Why Does My Grandfather Clock Keep Stopping?

James Lamb

Modern or antique, a traditional grandfather clock adds elegance and style to any home. These beautifully crafted timepieces can be extremely valuable and are often passed down through family generations. Their melodic striking of the hours serves as a reminder that they are machines that require proper care and attention to avoid breakdown.


Grandfather clocks stop working withour proper care.

Situating the empty clock case in its new location and then installing the works is the traditional way to set up this type of timepiece. It is important that the weights and suspension lines are not tangled or improperly located in the pulley mechanisms. The pendulum also must swing freely and unhindered. Any kind of misalignment of the works, chafing or twisted lines can hinder the correct running of the clock movement. An irregular beat of the pendulum may require fine adjustments to achieve consistent ticking. Additional features, such as moon phases and day counts, need to be properly set, or the clock may run inconsistently.


The correct placement of a delicate timepiece is vital for optimum performance. Standing the casing on an uneven floor or soft carpeting may lead to it leaning. Loose floorboards or floors with inadequate support may lead to detrimental movement of the timepiece while in situ. Locations such as close to a wall affected by heavy traffic or machinery such as washers on the spin cycle can cause vibration problems. Anything that causes the pendulum or weights to touch the casing interior or that influences the work's free movement may cause the clock to stop. The hands touching each other, catching on the clock-face or glass covering, are known causes of running failure.


Though often intricate, the inner workings of a clock are still mechanical and prone to eventual failure. Metal parts will corrode and wear down through friction or sometimes just break. Improper procedures or replacing parts, particularly the weights, in the wrong way are common faults. The many precision parts that make up a clock movement are finely balanced, so expertise in needed. Bodged or amateur attempts to make repairs or maintain long case clocks is often to blame for running breakdowns.


Regular maintenance is important to ensure perfect running order. Without proper lubrication, the constant friction of moving parts will lead to parts seizing up and failing to operate. Dust, fluff and grime will accumulate over time on the inner mechanics of a clock movement. Clock casings are also favorite locations for spiders and their webs. This debris requires adequate cleaning off as it is another reason for clocks to stop. One very common fault for these clocks to stop working is the simple result of failing to wind up the mechanism regularly.