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Clocks, Watches/Howard Miller Grandfather Clock


This is a Barwick s/n 4887, about 36 years old.
I rewound it (pulling the chain(s) to raise the weights and bumped them solidly at the top. After that the clock would not run. I suspected I'd jammed something and decided to remove the face to take a look. The RH weight is up so far, I can't detach it. Both the other weights are removed. I was able to remove the hands - no problem, and displaced the bottom two levers holding the face on to the movement. I can't see the top two levers let alone touch them. Can you help me with some ideas on how I get this face off? And; after that description, am I wasting my time - going about it the wrong way? Appreciate any help.

Tedwarwick, there are a few reasons a clock won't run after winding.  If you had contacted me before you started breaking it down, I might could have saved you some trouble.  First, the only way a clock will stop if the weights are pulled up too far is if the chain hooks jammed in the wood so they wouldn't drop down to power the clock.  Evidently, this didn't happen.  I don't know what you expected to find when you removed the dial, but I would suggest securing the bottom levers and putting the hands back on.  Incidentally, the bottom levers are accessed from the side of the plate and the top ones from the top of the plate.  When you get the clock running again, the hands will probably be out of sync and I can tell you how to get them in order when the time comes.  I will copy you on a series of diagnostic steps I have written for a clock that is not running.  It is below.  Two items that will be included are the clock being out of beat, which sometimes happens after winding a clock.  It should have an even tick tock.  The other thing is that a clock is going to eventually stop if it hasn't been serviced regularly.  I suggest this should be done every 7 to 10 years to maintain the clock's good running order.  A clock 36 still running after 36 years has something going for it.  Here is the copy of the diagnostics I mentioned  Let me know how it goes:


I have very little cross information on modern clock case numbers to the actual movements used in them.  For any additional discussion I would need the information found on the back of the movement plate.   


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 Clock Consultant

137 First St
Prattville, Alabama 36067  

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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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