clock & barometer repairs
01277 658800   Billericay


grandfather clock repairs

English antique Longcase clocks generally have a 'seconds' (or Royal) pendulum - that is to say the pendulum (around 39 inches to the centre of the bob) takes exactly one second to swing in each direction. Some clocks have one weight hung on a pulley from a thick rope or a steel chain which drives a 30 hour movement (Strike and Time) so need winding every day by pulling down on the rope/chain. A few might have a seconds hand and even fake "winding holes" in the dial to suggest a better 8-day movement is fitted. But an 8-day movement will always have two weights on pulleys hanging from gut lines and these will run for a full week on a single wind using a cranked key in two holes in the dial. A few have three weights, the third being for chiming on a series of bells.

Most 8-day versions also have a subsidiary seconds hand and some from around 1710 may even feature automata, too, such as Old Father Time (Image 1) or a ship that rocks back and forth. Some will have a moon phase dial and if you live in the northern hemisphere and came to this page looking for help in resetting the moon dial of your longcase clock, here is a simple visual guide on SETTING A MOON PHASE DIAL.

From about 1770, the brass dials were superceded by painted iron dials, the syle of which changed in around 1800 and again in around 1830.

Later longcase clock fall into two catergories - those heavy ones designed and often built in Germany around 1900/1940, and those slimmer and lighter ones made in the past 30/40 years or so, usually also with German movements. Both types will often have a third weight for chiming the quarters (Westminster) but cheaper ones may have no weights at all, or fake ones just for appearance, relying for power on mainsprings instead.

There are some excellent books, such as Darken and Hooper's English 30 Hour Clocks and Tom Robinson's The Longcase Clock. For dating tips try Richard Barder's English Country Grandfather Clocks (brass dials) or Brian Loomes' White Dial Clocks.

Some enthusiasts remove the movement themselves and bring it to me for overhaul and then refit themselves. It can work but installing and setting up a movement needs more thought than you'd imagine so a local repairer may be the better option. If you're thinking about it, take a look at the link below for a guide to setting up a clock of this type.

Overhauling a longcase movement takes special tools and equipment, like small and large lathes, bushing machine, large depthing tool, Rollimat pivot polishing machine, and countless special hand tools. I always strip these movements completely to clean the parts, looking for signs of wear and redress worn pallets, polish and burnish (or replace) pivots and rebush worn pivot holes, replace teeth or whole wheels, and if required I will then finish all the parts with French chalk to give the brass a good lustre before re-assembly and oiling. I will fit new ropes or gut lines unless the existing ones are in tip-top condition.

Have a look at Prices next. Most paid for work is guaranteed.

There is an additional charge (plus travel costs) for personal delivery of the finished movement, installation, and setting up in your own home. However, I've paused house visits until further notice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Not all clocks require a service to get them running so when the pandemic is over I might be able to resume home visits to work on them in situ. A common problem with 8 day movements is that the lines become entangled or wrapped round the winding squares when the weights are taken off for decorating. Or you might find after a house move that it won't run in its new position because it's not in beat, the top end or the pendulum is broken, or it's not standing on the floor rigidly; it's better that the clock case is anchored to the wall.

With 30hr movements, chains are often ill-fitting. They come in several pitch sizes and matching the right one to the existing sprockets is not as easy as it might seem. Often old chains are stretched and then they tend to ride up over the teeth on the sprocket, resulting in an occasional clunk as the chain slips. The best solution is to replace both sprockets and fit a new chain.

If it's a brass dial clock and the silver is worn so the brass shows through in patches, I can re-silver the chapter ring, calendar dial, name plate and other dial parts. This can make a staggering improvement visually as you can see in the photographs on the right. And if the black wax in the engraved numerals is missing in parts, I can re-wax it, too.

If you still plan to do it yourself, please first have a look at my six-part self-help series here: next



  • Worn dial
  • Resilvered dial
  • Dial detail
  • Before cleaning
  • After cleaning