You are here:

Clocks, Watches/Emperor Clock - Grandfather Clock Hands


QUESTION: Through my own doing, I have managed to bend the minute hand on the Emperor Grandfather clock. My late father must have expected this, because I found an extra minute hand in his desk along with an extra "Handcrafted By ...   1978" plaque. My questions is...which side of the minute hand goes in toward the face? The bushing has a larger flange on one side and a small one on the other, and I naturally did not make a note of the orientation of the old one when I removed it. Yet another rookie mistake.

Any guidance will be appreciated.

Howard M.

ANSWER: Howard, the round, or sometimes hex brass bushing goes on towards the clock face.  You will probably need a little more information to get everything in place.  Paragraph 1 explains installing and synchronizing the hands.  Paragraph 2 explains how to slip the minute hand bushing.

1.  If your clock is a triple chime, move the chime lever to "Westminster".  This makes it a little easier to explain.  The minute hand bushing has a square hole that fits on the square minute shaft of the clock.  It will go on in one of four positions, only one being correct.  Install the minute hand but not the hand nut.  Turn the minute hand and the clock should chime on the quarters, regardless of the position of the hand.  The chimes could possibly be incorrect for the quarter, but that doesn't matter at this point.  Turn the minute hand forward and let each chime complete.  The first quarter will be 4 notes, second quarter will be 8 notes, third quarter 12 notes and the hour will be 16 notes, then it will strike the hour.  If the third quarter chimes at some point and then nothing in the next quarter, it is out of sync, waiting for the chime mechanism to self correct.  Continue turning the minute hand until the hour chime plays and the hour strikes.  Count the number of strikes.  Carefully slip the hour hand to the number that just struck.  Then install the minute hand pointing to the 12 and follow with the hand nut and tighten.  The chimes will now be synched and the minute hand will be in the correct position.  The hour hand will also point to the correct hour that strikes.  Now you can turn the minute hand to set the clock to the correct time.

2.  New minute hands often do not point exactly to the hour or quarters when starting the chime or strike.  To correct it, it's best to stop the clock when doing this procedure, as you don't want the hands to advance during this time.  If it has a balance wheel rather than a pendulum, it is okay to let it run.  Now, run the minute hand through the quarters until it just trips the chime at the hour.  You will hear it click.  Without turning anything on the
clock, unscrew the hand nut and remove the minute hand.  It will have a
round or hex brass bushing on the back.  Use a good pair of pliers to
hold the bushing.  Position the hand so it is at a right angle to the jaws
of the pliers (this is to keep from pinching your fingers if the pliers slip.)
Holding the hand at the center, to keep from bending or breaking it, and rotate the hand back equal to what you think is about the error in minutes.  Put the hand back on at
the 12 position and check to see if it points exactly to the 12.  If it is
a little off, remove, readjust and reinstall it.  Then put the hand nut back on and
tighten it.  Turn the minute hand to the quarters and check to see if it trips
the chime on the quarters.  It can still be a little off because of play in
the clock mechanism.  You might want to readjust a little more.  But that
should do it.  If you have any further questions, get back with me.

John Newman
The Village Clocksmith
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Guess I'm being extra dense this morning, but I need some clarification. In para #2 you say the minute hand will have "a round or hex brass bushing on the back."  I'm OK here. Mine has the round bushing; apprx. 3/8" dia on one side, apprx. 5/16" or a little less on the other. Which one would be considered the back of the hand when placing it on the square shaft, or does it matter????

Howard, my first sentence stated, ".....the round, or sometimes hex brass bushing goes on towards the clock face."

That is the part of the bushing that protrudes past the surface of the hand.  It would be the 3/8" part.  Sorry if I was unclear.


Clocks, Watches

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


John Newman


As I am not a certified appraiser I do not give values of clocks over the Internet. There is very little published information on what I consider to be the value of "modern production clocks". However, considerations are what the clock originally sold for, the condition of the case and movement, and particularly the area in which you live, the demand and the economy. ALSO, WATCHES ARE NOT MY FIELD. However, I can advise the clock owner on proper maintenance of a clock to keep it running, small corrections and adjustments and how to move a clock without damaging it. I can also advise on obtaining parts for clocks. As clock case model label numbers are difficult to relate to the movements, it is helpful if you can give me the information usually found on the movements themselves. Modern clock movements usually have the information on the back plate of the movement. I have been a clockmaker for about 40 years and was plant engineer in the mid 90's and later operations and engineering consultant at Emperor Clock Company in Fairhope, Alabama. I now have my own clock shop in Prattville, Alabama.


One of my greatest accomplishments was traveling to China to assist a clock factory in building clocks to the standards which we required at Emperor. With the proper specifications and quality control, some beautiful clock cases were built. The factory people from the wood carvers to the plant manager were very congenial, friendly and I left a lot of wonderful friends when I returned from my trips.

NAWCC (National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors) 30 years Prattville, Alabama Chamber of Commerce

Horological Times, a publication of the American Watch and Clockmakers Instute. Collaberated column author, with Photos and ideas for clock movement conversion article.

Associate of Science Mechanical Engineering Technology Emperor Introductory Clock Repair (Eventually taught a portion of the class after becoming employee)

Awards and Honors
Small Business of the Quarter (Prattville, Alabama) Leadership Class of 2009 (Autauga County, Alabama)

©2017 All rights reserved.