Grandfather Clock Weights

Purpose of the Weights:
Most modern grandfather clocks will use three weights where each of the three have their own function.
One most grandfather clocks:
1) Right weight powers the chime melody
2) Middle weight powers the pendulum
3) Left weight powers the hour strike
The weights are filled with cast iron within a brass casing and are quite heavy. Each weighs differently for the job at task. It takes a week for the weights to reach the bottom of the clock which means it is time for them to be wound back to the top so they may travel back down running the clock for another week. The energy that is produced by the middle weight falling allows the hands to move and the energy that is produced by the left and right weights falling power the chimes.

Should the weights ever get mixed up and you are unsure about which one goes where, the weights are usually labeled under the bottom.
Look on the bottom of each weight. You may find a letter of the alphabet printed, or stamped on the weight. The letter “R” means the weight belongs on the right side. The letter ” L” means the weight belongs on the left side. And the letter “C” means the weight belongs in the center.
If there is no markings to identify the weights, hang the heaviest weight on the right side as it needs more power to run all of the chime hammers. The other two equal or lighter weights should be placed in any order on the left side and center position. This will usually work on most grandfather clocks.

The weights must be raised every seven days or the Grandfather Clock will stop.

Cable Driven Clocks with pulleys:
Weights that are suspended by cables with pulleys should be raised by using the crank provided. DO NOT lift the weights by hand while cranking. Insert the crank into the crank holes located in the dial face and turn the crank and you will hear a ratchet clicking while the weights are rising. You cannot overwind the Grandfather Clock and the weights need to be near the top to run the Grandfather Clock for 7 days.
**Be sure to remove the crank before shutting the door.
Chain Driven Clocks:
There is a chain located by each of the weights which loops around the top of the sprocket in the movement and falls down toward the floor of the clock. Use a cloth or glove and pull each of the free ends of the chain straight down and it’s corresponding weight will rise to the top of the clock. The cloth or glove will help keep the weights and chains from discoloring over time. You cannot overwind the Grandfather Clock and the weights need to be near the top to run the Grandfather Clock for 7 days.

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  1. Posted November 14, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    My Ridgeway grandfather clock’s pendulum will not keep moving. The chimes work when I move the minute hand. I believe I let the clock run down to a stop. The literature I received with the clock says to never allow that to happen, But it does not tell me what to do if it does happen, Ideas?

    Steve Warren

  2. Grandfather Clocks
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Usually this happens after Grandfather Clocks have been moved. You might check to see if the grandfather clock is level as this will cause the clock to stop. After checking levelling on your grandfather clock, check the “beat” of the clock. You may read more of how to do this at:
    Setting the beat of your clock

    Good Luck!

  3. Kristen
    Posted June 30, 2013 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    You know where it says “DO NOT lift the weights by hand”? Well my 6 year old did. Any ideas how to get the cables back on track?

  4. Grandfather Clocks
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    Oh Boy…Is this a cable system where you wind the grandfather clock with a key or chains that you pull down to raise the weights?

  5. Chuck McCoy
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    My son pulled the chain off of the center track and I can not see the track and do not know how to put it on back on the track. Can you HELP me out on this ? Thanks for any HELP you can give on this. Chuck

  6. Donald Reilly
    Posted July 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    My middle cable is at the top of the clock I can not attach the center weight is there a way to release the cable so I can put it on the cable wheel then attach the the weight at the point I can’t attach that weight it’s to close to the top to get the weight attached

  7. Grandfather Clocks
    Posted July 29, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    You need some long Forceps to feed the chain back over the middle sprocket. Sometimes these can be difficult. I had one that would not feed as there was just no room to feed it and took the movement out of the grandfather clock and drop it into position. The outside sprockets are not to hard to feed, but the middle on is tight.
    Good Luck!

  8. Grandfather Clocks
    Posted July 30, 2013 at 12:03 am | Permalink


    There is a release on some grandfather clock movements, but it might be difficult to find without taking the movement out and knowing where to look. I have also see bottoms of clocks broken out from runaway weights where some triggered this by accident. A simple way for the layman is to make a loop from some strong wire or cable. The weight is about 11 lbs max, so you want your test to be considerably more. Tie on end of the temporary loop to the pulley hook on the bottom and the other to the weight. Check the strength on the loop by pulling down a few times before releasing the weight or you may have a weight that drops. Let the clock run for a few hours and you should be able to hang it at that time. This is not the orthodox way to fix it, but if you are careful it will work fine.

    Good Luck,

  9. Donald Reilly
    Posted July 30, 2013 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    My middle weight cable is up to close to the top if I could get the cable around the sprocket the weight J hook will not hook on to the clip on the sprocket because I can’t get the weight high enough to hook on to that sprocket loop Is there a way to release the middle cable line a few inches which would solve this problem when I try to bring up the weight with the J hook to loop into the sprocket it will only go so high and will not reach the sprocket loop

  10. Jorge Escobar
    Posted July 31, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    My grandfather clock does not want to keep working it keeps on stopping . I checked the weights but they do not have a mark or number. My mother bought it in antique store as a gift for my father. then after he past away it was givin to my sister … and now it was past on to me. all I know its an A.C. Becker of Chicago clock company from around 1910 or 1914. chimes work just keeps stopping

  11. Grandfather Clocks
    Posted August 2, 2013 at 12:00 am | Permalink


    Your weights may not be in the proper order. Place the heaviest weight on the right. Then the second heaviest in the middle. This may work. If not check leveling from left to right and front to back on the grandfather clock. If you still are not seeing the pendulum continue to swing, it probably need to be cleaned and oiled. This should be done by a competent clock technician.

    There is a list state by state of clock repair technicians at:

    Good Luck,

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