Mechanical Clock Movement Removal
Mechanical Clock Movement Removal is done by first removing the weights and pendulum with a cloth as to not stain the brass. Once you have the weights and pendulum off you need to remove the clock hands. There is a nut on the minute hand, you will need to hold the minute hand with your fingers as you loosen the nut via needle nose pliers, you turn the nut to the left to loosen it. (If your clock has a second hand, this is a press fit just pull towards you.) After you have done this you need to remove the trim around the dial. Usually its just on there with two Phillip screws.
At this point there are two options for getting the movement out of the clock. Either with the moon dial or without it.
With the dial =
Now that you have the weights and pendulum off, and the trim off the front of the dial you can just take the movement out with the moon dial attached if you want to. If you were to stick your head in the clock case and look straight up and you will see the movement is only in with two screws underneath it. The movement is resting on the seat board and is only installed with these two screws that go straight up and into the movements posts. If you get a long skinny regular screwdriver and take these screws out the entire unit with its dial will come off at the point.
Without the dial =
Next its time to take off the side access panels. The side panels come out usually by means of lifting them up, push the bottom in, the panel will then be able to go down and then out. Now that the side panel is off your clock and you can see in there, and you will see some clips holding the movement to the moon dial (face with the numbers).
As you can see the dial is attache to the movement by four posts that stick out the back of the dial. The posts, the dial, the moon, all comes out by unlocking those posts from the front plate of the movement. Sometimes those 4 dial posts are locked into the front plate by clips that just slide over with your fingers. Sometime there are holes in the ends of the posts with a taper pin holding it secure. A taper pin is a pin that is fat on one side and skinny on the other, just grab the end and yank them out with needle nose pliers. You will need someone in front of the clock while you are on the side of the clock, to catch the moon dial when it falls out of the movement. Some one with gloves as not to stain the nice finish of the clock dial.
Either way, if you read both of the above paragraphs, you have the movement ready to come out of the clock case. The only thing left to check is the chain ends, some times the movement will come right out with the chains and all, and other times the ends of the chains get caught up. To remove the ends of the chains, if you have too, is done like this. The links are only curved back upon itself, and they are not soldered together. So to open the link that the chain end is on, can just be done with two small needle nose pliers and twist it open. Then you can remove the chain end, and the movement will now come right out of the clock case with or without the moon dial on it.
Mechanical Clock Movement Installation Preparations
Mechanical Clock Movement Installation Preparations include getting the new movement out of the box, removal of packing material and getting the movement ready for installation.
When you receive the new unit, you may or may not have orange clips over the plastic cable drum covers if its a cable driven unit. These are so the cable underneath the cover will not jump over itself, and get all tangled up. They are on with just a friction fit and just pull off of each cable drum. The clear plastic over the cable drum stays on the movement, this is so the cable will not jump the line and end up crossing itself. The brightly colored clips would be over the clear drum and that is what gets removed only.
The chains may have fallen off the movement completely during shipping, this is how to reinstall them. Take note on the chains there is one end with a tab and the other with a hook. The hook side is what attaches to the weight, and so this goes on the side of the ratchet that does not spin. In other words the ratchet wheel on the movement spins one way and not the other. So the chain gets looped over the ratchet wheel so the hook side of the chain goes down on the side of the ratchet that will not spin. It is fine to flip the movement upside down or whatever you need to do to get this done.
Mechanical Clock Movement Installation Preparations - Install Pendulum Leader
A pendulum assembly on a German mechanical clock movement consists of three components. These three components are the pendulum itself, the leader it hangs on, and the suspension that the leader hangs on. Lets explain some terminology quick. The leader is the pendulum guide that the pendulum hangs on to, and also the leader is what hangs on the suspension spring way up top. The suspension spring is the little wig waggy thing about 3/4 of an inch long way up at the top of the movement. Now we know the terms lets proceed. There is a black plastic cover on the suspension spring sometimes upon the arrival of a new movement, take this off and you do not need it. Now remove the suspension spring by removing its thumb screw. Drop the suspension spring down and hook the leader to it. Now bring both the leader and the suspension spring back up and install the suspension again, but with the leader on it. Assuming you know to put the leader to be engaged with the crutch that swings back and forth on the back of the movement. Now the leader and suspension spring is correct and your ready to put the movement into the clock case.
