a grandfather clock placed in a new home

How to Move a Grandfather Clock

Your grandfather clock is a valuable and beloved possession. It’s not a sturdy piece of furniture to be heaved onto a dolly and packed into a moving truck. Instead, you must take special care to avoid damaging the clock’s moving parts. Like other valuable items, a grandfather clock requires special treatment on moving day. With the right tools and techniques, you can move this valuable heirloom on your own. This step-by-step guide will help you manage the process of how to move a grandfather clock without damage.

1. Gather Tools and Supplies

Having all the supplies you need on hand will help you avoid shortcuts that may result in damage to your grandfather clock on moving day. Since you’ll be disassembling parts of the clock, you will need packing supplies for each of the components. So gather the following tools and supplies before determining how to move a grandfather clock:

  • A helper
  • Moving truck
  • ​Furniture blankets or moving blankets
  • Utility dolly
  • Cotton gloves
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Padding and bubble wrap
  • Packing and masking tape
  • Moving boxes
  • Grandfather clock moving box

Pro Tip:

Do not attempt to move a grandfather clock alone. A grandfather clock can weigh 200 to 300 pounds or more and requires special care while transporting.

2. Inspect Your Grandfather Clock

To understand how to move a grandfather clock, you must know about its moving parts. If you’ve never moved your grandfather clock, then you may not be familiar with all the moving elements. Now is the time to get a deeper understanding of the parts you need to protect.

  • Carefully examine your grandfather clock for damage to the exterior, glass elements, and moving parts.
  • Inspect the pendulum, so you can recognize its current condition and ensure no additional damage occurs during moving.
  • Study the wood case for preexisting cracks and check for missing fasteners.

Any preexisting damage will mean you need to take extra care with those parts while packing.

Pro Tip:

Do not wind the clock up before moving day. In fact, allow it to run down for two or three days after winding before removing the clock weights.

3. Disassemble Your Grandfather Clock

someone disassembling the parts of a grandfather clock

Do All Grandfather Clocks Have to Be Disassembled Before Moving?

Yes, disassembling the clock is essential. Failing to disassemble your grandfather clock before carrying it will likely result in damage.

If you skip disassembly, that will damage your clock’s pendulum or weights. A big part of learning how to move a grandfather clock is proper disassembly for safe transport. While you don’t have to completely take the clock apart, some delicate parts must be removed and packed separately. Take these steps to disassemble your grandfather clock before moving.

1. Remove the Glass Panels

If your clock’s glass panels are removable, it’s best to pack them separately. While wearing cotton gloves, remove the front and side glass panels and set them aside for packing. Try to avoid touching the glass with bare hands.

2. Protect Any Cables or Chains

Your clock’s moving parts are controlled by cables or chains. Begin by stopping the movement of the pendulum. If your clock is cable driven, insert several pieces of folded moving paper against the pulleys and wind the clock weights all the way to the top of the clock. For a chain-driven clock, wind up the weights halfway and insert cable ties below the sprocket of each set of chains. Fix the ties in place.

3. Remove and Label the Clock Weights

While wearing gloves, carefully unhook each weight, and inspect the bottom to see if it’s labeled. If weights aren’t labeled, you must label each one (L, C, and R, for left, center, and right, respectively, is sufficient) for correct reassembly.

If your clock is chain driven, secure the chains to avoid damage to the inside of the clock. Wrap the chains in three sections with soft packing materials like packing paper to stop them from tangling, then secure the sections together with tape.

4. Remove the Pendulum

Remove the side panel of a pendulum clock to access the pendulum guide. Use one hand to grip the pendulum guide and the other hand to gently unhook the pendulum from the front. Avoid using excess force while unhooking the pendulum. After setting the pendulum safely aside for packing, secure the guide by wrapping it with several sheets of protective material like soft packing paper and securing it with tape or rubber bands.

5. Protect the Chime Rods

Chime rods are fragile items. They’re also hard to replace. To avoid breakage, position small pieces of bubble wrap between the chime rods and secure with tape.

