Grandfather clocks are beautiful household items that often turn out to be family heirlooms passed from one generation to another. Not only the room they are in but also the entire house or apartment can look really cozy and charming thanks to the presence of a single floor clock.
If you’re planning on moving to another home soon, you can rest assured that you’ve got a tough puzzle to solve. Naturally, you won’t be able to bear the thought of parting with your prized possession, therefore you’ll need to find the best way to pack and move a grandfather clock so that it remains in its original condition.
It’s important to understand that freestanding pendulum clocks have special weight-driven mechanisms which are so delicate that a grab-it-and-move-it kind of moving scenario can never have a happy ending, neither for the timepiece nor for you.
Read this step-by-step guide to find many good tips for moving a grandfather to a new home – all essential steps to preparing, disassembling, packing, transporting, and setting a grandfather in the new home.
Ready to tick-tock your grandfather clock move into action?
What to know and what to do before moving a grandfather clock
Before we get to the steps to packing and moving a grandfather clock properly, let’s turn your attention to a few critical things you must know and do beforehand. Preparing a grandfather clock for moving is an essential step that will enable you to keep your treasured item protected throughout the home move.
- Assess the clock’s condition. Your first task is to inspect carefully your pendulum clock for any signs of pre-existing structural damage. The reason why you are strongly urged to complete such a close inspection is that weak spots or damaged components may easily sabotage the relocation mission. Examine your grandfather clock by checking the integrity of its wooden case and its glass elements – even the smallest of cracks can prove a problem during the move itself. Also, look for missing screws or keys. In case you have absolutely no idea how to assess your clock’s current condition, you may choose to turn to a local watch shop for assistance.
- Disassemble your timepiece to keep it safe. Longcase clocks are very delicate despite their habitual sturdy look and feel. You should never just lift and carry a grandfather clock before you’ve made it safe for transportation first. How to prepare a grandfather clock for moving? The weights and the pendulum must be removed and then secured regardless of the move distance – be it moving a grandfather from one room to another, across town, or across the country. Remember that failure to disassemble and protect the clock’s major components can lead to irreversible damage to its internal mechanism. Read on to learn the best way to protect your tall-case clock by disassembling and packing it prior to any attempts to move it.
Don’t use your bare hands. Do not touch the internal mechanism components of your floor clock with your bare hands because the oil from the skin on your hands and any dirt that may have accumulated there can stain its finely polished brass parts and glass elements. Instead, use a pair of clean soft gloves or a soft non-abrasive piece of cloth when handling your clock’s components.
- Prepare the packing supplies. The stage of preparing to move a grandfather clock is about procuring the proper packing materials – soft packing paper for its delicate parts, sheets of bubble wrap, a few (moving) blankets, a roll of tape and of course – a number of cardboard boxes as well.
- Do what’s best for your clock. Consider doing what’s best for your grandfather clock when moving it between two homes. If the timepiece is truly valuable (priceless even) – a genuine antique item that’s been present in the home for as long as anyone in the family can remember, then you must eliminate any chance of potential damage to it by calling in the best specialty movers you can find. On the other hand, if the tall-case clock is not really valuable but you still want to take it with you, then you may choose to follow the steps below and move the grandfather clock by yourself.
How to disassemble a grandfather clock: 10 steps
How do you move a grandfather clock? You disassemble it first. Remember that this is a must-do step, even if you’re in a big hurry to complete this task as fast as possible. After all, the last thing you’d want is to see your treasured possession ruined forever.
Here are the 10 steps you will need to take to disassemble your grandfather clock for moving:
- Step 1. Use your hand and stop gently the clock pendulum from swinging.
- Step 2. Make sure the chains or cables of your longcase clock don’t get tangled and twisted up during the actual haul. This is how you should do it:
- Step 3. Follow these steps if you own a cable-driven pendulum clock: 1) place thick cardboard pieces above each individual pulley, right between the cables. Then, 2) get the weights all the way up, one by one, in a way that the cardboard pieces get firmly pushed against the pulleys. This way, the cables will remain tense and taut when you remove the clock weights in the next steps.
Step 4. Follow these steps if your pendulum clock is chain-driven: 1) pull up the weights about half way, approximately three-quarters of the entire length. 2) Do not pull the weights all the way up to avoid damage to the chain sprockets. Then, 3) secure the individual sets of chains by inserting twist ties below the sprockets, and 4) fasten them tightly. This very step eliminates the danger of the chains falling off their sprockets during transport.
