How to Release the Chain on a Weight-Driven Clock


Weight-driven clocks use chains meshed with sprockets to provide the torque that operates the time, chime and strike mechanisms. Grandfather clocks and cuckoo clocks are popular examples of weight-driven clocks. When the clock mechanism needs to be disassembled for repair, the weight chains need to be released from their respective sprockets. Releasing the chains is a task you can accomplish in 10 minutes with a minimal amount of tools and basic mechanical know-how.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft clean cloth
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Stop the motion of the clock's pendulum. Grandfather clocks with brass pendulum bobs should be handled with a soft clean cloth. Cuckoo clocks are wooden and can be handled with bare hands.

  • Remove the weights from the chain hooks using the cloth. Place a small piece of masking tape on the bottom of each of the weights and indicate their position with a marker. "L" is for left, while "M" is for middle and "R" is for right.

  • Remove the weight hook from each of the chains using needle-nose pliers to open the chain link that holds the hook. Remove the hook and the open link from the weight chain.

  • Pull the weight chain down slowly with one hand while providing a slight resistance with the other. When the last of the chain enters the mechanism, continue to pull slowly until the chain is released from the sprocket.

  • Repeat the last two steps as necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean cotton gloves work well when handling brass weight canisters and brass chains.
  • The positions of many weight canisters on grandfather clocks are marked at the factory.

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  • Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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