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Grandfather Clock Pendulum and Weights - How to Choose a Grandfather Clock

Grandfather Clock Pendulum and Weights - How to Choose a Grandfather Clock

An important thing to keep in mind when choosing a grandfather clock is the pendulum and weights. Find our full selection of grandfather clocks here.

Grandfather Clock Pendulum

 A grandfather clock pendulum played a significant role in shaping the design and style of a grandfather clock. Christian Huygens came up with a new method to create a pendulum to help clockmakers. His idea was to step aside from powering clocks by springs and weights to a new way where a pendulum would swing every second with the anchor escapement system. The new formula required a longer pendulum. 

The advantage of the longer pendulum and shallower swing is that less power, in the form of weights driving the clock, was needed, as well as slower beats and less wear on the moving parts. All this makes for better long term accuracy of the clock. Creating a clock with a new mechanism required a long pendulum that had to be put in a long case

Grandfather clock pendulums are made of Invar due to its near zero coefficient linear thermal expansion enabling accurate timekeeping. When the clock pendulum was first invented, accuracy was compromised due to the varying temperatures throughout the seasons. However, by using Invar, the length of the pendulum didn’t change and therefore the time was always correct.

The pendulum in most grandfather clocks has a metal rod with a metal weight that is often called the bob and is located on the end. 

Howard Miller Grandfather Clock Pendulum and Weights - How to Choose a Grandfather Clock

Grandfather Clock Weights

Grandfather clocks classically were made with one weight or two weights, and later on, a third weight was added. Each weight is responsible for a different task. The weights are usually pretty heavy because they are made with cast iron in a brass casing. 

Grandfather clocks with one weight have a strike only on an hour which indicates that this is a 30-hour clock. It needs winding everyday and has only one winding hole because it uses the same weight for timekeeping and for the strike. Due to this, these grandfather clocks are less expensive. Interesting fact is that manufacturers started producing 30-hour grandfather clocks with two winding holes to give it a more expensive look: one was an actual winding hole and the other one was a dummy.

Grandfather clocks with two weights are often called an 8-day clock. This kind of grandfather clock has a separate weight: one to power the clock, and one to drive the striking mechanism of the chimes. Eight day grandfather clocks require two winding holes to wind the weights to their initial position with the help of a winding ‘key’. 

Grandfather clocks with three weights appeared at the beginning of the 20th century and means that there is an additional 1/4-hour strike. Similar to the two weight clocks, it should be wound back every week.  Nowadays, most grandfather clocks have three weights with separate purposes. One weight on the right powers the chime melody, one weight in the middle drives the pendulum, and one weight on the left controls the striking mechanism.

Howard Miller Grandfather Clock Weights - Premier Clocks

 

Find how to hang the pendulum and weights here.



7 Responses

Premier Clocks
Premier Clocks

November 28, 2022

Hi Rick! If the clock is on the silent mode, it’s ok for the weight not to drop.

Regards,
Premier Clocks

Nick
Nick

November 28, 2022

I have a 3 weight Grandfather clock
1 of the 3 weights is lighter than the other 2.
Does the positioning of the weights affect to clocks timing or function.
I presume the lighter weight is located in the centre with a heavy weight either side

Is this correct?

Thanks
Nick

Rick Lind
Rick Lind

November 28, 2022

I have a three weight clock. Its keeping time well and will chime properly when turned on, however the only weight I have to wind is the center one. The other two weights never seem to move, What may be the issue with the two non moving ones? Thanks

Premier Clocks
Premier Clocks

October 31, 2022

Hi Kevin Jennings! Thank you for your question. It might be that 1 weight is missed. If it’s the weight that is responsible for chimes, then you clock will still work. Do you have any labels on the weights?

Kevin Jennings
Kevin Jennings

October 31, 2022

I have 2 weights on my Grandmothers clock.Mechanism has a left,middle,right sprocket.Middle is opposite.How do 2 chains go in 3 sprockets?

Premier Clocks
Premier Clocks

June 25, 2022

Yes, it won’t harm your clock. It’s a solution in case you prefer your clock don’t chime and there is no switch off for chimes.

Ronald
Ronald

June 25, 2022

Can I let the chime weight wind down and forego the chimes while keeping the other two weights wound? Thanks.

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