- Step 5. Remove the weights by following these steps: 1) Unhook each weight using caution, 2) check their bottoms to see if their positions in the clock (LEFT – CENTER – RIGHT) have been marked. If not, 3) mark each clock weight by placing labels on their bottoms. Important: Mark the individual weights only while you’re facing the front of the clock to avoid labeling errors, which will lead to an improper installation of the pendulum clock.
- Step 6: Remove the pendulum by following these steps: 1) Take down the side panel that lets you access the pendulum and its guide, 2) Reach inside the clock to take hold of the pendulum guide, then, using the other hand, 3) lift gently the pendulum at the front to unhook it from the pendulum leader. 4) Set aside the disengaged pendulum to await proper packing.
- Step 7. Secure the pendulum guide by wrapping a few paper pieces around it and then fix those pieces in place with rubber bands.
- Step 8. Protect the fragile and delicate chime rods (if applicable) by placing small pieces of bubble wrap between the rods to immobilize them, then secure those bubble wrap cushions using packing tape.
- Step 9. Remove all glass shelves and removable decorations from your tall-case clock and set them aside for packing.
- Step 10. Re-position the access panel and lock it or tape it in place. This step is vital, otherwise, the glass windows may come loose during transport and make a huge mess. Close up and lock or tape in place any doors you may have left open on your grandfather clock.
How to pack a grandfather clock for moving
Needless to say, safe packing is a fundamental part of the challenging operation of moving your grandfather clock to a new home. Despite being one of the most fragile items inside your home, wrapping up and protecting your valuable clock for the move comes down mostly to using your common sense. In the majority of cases, packing a grandfather clock for moving is much easier than the disassembly stage you just completed.
Here’s how to pack a grandfather clock for a move:
Step 1. Pack the clock pendulum in soft packing paper, then wrap it up in a furniture blanket. You can also use an ordinary home blanket provided that the protective material is soft and not abrasive like a woolen blanket, for example. Use tape to secure the bundle and place the protected pendulum in a cardboard box of the right size.
- Step 2: Pack the clock weights individually by using wrapping paper as the first layer of protection and again – moving blankets as the second one. To avoid metal-to-metal contact and consequent damage, never wrap weights together without providing individual protection. Place the weights into a cardboard box whose bottom has already been padded with paper.
- Step 3. Position an appropriately-sized cardboard cut-out to cover the frontal glass part of your grandfather clock, and then tape that protective piece in place. Also, cover any other glass sections using additional cardboard pieces. In the end, place bubble wrap over the cardboard cut-outs and use tape to keep them in place.
- Step 4. Use moving blankets to cover the entire body of the disassembled tall-case clock. Those protective materials will absorb any direct hits, as well as shocks and vibrations while it is being transported in the moving vehicle. Make sure you do not leave any parts of the valuable timepiece exposed
How to move a grandfather clock safely
There’s always an elevated risk of damage should you make up your mind to move your grandfather clock on your own – the expensive and valuable family heirloom that has survived so many years perfectly intact and in good working order. The brave decision to move one of the most delicate items you own should only come after careful assessment of the presented situation and your confidence, experience, and abilities to handle this difficult task without professional aid.
Ultimately, the safest way to move a grandfather clock is to trust a moving company with years of experience in transporting high-value items. How much does it cost to move a grandfather clock? It pays to know how much experienced grandfather clock movers will charge you for packing and moving your grandfather clock. If your longcase clock is genuinely priceless, then special movers can build a custom wooden crate around it for maximum protection.
Request a cost estimate from several specialty movers to get the best price.
How to move a grandfather clock by yourself
Should you feel confident that you can move your grandfather on your own, here are some pieces of advice to help you manage that daring task without any major hiccups along the way.
Here are the top 5 tips for moving a grandfather clock by yourself:
- Never start moving your grandfather entirely on your own. Make sure you have at least 2 other helpers before you begin the relocation process;
- Always use a utility dolly to move your freestanding weight-driven pendulum clock out of your home and into the moving van itself;
- Keep your tall-case clock upright at all times, or at least do your best. Some models of antique furniture clocks are especially prone to damage if they are placed on their sides.
- Make sure the longcase clock is perfectly immobilized inside the moving van – use straps to tie it up in place.
- Position the grandfather clock in the new home, and re-assemble it using the abovementioned disassembling steps in reverse.