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Clocks, Watches/Pearl grandfather clock won't wind


QUESTION: I recently had my Pearl grandfather clock serviced because the center cable wrapped around the arbor. After spending $200 dollars, the clock still will not wind. A new cable was installed and the weight is at the bottom and will not wind up, what can I do...besides bringing it back for him to keep for months again.

ANSWER: Richard, the reason for a cable driven clock not winding is that the winding arbor bushing is frozen (rather unlikely) or the cable has jumped off the cable drum and has wrapped around the arbor, as was your first problem.  This is caused by the cable becoming loose.  The way it becomes loose is by removing the weight.  Most modern production clocks have a plastic drum cover which keeps the cable on the drum.  However, sometimes the turns of the cable become crossed and jam.  A cable should never be wound without some tension straight down on the pulley.  I don't know if the clockmaker left the cable unwound and this happened the first time you tried to wind it, or you have wound the clock a few times before this happened again.  Did the clockmaker instruct you on all of this?  And I will have to ask, are you trying to wind it in the wrong direction?  It does happen.

AND!!!, I just about forgot.  If it was jammed the first time you tried it and the above suggestions are okay, it could be that the "stop works" gears were installed incorrectly.  The stop works is a set of two steel gears on the winding arbors at the front of the movement (behind the dial).  The purpose of these gears is to stop the winding at the top so the weights are not jammed into the frame and also so the weights stop before the hit the bottom of the clock case.  If the stop works gears were installed incorrectly, they could be stopping the winding before it starts.  It is easy for a clockmaker to install them in the wrong orientation so they do not do the job that was intended.  I will have to say that I have to bed very careful when I do this, as I have doe it before.  Fortunately I have always caught it before the clock left the shop.  And I do test the clocks serviced for a couple of winding runs before returning them to the customer.

If this happened with one of my customers, I would discuss it with them as to whether I had instructed them on winding cables with no tension on them.  If I had, and they did not follow what I had told them, I would consider an additional charge for the rework. If the stop works mechanism was installed incorrectly, I certainly would not charge the customer for correcting it.

I hope this helps a little and if you have any more questions, get back with me.  Let me know what you find.

John Newman
The Village Clocksmith
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

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Pearl Clock
Pearl Clock  
QUESTION: The shop owner told me to check the cable first and hang the weight. The cable was fine and has a plastic cover over the drum. I did wind in the right direction. For some reason he wound the right and left drums but left the middle all the way down.

Richard, I not quite sure I understand the sequence.  You say he wound the left and right weights but not the time weight, gave it to you that way, and the center weight weight will not wind?  If this in not the case, let me know.  If that is the case, I would ask him to resolve it.

John Newman  

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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)

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