6. Remove the Glass Shelves and Decorative Parts

Carefully remove any glass shelves, and set them aside for proper packing. Any removable wooden ornaments that could be easily damaged should also be removed and packaged separately. Refasten the access panel before packing the clock.

Pro Tip:

Not all moving companies know how to move a grandfather clock. Don’t expect professional movers to disassemble your clock. While a professional moving team is experienced in safely packing and moving furniture, they may not have experience or time to safely take care of the moving parts of a grandfather clock.

If you can’t move it yourself, reach out to a specialty grandfather clock moving company and request a free moving estimate.

4. Pack and Protect Your Grandfather Clock

It’s essential to learn proper packing techniques when determining how to move a grandfather clock. Each part of your grandfather clock needs to be carefully packed and protected against vibration and damage during travel.

Individually wrap the pendulum and weights in packing paper, then wrap them in thick moving blankets. Secure the bundles with tape before placing them into sturdy packing boxes of the right dimensions. Use masking tape to affix thick cardboard pieces over the glass panels in your clock. Consider adding bubble wrap for an extra layer of protection, especially if you’re moving it a long distance.

After securely packing all the moving parts, you must wrap the entire body of the clock. Use moving blankets to wrap the entire body of the clock without leaving any areas unprotected. Secure the furniture blankets with packing tape. Be sure to avoid allowing the packing tape to touch the clock’s surface as it could damage the clock’s delicate finish.

If available, a large packing box or custom wooden packing box should be used for additional protection. A pendulum clock box can be slid down over the clock when the top and bottom of the box are unsealed.

5. How to Move a Grandfather Clock to the Moving Vehicle

Here’s where your helpers and utility dolly come in handy. Attempting to move a heavy, bulky grandfather clock on your own can result in personal injury and irreparable damage to your timepiece. If possible, have two helpers help you move the clock. Two people should tip the clock slightly back, while a third slides the dolly underneath. Use straps or ropes to secure the heavy load.

Use two or three people to gently tip the dolly back and balance the load onto the two wheels. Keeping the clock upright, slowly wheel it out to the moving truck. Avoid rushing and laying the clock too far back during transport.

Can You Transport a Grandfather Clock Lying Down?

While some modern grandfather clocks might be safely moved lying down, it’s best to keep your clock upright whenever possible.

Lying your timepiece on its back or side can damage the mechanisms inside and cause costly damage. Additionally, tilting the clock on its side can add extra stress to the wooden case and glass panels of the clock. Antique grandfather clocks should remain upright at all times — it’s the safest way to move them.

6. Load It Carefully

You’ll likely want to determine how to move a grandfather clock into the truck before bringing it outside. It’s important to take your time while maneuvering the clock into the moving truck. Slowly roll the load onto the loading ramp with one person at the top, and two helpers pushing the load. Place the clock inside the truck and secure it with tie-backs to prevent unnecessary movement.

7. Unload and Reassemble the Grandfather Clock

When you reach your destination, you’ll need to figure out how to move a grandfather clock into your new home.

Unloading the clock should follow a similar process to how the clock was loaded. Carefully wheel the clock down the truck’s ramp and to its pre-destined spot in your new home. Avoid unpacking the clock until its spot is ready. This will keep it protected until you’re ready for reassembly.

The last thing you need to do is reassemble the clock in the opposite fashion as the disassembly process. As you install the glass components, wipe them with a soft cloth to remove any fingerprints or smudges. After assembly is complete, wind the clock and start it using the pendulum.

Pro Tip:

If your clock isn’t functioning properly after reassembly, then you may have mixed up the weights. A grandfather clock has three weights with the one on the right typically being the heaviest.

Learning how to move a grandfather clock can seem like a complicated process. Still, it’s necessary to properly pack the components to avoid damage. When everything is properly packed, you’ll have peace of mind on moving day, and your precious family heirloom will remain beautiful for years to come. Also learn how to pack dishes and antique tableware for your move or long-term storage.

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