Do All Grandfather Clocks Have to Be Wound?

If you’re considering purchasing a Grandfather clock, with its swinging pendulums, echoing chimes, and long wooden cases, you might be wondering how you’ll keep your new clock functioning. There are a variety of Grandfather clock types, and each requires somewhat different maintenance. Do all Grandfather clocks need to be wound and if so, how often do you have to wind them?

Not all Grandfather Clocks have to be wound. Quartz Grandfather Clocks are battery operated and therefore do not require winding. All Mechanical Grandfather Clocks do have to be wound.

If you’d like to find out more about keeping your Grandfather clock wound, read on.

Do You Need to Wind a Mechanical Grandfather Clock?

All Mechanical Grandfather clocks need to be wound.

The Grandfather clock, designed by English clockmaker William Clement in 1670, is known for its tall, freestanding, weight driven pendulum, with the pendulum clock being observable within the inside of the Grandfather clock tower or in the waist of the case.

Mechanical Grandfather clocks are powered by Mechanical Energy. In Physics, Mechanical Energy, also known as Kinetic Energy, or Energy of Motion, is used to describe a type of energy that is powered by the position of an object’s parts.

Essentially, Mechanical Energy functions by using the gravitational forces of a system, to continue staying in motion. Potential Energy is the energy that is stored within an object due to its position. For example, when a pendulum swings, it has its greatest amount of Potential Energy when it is elevated to a height before swinging. It has its greatest amount of Mechanical Energy when it is in peak motion.(Source)

The pendulum in the Grandfather clock is attached to gears that have uniquely shaped teeth. Every time the pendulum swings back and forth, the anchor within the Grandfather clock, will release one of these “teeth,” and will propel the pendulum in the right direction, by transferring enough energy to overcome the resistance of friction and keep the pendulum in motion.

One way to describe the way Mechanical Grandfather clock’s work is by noting that the energy source in most Grandfather clocks is either a suspended weight, or a tightly wound spring. When the clock is wound, a lot of potential energy is stored within the spring. This energy is eventually transferred to the clock mechanism. The spring begins to unwind slowly, and this regulates the movement of the clock. An escapement keeps the hands of the clock moving at the right pace.

Due to the fact that Mechanical Grandfather clocks rely solely on Potential and Mechanical Energy, the mechanical parts of the clock will eventually run out of Energy, and need to be rewound. As a result of this, Mechanical Grandfather clocks will need to be wound often. Standard Mechanical Grandfather clocks are designed to be rewound every seven days.

Do You Need to Wind a Battery-Operated Grandfather Clock?

Battery-Operated Grandfather clocks do not have to be wound. Battery-Operated Grandfather clocks are a more contemporary way to experience the classic aesthetic of the antique clock. Battery-Operated Grandfather clocks are powered by the piezoelectric properties of Quartz crystal. This can be described as a sort of vibration that supplies voltage, that is later converted into electric pulses that power the clock.

Battery-Operated Grandfather Clocks have a very blatant advantage over their classical mechanical counterparts, due to the fact that they do not operate solely on Potential and Mechanical Energy. Battery- Operated Grandfather clocks are generally more accurate, durable, and require less maintenance. The sound of the clock chime may be a bit different from the Mechanical Grandfather clock, but it can still be good quality.

How Do You Wind a Grandfather Clock?

In order to determine how to wind a Mechanical Grandfather clock, you will need to identify whether or not your clock is a Crank-Wound Grandfather clock, or a Chain-Wound Grandfather clock.

To wind a Crank-Wound Grandfather clock, you will need to identify the clock’s winding points. Crank- Wound Grandfather clocks generally have one to three small holes within the face of the clock. These holes are often located near the three, nine, and lower center half of the clock face.

After identifying the clock’s winding points, obtain a clock crank or clock key that is the correct size for the holes. This can be obtained upon purchase of a new clock, but can also be received from a clockmaker.

Push the crank or key into the winding holes, and turn the clock hand until the key no longer easily moves. Repeat this process for the other winding points.

Once you have completed your weekly winding, it is wise to confirm whether or not your clock is telling the correct time. Feel free to check your Grandfather clock time against the time reported by a trusted time source. This process will need to be redone on the same day each week to ensure effectiveness.

To wind a Chain-Wound clock, you will need to open the door that protects the clock’s weights. Often Chain-Wood clocks have multiple weights, although this can vary depending on the model.

Lightly pull on one of the chains, while the weight rises. Do this until the weight is nearly at the top of the weight case. Repeat this process with the other weights, then make physical adjustments as necessary by moving the minute hand (not the hour hand) to set the time.

You will also want to confirm the correct time for a Chain-Wound clock with a trusted time source. (Source)

So, if you’ve recently been considering switching your wall clock to a classic looking Grandfather clock, but have been having second thoughts regarding maintenance, no need to worry! A Mechanical Grandfather clock will require rewinding every seven days, but if this doesn’t quite fit your fancy, a Battery-Operated Grandfather clock will provide the same vintage aesthetic with less maintenance and greater durability.

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