Is my clock in beat?

You bought a clock. It ran when you first saw it but you bring it home, display it in that very spot you imagined and now it won’t run. 99% of the time this is caused by a clock not being in beat. All mechanical clocks must be set in beat before they will run properly.

Sessions time and strike

I make no attempt to explore the idiosyncrasies of various designs of clock movements. Much of the following information can be found at the forum site of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, NAWCC . At this site there are additional tips on adjusting the beat of 400 day clocks, weight driven Vienna style clocks and so on.

When a clock is out of beat, it will either not run at all, or it will run for a short time and then stop

What does the term “beat” mean?

Make sure your clock is on a level surface. Listen to the tick and the tock of your clock. Try to minimize the sounds in the room you are in so that you can listen closely to it’s rhythm. It is in beat when its ticks and tocks are even….tick…tock…tick…tock…, and is out of beat when they are uneven, either, ticktock…. or tocktick…… Put another way, there will be an equal amount of time between the ticks and the tocks. When a clock is out of beat, it will either not run at all, or it will run for a short time and then stop. It is worth repeating that a clock’s beat must be regular to work properly.

Gilbert calendar clock, the Admiral

There are two ways to put a clock in beat. The first is to tilt the clock sideways, one way or the other, and listen for the beat to even out. When the beat is even, prop the clock to stay tilted that way. Now it will run in beat but it will obviously not look good.

The second way is to adjust the crutch to one side or the other, until the beat is even. The crutch is the rod that extends down from the pallets which rock back and forth on the escape wheel. The pendulum rod passes through either a loop (called a crutch loop) or a forked foot at the end of the crutch as indicated in the photo below. Incidentally, that rod needs to be in the middle of the crutch loop and can’t be tight inside the loop nor too loose. The crutch is attached to the pendulum leader which is then attached to a post with a suspension spring.

Mantel clocks have rear access doors that allow you to adjust the crutch, however for wall clocks you will have to remove the hands (the minute hand is released by a screw or a pin, the hour hand simply pulls off) and the dial face, also attached by screws that come off to reveal the movement. However,minor adjustments to the beat of a wall clock can be preformed by simply moving the clock off-level. It may not be noticeable if the clock is not quite level.

There is no need to take the movement out of its case to perform this procedure.

American New Haven time and strike movement taken out of its case

If the crutch is a simple rod or wire as in the photo, it is adjusted by bending it to one side or the other (left or right). The brass rod is quite pliable allowing you to re-adjust if necessary. Listen to the beat as you make the adjustments and when you have a steady tick-tock the clock is in beat.

There us nothing as pleasant or soothing as the sound of a ticking mechanical clock in a room.

If it attaches to the pallets with a friction joint, it is adjusted by holding the pallets still with one hand, and shifting (pushing) the crutch right or left on the friction joint. The adjustment may be very slight in either direction.

Time only German movement for a Blackforest shelf clock

You need only to do this once. Whether your clock is a wall clock, a mantel clock, time and strike, time-only or time, strike and chime, the principles are exactly the same. There is no need to take your clock to a professional to have it “fixed”. This is definitely a do-it-yourself procedure. It’s that simple!

There is nothing as pleasant or soothing as the sound of the rhythmic ticking of a mechanical clock in a room especially if it is in beat.

6 thoughts on “Is my clock in beat?

  1. It’s so fascinating to observe that it takes so much passion to have such a hobby as yours, that requires so much precision! I guess it’s all about attention to details to have a clock in beat! Warm wishes, Catalin


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