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Grandfather Clocks: Setting The Time


How to set the time on your Grandfather Clock


Setting the time on your grandfather clock is quite easy. The following instructions work on major brands made in the last 30 years or so.
Most grandfather clocks have a Westminster chime that plays part of the Westminster melody on each quarter hour, then plays the entire melody on the hour, then counts the hour.

Grandfather Clock Dial

Setting the time on your grandfather clock. You may move the minute hand Counter-Clockwise without stopping, or move it Clockwise stopping at each 1/4 hour and letting the chime play before advancing to the next quarter hour.

To set the time, move ONLY THE MINUTE HAND counter Clockwise (backwards) until hour and minute hand are at the correct time. DO NOT MOVE THE HOUR HAND WHEN SETTING THE TIME. The hour hand will move automatically when the minute hand is moved.
By moving the minute hand counter Clockwise it is not necessary to wait for the Grandfather Clock to chime as the minute hand passes each quarter hour. Most movements have a self correcting feature which synchronizes the chimes with the time. If after setting the Grandfather Clock on time, it does not chime properly, permit it to operate 2 hours to correct itself.

You may also move the minute hand clockwise, but you probably hear a “single click” sound at each quarter hour point. If you hear the click…stop and let the chime complete it’s sequence before advancing to the next quarter hour. Continue a quarter hour at a time until the proper time has been reached and allowing the chimes to play at each quarter hour.

Automatic Chime Sequencing is a feature found on the most expensive clocks that will play one melody (ie: Westminster) on a given hours, the automatically change to the next melody (ie: Whittington) on the next hour. When it completes all of the melodies on that grandfather clock, it will start over again. The chime selection lever should not be in the “Auto” position when moving the hands on a clock with Automatic Chime Sequencing. Moving the hands in either the Clockwise or counter Clockwise direction while the automatic chime sequencing is in operation could damage the chime mechanism.

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  1. Iris
    Posted February 2, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    When my grandfather chimes on the hour it is two hrs. behind. When it is 12:00 instead of 12 chimes it does 10 chimes. 10:00 it does 8 chimes. Is there a fix for this.
    Thanks in advance for your help.
    My clock is a Howard Miller


  2. The Clock Depot
    Posted February 2, 2015 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi Iris,

    This usually happens when a hour hand is moved by mistake when re-setting the time on your grandfather clock. It is also easy for a finger to slip and move the hour hand while changing the time. Sometimes if a grandfather clock is allowed to wind down so the weights are on the bottom and the grandfather clock pendulum stops, this can happen.

    The following page will show you how to make this easy correction on your clock.

    Grandfather Clock Counts the Wrong Hour

    Thank You,

  3. Mel Cliff
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    My GF clock bongs the hours at the 1/4 hour past, example 3 PM it will bong at 3:15 PM. The bong count is right but the time is 3:15 PM. Thanks for the help.


  4. The Clock Depot
    Posted February 20, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Hi Mel,

    This can be corrected with a simple adjustment. You may see the instructions at
    My Grandfather Clock is a Quarter Hour Off from the chime.

    It only takes a few minutes to complete this and is not difficult at all to correct.

    Robert Pearson

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