Move a Grandfather Clock

Grandfather clocks are beautiful pieces of history to own. It’s also considered to be an extremely sentimental item. The resonant chime at every hour can easily remind us of home. It could be a pretty odd feeling to not hear any occasional chimes in your new abode. We totally get why this is a precious item to you, and this is why we’ve come up with a well thought out plan to move it safely.

But something you must keep in mind is that moving it is almost going to be like needlework. Meaning that you would need an immense amount of patience to have success with this project. Let’s first be mindful about that and look at various other things to take note of while moving a grandfather clock.

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Planning

Understand The Anatomy Of A Grandfather Clock

Before you disassemble the grandfather clock, it is ideal to understand the skeleton and framework of it. A professional who is aware of the mechanisms would be able to tell you about the most vulnerable parts of your clock. But if you won’t be hiring one, you can find out more about the anatomy by doing a bit of homework.

Few obvious fragile portions of the clock are the glass panels. If the pendulum and glass collide there’s a high chance that the glass would shatter. Make note of similar delicate parts, so that you’re more conscious about it. Another example is the delicate carving and intrinsic details on the wood. You don’t want any scratches on these designs, so you have to protect them with all your heart (or moving blankets).

Plan The Navigation

A grandfather clock could be 6 to 7.5 feet in height, so manoeuvring it out of tight spaces or short ceilings will be a bit more complex. Go into your headspace to plan the way out of the room it is placed in. Move couches or an armchair that could possibly be an obstacle while the clock is being lifted out.

Staircases could be tricky, so you want to be more prepared to stop and think before going ahead with no plan of spots at which you’d take a pause. Measure doorways if required as there is no room for drops or bumps on this journey.

Ask For Help

A grandfather clock weighs somewhere between 100 to 200 pounds and because of this, it’s going to be difficult to lift it by yourself. We suggest asking friends or family to help with carrying it so that it isn’t a situation well in advance so that you’re not left doing this project alone. Ideally 2-3 people is sufficient. Assign everyone a job to handle so that there’s less confusion.

Your grandfather clock is likely to be old, and hence, delicate. So it must be lifted in an upright position when it has to travel. If you drag it even for a bit the base part could get damaged or cause a scrap on the floor. All these things require more eyes and hands on site.

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Packing Materials Needed To Pack A Grandfather Clock For A Move

1. Moving Blankets

Moving blankets are a savior when it comes to protecting and securing the clock in its entirety. You need soft material and this is ideally the best packing material to use. Take measurements of the clock before visiting a local supplies store so you know the exact number of blankets you’ll need.

2. Plastic Wrap

Moving blankets by itself are pretty useful, but with the help of plastic wrap you would be able to secure the blanket. Try to get a large roll which is around 15.5 inches wide as this would be a better option for this scenario.

3. Packing Paper

We suggest getting a couple of packing sheets so that you can wrap individual disassembled pieces in paper. An alternative to this is soft fabric or foam sheets. Don’t worry about buying a couple of extra since it would always come handy for packing other items while moving.

4. Bubble Wrap

If you want an extra padding of protection for any sharp pieces you would wrap individually, you could also use some bubble wrap sheets.

5. Packing Tape

To keep the packing paper, foam sheet or bubble wrap in place you’re going to need some packing tape.

6. Sharpie

Sharpies are essential for labeling and marking packed items so that you remember what’s inside at the time of unpacking.

7. Vinyl Gloves

The dirt and even natural oils in your hands could potentially damage the brass parts of a grandfather clock, so ensure your helpers and you have got a pair of vinyl gloves.

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The Execution

Follow the plan of action below and you can adjust the steps based on the make of your grandfather clock. We suggest using the insights from each of these steps.

Step-by-Step Guide To Pack A Grandfather Clock For Moving

Step 01 – Remove The Finials

Finials sit on the upper most portion of a grandfather clock referred to by the term ‘hood’. At this point, it’s best to stand on a stool and carefully take out the finials. If you’re unsure about what is the finial, it is basically these knobs placed right on top for decorative purposes. Your grandfather clock may or may not have these. But if you notice them, be sure to take them out from there as it is a loose piece that could just fall off. The method to take them out is just like how you take off the finials on a curtain rod.

