You are here:

Clocks, Watches/Replacing chain on Montgomery Ward Grandfather Clock


I recently purchased a Montgomery Ward grandfather clock, model number CCM 9090 A, and one of the chains is off. I believe it is the center one and from looking into the back of the clock it looks like one of the other chains is off the sprocket. Can these be replaced by me?

Theresa, the numbers you gave me are those of Montgomery Ward or the clock manufacturer that supplied the clocks to them and do not reflect the model of the movement itself.  However, the general procedure for rehanging the chains is about the same for all movements, so I shouldn't need that model.  First, I would think that your description of the chain being off the sprocket would indicate that you can move the chain in both directions by pulling on one end of the other.  If pulled to far it would fall out of the movement.  One other cause would be that the sprocket ratchet (which allows it to be pulled in one direction only) might be defective.  If you see both ends of the chain coming out of the bottom of the movement and they are basically touching each other, the chain is off the sprocket and is hanging on the wheel arbor (shaft).  If the chains are about 1" apart, they are on the sprocket and it is defective. It would then need to be looked at by an experienced clockmaker.

You ask if you can do it.  I will describe how I do it and then you can decide whether you or a friend might be able to preform the operation.  On the outer chains, right or left, the sprockets rotate from the top inward.  Looking from the BACK of the clock, the left on would rotate clockwise and the right one would rotate counterclockwise.  If the chain is just off the sprocket, you can use a long instrument such as a hemostat, long needle-nosed pliers or a piece of coat hanger wire with a little hook on the end.  Lift the chain and place it back on the sprocket. If the chain is completely out of the movement it would have to be placed back on the sprocket and the sprocket rotated.  On some models the end tab will have to be removed.  The proper tab and it's removal is explained below.

The center chain is a little more difficult to re-install.  I started out by having to remove the movement and turn it upside down to string the chain.  But I designed a simple tool to do the job.  The chain should have a tab on each end.  One is usually solid and the other has a eye or hook for which the weight hangs.  Remove the solid tab.  This can be done by grasping the last link with a pair of pliers and slightly twisting (not spreading) the link just enough to remove the link and tab from the chain.  The tool is a piece of coat hanger wire about 8" long and a small "S" is formed on one end.  The section on that end has a bend.  I do not have the picture on my laptop, but If you will reply to my clock shop email address (below), I will send it to you by the first of the week when I return to my shop.  Also, from the above descriptions, let me know about the chains, on or off the sprockets or out of the movement.  

The way I do this is to remove the weights and pendulum so they are out of the way and won't get knocked around.  The last link is hooked on the "S" portion of the chain and lifted up into the movement on the right side (looking from the front of the clock) of the center sprocket.  I usually have to use a flashlight to give me an idea of where the sprocket is between the plates of the movement.  I will say this is a "backbreaker" the way you have to kneel and turn to see up in there.  Using my right hand I place the chain up and over the sprocket.  With my left hand I use a long thin screwdriver to turn the sprocket counterclockwise as I lower the chain onto the sprocket.  I move the wire around as I continue turning the sprocket with the screwdriver.  This is done blindly as it is difficult to see up in there when you are doing this work. Depending on the type of movement, I sometimes have to make quite a few attempts to get it done.  Can be frustrating in that everything has to come together for it to work.  When the chain is hooked on the sprocket and the wire has been removed, continue turning the sprocket until the end of the chain travels far enough down to grasp it and pull it down far enough to rehook the tab.

John Newman
Vintage Emperor Clock Consultant
137 First St
Prattville, Alabama 36067

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.

Clocks, Watches

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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)

©2017 All rights reserved.