Clock Set-up Instructions

Whether you have a grandfather/grandmother clock, a mantel clock, cuckoo clock or wall clock the majority of the set-up instructions given below will apply with slight differences.

1. The first step is to ensure that your clock is set on a level surface.  This is a very important step.  Failure to level the surface will lead to accuracy problems and can even cause your clock to stop completely. Using an inexpensive bubble level or even an application on your smart-phone will do.  If your clock sits on the floor then you will obviously want to ensure that the surface is level and even.  Many flooring surfaces such as tile or marble are not level and will require some help.  Some clocks have adjustable feet that make this adjustment fairly simple.  Older clocks may need small shims placed at various points under the case to make the clock sit on a level surface.  In the case of a mantel clock the same applies, where the mantel must be perfectly level.  In the case of a cuckoo clock or other wall clock it is important that the clock case sits perfectly flat against the wall and is hung from a strong fastener that is preferably anchored in the wall.  Please keep in mind that this anchor must be able to accommodate the weight of the clock, the weights that will be attached to the clock, and the force exerted every time the clock is wound by pulling on the chains.  Winding can take place weekly on some models and even daily on others.    

2. The second step is the hanging of the pendulum, should your clock have one.  There is usually a hook at the top of the pendulum that will attach to a corresponding point that will be visible below the clock movement.  The attachment point of the pendulum is connected to a flat spring at the top of the movement.  It is important to keep in mind that care must be taken not to exert excessive pressure or any type of twisting force where the pendulum is hung.  Failure to exercise care may result in the breakage of this delicate spring.

3. The third step in the set-up process is to attach the weights to the clock at the appropriate points. This step does not apply to spring driven clocks that simply have no weights. There will be small hooks or loops at the top of each weight.  In the case of cuckoo clocks the weights are usually made to resemble pine cones and on grandfather and wall clocks they are often made of polished or satin finished brass.  There are clocks that can have three, two, or even just one weight.  The number of weights and the size of the weights correspond to the number of functions or complications each clock has and how often the clock needs to be wound, respectively.  On cuckoo clocks, in most cases, the weights can be hung in any order as they are each the same weight and size.  On the other hand when it comes to grandfather clocks the weights may appear to be the same however when they are handled you can immediately tell that they each weigh a different amount.  It is important to examine the weights for the marks indicating (L) left weight, (C) center weight, and (R) right weight and to hang them in the appropriate spots.  This must be followed to ensure proper operation of the timing and chiming portion of the clock.

4. Now that the pendulum and weights have been hung and the clock is located in its permanent location, it is time to start the clock.  Gently pull the pendulum to the far left and release.  This should start the pendulum back and forth.

5. At this point you will want to set the correct time.   To set the time, move ONLY THE MINUTE HAND (long hand) clockwise (forward) until hour and minute hand are at the correct time.  The hour hand will move automatically when the minute hand is moved. By moving the minute hand clockwise it is necessary to wait for the clock to chime as the minute hand passes each quarter hour.  Allow the clock to finish chiming and then proceed moving the minute hand forward until the clock is set to the correct time.  We have seen instruction manuals indicating that it is acceptable to move the minute hand counter-clockwise and that it isn’t necessary to wait for the clock to finish chiming.  This may in fact be fine on certain later model clocks that have self-correcting features.  However since this is a general set of instructions and we have found that the safest method and the one that is almost universally applicable, is the one outlined here.  Moving the minute hand counter-clockwise can result in damage to the movement and not waiting for the clock to finish chiming at each quarter and on the hour may throw off the chiming calibration.  So why take the chance?

6. Now that your clock has been set to the correct time and is functioning there is one last step that is of particular importance for the owners of wall and or cuckoo clocks.  We are referring to the adjustment of the beat of the clock.  Some later model clocks have what is referred to as a self-adjusting beat, however most clocks do not.  This is a fairly simple adjustment, that requires no tools and just your ear, which can not only help with the accuracy of your clock but can many times be the reason that a clock has stopped.   It is advisable at this point to turn off your television, radio, and generally get the area around the clock as quiet as possible. The next step would be to step back and take a look at your clock as it hangs on the wall and ensure that it appears as straight as possible (left to right).  We discussed earlier how the clock case should be flush against the wall and this can be viewed from the side of the clock.  However we are now looking to ensure that the clock is hanging as perfectly straight viewing it head on, as we can make it.  Now it is time to get close to the clock and listen to it carefully.  You should hear the (tick, tock) sound as the pendulum swings.  You will notice that the clock makes a (tick) sound when the pendulum swings in one direction and a (tock) sound as it swings in the other direction.  The goal of this adjustment is to get the sound of the (tick) and the (tock) to sound perfectly even in tone.  To make the adjustment you simply move the case (not the pendulum) of the clock as it sits flush against the wall either to the left or the right.  You do not have to remove the clock from the wall.  If the clock is too far in either direction you will notice that it may sound more like (tick-TOCK) or (TICK-tock).  If you move the clock too much in either direction you can hear the difference in sound that I am referring to.  As described earlier the goal is to have a completely even sounding (tick) for every (tock).  Once this is adjusted we recommend making a fine pencil line on either side of the clock case directly on the wall.  This way if the clock were ever to move, say during winding, you can simply realign the case with the pencil marks and know that your clock beat is set correctly. 

  

Regulating Your Clock (Making your clock work faster or slower)

 Timing adjustments are accomplished by moving the pendulum disk up or down. The pendulum disk is moved up or down by turning the adjustment nut. The adjustment nut on the pendulum, if your clock has a small nut, is usually found in the middle, or more often at the bottom of the pendulum.

To adjust the regulation, the pendulum adjustment nut must be turned, and the amount depends on how much time the clock is in error. If your clock is off less than five minutes a week, you may only need to turn the nut a revolution or less.

