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.



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

  2. Judith Antonson
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    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!

  3. Grandfather Clocks
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    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,