If you think you can just load your grandfather clock onto a dolly and roll it to the moving truck, you could wind up with some unexpected clock problems once you unload.

When moving a grandfather clock, you have to ensure that all accessory parts are removed and packed properly to prevent damaging the clock, according to Howard Miller Company, the world’s largest grandfather clock manufacturer.

For the best advice, SpareFoot reached out to a few experts to chime in on how to move a grandfather clock. Here’s what they had to say.

Disassemble and Pack the Clock

Follow these guidelines from the Frankenmuth Clock Company, to correctly disassemble your grandfather clock:

  1. Remove the weights, pendulum, and any removable side panels.
  2. Take a plastic bag and put the chains/cables in it. Tightly wrap a rubber band or some tape at the top of the bag to keep the chains inside the bag. Then take a piece of painter’s tape and tape the bag to the back of the case. You’ll want to keep the chain or cable tight on the gear so it doesn’t come off during transit.
  3. If the clock has chime rods, take a piece of cardboard and punch a hole in it. Put the longest chime rod through the first hole and slide the cardboard up until you get to the next longest rod. Punch another hole for that rod and continue until all the rods are separated in their own hole. Take another piece of painter’s tape and secure that cardboard to the back of the case. This secures the chime rods so they don’t vibrate against each other and break.
  4. The clock may be placed on its back or moved upright once these steps have been taken.

Protect the Pendulums and Weights

Howard Miller Company recommends wearing cotton gloves or using a soft cloth when handling the pendulums or weights.

Don’t Try It Alone 

A big tubular clock can weigh 200-300 pounds, says Greg Burton, Frankenmuth Clock Company general manager. Some grandfather clocks can weigh as much as several hundred pounds.

“We always use at least two people, depending on the weight of the clock,” says Burton. “Have one person pick the clock up at the top and one person at the bottom by hand.”

Don’t Leave Disassembly to Movers

If you hire a professional mover, take the clock apart yourself before the workers arrive.

“Remove the weights and pendulum yourself and make sure each is packaged properly, in the original boxes if you still have them,” says Burton.

Tubes in the back of a tubular clock must also be removed.

National Van Lines advises the following: “Once the grandfather clock is disassembled, wrap the body in a furniture blanket, which is sturdier and more protective than an ordinary blanket, and tape it securely with packing tape.”

Working

Avoid These Mistakes

  • Getting the weights wrong. Mixing up the weights is a common moving mistake, says Burton. A grandfather clock has three weights, one for left, one for the center and one for right, which is typically the heaviest. Sometimes the weights are marked on the bottom. If you get weight placement wrong, the clock won’t function properly, and the chimes may not work at all or chime too slowly.
  • Not letting the clock run down. Don’t wind the clock all the way up before removing the weights. “Let it run two or three days and then take the weights off,” says Burton.
  • Failing to protect the chime rods. Burton recommends putting a towel around the chime rods. “If there’s too much vibration, they can snap,” he says.
  • Mike Sarchet

    Three comments: First, the advice is appropriate for modern grandfather clocks. If you are moving an antique clock from the 1700 or 1800s, you will usually need to remove the movement and secure the bonnet. It is probably worth calling a local clock repair shop.
    Second, a fast and effective way of securing the chime rods is to run a strip of blue painter’s tape along one side of a row of rods and bring the tape around to the other side of the chime rods so that the tape sticks to itself. Do this as low as you can on the row of chime rods and still tape each of the rods. You are not trying to bend the rods; just limit the amount the rods can move independently. Most clocks have two rows of chime rods; do this to both rows.
    Third, If the weights hang from chains, I like to take twist ties and tie each pair of chains together as high up the chains as I can. The goal is to prevent the chains from jumping off their sprockets.

    • Alexander Harris

      Wow, thanks for the additional information! This is very useful.