Now pretty much everyone has heard the expression the clock keeps ticking away, or tick tick tick, or even tick toc tic tock, but how often have you had the same applied to grandfather clocks ticking away with time.
Now the focus of this floor clock post may not be entirely what you expected. What we want to focus on here is the volume not only of the ticking of the grandfather clocks, but also the volume of grandfather clock chimes. Our focus here is on high quality 8 Day German mechanical grandfather clocks movements that our used today by companies such as Howard Miller Clocks, Ridgeway Clocks, Kieninger Clocks and the Hermle Clock company, with the two main high-end movement manufacturers being Hermle Clock and Kienininger Clocks. Both of these German clock makers and grandfather clock movement makers have been making movements for well over 100 years. In more recent years, features have been added to grandfather clocks like automatic nighttime shutoff, illuminated grandfather clock dials, multiple chimes including not only the best known Westminster Chime grandfather clock, with Whittington Clock Chimes and St Michaels Clocks Chimes, but also adding Beethovens Ode to Joy chime or Schuberts Ave Maria chime. Some people still long for the mechanical two-note bim-bam chime, found more on antique clocks and vintage clocks, but still seen on many models.
So what has happened to the grandfather clock volume over all these years. There is the volume of the sound of the grandfather clock or floor clock ticking, there is the volume of the gong of the hour, and there is the volume of the grandfather clock chimes. All floor clocks have one direction in which they have moved over the years, which is that the grandfather clock chime, ticking and gong volumes have been built-in so that it has effectively been turned down more and more over the years.
If one listens to an antique grandfather clock and compares it to a present day Howard Miller grandfather clock, or even a vintage 20 year old Ridgeway Grandfather Clock, one will find that the gong volume has gone down progressively over the years. For grandfather clocks that chime, whether the Westminster Chime or even a Bim-Bam chime, in general one will also find that the grandfather clock volume has gone down over the years.
Recognizing that people used to use the clocks more as a way to keep track of time, it makes sense that grandfather clocks were built to be heard throughout a home. Nowadays, now are there not only many other ways to tell time, e.g. on television, iPods, game systems, smartphones including the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy III, and PCs themselves, but there are also many more items in the home competing for the full attention of household members. What might happen if a grandfather clock started gonging SO LOUDLY during the Super Bowl being watched by a rowdy group congregating around a giant flat screen tv … well, we might not want to see what might happen. While most all grandfather clocks will have a chime-silence option, it might be overlooked, or might even be an issue for some for everyday conversation, listening to music, or watching their favorite television shows.
The actual volume of the tic tock has also gone down, which most clock consumers today would probably find to be a plus. The grandfather clock chime mechanical movements of today have also been modified to lower volumes, for much the same clock reasons as noted above.
One question we are asked often is whether it is possible to adjust the volume of a mechanical grandfather clock strike or chime. The short answer is no, not really, for most all models. Small adjustments to raise the volume can be made, but that might risk damaging the movement or the loss of the correct chime notes. Lowering the grandfather clock volume has some possibilities, yet that is a question we rarely get in today’s grandfather clock marketplace.
Quartz grandfather clocks, also known as battery operated grandfather clocks, will likely have a volume control, but one has to be especially careful that they are buying a good quality floor clock with a clock movement that is built to last. There are more and more cheap imports of this type.
Lastly, there should not be much of a difference between the volume of a chain-driven grandfather clock vs a cable driven grandfather clock.
As with everything in life, there are exceptions, such as tubular chime grandfather clock movements, but that is a subject we will address separately.