loss or gain in time over this period.

  • Rewind the clock and move the wheel or regulating pin slightly to the left or right to slow down or speed up the clock’s movement. The wheel or pin may be marked S for slower on the left and F for faster.

  • Check the clock again in three or four days and adjust again if necessary. The beat of a level, accurate clock is so even that many people eventually don’t notice it unless it becomes uneven or varies in period or stops.

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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images antique clock image by dwags from clock's parts image by FJ Medrano from keychain level 1 image by Andrew Buckin from old clocks image by Dmitry Nikolaev from clock mechanism image by Pali A from
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