One of the grandfather clock questions we are asked most frequently, and service calls we make many times on a regular basis, is by Grandfather Clock owners who are moving their Grandfather Clocks, whether in their home, across the street to a new home, moving to a new city nearby or across country, or shipping a grandfather clock overseas.
We are compelled to state that there is never any “one size fits all” advice that can be accurate. Please also note that if one follows this advice when moving your grandfather clock, we make no representations or warranties that this advice will apply to you. Use it at your own risk! Also note that these steps are not time sequential, and should be read in their entirety before acting on anything. Furthermore, even under the best of moving circumstance, when moving a grandfather clock, it is not at all unusual that adjustments may be required once the grandfather clock has reached its final destination after the grandfather clock is once again set-up. This is as true for newer grandfather clocks as it is for antique grandfather clocks. It also applies to mechanical weight-driven clocks only, and not quartz grandfather clocks, which in general would be much easier to move.
Here are some basic guidelines when contemplating your grandfather clock move:
1. NEVER move a grandfather clock, even across the room, with its weights and pendulum attached. Not only can this easily damage the movement, but it can also cause the pendulum (most likely suspension) to break, as well as possibly allowing the weights to swing in the case, and break or damage the glass and case.
2. A good first step is generally to remove the grandfather clock’s pendulum. Be very careful to not damage the suspension spring where the pendulum’s top meets the clocks movement. Also, after removing the grandfather clock’s pendulum, be sure it is packed especially well, and the suspension at the top of the pendulum does not break in transit.
3. Removing the grandfather clocks weights is a next critical step. For cable driven grandfather clocks, we generally recommend first winding the clock most of the way up, may leaving just about 6 inches more than usual atop the position they would usually be in with a full wind. For cable-driven grandfather clocks, it is a good idea to perhaps pull up the cables halfway.
4. After removing each weight from the grandfather clock, it is a good idea, if the weights are not already marked on the bottom something like L. M, R (for Left, Middle, Right), for you to tape on the bottom of each weight whether this weight is for the left, middle or right side of the grandfather clock. This is true for single weight driven and two weight drive grandfather clocks as well. The weights generally do not each weigh the same, and mixing up the weights can cause serious performance issues, and possibly damage, to your grandfather clock. ALSO, make sure to pack the weights separately from the clock, and whatever you do, do not put them inside the case of the grandfather clock, even after the time they are packed up. This would only be asking for damage to the clocks case and the clock itself.
5. While you are removing the weights from the pulleys beneath the cables or chains, one must be extremely careful to ensure both that the cables or chains (a) do not get intertwined with one another, or (b) snap or otherwise move back up into the movement, and get crossed or caught or misaligned with the grandfather clocks movement. To accomplish both of the above objectives, we usually take a piece of cardboard to put behind the cable or chain and clock pulleys, and as each weight is removed, tape each individual cable or chain to the cardboard. When all three (or fewer, as applicable) cables or chains are attached to the cardboard, this does a very good job of helping to ensure they will neither cross over or move up into the clocks movement and/or get misaligned.
6. When preparing for the actual move, one needs to make several decisions based on your individual clocks configuration. One key one is whether your grandfather clock has a hood that slides off. These are prevalent especially in Antique Grandfather Clocks. If the hood is removable, it might make sense to remove the hood and pack and ship it separately. The only real downside is that by removing the hood, one is exposing the grandfather clock movement, so it is somewhat of a tradeoff, and based on individual opinion, discretion, cost, and even supplies available.
7. To crate or not to crate your grandfather clock for shipping – there is no doubt that building a wooden crate especially for your grandfather clock, and of course packing and padding (and lots of bubble wrap, of course!) it extremely well, minimizes the risk of damage in transit, and may be necessary or required for many moving companies. Alternatives include crating the clock include blanket wrapping if you can find a mover who specializes in antiques that are blanket-wrapped. Disadvantages to crating including the cost, which generally ranges in the $200-$500 range. Blanket wrapping your Grandfather Clock saves one the cost of crating noted above, but the disadvantages include longer shipping times and an increased chance of damage in transit. Finding a good blanket wrap shipper can also be a challenge.
8. If you are moving the grandfather clock yourself locally in a truck, you might want to take the chance of blanket-wrapping it, and insure that it is on its back and that it is tied down well or wedged in and that nothing heavy can or will fall on it. There is also the option of shipping the clock in a heavy cardboard container, but we would recommend only even considering this if you are or have access to someone who can pack the clock extraordinarily well and has experience in this area.
9. The grandfather clock should never be on its side or face down. While shipping it upright might be considered ideal, in our experience, the chances of the grandfather clock tipping over are too great.
If one has any hesitations, or even if one does not, it might be a good idea to contact a grandfather clock packing specialist near you.
We are open to any comments and suggestions to make these instructions more useful, and we will either include them as a response to our post or incorporate them into a revised post.
Oh, and be sure not to forget you grandfather clock crank winding key or door lock key.