To accurately adjust the clock, make the adjustments once a week when the clock is wound.

Use the following rules to adjust the Pendulum Nut:

Clock is running slow....turn the pendulum nut clockwise (to the right) to make the clock run faster.
   
Clock is running fast....turn the pendulum nut counterclockwise (to the left) to make the clock run slower.
Cuckoo Clocks

The proper timing of the clock can be regulated by moving the pendulum leaf/ornament. To slow the clock down, push the pendulum leaf /ornament down along the stick. To speed the clock up, push the leaf/ornament up along the stick. Make the adjustments in small increments and let the clock run until the next time it needs to be wound and re-adjust if needed.

 A Note on the Accuracy of a Mechanical Timepiece

We have repaired countless clocks over the years and we have come across owners of clocks that have made some very extraordinary statements regarding the accuracy of their particular clocks.

It is an established fact that mechanical timepieces whether they are clocks or even wrist or pocket watches have not, are not, and probably never will be anywhere near as accurate as even the least expensive quartz (electronic) timepiece.

Unfortunately, many people are completely ignorant of this fact and have even compared the accuracy of clocks that are in excess of 100 years old to the time displayed on their mobile phones! FYI the time indicated on your mobile phone is automatically synchronized by your mobile phone carrier that receives the time signal from an atomic clock located in the US in Boulder, Colorado. This clock is accurate to within one second every 30 million years!

Therefore when a customer makes a claim that “before you repaired my clock it used to keep perfect time” or “I set my clock from my cell phone and it never lost a minute before you repaired it”. Our first response to them is that your clock probably wasn’t working at all otherwise you would never have contacted me. Our second response is to say to these individuals they should contact the physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado and inform them of their incredible mechanical timepiece that is capable of such amazing accuracy. I’m sure they will be very impressed.

As for the rest of us that have acquired our timepieces appreciating the craftsmanship and quality that has gone into their construction, we can understand the limitations of these clocks and have lived with them for countless years. The accuracy of a mechanical clock or watch can be affected by many different factors a few of which can include temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, magnetic fields, air quality, service history, grade and viscosity of lubricants, vibration, among many others. Therefore it comes as no surprise that regular timing adjustments and service to the movement are required to maintain a reasonable level of accuracy
 
 Winding Your Clock

Your clock will either require winding once a year, once a month, once a week or once a day.  Our recommendation would be to choose a certain time of day or a certain day of the week or month and remember to wind the clock on that same day or time.  Weight driven clocks are wound by pulling on the chain opposite each weight on the clock until the weight rises to each highest position. There is no need to remove the weights or pendulum for this process.  Also keep in mind that between windings the weights will not all necessarily descend at the same rate, this is normal.  Be patient, pull on the chain gently and raise the weight slowly, there is no rush.

Key wound clocks are wound by inserting the key in each slot in the dial and winding the spring all the way to the end.  We cannot tell you how many times people tell us that their clock has stopped within 2 or 3 days after they have wound it when it should have lasted at least a week.  The reason for this is that many people are not winding their clocks fully.  What determines the length of time a clock will run before requiring winding is how long the springs are and how far the spring is wound.  Clocks that are wound once a week and especially the ones wound once a month have long and heavy springs coiled within.  While winding these springs they will continue to get tighter as you reach the end.  This does not mean you should stop winding, continue to wind until you come to a complete stop and cannot turn the key any further.  I have heard the excuse that people are afraid they will “over-wind” their clock.  I consider this to be a myth, a spring can break and require replacement, or any number of other things can happen to a clock movement to cause it to stop working however “over-winding” really does not apply.  On the other hand “under-winding” your clock is common and will definitely cause it to stop prematurely.

Clock does not strike the correct hour

If after several hours of operation your clock does not strike the correct hour, simply listen to your clock and count how many times the clock has chimed.  If it chimes four times it is indicating four o’clock and so forth.  At this point grasp the HOUR HAND ONLY and move it forward or backward to line up with the correct hour on the dial indicated by the number of times the hour strikes. Rotating this hand independently will not damage the clock. If the minute hand needs to be reset (to correct time), move the minute hand clockwise (forward) as described above in step 5.

Making Seasonal Adjustments for Daylight Savings and Standard Time

Twice a year in the United States, we are required to make time adjustments to our timepieces in one hour increments, either forward or backward. When making the adjustment for Daylight Savings Time (DST) it is fairly straightforward since we are moving our clocks forward by one hour.  This can easily be accomplished by following the procedure outlined above in Step 5 of Clock Set-Up instructions. 

However upon the end of (DST) we are required to move our clocks back one hour.  This poses a problem, especially since we never recommend you move the hands of your clock backward or counter-clockwise.  A simple method that we have used for years in achieving this loss of a single hour is to grab hold of the pendulum of your clock and simply stop it!  You don’t have to disconnect it or the weights, simply stop it from swinging back and forth.  You have now stopped the clock, therefore simply wait for an hour to lapse and start your clock back up again. No need to bother with the hands, or try and adjust the clock by moving forward all those hours.

 Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved Tick Tock Repairs, Inc.

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FAQ & Resources

If we had a nickel for every time we saw a clock or watch practically destroyed by a "repair person" we would have a private jet on 24 hour standby! We recently began working on a grandfather clock for one of our customers. We were absolutely horrified by what we saw. The previous repair person, if we can call him/her that, used solder on the clock plates to perform the repair! He/she actually welded parts from another clock to perform some sort of repair that quite frankly we find difficult to understand. Needless to say the work performed has nearly destroyed the clock. The cost of the repair is much higher than it had to be simply because we have to try and reverse the damage caused by the previous person.  Just look at these pictures: