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Clocks, Watches/Pearl Grandfather Clock


QUESTION: I have a 1981 Pearl Grandfather clock model#413-9160 with one problem: on the half hour chime, the last note doesn't sound and 13 minutes later it sounds.  When I look inside the clock I can see where the tooth that moves the hammer is in contact with it, but has not moved forward enough to release it.  13 minutes later the tooth/tab on the wheel that moves the hammer moves forward a hair and releases the hammer.  otherwise all chimes sound properly and it keeps time accurately.  Is there anything I can do myself?

ANSWER: Jo, first, normally it is best to give the model number of the movement (information found on the back plate of the movement) rather than the manufacturer's case number.  There is little information on manufacturer's case numbers identifying the movements used.  However I don't think that it is necessary in your case as this is a rather common problem with many movements.  There is a set of wheels (gears) which we call the chime train that run the chime function.  The wheels drive the chime drum that lifts the hammers to hit the chime rods.  There is a wheel on the back of the movement that drives the chime drum.  That wheel usually is adjustable and has a screw on it that is loosened to make the adjustment.  What has happened is that this wheel has probably SLIGHTLY slipped.  The chime plays its tune but doesn't rotate far enough to play the last note.  When the next chime cycle is ready to start there is what we call a "warning" which allows the chime train to set.  It moves all the wheels a little.  Since the last hammer on the previous chime did not drop, it now drops on the warning.  In cases like this I have been able to hold the wheel coming out of the back of the movement and advance the chime drum slightly, and I do mean slightly, and that will correct the problem.  This is something I have done from experience and I can detect whether the adjusting screw is too loose, how far to advance the chime drum, etc.  What I am saying is that I do not recommend this for someone that feels uncomfortable doing this.  Sometimes it is best to have an experienced clock maker look at it.  If you will let me know the area in Florida in which you live, I'll check my list of clockmakers and see if there is anyone near you I could recommend.  Also a clock should be serviced regularly (I recommend every 7 to 10 years).  So it could be that the clockmaker will want to service it.  If there are no clockmakers near you, contact me at my clock address below with the model of the clock movement and I'll send you some photos and instruction on how to make this adjustment.

John Newman
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama

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.


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

QUESTION: Thank you so much, but I seem to have created more problems for myself.  In reading the manual I discovered the weights  were in the wrong order(they were numbered with hand written numbers so I can only assume it has been running with the weights this way for years) and moved the heaviest weight to the right side position (it was previously in the center) and now the clock stops every 6-8 hours even though the chimes sound much better.  Can a clock "get used" to the weights being in the wrong position and I should just put them back?  It stopped like this when I first got it and I struggled for about a week to get it in beat and then it ran fine for a week before I moved the weights.  Could switching the weights put it out of beat again and I just need to continue to adjust it or is it best to put them back?  I found a clockmaker, but I don't have it in my budget right now.  Someone just gave it to me because it didn't work after moving it.  I can live with the missing note for now if I can get it running properly again.  thanks again its very generous of you to help people out like this.

Jo, I am going to copy you on some information I have written concerning a clock not running.  Pay attention to the position of the weights as far as the heaviest should be on the right (as you face the clock).  On some movements with a larger lyre pendulum and/or a seconds hand, the center weight might be heavier than the left one, up to the weight of the right one.  If the pendulum is a larger one or if the movement has a second hand.  The clock will not set up to a change in configuration.  It, however, will run and stop intermittently as you start it again.  Check the beat again as it can be rather critical.  Also make sure the clock is on a firm surface and not rocking as the clock runs.  Adding weight to any of the functions over the required amount will overcome some problems with a clock, but that is only temporary and will cause accelerated wear leading to other problems.  Positioning the weights incorrectly also disguises problems you are having.

John Newman


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  

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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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