How To Keep Your Pendulum Clock Running

It is not difficult to keep a pendulum clock running properly if a few basic procedures are observed. The following are some hints which will help keep your old clock in good operating order.


  • Place clock in its permanent location. This should be a solid surface that is as level as possible . The clock should not rock (from left to right or from front to back). If your clock has weights, hang them in the clock and make sure they are free to fall and the cord/chain is on appropriate pulleys or sprockets.

  • Next, hang pendulum on hook or hangar which is inside the clock case. The hangar is usually, but not always located to the rear of the movement. Gently attach the pendulum to the hangar. Never drop the pendulum onto the suspension hook.

  • Use clock key and wind up your clock. Springs should be fully wound. Remember, an unwound clock will not run.

  • Swing pendulum so that the clock starts to tick. The tick or the beat should be uniform and even. Your clock has been set-up and the beat set on a perfectly level surface during servicing. After you have placed your clock in its permanent location, if the beat is not even, this means that the surface you have put it on is not level. Therefore, you must put shims under the clock case by putting a piece(s) of cardboard or other material under the low end of clock until the beat is even.

  • On simple hour striking clocks (time & strike movements), move the minute hand (long hand) forward past 12 o'clock and count the number of times clock strikes. Then move the hour hand (short hand) to that hour. Some chiming clocks have a self adjusting feature eliminating this step.

  • If the clock runs fast, it is necessary to lengthen or lower the pendulum down. Alternately, if the clock runs too slow, it is necessary to raise the pendulum up. Some clocks have a place to adjust for fast and slow on the dial front with the use of a small clock key while other clocks have adjustable pendulums. Adjust slightly and then let clock run for 24 hours to determine how much adjustment is needed and continue to adjust (slightly) as required until the clock keeps good time (this adjustment period could take several days).


  • Never move or transport a clock without first removing or disengaging the pendulum.

  • Never, never move the minute hand (long hand) backwards especially within 10 minutes of striking the hour.

  • Do not oil the movement indiscriminately - Very little oil on pivots and moving parts is required. Excess oil will allow dust to collect and really cause damage. There is a right kind of oil to use and wrong kinds of oil that can be used. It is best to have clock serviced periodically by a competent clock repair person.

  • When I am looking at a clock to be repaired, I usually inquire as to when the clock was last serviced. Many times I have heard that "a good friend worked on the clock". The best advice that I can give is that " a good friend may not necessarily be a good clock repair person". In order to reduce the possibility of having a friend cause additional damage to your clock, repairs should be performed only by a qualified & reputable repair person.

Old Antique Clocks are fascinating, many are beautiful works of art, and many are real collectors timepieces or family heirlooms and therefore, should be given a certain amount of care to insure many years of continued service.