Put movement on the seat board with the cables or chains hanging down in between the seat board as it was before. Screw the screws in and make it finger tight and then a little more with a flat screw driver. This concludes this section on Mechanical Clock Movement Installation Preparations.
Mechanical Clock Weight Installation
The weights may or may not all weigh the same, usually they do not. In fact the only movement that I know of that take the same weights across the board is the three weight chain driven Jauch floor movements that are now obsolete anyway. So with that said, we need to know what weights goes on what chain for most floor clocks in existence.
Most typically there is differences in the weights from left to right on a mechanical floor clock. In this section what clocks that are being referred to is the post WW2 modern floor clocks of German origin.
If you weigh the weights on the bathroom scale you will see you will either have two heavy and one light, or two light weights and one heavier. Why this is true is because the chime side will always take the heavy weight and the strike side will always take the light weight. The middle time train is left to be variable dependent on the pendulum bob diameter. The pendulum bob is the round disk at the bottom of the pendulum. If it is a wide bob or if the pendulum is heavy for other reasons, it will take more weight. If more weight is required on the center time train, it will be the same weight as the chime side instead of the strike side. Did that make sense?
Mechanical Clock Weight Installation - The heavy one
Ok it goes like this, the chime weight will always be heavy. This is the weight that goes on your right as you face the clock. So if you have a weight that is heavier than the rest, put it on the chime side. What is meant by chime side is the side that makes the songs go every 15 minutes. If the wrong weight is on this chime side, the clock will chime very slow and may stop in mid chime.
The next one is the time train. This is the one that goes in the center of the three weights on the clock. If it is a heavy pendulum or the bob diameter is larger at 8 1/2 inches or 10 1/2 inches wide, its best with another heavy weight equal to the chime side. There are alot of clocks in the world running with the lighter weight when it should really be heavier and the clock runs fine for 30 years. So its not that big of a deal, but to be correct this is what it calls for. If the pendulum is heavy and the light weight is on there instead of the heavy one, the clock may or may not stop randomly.
The Light one
The lightest weight if there is one, goes on your left as you face the clock. This is the strike train side and this makes the clock bong out whatever hour it is. If the wrong weight is on this side, it may bong out the hours faster than what is intended. This will not be bad for the movement in anyway, its just what is comfortable to listen too.
Beat Setting Mechanical Clock Movements
Beat Setting Mechanical Clock Movements means the tick and the tock sound of the clock is evenly spaced in sound. Every pendulum clock that is mechanical needs to be put in beat to run. This is so simple but its amazing to me how many clocks in the world have not run for 10 years or more, just because this is not known. Often clocks in tag sales, auctions, homes, only needed to be put in beat to run but was left unused for years and years. The setting of the beat is easy, less than a minute to do, and the clock is fine again.
Every mechanical clock that has a pendulum needs to be in beat to function. Its part of owning the clock, is the learn this. If you do not know how to do this, whenever you move the clock from here to there it will stop after 5 - 10 minutes. Putting the clock in beat is very easy.
How to put a German mechanical clock in BEAT ? (Post 1950)
This is done on Modern German clocks by pushing the pendulum all the way to one side (doesn’t matter right or left) to go beyond its resistance, and then letting it go. Now listen to see if the tick and the tock are evenly spaced. If it is stick going ticktock ticktock, or even tocktick tocktick then it is not in beat and will stop after 5min to an hour. Repeat the process above of pulling the pendulum all the way to one side and letting it go. The clock should have a nice, steady, rhythmic tick-tock, tick-tock with equal time lapsing between the tick and the tock and the next tick.
Sometimes when there is not much room to swing the pendulum in the clock case, as there is a big round pendulum bob and the case is not wide, you will need to adjust the beat in a different way. This is also true on some movements that the beat will not automatically set when swinging the pendulum wide. You would adjust the beat by pushing the top of the pendulum left or right as it hangs in its clock case, just hold a lower portion of the pendulum with your left hand as you push the top of the pendulum left or right with your right hand. You will feel the freedom in the pendulum to move left or right, with some resistance at the sides at the end of your left or right travel. You are changing the beat of the clock when you go beyond this resistance and therefore changing the place of the freedom area. Don’t be afraid to move this pendulum top as there is nothing to break as you go left or right beyond the resistance on the sides of the swing.
