Grandfather clocks

Grandfather Clocks: Should you buy Howard Miller Clock, Hermle, Ridgeway, Kieninger or Bulova?

09.13.07

1-800-4CLOCKS is often told by grandfather clocks shoppers that they are overwhelmed by the number of choices BOTH within and between brands. We have made this job easier for our customers by only presenting for sale grandfather clocks that meet our high standards of both excellence of movement and casework. We are focusing here on mechanical grandfather clocks — vs. quartz grandfather clocks. It just so happens that ALL of the brands we carry and that are noted above, have had their movements made in Germany (either Kieninger or Hermle movement, which are generally of comparable quality and absolutely top of the line!).

The cases are also made either in the USA (e.g. for for Howard Miller Clocks and Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks selection), in Canada (e.g. Bulova Grandfather Clocks) , or Germany (e.g., most all of Hemle Clocks and Kieninger Grandfather Clocks).

There is no doubt that this is a fast changing market, and we forecast that within 5 years we will see more and more imported components from China (and other Asian countries), and entire clocks themselves. It is already happening, but the gap in quality means we will not even consider selling them at this time. We expect that to change in the coming years, both by these Companies selling direct in USA, and by the exisiting best manufactures sourcing clocks components from the Far East.

Stay tuned – it is going to be wild decade, and a wild time for the industry.

Moving Grandfather Clocks: Newer or Antique Clocks

09.08.07

One of the grandfather clock questions we are asked most frequently, and service calls we make many times on a regular basis, is by Grandfather Clock owners who are moving their Grandfather Clocks, whether in their home, across the street to a new home, moving to a new city nearby or across country, or shipping a grandfather clock overseas.

We are compelled to state that there is never any “one size fits all” advice that can be accurate. Please also note that if one follows this advice when moving your grandfather clock, we make no representations or warranties that this advice will apply to you. Use it at your own risk! Also note that these steps are not time sequential, and should be read in their entirety before acting on anything. Furthermore, even under the best of moving circumstance, when moving a grandfather clock, it is not at all unusual that adjustments may be required once the grandfather clock has reached its final destination after the grandfather clock is once again set-up. This is as true for newer grandfather clocks as it is for antique grandfather clocks. It also applies to mechanical weight-driven clocks only, and not quartz grandfather clocks, which in general would be much easier to move.

Here are some basic guidelines when contemplating your grandfather clock move:

1. NEVER move a grandfather clock, even across the room, with its weights and pendulum attached. Not only can this easily damage the movement, but it can also cause the pendulum (most likely suspension) to break, as well as possibly allowing the weights to swing in the case, and break or damage the glass and case.

2. A good first step is generally to remove the grandfather clock’s pendulum. Be very careful to not damage the suspension spring where the pendulum’s top meets the clocks movement. Also, after removing the grandfather clock’s pendulum, be sure it is packed especially well, and the suspension at the top of the pendulum does not break in transit.

3. Removing the grandfather clocks weights is a next critical step. For cable driven grandfather clocks, we generally recommend first winding the clock most of the way up, may leaving just about 6 inches more than usual atop the position they would usually be in with a full wind. For cable-driven grandfather clocks, it is a good idea to perhaps pull up the cables halfway.

4. After removing each weight from the grandfather clock, it is a good idea, if the weights are not already marked on the bottom something like L. M, R (for Left, Middle, Right), for you to tape on the bottom of each weight whether this weight is for the left, middle or right side of the grandfather clock. This is true for single weight driven and two weight drive grandfather clocks as well. The weights generally do not each weigh the same, and mixing up the weights can cause serious performance issues, and possibly damage, to your grandfather clock. ALSO, make sure to pack the weights separately from the clock, and whatever you do, do not put them inside the case of the grandfather clock, even after the time they are packed up. This would only be asking for damage to the clocks case and the clock itself.

5. While you are removing the weights from the pulleys beneath the cables or chains, one must be extremely careful to ensure both that the cables or chains (a) do not get intertwined with one another, or (b) snap or otherwise move back up into the movement, and get crossed or caught or misaligned with the grandfather clocks movement. To accomplish both of the above objectives, we usually take a piece of cardboard to put behind the cable or chain and clock pulleys, and as each weight is removed, tape each individual cable or chain to the cardboard. When all three (or fewer, as applicable) cables or chains are attached to the cardboard, this does a very good job of helping to ensure they will neither cross over or move up into the clocks movement and/or get misaligned.

6. When preparing for the actual move, one needs to make several decisions based on your individual clocks configuration. One key one is whether your grandfather clock has a hood that slides off. These are prevalent especially in Antique Grandfather Clocks. If the hood is removable, it might make sense to remove the hood and pack and ship it separately. The only real downside is that by removing the hood, one is exposing the grandfather clock movement, so it is somewhat of a tradeoff, and based on individual opinion, discretion, cost, and even supplies available.

7. To crate or not to crate your grandfather clock for shipping – there is no doubt that building a wooden crate especially for your grandfather clock, and of course packing and padding (and lots of bubble wrap, of course!) it extremely well, minimizes the risk of damage in transit, and may be necessary or required for many moving companies. Alternatives include crating the clock include blanket wrapping if you can find a mover who specializes in antiques that are blanket-wrapped. Disadvantages to crating including the cost, which generally ranges in the $200-$500 range. Blanket wrapping your Grandfather Clock saves one the cost of crating noted above, but the disadvantages include longer shipping times and an increased chance of damage in transit. Finding a good blanket wrap shipper can also be a challenge.

