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Longcase Clock Installation

1. Dismantling a Longcase clock

  • Remove the clock hood.
  • Remove the weights and pendulum.
  • To remove the weights - To save the lines supporting the weights from getting tangled, particularly inside the movement, these are best let down. By far the easiest way of doing this is to keep the clock running until it stops with the weights at the bottom of the case. If this is not possible simply place/press tape (either masking tape or duck tape) on to the sides of the grooved barrels which the cat gut winds around on the movement, this simply stops the cat gut springing and tangling. The weights can now be unhooked and removed - make a note of which is left and which is right as you look at the clock.
  • To remove the pendulum - This is achieved by lifting the pendulum up about one-half inch, then moving it back so that the steel strip comes out of the slot in which it is engaged. This is a two handed operation, one hand supporting the pendulum through the trunk door, the other guiding the brass block and spring steel, which are situated at the back of the movement. Great care is needed at this stage not to damage it. Finally, the pendulum may gently be lowered, allowing the suspension to pass down through and out of the crutch. It can now be removed from the case and carefully fastened to a length of wood to prevent it from being damaged. Particular attention should be paid to the steel suspension; a useful technique being to fix two small pieces of wood on either side of it.
  • Removing the movement - You can either leave the movement fastened if it is secured by screw/pins, alternatively remove any screws or pins and lift the movement out. If you leave the movement secured to the case it is advisable to roll a towel or put a full toilet roll between the case back board and bell so it reduces leverage when transporting.

2. Setting the clock up

  • Firstly select the location for the clock.
  • Push the case against the wall so it is vertically level - check this with the spirit level - see what size baton you need to fasten the clock to the wall to fill the gap created by the skirt. Usually 2" x 1" x 6" baton is sufficient, but if they are really deep skirts thicker may be required.
  • Make a mark where the baton needs to go - stick thin screwdriver through any existing holes.
  • Putting masking tape on floor at either side of clock so you know the position, then move case out of way.
  • Drill and fasten baton to wall, one screw (2.5" screw) through centre of baton into the wall.
  • Put clock back in position.
  • Check level of case vertically and horizontally using spirit when the case is pushed into position.
  • You may need to pack some 2 pence pieces under the feet to get the levels and eliminate wobble.
  • Fasten the case to the baton using 2 screws( 1" will do).
  • Assuming the movement was left attached to the case, hang the pendulum back on (reverse of taking off) take care with the flexible spring these snap easily.
  • Lower in to case then up the case, through the crutch (steel hooped bit) and into the brass slot making sure it fits into the notch.
  • Hang the weights the biggest of the 2 on the left (usually) you may have made a note of which goes where when you dismantled.
  • Now remove the tape from off either side of the grooved barrels on the movement. (important make sure this is done double check!)
  • Put the hood on swing the pendulum normal instructions apply.

3. Setting time

  • Move the minute hand clockwise only until your clock indicates the correct time.
  • Always allow the clock to strike each hour fully, for the particular hour that you are passing, this will stop any damage to the striking mechanism.
  • Never move the hour hand as this could un-synchronise the striking mechanism. Most importantly never move the hands anticlockwise (backwards) this could seriously damage your clock.
  • If the clock is fast and you want to move back a few minutes or even an hour, it is better to stop the pendulum and wait for real time to catch up with the clock then start the pendulum again.

4. Regulation

  • Your clock will keep accurate time if the pendulum is set at the correct length. If your clock appears to be running slow, then the pendulum needs to be shortened. Turn the adjustment nut at the bottom of the pendulum clockwise (as though you are screwing a nut on a bolt) to shorten the pendulum.
  • Obviously the amount turned will give a different degree of regulation change, if your clock is running a minute or so slow over a few days then ½ to 1 turn should be enough.
  • Like wise if your clock is running fast the same applies except that this time “unscrew” the nut (turn anticlockwise) in the same proportions as above.
  • As temperature changes in the room where your clock is living, the pendulum’s length will alter as the rod expands with a warmer room and contracts with a colder room, this will also affect the timekeeping slightly, adjust again as described above.
  • When you first get your clock it may take a couple of weeks for it to settle down into its new environment and will most likely need “regulating” as described here.
  • When you move your clock from room to room or house to house, it will most likely need adjustment again, a fact of life with old clocks!

5. Date adjustment

  • Some longcase clocks have a date indicator, those with a date aperture can be adjusted quite easily.
  • Every two revolutions of the hour hand at or near twelve, a little flag on the movement will make contact with the date ring behind the dial.
  • At this point you will not be able to adjust the date as effectively this is the clock’s midnight and it will be trying to change the date to the next day.
  • Once the clock’s time has moved away from the “midnight sector”, normally between about 11pm and 3am, you can easily move the date wheel by hand to the correct date.
  • If actual time is only midday then you will need to move the clock forward twelve hours, so it’s midnight is in sync with actual midnight.
  • If your clock has a date pointer, then basically the same as above applies, except that this time you can open the front of the clock a move the pointer, clockwise only, one click at a time until you have set the correct date.
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