Wrap it in bubble wrap or packing paper depending on how sharp it really is. A sharp finial won’t sit well in packing paper, so bubble wrap is the better choice.

Step 02 – Take Out The Weights

Once you observe the grandfather clock closely enough, you’ll soon realise that it has plenty of parts that can deliberately be taken out. It’s similar to how the metal straps of a wrist watch can be adjusted even though to the eye it looks impossible.

So, you’d notice these weights hanging near the pendulum. This is the second element to be dealt with. These weights are attached to a hook, so all you have to do is take them off the hook. Usually, there would be three weights. As soon as you take them down, place them into packing paper individually. Label it as per the position (Left, center, right). It’s absolutely necessary to label for reassembling purposes because they do look extremely identical.

Reminder: Use gloves during this entire process.

Step 03 – Carefully Remove The Pendulum

The pendulum isn’t the heaviest piece of the grandfather clock but it can be quite delicate. Just like the weights, it sits on the body portion of the clock and hangs on a hook. But the only issue is that this hook isn’t at a visible place but hides with the mechanism of the clock. At this stage, your goal is to pick it out of the hook and safely place it on a bed of packing paper. Use multiple packing paper with tape to secure the whole length of the pendulum.

How to find the hook for the pendulum?

You want to be able to see the starting point of the hook for the pendulum that is hidden behind the hood. If there’s a glass side panel which you can take out then that’s great! A side panel basically allows you to see the inside mechanisms behind the dial and the starting point of the pendulum, so it’s easy to just take it off the hook.

But if there is no side panel, you’d first need to take off the hood to see the insides. You have to be extremely careful with the hood as it can be removed only in the forward direction (imagine that you’re taking out a heavy drawer case). Be cautious and use a stool if you can’t reach the hood. Ask someone to hold the seatboard on which the dial (clock) sits when you remove the hood. Once you remove the hood, you would be able to see the hook on which the pendulum hangs and take it out. Be careful that the hood door doesn’t swing open when you are removing it.

Step 04 – Manage The Tangling Chains

The next part to deal with is the chains that support the weights. Remember that you don’t want the chains to be dangling around and becoming like a bunch of messy earphones once it reaches its new home. To avoid this scenario, you have to use a cable tie or just some tape to bind the chains together.  All you want to do in this step is ensure that the chains don’t have a chance to tangle. The scenario here would be different depending on the clock you’re dealing with, so keep the goal simple which is to prevent any tangling.

Step 05 – Mummify The Grandfather Clock With Moving Blankets

Since you’ve now taken out all the fragile and vulnerable parts of the grandfather clock, you can proceed to wrap it entirely with moving blankets. You’d need a helper at the point to hold the body as you can go around it with blankets. To keep the blanket in place, use a ton of plastic wrap, keep walking around the piece to wrap it. Try not to move the grandfather clock during this process.

Do note that if you notice any more frames or glass panels that can be taken out and assembled again, do take them out and pack them individually. If your grandfather clock has a peculiar door that even has its own lock and key, ensure you keep these things wrapped and the door locked.

Step 06 – Move The Grandfather Clock Into A Rental Truck

Drops or bumps could potentially destroy the mechanisms that make a grandfather clock work, so you want to be extremely careful while lifting it out. Hire a dolly so you wheel it on a smooth surface. Take things slowly when you wheel it to the truck, have a helper hold it even while it is being rolled. Ensure the ramp of the truck is smooth and place it in the truck. Don’t forget to secure its position with moving straps.

Ask the driver to slow down on speed bumps and avoid speeding on uneven roads. If this is a short distance move, we suggest driving to your new home to take notes on alternative routes that have smoother roads. Even if it takes longer to reach, it will be a safer choice as it protects the clock from getting damaged en route.