8. If you are moving the grandfather clock yourself locally in a truck, you might want to take the chance of blanket-wrapping it, and insure that it is on its back and that it is tied down well or wedged in and that nothing heavy can or will fall on it. There is also the option of shipping the clock in a heavy cardboard container, but we would recommend only even considering this if you are or have access to someone who can pack the clock extraordinarily well and has experience in this area.

9. The grandfather clock should never be on its side or face down. While shipping it upright might be considered ideal, in our experience, the chances of the grandfather clock tipping over are too great.

If one has any hesitations, or even if one does not, it might be a good idea to contact a grandfather clock packing specialist near you.

We are open to any comments and suggestions to make these instructions more useful, and we will either include them as a response to our post or incorporate them into a revised post.

Oh, and be sure not to forget you grandfather clock crank winding key or door lock key.

Howard Miller Grandfather Clocks

New vs. Antique Grandfather Clocks – Some Stark Choices

09.06.07

Antique grandfather clocks, made by potentially any skilled craftsman anywhere (but geographically concentrated in certain areas of Europe and the USA), are very different animals compared to the new Grandfather Clocks – made by companies such as Howard Miller Clocks, Kieninger Clocks, Hermle Clocks, Ridgeway Clocks, Bulova Clocks and others.

When one buys a new grandfather clock such as a Howard Miller Grandfather Clock, one can generally assume it will be working “right out of the box”. When buying an Antique Grandfather Clock, which may be smart for investment purposes, one needs to be prepared for a whole host of additional challenges, as well as some trade-offs, compared to a new clock.

When buying an antique grandfather clock, one needs to attempt to know:

1. Is the clock “all original”, or is it in clock terminology “a marriage” (meaning the case and movement are not original to each other), or is it even possibly one of the ever more present complete reproductions of an antique clock (fake antique clocks is a rampant and fast-growing problem). [Despite the USA's increased focus on "Family Values", Clock Marriages are generally deemed to make clocks close to worthless, at least for serious clocks investors, for anything but home decor value]. Generally, in our opinion, one needs a clock expert to tell the difference.

As much as we love eBay (and sell and buy, and plan to continue), we sadly say that our opinion is that eBay has become a haven for fake antique clocks and pocket watches, not to mention vintage watches and most definitely for new watches. Honestly, we fear for the poor clocks or pocket watches collector who is just starting out today with no expertise behind him/her. Historically, and sticking with clocks as an example, one only had to worry about a clock marriage, as described above. Nowadays, we see new movements in old cases, old movements in news cases, and reproduction movements in new cases, which is essentially a wholesale reproduction, yet theoretically branded by a noted clockmaker of yore.

2. Condition of the clock case – a new clock generally would have or should have a “perfect finish”, many times withwood cominations and inlays unimaginable by antique clock makers. An antique clock, unless it is already fully restored (or cared for immaculately over its lifetime), is likely to need some additional woodwork. NOT necesarily a problem, just keep your checkkbooks handy and be prepared forLONG lead times for people who are really skilled in this area. They are in great demand.

3. Grandfather Clock Movement and Strike and Chimes – the movements in new clocks generally give more chime choices, e.g. Westminster Chimes (like Big Ben Clock Tower plays), Whittington Chimes, or St Michaels Chimes). Most antique grandfather clocks, at least clocks in similar price brackets, will simply chime on the hour for the number of hours and once on the half-hour. Antique grandfather clocks with more complicated chiming mechanisms are certainly available, and yet carry a correspondingly higher price tag. Also, the movements, while generally made with what might be considered sturdier movements than new grandfather clocks, will absolutely need to make sure they have a full overhaul to help insure years of continous worry-free operation. Having said that, a “project clock” can be an invitation to a money pit for restoration, while seeking clocksmiths with scarce skills and and qualified woodworkers who are also in very short supply.

4. The Maintenance of an Antique Grandfather Clock, for all the reasons stated above, is likely to be much higher over its life. Having said that, for someone who prefers a genuine antique, with careful shopping and appropriate support lined up, it can be both a good investment and a rewarding shopping experience. Just mak certain you have the appropriate reliable expertise in your corner when it comes the time to make a purchase decison.

5. Anique grandfather clock repair, as with other types of clocks and pocket watches, have a great divide in the standardization and resulting ease of antique grandfather clock repairs both within and between countries. The 2 most important contributing factors to this are: 1. that European Grandfather Clocks are, generally, much older than their American clock counterparts. There were not common standards either across makers or countries, especially in the earlier centuries of Grandfather Clock production post 1650. Even in the 1800s, as there was beginning to be a reasonable amount of standardization with countries and betweeen manufacturers, finding common movements or parts was in most cases a fool’s errand. Many older Grandfather Clocks made in the USA were generally careful to do whatever documentation was required should the clock need to be fixed. If today you are purchasing a new Howard Miller Grandfather Clock, Hermle Grandfather Clock, Kieninger Clocks, Hermle Grandfather Clocks, Ridgeway Grandfather Clocks, or even one of the Seth Thomas Clocks, replacement parts should almost always be readily available and reasonably easy to find for years and years to come.

In summary, we would recommend BOTH new and antique grandfather clocks. Just be sure you do your homework, and go in with your eyes open. Each have their advantages, and aside from doing the homework, it can also very much be a matter of personal taste, or sentimental value of continuing to keep a grandfather clock in the family from generation to generation. BOTH ARE GREAT! BOTH ARE AND WILL BE TIMELESS!

Howard Miller Lindsey Grandfather Clock Model 611-046Howard Miller Lindsey Grandfather Clock, Model 611-046, blends traditional antique grandfather clock look and sound with benefits of modern-day clock decorations and functionality

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