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How Do I Transport a Grandfather Clock?

Here's how to carefully pack and transport all the various working pieces of an antique grandfather clock.

The top of a grandfather clock is called the hood or "bonnet."

Cable-driven and chain-driven movements are the two types of mechanisms that operate grandfather clocks. With either type, the clock weights and pendulum must be removed before transporting the clock even a short distance. Once these large parts have been safely taken out, the remaining movable parts should be gently secured to ensure no damage occurs to the clock mechanism or to the case while it is being moved.

  1. Open the front of the clock case. Pull the chains of a chain-driven movement one at a time until the weights are situated beside each other about halfway to the top of the chain. With a cable-driven movement, install blocks of hard foam or cardboard approximately 2 inches square above each of the three pulleys between the cables. Wind the weights up one at a time, using the crank, until the block of cardboard or foam is jammed tightly above the pulley. This keeps tension on the cables when you remove the weights and prevents them from tangling.

  2. Remove each weight and check the bottom for the letters “L” (left), “C” (center) and “R” (right.) If they are not marked, apply a small sticker to the bottom of each weight designating its position. Wrap each weight in bubble paper or newspaper before packing them together in a box to transport to the clock’s new location.

  3. Secure the chains within the case using bubble paper or newspaper loosely wrapped around and taped with painter’s tape to prevent them from banging against the sides of the case or becoming tangled as the clock is moved. Place a strip of bubble paper or cardboard between the hammers and the bells that create the strike and chimes. Loosely tape with painter's tape.

  4. Hold the middle of the pendulum shaft and gently lift to remove it from its leader. Do not apply strong pressure. If it does not release, open the side panel of the clock’s hood or “bonnet” to see and correct anything that is holding it back. For long-distance moving, before boxing, package the pendulum in bubble paper or newspaper and tape it closed with painter's tape to protect it during transport.

  5. Open the access panels on the sides of the hood of the clock. Wrap a couple of half sheets of newspaper or newsprint around the pendulum guide directly above the pendulum leader and secure it with painter's tape.

  6. Close the access panels on the top of the clock and lightly secure them with painter’s tape. Lightly fasten down the front door of the clock case with painter's tape to ensure the hinges are protected.

  7. Wrap the entire case in bubble paper and packing tape if the clock is traveling a long distance. If you are moving the clock locally, use a queen-size or larger blanket or comforter to wrap the case. Tape the blanket or comforter around the case at the top, middle and base of the clock with packing tape.

Tip

Always wear soft gloves when handling brass parts of a clock. Over time, the oils of your hands cause corrosion of the metal. Keep a pair of gloves for this purpose inside the tall case of a grandfather clock. Check the hood of the clock for removable finials or a removable pediment. Wrap these small pieces in newspaper and store them inside the clock case for shipping.

Warning

Newer grandfather clocks can be moved upright or lying down; however, some antique models must be kept upright during a move.

A grandfather clock may not operate properly unless it is level. When installing the clock in a new location, adjust its base to be level.

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