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Clocks, Watches/Clock stopped running


QUESTION: We have an Emperor Grandfather clock that was accidentally bumped and has not run since. Is there anything I can check/fix or do I need to have a specialist take a look? Clock was working fine before it was bumped.
thanks for your time and consideration.

ANSWER: Linda, I don't know how hard the clock was bumped but it could be that the pendulum hanger assembly was knocked out of beat.  I will copy you on the complete list of things I have written for a clock that is not running.  Look for the part of the clock not being stable or being out of beat.  If you try some of the things and it still doesn't run, get back with me before the end of the day.  I will be leaving in the morning on a mission trip to Honduras on a fresh water well drilling trip and will be on "Vacation Status" for a week.

John Newman
Vintage Emperor Clock Consultant
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

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

QUESTION: Where do I find the information you spoke of in order to check out the parts on the clock?  Was it suppose to be an attachment?

Linda, I am back in the States now.  As I did not hear from you before I left I was basically out of communication and could not furnish you with any additional information.  Below is the basic information I had spoken of.  Try the first steps and if it doesn't work, look on the back plate of the movement and give me all the information you can find on it.  Send it to my shop email address below and I can then send you photos of a movement similar to yours so you can see if everything is in place.


For Floor Clocks   If the clock is in operating condition but not working, I would check the stability of the clock in that it doesn't rock or wobble on the floor.  It should be relatively level.  The level is not critical, as setting the beat (below) will correct for this.  

Next, verify that the weights are hung correctly.  On most clocks the weights vary in weight.  The general rule is that if two weights are equal, the third weight, if it is heavier, goes on the right side (as you face the clock).  If the third weight is lighter, it goes on the left.  This most often applies to clocks with a stick pendulum.  If a decorative metal lyre pendulum is used, the center weight usually has to weigh a little more, sometimes as much as the right chime weight.

Is the pendulum hanging configuration correct?  This means that the suspension spring, hanger, verge and pendulum are all connected properly with nothing broken, especially the suspension spring.  When the pendulum swings, it should be "in beat", meaning that when the pendulum swings you hear an even tick....tock....tick....tock.  If it is uneven, like tick..tock......tick..tock, the clock will probably stop.  Most later model movements have an "auto-beat" mechanism.  The beat can be set by holding the pendulum over to one side next to the case and releasing it.  It will automatically correct itself.  If it does not have this feature, the escapement crutch will have to be slipped manually.  If required, I would need a good description of the verge and hanger mechanism or a photo of the back of the movement to give you instructions for that.  Also check to see if the hands are catching on each other or the dial.  Look at the chime and strike hammers to see if they are all in alignment at the rest position.  Sometimes jammed hammers or the drive mechanisms will stall the clock.

For Mantel or Wall Clocks   The clock should be stable and not wobble or rock.  There should be an even beat (explained above).  If not, wall clocks can be set in beat by moving the bottom of the clock to one side or the other.  Some wall clocks have the auto-beat adjustment.  Mantle clocks can be shimmed up on one side or the other to obtain an even beat.  These methods work if the beat is not off too much.  If the out-of-beat condition of these clocks are excessive, other adjustments have to be made.


Usually, the first symptom of a clock failing is that the chime and/or strike mechanisms slow down and then fail altogether.  At this point the clock needs to be serviced.  This includes cleaning, inspecting, oiling and adjusting.  In the inspection, the movement is checked for adjustments, broken or worn parts.  If there are any broken or worn parts, we go to the third level. If all parts are okay, a good clock oil and grease is used.  In most cases the movement should be removed from the case to have access to all the lubrication points.  Clock lubricants can be bought from clock suppliers.  Using lubricants for other applications can cause problems, as some lubricants are not compatible with others.  This even applies to different clock oils.  After lubricating, the operation is checked for final adjustments.  I recommend maintenance be performed every 7 to 10 years.


This requires that the movement be broken down and all parts inspected and repaired or replaced, and then reassembled lubricated, adjusted and tested.  I do not recommend this except by an experienced clockmaker.

John Newman
Vintage Emperor Clocks Consultant
Located in Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

(not a mailing address)

Due to the number of Allexperts questions and
the workload I have at my clock shop, I regret
that I cannot answer personal email questions
on a timely basis other than Allexperts follow
up questions.  

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John Newman


As much as I would like to offer values of clocks, I am not a certified appraiser and will not venture into giving an unresearched guess. There is very little published information on what I consider to be the value of "modern production clocks". 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. It helps if you can send any information on the clock movement which is usually found on the back plate of the movement. I have been a clockmaker for about 35 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.


One of my greatest accomplishments was traveling to China to assist a clock factory in building clocks to the standards which we required. 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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