How to transport your modern tall-case clock

Ridgeway Hamilton Country circa 1996
Ridgeway Hamilton Country circa 1996, Hermle movement, cabinet by Pulaski Furniture Co.

Having moved grandfather clocks I would like to pass along some tips that I hope are useful if you are transporting your modern grandfather clock. If you are a little squeamish a professional will certainly do it correctly but you will pay travel time plus disassembly/set-up time, shop supplies and tax. It could be costly. There is absolutely no need to call in a professional clock-maker as long as you follow these simple steps.

First of all, never lift up or carry your grandfather clock without first disassembling it. Even moving your clock a few inches or from one area of a room to another requires that you do it carefully and correctly. There is no point in irreparably damaging your prized possession. To preserve its finish, use cotton gloves to handle the weights, pendulum and other clock parts.

The weights are not all the same although they may look identical

Follow these steps:

  • Raise the weights to half wound for chains.
  • Unhook the weights. If not already marked, add tape and pencil to mark the weights L, C, R; “L” for left, “C” for centre and “R” for right. This is to ensure that the correct weight goes back where it should. The weights are not all the same although they may look identical. On most modern grandfather clocks each weight provides the motive power necessary to operate the time, chime and strike trains of your grandfather clock.  The manufacturer has determined that a weight powered by an exact number of lbs will affect how the clock runs. For example the chime train requires a specific weight. If the weight is too light the chimes will run slowly or not at all. Generally speaking, the heaviest weight goes on the far right side chime train, as it needs more power to run all of the independent chime hammers.
  • Take the side vents out of clock or tape from the inside. They simply lift out of their channels from the inside.
  • Remove the pendulum by holding it (with cotton gloves) from the middle and slightly move it up. It should unhook easily.
clock pendulum
Lyre pendulum
  • Secure the chains or cables by bunching them from bottom to top and wrapping them in newspaper and place a rubber band around the package so that they do not move around. Pipe cleaners or twist ties are also great for securing the chains/cables.
  • Put each weight in a sock or in bubble wrap.
  • Place the pendulum in a folded blanket.
  • Punch holes in a strip of an egg carton to hold the chiming rods or use Styrofoam.
  • Weights should be separated from the clock during transport. It would then be safe to lie down for transport ensuring that there is sufficient protection for the glass.
  • Lock the access door. Use a large blanket to surround the clock and place cardboard between the blanket and the front glass.
Ridgeway cabinet key
  • Some movements can be taken out for transport but for modern grandfather clocks this is seldom required. However, it is always a good idea to ensure that the movement is secure in the case.
clock movement
Hermle movement
  • Occasionally you may have decorative ornaments such as finials that friction fit into their respective holes and can be lifted out. These should be removed.

You should now safety transport your grandfather clock. Once you have moved it you will have to set it up.

Part II – setting up your tall-case clock


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