Grandfather clocks


Registered User
Jan 11, 2011
I’ve primarily worked on cuckoo clocks for the past two years and have done pretty well. I’m starting to get a lot of requests for grandfather clocks. I’ve never worked on one. What is involved in removing a movement and taking it back to my place. I don’t want to go to this persons house and make a fool of myself. How do the movements compare to cuckoo movements in cleaning and repair? Any help would be appreciated. Looks like I need to start branching out. It’s a Shenandoah grandfather clock.

Willie X

Registered User
Feb 9, 2008
They vary immensely. Generally, you remove the weights, pendulum, seat board fasteners, and front trim piece, in that order.

Then the movement/dial can carefully be slid out the front. Put all the fasteners back in place, or in a small plastic bag left in the bottom of the case.

Note, on most you will need a #1 Philips screwdriver and a 3/8" or 7/16" short end wrench, or box end, wrench.
I carry a short ratchet box end wrench, 3/8" on one end and 7/16" on the other. This is a must have tool, if you work on a lot of GFs.

Willie X
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Dick Feldman

Registered User
Sep 1, 2000
Colorado, usa
Some manufacturers used square head screws to mount the movement to the front of the seat board. It is always nice to have the square drive to take those out. An assortment of hex keys (likely metric) may also be handy. Mostly tiny ones. A tool for orientation of the bushing in the minute hand will be helpful. This can be made from an old square shaft screw driver with the flats tapered to a point on a grinder. I have been saved many times by having a strong flashlight and a small mirror. A small scale to weigh the drive weights can be of help. Having the weights switched can sometimes be a problem and you could be an immediate hero to the clock owner. I also carry an extra set of case leveling feet and metal nuts to mount them. Many of the originals were plastic and have been broken with time. For adjustment of clock feet, I have wedges that I slide under the corners to take the tension off of the threaded feet. Those wedges are wooden, are about 4 inches long and taper from about an inch to nothing. It is easy to slightly tip the clock case at the top and slide the wedge under the corner with one's foot.
If I am taking the movement back to my shop, I always put the dial in a paper grocery sack for transportation. Many times the glue securing the numerals will fail and the numerals will fall off. If that happens, the numerals will be in the bottom of the sack and not somewhere in the lawn of the customer’s house. I use plastic tubs to carry all of the stuff in and out. I use the heavy duty type used by bus boys in restaurants. If I am taking the movement to test on a stand, I take the weights, the pendulum, the hands and the dial. All of the hardware goes in a zip lock sack and stays with the movement, etc.
Take good notes. Record all that is stamped on the rear of the movement plate. With experience, you will find some floor clock movements should be replaced with new. There are some that have inherent flaws that cannot be solved. For instance, some brands/models will wear the escape wheel teeth and those wheels are not available. One could be made but that would likely cost as much as a new, replacement movement.
It is much better to carry a tool round trip and not need it than to need it and not have it on a service call.
Good Luck,
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Staff member
NAWCC Member
Oct 19, 2005
North Carolina
On better clocks, the top piece comes off. Either it slides straight out towards you or needs to be lifted at the front and then slid out. They are heavy, and awkward, so be careful. Some others use about four screws to mount a frame around the dial. You remove the screws, then slide the frame out of the way to allow the dial to be separated from the movement and then remove the movement. The worst ones have to be accessed from the back. Most have side panels that lift up and slide out. Some have clips on the panels. There are many variations and you just have to access every one when you see it.
The trick is to act like you know what you're doing even if you don't :D
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NAWCC Member
Jun 24, 2008
Pineville, La. (central La.)
Power, if you have the patience to work on cuckoos, you can handle grandfathers. They are almost all different in some way. I have a special square canvas tool bag with dividers in that works perfect for carrying weights. Carry towels or foam to protect the dial. Wrap the pendulum in a towel or similar. The fun comes when you get back to the shop. Do you have a tall rack for the movement set-up?

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