The beat is the rhythmic pulsations of the escape wheel clicking over one tooth at a time, and this results in the sound tick / tock. What drives the pendulum is the escapement. They call it an escapement because its just letting the power of the gear train escape one tooth at a time. This make the sound tick and tock. That tick or tock sends a jumping pulse action to what is known as a crutch and that wacks the pendulum slightly each swing. The pendulums momentum back and forth, with being wacked by the crutch that comes down a little, just keeps it going and going. Provided its even left and right, in other words the tick and tock are even.
At this point, you have the movement in the clock with the dial off still. You have the movement running good. Now its time to make it chime and strike.
Mechanical Clock Chime Hammer Positioning
Mechanical Clock Chime Hammer Positioning is easy to do, and only involves bending the hammer heads wires. This was done when the clock maker who created the case and installed the clock movement from the start also. So if your replacing your clock movement and notice the new one is not lining up, well this is what the original clock maker dealt with in the beginning also. The movement must be married to the clock case by doing this, and this is why the hammer heads are on such bendable wires. It is the intent and requirement for these to be bent into position, it is not uncommon to bend them an inch this way or that way.
The movements hammers are meant to be bent into final position. It should be positioned so the tops of the hammer heads are about 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch down from the chime block itself, and the heads should rest about 1/8 inch away from the rod it will strike. You bend the hammer wires as to make the head about 1/8 away from the chime rod. This spacing between the head and the rod is so it will not thud or double hit. Down the line, do one hammer at a time, until you can lift it with your finger and drop it to a crisp sound note. If you just do each hammer head so it sounds good down the line, you will have a nice song at the very end.
Grandfather Clock Chime Issues
Grandfather Clock Chime Issues are sometimes resolved by doing some simple things. The chime is the songs that play on the 15 minutes, not to be confused with the strike. The strike is what bongs out the hours on the top of the hour. This section will resolve chime issues that are not movement related, and fall into the realm of being a set up issue instead of a movement issue. Be aware that post WW2 German mechanical clocks are such that if you spin the hands fast or stop the clock for a while, it may not chime for up to 3/4 of an hour. This is because it is looking for the top of the hour so it does not lose its place and mix up what song to play and when. Pretty smart for something with no batteries or electricity to run it.
Could be looking for the top of the hour
First thing to do is see if it chimes after 3/4 of an hour. So go forward with the minute hand with your fingers, going slow past the quarters. You will hear a faint click, and pause at that point and see if it starts chiming. If it does not go to the next and the next. If you spin the minute hand around for an hour on the dial, and nothing, we need to see what needs to be corrected indeed.
Chimes not on or roll pin stuck
Check and be sure the clock is not on silent. There maybe a switch at the 3 o'clock, this switch turns the chimes on or off, if its a triple (3) song movement, it will have the songs and also silent on this switch. Sometimes the movement has this switch but the dial does not have a slot to get at it. If this is the situation you would need to get at it from the back instead and see if the switch is there to move. If its a Westminster only unit, UP is off, DOWN is on. If this does not make it chime, please pull all the hammers back at once with one hand, as you go through to the next quarter with the minute hand with the other (or use two people if case does not allow this). This will eliminate the possibility of the roll pin being jammed on a triple chime unit, causing it not to chime. Some times on these units shipping them may cause the roll pin to get jammed up like this. Or sometimes changing the chime song when the current song is in mid stream can cause this same issue.
Weights, cables, or chains not right
If no luck yet, time to check the weights. Be sure you have the heaviest weight on your right as you face the clock. Check the cables or chains that they are not rubbing anything on there way down to the weight. In other words the chains / cables are not rubbing the seat board or being pinched, or wrapped around the movement pillar, anything like this. Should be straight from ratchet wheel or cable drum, straight down to the clock weight, nothing rubbing. You see the thing is, if the cable or chain is rubbing something it will cause resistance. Resistance is what makes clock stop because there is not enough weight to drive through whatever is rubbing. So if the chain or cable is rubbing something, its just like not having the right amount of weight on the clock.
ANSO = Automatic Night Shut Off is on
Higher end mechanical clock movements sometimes include an ANSO feature. This stands for Automatic night shut off, and the intention is to have the clock be silent automatically 10pm to 7am usually. It is possible that it thinks its night, when its really day, and therefore will not chime. If the clock does not chime, it will not strike, so therefore its silent. This being a mechanical clock, it has no sensors to determine on its own what is night or day. Solution is to go around 12 hours with the clock hands, and its fixed and corrected. If there is an ANSO feature on your clock movement, the switch for this is usually on your left as you face the clock, at 9 o'clock you could say. In some situations it is between the hand shaft and the 3 o'clock selection switch in the middle of the dial. That is not so common however.
German Mechanical Clock Hands Installation
German Mechanical clock hands Installation is easy and fast. Germans used bushings in both the hour and minute hands, where as the Americans have the bushing in the hour hand only. This section describes the German style with bushings in both. The hour tube will have the round bushing installed, the minute hand will have a bushing that has a square hole in it instead. For most clocks (mechanical post WW2) the hour hand has a 4.5mm round hole, and the minute hand has a 2.2mm square hole. There are exceptions to this such as the larger tubular bell grandfather clocks, and also movements made by Jauch of Germany. The rest is pretty consistent with the hand attributes as described.
Installation is easy. Hour hand (short one) has the round bushing and is only a friction fit. Put it on first, twist and push, dont worry about where it points to yet. Now the minute hand with its square mount hole onto the square post on the end of the hand shaft. Now comes the minute hand nut to secure the minute hand on the post so it will not flop around or fall off.
Its now time to set the hour and minute hands to point to the right place when it chimes. Make the clock strike out the hours by turning the minute hand with your fingers, going slow past the quarters and let it chime as you go. When you do get to the top of the hour (as the clock thinks it is anyway) let it strike out the hours and count how many you get. Lets pretend the clock struck out 3 times. This means the clock thinks its 3 o'clock. The thing to do here is put the hands on three o'clock and then set to time. Point the hour hand to the 3, because you can just spin that one as its only a friction fit. Now remove the minute hand, and put it back on its square post so it points to the 3, tighten the nut again.
If you have done all the above you will realize by now the minute hand may not be pointing exactly on the time it supposed to point to when the clock chimed. The hand maybe 5 minutes before the quarter or 3 minutes after, something like this. Lets now correct that situation.
- Take off the minute hand
- Bring the minute hand itself, only the minute hand, to your garage and far way from the clock
- Flip the hand over and notice the square hole it mounts with, is in a round bushing
- Take needle nose pliers and turn that bushing while your holding the hand still
- Walk back to your clock and put it on, and see if its now pointing to the right spot,/li>
- Repeat until its perfect
German Mechanical clock hands Installation is now complete. The reason I have to explain it that way, is because most people want to mess with the clock instead of the hands to fix this. Now you realize this fix has nothing to do with the clock at all, and only has to do with the minute hand alone instead.
Mechanical Clock Strike Setting
Mechanical Clock Strike Setting is not hard to do. This information is based on a out of the box new unit to be installed into an existing clock case, but its for any other situation also where there is strike issues. The strike issues can be from not striking at all to not striking the correct hour or striking forever. All of these strike issues reside in the same location mainly, and this location is on the front side of the German mechanical clock movement. Sure its also on the left gear train and the hammer rack in the back, but most issues in the realm of setting up the clock will be in the front.
Rack stuck behind the snail
If the new movement is not striking the hour. Assuming you have the hands and dial off the clock, you can see the saw tooth rack, the big thing on the front of the movement that looks like a saw. This is supposed to be in the up position as it drops down on the hour hand tube snail when its ready to strike. If it falls behind the snail instead of on top of it, when you installed the minute hand it can squash it behind the snail instead and mess things up. If all that did not make sense, well just take the minute hand off and run it for an hour and then reinstall the hand. It will be fine after this. This is also the fix for striking forever or at least more than 12 times.
