How To Wind A Clock

Although the concept seems fairly simple, the actual winding of a clock can be quite confusing. This is because there are different types of clocks and some can have more than one winding point. Most clocks will have one, two, or three winding points. Some clocks are wound using a key or crank, while others are wound by pulling on a chain. Although there are many different kinds of clocks, they can be broken down into several different categories according to how they are wound. This tutorial will explain how to wind the following clocks:

Antique British dial clocks
Antique grandfather clocks
Modern grandfather clocks

 

Clock Winding Background Information

Clock Key

In general, the number of winding points correlates to the total number of gear sets. When there is only one winding point, the movement will only have one set of gears. When there are three winding points, there will be three gear sets within the movement.

To determine how many winding points your clock has, look at the clock dial and count the holes where a key can be inserted. Please refer to the picture below showing a dial with three winding points. The reason clocks have multiple gear sets is so a clock can chime on the hour and quarter hour while it keeps time.

All clocks require at least one set of gears dedicated to keeping time. Clocks with two and three gear sets will be able to chime on the hour and quarter hour respectively. Additionally, most clocks are set to run for eight days, before having to be wound. It's always a good idea to wind them every seven days. By winding every seven days you prevent the clock from stopping.

 

Winding Antique British Dial Clocks

British dial clocks are time-only spring driven clocks. They typically have one set of gears with one winding point. A clock with only one set of gears is correctly referred to as a timepiece. Timepieces only keep time; they don't chime on the hour or quarter hour. To be called a clock, a devise must both keep time and have either a strike or chime mechanism.

British dial clocks typically have a fusee movement with one winding point, located in the center of the dial. To wind the clock use either a number 11 key or a number 10 crank. Although British dial clocks are meant to be wound using a key, using a crank is much easier. To wind the clock simply place the key, or crank, into the winding point and turn clockwise sixteen revolutions. When the clock is fully wound an internal mechanism will prevent you from winding any further.

You should be able to turn the key with minimal force; if you are having difficulty please consult with an expert. The most effective way to wind your clock would be to open the front door, insert the crank, hold the clock steady with your left hand, and turn the crank with your right hand.

After winding the clock, set the correct time by moving the minute hand either clockwise or counterclockwise. If the clock is running too fast, or too slow adjust the nut on the bottom of the pendulum rod.

 

Winding Antique Grandfather Clocks

Clock Winding Points

Antique Grandfather clocks often have two weights and two corresponding winding points in the dial. The right weight keeps time and drives both the hands and pendulum. The left weight is for the hour strike and makes a gong noise, at the top of each hour. If the clock is put in silent mode, only the right weight will drop. The lower the weight hangs, the closer it is to the end of the cycle.

To wind, simply insert the crank into the winding points turning clockwise approximately thirteen revolutions. As you turn the crank you should see the weight rise. When fully wound, the weight should hit the underneath of the "seat-board" and prevent you from winding anymore. Repeat this process for each of the winding points. The "seat-board" is the wooden board the clock movement is mounted on. You should be able to turn the key with minimal force, if you are having difficulty please consult with an expert.

After winding the clock, set the correct time by moving the minute hand either clockwise or counter-clockwise. If the clock is running to fast, or to slow, now would be a good time to adjust the nut on the bottom of the pendulum rod.

British grandfather clocks often have a moon dial feature showings the current phase of the moon. Recall from high school science class that the moon goes through different phases during its 29 ½ day moon cycle. If your clock is displaying the wrong phase you can manually move it around until it reads correctly. For example, during a full moon the picture of the moon should be in the center of the display.

To adjust the moon dial apply a small amount of pressure to the moon dial, and move it clockwise until it indicates the correct phase. To adjust the date you can manually set it by moving the date dial, or pointer, with light finger pressure.

 

Winding Modern Grandfather Clocks

Grandfather Clock

Howard Miller is an example of a company that produces modern grandfather clocks. If you have a modern grandfather clock you will wind it one of two ways. Your clock will have either winding points in the dial, or chains hanging by the weights. Howard Miller clocks typically have three sets of gears, each set having its own weight. The center weight is for the time and drives both the hands and pendulum. The right weight is for the quarter-hour chimes and plays a tune, like Westminster, every fifteen minutes. The left weight is for the hour strike and makes a gong noise at the top of each hour. If the clock is put in silent mode, only the center weight will drop. The lower the weight hangs, the closer it is to the end of the cycle.

If your clock has winding points you will need to wind each point using a winding crank or key. To wind, simply insert the crank into the winding point turning clockwise approximately thirteen revolutions. As you turn the crank you should see the weight rise. When fully wound, the weight should hit the underneath of the "seat-board" and prevent you from winding anymore. Repeat this process for each of the winding points.

The "seat-board" is the wooden board the clock movement is mounted on. You should be able to turn the key with minimal force; if you are having difficulty please consult with an expert.

If your clock does not have winding points, you wind it using the weight chains. Each weight will have its own chain. To wind, simply pull down on the chain. As you pull the chain down you should see the weight rise. When fully wound, the weight should hit the underneath of the "seat-board" and prevent you from winding anymore. Repeat this process for each of the weight chains.

After winding the clock, set the correct time by moving the minute hand either clockwise or counterclockwise. If the clock is running to fast, or to slow, adjust the nut on the bottom of the pendulum rod.