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Clocks, Watches/Howard Miller Grandfather Clock


John, I have a model 610-599 clock.My clock was just bought the other day.It will run for about eight hours and stop,it has done this twice in two days and the chimes are out of sink.I tried to move the minute hand and it won,t move. if I move it counter clockwise it.s O.K.,then it will run O.K. again.Could something got damaged from the move? Is it true, you should only turn the minute hand counter clockwise on a Grandfather Clock? How long does it take the chimes to readjust? Thank You,Stanley Wolak

Stanley, since you just bought the clock and it is evidently not a new one, can the seller furnish any information on the running condition before they sold it?  If the clock was prepared properly for moving, I do not think that moving the clock in a careful manner would cause the problem you are experiencing, as it seems to be internal to the movement.  The first things to check for are the clock being stable (not rocking on the floor or a soft carpet), and is the clock in beat?  I will copy you on some diagnostics below and explain that and some other things.  But in answer to your specific questions:

1. What do you mean that the chimes are out of sync?  Do they play the tunes correctly but at the wrong quarter (and not strike on the hour but on another quarter)?  Does the strike happen on the hour but does not count the correct hour?

2. Howard Miller now suggests that you set their clocks by turning the minute hand counterclockwise.  Most (we try to keep from saying "Never" or "Always" in the clock business) modern grandfather clocks are considered "Safe-back" clocks, as they can be set by turning the minute hand counterclockwise.  This keeps the clock from chiming every time it passes a quarter.  Also, it doesn't hurt the clock to set it forward.   And when you set the clock you do not have to wait for the chimes to complete each quarter.  If the chimes are set up correctly and are out of sync, they will correct themselves within one to two hours.

3. Not knowing the model number of the movement itself (determined by the information on the back of the movement), I don't know if it a chain or cable driven clock.  That might have something to do with the stopping, like if has cables that they are twisted or jammed.  Is it stopping at a particular time each time it stops?  Are the hands catching on each other or some part of the dial?  Since you say that the minute hand won't move, it could be that the trip lever actuated by the star cam on the minute hand shaft or one of the lift levers has jammed.  That would cause the clock to stop.  

Below are the diagnostic instructions and syncing the minute hand:


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.


To synchronize the minute hand for the correct operation, follow these steps:  The minute hand (long one) will fit on the square minute hand shaft in four different positions.  Only one is correct.  The way to determine the correct one is to install it temporarily on any of the positions and move it forward, letting each chime complete it's tune until the hour chime has finished and the hour has struck.  Without turning anything, remove the minute hand and reinstall it pointing to the 12.  Install and tighten the hand nut.  I always use a pair of pliers to tighten the nut a little more than hand tight, but not too much.  This keeps the nut from loosening and coming off in the future.


After synchronizing the minute hand and letting the clock strike the hour, count the number of strikes.  If the hour hand is not pointing to the hour that just struck, slip it to that hour.  This positions the hour hand correctly.  Make sure it is pushed on so it is tight.  Check to see if the hands clear each other and the dial when they rotate.  If they don't they will catch each other and stop the clock.   Then turn the minute hand to reset the clock to the correct time.  The chimes might not be in sync, but they should correct within one to two hours.  


If the minute hand is not pointing exactly to a quarter or hour when you hear a "click" that starts the chime, the bushing needs to be slipped.  If possible, stop the clock and note the position of the minute hand.  Without turning anything, remove the minute hand nut and the minute hand.  Grasp the bushing on the back of the minute hand with a good pair of pliers at a right angle
to the jaws of the pliers (this is to keep from pinching your fingers if the pliers slip). Hold the minute hand near the center and slip it in the direction  to correct the position.  Reinstall it on the minute hand shaft and check to see if it is pointing at the quarter or the hour.  If not, readjust it.  It may take a few tries to get it just right.  Start the clock again and check for the alignment.   It might be a little off, as the trip point of the clock can vary from tripping it manually.  Therefore, it might need one more fine alignment.

If this doesn't help, contact me at my shop email address below and I will try to walk you through a fix.

John Newman
Vintage Emperor Clock Consultant
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

Note concerning questions not related to Allexperts:  Because of my commitment to answering Allexperts questions within a prescribed time limit and the large backlog of clock work at my shop, I regret that I cannot answer personal email questions on a timely basis, other than Allexperts follow up questions.  I will try to answer these emails as soon as I can. Thank you for your patience.  

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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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