Check the weight cables or chains
If the clock is weight driven, you done the above, still not striking, we check the cables or chains the weights hang on. These cables or chains cant be rubbing anything during the travel down to the weight. It cant be rubbing the seatboard the movement mounts to, or the movement pillar or anything. It should travel straight down from the cable drum or ratchet wheel to the weight, not rubbing anything. The weight of the weight should not be an issue and is always good as it does not require alot of weight on this side. In other words the clock will strike with any of the weights on it, just if the weights are mixed up and the strike has the heavy one instead, it will strike too fast instead of not at all. Chains or cables rubbing is also a common cause of very slow strikes.
We have now resolved alot here, not striking, striking too slow, striking forever. All of these are now covered for a new movement anyway. If your clock movement is old and striking slow or not at all, it may need a new movement or a cleaning. But by now you realize its not worth cleaning and restoring if the movement is still in production, a new movement is best to get. You could try oiling a slow striking movement, it will help for a while until its time to swap it out.
Mechanical Clock Strike Setting - Now it works, do this
Now at this point you have the clock running, chiming, and striking. The dial is still off but the hands are on the clock. The hands point to the right time when the clock chimes and strikes. Now its time to let the clock run for 1/2 a day or a day with no dial on it to be sure all is well. If there is something to be done with it, no sense in having the dial in the way. Also it will let you see what is going on if there is any issue at this point with no dial. One other reason is if the clock is doing well before the installation of the dial, then it stops after we put the dial on, we know the issue is the installation of the moon gear / dial and not the movement itself. If it has given no issues for a while and we are confident in its performance now we can move on to installing the rest.
Grandfather Clock Moon Dial Installation
Grandfather Clock Moon Dial Installation is explained in this section. This is written for a new movement installation in mind, but it is used for any post WW2 German mechanical units with issues related to the front of the movement or the dial itself.
- A. Put on the moon gear. If you have a phase of the moon dial, we will need to put the moon gear on from the old unit, to the new unit. Its only on with a set screw and its the gear that is on your old unit, and not the new one, that resides on the same tube as the hour hand. Put on the new unit like it was on the old, same approximate distance down the hands shaft like it was before. This one gear will interface with the gears behind the clock dial, and run the phase of the moon disc.
- B. Put on the Selector Switch. Next find the small steel arm that is about 1 1/2 inches in length with a set screw. This will go on the arm coming out of the clock movements right hand side. That is to say, your right as you face the front of the clock movement there is an arm sticking out the movement. The selector arm gets put on by sliding over that larger arm and secured with the set screw. It may or may not already be mounted on the movement, but if it is not, it only needs to be able to come through the slot at 3 o'clock. This will enable the customer to change the chime to silent.
- C. Dial Installation. The Clock Moon Dial has four posts on the back that lock into the front plate of the movement. Line up the clocks hand shaft to the hole in the center of the dial and then line up the posts with the holes in the movement. There are two ways to secure the dial, one style has locking arms on the back of the front plate of the movement that slide over the end of the dial post to lock it tight. This is if both the dial and the movement are made this way. The other way this is done, there maybe holes in the ends of the dial post feet where an included tapered pin will go through the hole after it's on the movement. Sometimes the dial will be made with the holes in the end of the posts, and sometimes it will just get locked into the movement with the arms.
Mechanical Grandfather Clock Positioning
Mechanical Grandfather Clock Positioning in the house should be in a place with not much vibrations. If you have a people or pets coming and going in that area you would have to take this in account. The clock needs a firm base on the floor in a room that does not bounce much if you jump up and down in the room. Its not mandatory, but it will help if there is not so much vibration disruption to the operation of the movement.
The clock cannot be firmly anchored to the wall and the top of the case cannot be up against the wall. If anchored to the wall, it will need to be done in a way the clock case can move slightly still, side to side. This is why you see most wall clocks with the rubber feet on the back of the case also. This is because in a sense the entire clock case is swinging with the pendulum, and if this is not allowed for the clock case it may cease to function when the weights meet the bob area. The rhythmic vibrations is attempting to move the weights and cant, at the same time its trying to keep momentum but ends up stopping the clock. You fix this by moving the top of the clock case away from the wall. Its like the whole case is swinging with the movement and pendulum in a way. And when its up against the wall on the top side then it will stop when the weights and bob are the same height.
The clock should be firmly set on the bottom side of the clock case on the floor, the top should be free to rock a little. The clock will be top heavy when the weights are all up, so the firm base is a good idea.