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Things To Keep Mind While Moving A Grandfather Clock

  • Avoid doing this project independently if this is a cross-country move. Instead hire a professional company that specializes in building custom crates and possess years of experience with moving grandfather clocks.
  • Try your best to keep the grandfather clock in the upright position at all times. Even while taking it to the truck. A dolly will be your savior in this scenario.
  • The spring steel that the pendulum hangs from is the most tricky part of moving a grandfather clock. It’s extremely sensitive and could just break if not handled properly or even if it’s just too old. So, be extra careful at this step.
  • If you can afford it, consider hiring a clock specialist or established clock business to help you with the move, especially if the clock is super old.
  • Interior mechanics of the clock won’t get messed up until it hits a particularly severe bump, so make sure the surface on which the clock would travel is without obstacles.
  • If you notice any severe damages on the clock before the move, ensure you get those fixed. For instance, hinges could be loose, so ensure it is replaced or made sturdy by a clock specialist.

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FAQs

How much does it cost to get professionals to move a grandfather clock?

It could cost $500 to $1,200 to move a grandfather clock depending on the size and even age of the clock. The mover could charge you the higher average if the move isn’t straight cut but complex.

How heavy is a grandfather clock?

Grandfather clocks are typically 100 to 200 pounds. But each clock is peculiar in its own way so it could be heavier than 200 as well.

Can you lay down a grandfather clock while moving it?

It is not advisable to lay down a grandfather clock as it could damage the internal mechanism. Try to keep it in the upright position at all times. Use a dolly to move it to the truck and moving straps to secure it in the standing position in the truck. Drive slow and avoid roads with an abundance of speed bumps if you can.

How do you slow down a grandfather clock?

The speed of a grandfather clock can be changed by moving the pendulum disk. The disk is moved up or down by turning the adjustment nut. In order to slow down the grandfather clock, the adjustment nut needs to be turned to the left. This is because when you turn it to the left the nut moves downwards, lengthening the grandfather clocks’ pendulum, thus making the clock run slower. If you have lowered the nut as far down as it appears and your clock is still fast, you should check to make sure the nut is properly fitting the slot on the bottom.

What room should a grandfather clock go in?

These clocks can be placed in whichever room you seem fit, bearing in mind there is enough vertical space. Typically, grandfather clocks are placed on the ground floor due to their size and weight. Otherwise, these antiques look best in a dining or living area as well as in hallways and foyers that are not too hot or cold, and not too damp or dry as these pieces of furniture are easily worn out by fluctuations in temperature and especially humidity that can cause the wood to swell and shrink.

Do grandfather clocks need to be oiled?

All mechanical clocks can and should be oiled. While some get it done annually, others oil their clocks every 2 to 5 years. This process all depends upon the age and internal structure of the clock. Oiling requires specific types of oils accompanied by the expertise needed to handle the delicate parts.

How long does a grandfather clock last?

Modern grandfather clocks last anywhere between 10 to 20 years, though there have been some that have lasted much longer than that. If you want your grandfather clock to last a lifetime, you need to look after it. The key is in maintaining constant and consistent cleaning and oiling to key the mechanisms in good shape and turning.

What are the 3 weights for on a grandfather clock?

The three weights of a grandfather clock are:

  • The hour strike (left weight)
  • The time (center weight)
  • The chime melody (right weight)

These weights must be hung in the proper position from the movement by a cable or chain. In some cases, the weights are required to be raised at least every 7 days or the grandfather clock will stop.

How do I keep my pendulum swinging?

The pendulum continues moving back and forth until the friction between the air and the swing and between the chains and the attachment points eventually slows it down. Therefore, putting in it a vacuum as well as making sure the clock itself is in the correct position will ensure that the pendulum is not stuck at equilibrium. The longer and heavier a pendulum is, less power is required to run the clock and so there’s less wear to the rest of the clock movement.

How do you reattach a pendulum on a grandfather clock?

The pendulum is hung from a guide that is located inside the body of the clock. You can access this guide either through the front door or from the side, depending on how your clock is built. Once located, simply slip the pendulum onto the hook or slot and check whether it’s secure.


Conclusion

Moving a grandfather clock isn’t exactly like handling modern IKEA furniture. But you could use the same logic used to disassemble pieces to figure which parts of the clock are removable. We suggest spending enough time to first get an understanding of the clock you own. After that you can follow the process we’ve suggested to properly pack and move it. Overall, remember to use vinyl gloves and use surgical precision to handle the clock delicately.

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See also: Best Full Service Movers in the U.S.