Grandfather Clock Weights are not Moving

If you have three weights on your grandfather clock and the weights are not moving, the clock is not going to chime or keep time.

Let’s look at the purpose of the three grandfather clock weights.
Left Weight: powers the hour strike and count
Middle Weight: powers the time train and keeps the pendulum swinging
Right Weight: powers the Westminster chime melody

If the weight in the middle is moving downward and the left and right weights are not, this simply means your chimes are turned off. There is usually a lever on the side of the dial for chime on / chime off. Set this to “chime on” and your left and right weights will start moving downward over the course of a week. If your grandfather clock doesn’t have a chime on /off selector on the dial, look just below the dial for a rod hanging down which you may push up or pull down to start the chimes.

If your chimes are starting for the first time in a while, it may take an hour for the chimes to sync properly so the chimes are correct to the hour and quarter hour.

The weight in the middle is not moving on my Grandfather Clock

The middle weight is for the time train which runs the clock and if this one is not moving down….your pendulum is probably swinging for a few minutes and then slowly comes to a stop.  Let’s look at the two most common scenarios where we see this happen.

1) Grandfather clock had been running fine for months or longer in the same location and suddenly came to a stop. 

Something had gone awry in the time train. This is usually caused by poor or no maintenance. The improper lubrication or lack of has become gummy or dry which can easily prevent the movement from operating properly. Before you pull out that can of WD40 (DO NOT USE WD40 ON ANY CLOCK), You really need to locate a qualified clock technician who will fully disassemble the movement and clean the pieces individually in an ultrasonic tank. They should peg out the pivots,  polish the pivots, straighten any bent wheels, reassemble, lubricate with a synthetic non-migrating oil and test all operations on the bench for several days. This is supposed to be done once every 10 years at the minimum depending on the environment and how long you wish for you grandfather clocks to run.  Oiling the pivots with the movement in the clock should be done at least ever five years.


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2) The Grandfather Clock was running fine until it was moved

a. First check your leveling. The grandfather clock had become accustom to operating at a specific level.  Give the pendulum a push and listen to the tick – tock. If the tick – tock is perfectly even, move on to check the next step. If the tick – tock is not even ( tock..tick………tock tick) your clock is out of beat. There are adjustable levelers on each corner of the bottom of most grandfather clocks. Watch the pendulum carefully and you will probably notice the pendulum is swinging a little further to the left or right than the other way.  Extend the levelers a few turns on the side  of the grandfather clock that the pendulum swings further. Give the pendulum a push again and see if it improves to a even tick – tock.  You may have to do this more than once until an even tick – tock is obtained.

b. Give the pendulum a push and look from the side to make sure the pendulum is swinging freely between the chime rods and weights. If the pendulum is touching the chime rods and weights, it will stop the pendulum.  Adjust the front or back levelers to make sure the pendulum is hanging evenly between the chime rods and weights.

c. Check the hands to make sure the hands (minute hand , hour hand and second hand if so equipped) are not touching at any point during a 12 hour cycle. If you find your clock is stopping about the same time everyday, there may be an issue with hands touching, moondial issue or another movement problem. If is not as simple as the hands or moondial,  locate a qualified clock technician and have them complete the service for you.


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  1. Gia
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I wish you provide causes and repair of the center weight not working properly and/or stop while others still moving down.

  2. Grandfather Clocks
    Posted July 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    We have expanded an explanation of the problems that might be associated with the middle weight. It can be seen at:

    Good Luck,
    Grandfather Clocks 123

  3. Judith Antonson
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    My father built a grandfather clock for my husband and myself as a 25th wedding anniversary present. It was a kit. It was working very well, when after an unknown cause it seems every 24 hours, the hour chime is skipped, as are the subsequent chimes. I am unsure of which hours are skipped. Unless I am in the room with the clock. I can back the minute hand up and go to the previous half hour, allow it to chime then, and again at the 3/4 hour and it will chime the next hour chime. All weights move. The center weight moves down faster than the outside weights. It seems two hours cycles are guilty of being missed. I have no clue how to correct this problem. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  4. Grandfather Clocks
    Posted August 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink


    This sounds like the chime train is gummed up. There really is no user-repair solution for this. Older movements should be cleaned in an ultrasonic vat about every 5 years to keep them from collecting oils with ground-up metal from wear. The clock should be oiled after cleaning with a synthetic, non-migrating oil after cleaning.

    Good Luck,

  5. Heather Vergo
    Posted July 22, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    We mistakenly wound the weights too tight and are unable to bring them down. The clock won’t tick and when we move the minute hand 15 minutes at a time, it does help the right weight go down but it still won’t tick and the left and middle weights won’t fall at all. Any advice?

  6. Grandfather Clocks
    Posted July 22, 2014 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    There is a release on some clocks which will release the weights, but it is hard to find and may cause a weight to release too quickly and drop through the bottom of your grandfather clock. I would try taking the middle weight off and taking a super heavy duty paperclip and hook it between the hook or pulley and the weight. Let it run for a few hours, then remove the clip and place the weight back on a normal. The left and rights weights will continue to drop by moving the hand and stopping at each quarter hour and let it chime. That will correct it for you.

  7. Phil
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    Why does a pendulum stop swinging and stop making a tick tock sound?

  8. Grandfather Clocks
    Posted August 7, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    It can be a number of issues that may cause this to happen. The article above will point out the main reasons the pendulum may stop. Give the pendulum a good swing with your hand and listen carefully. You should hear a tick – tock for a while. If the tick – tock sounds uneven, like …ticktock…ticktock…ticktock instead of an even tick…tock…tick…tock. Try tilting the clock from one side or the other ever so slightly to see if it improves. If it gets worse…try the other side. This can be done by either try leveling again from left to right by moving the clock very slightly from the bottom until you hear the most even tick-tock. This may not be physically level for the clock case.

    Watch the following videos and this may help:

    The video above is with the pendulum off and looking from the front with the dial off, but you do not have to take off the dial to do this.

  9. Deb
    Posted August 9, 2014 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Moving group moved my grandfather clock so when I restarted it worked for a Drew seconds and stopped. I had wound the weights to top but further investigation revealed they hung the weigts in wrong order so now won’t work. The weights r clear to top and when I make it work it has a noise to it that should not be there so how to I get te weights down and change them to the correct order? I picked this moving co because they said they knew how to move clocks! Is there anything I can do?

  10. Grandfather Clocks
    Posted August 9, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    This will take a while, but should work. Take off your pendulum and look at the hanger where the pendulum was hung. Make sure your chimes are turned on. With one hand in a paper towel or glove to protect the brass, pull down a just a little on the weight in the middle with a constant pull. Push the hanger a bit and it should start swinging back and forth rapidly. It will be acting as the pendulum…just very fast. Continue to pull down on the middle weight just enough to keep the pendulum hanger swinging. You should see the minute hand moving clockwise across the dial. Eventually (and it will take a while…maybe about 30 minutes or more) the weights will drop far enough to remove and replaced in their proper position.
    There is a better way to do this as most clock movements have a release for cable movements, but it is hard to find and if done improperly you may damage the clock or have a weight fall through the bottom of the clock. If the pendulum hanger will not start moving rapidly in the first steps above, it is time to call the technician to come out and fix it for you. It should not take but just a little additional weight pulling down in the middle to start the hanger moving. Again…do not pull down on the middle weight too much.

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