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There are few clocks that are as intriguing and command as much awe as grandfather clocks. While the newer versions manufactured today are less valuable than the vintage types, they are still delicate and unique pieces that warrant special care and attention when moving them.

That’s largely due to their unique design which makes moving them a challenge – not just the exterior, but also the components that make up the bowels.

Due to their fragile nature, we recommend hiring specialty or specialized furniture movers if you plan to move a grandfather clock, double so for the antique models which go generations back and were probably passed down as a family heirloom. There are a few Boston Movers that can handle grandfather clock moving, so be sure to mention this on your first call – and ask about coverage.

But while challenging, grandfather clock moving is nothing like shipping a classic vintage car from America to Europe. It’s something you can do DIY if (for one reason or another) you decide to skip using a professional moving company

In this post, we’ll detail how to move a grandfather clock step-by-step so that your cherished asset arrives at its intended destination unscathed.

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What Moving Supplies Are Needed to Move a Grandfather Clock?

Grandfather clock moving starts by acquainting yourself with the supplies needed to get the job done effectively.

Thankfully, it’s the usual stuff so you don’t have to go out of your way to source the materials. Unlike most clocks, though, moving a grandfather clock requires you to dismantle it first, but it’s not like it’s the hardest job in the world.

Here is a complete lowdown of what you need to move a grandfather clock:

  • Cleaning cloths – get super-soft cleaning cloths that you will use to wipe down the clock and its components when reassembling;
  • Cotton gloves – to reduce smudges and fingerprints when handling the clock. Can help you circumvent the need to clean or hire a professional cleaner to clean the clock for you;
  • Moving/furniture blankets – have a couple of thick moving blankets on hand to serve as a protective cover when doing grandfather clock moving;
  • Bubble wrap – provides good padding for both individual clock components like the chimes and pendulum, as well as supplementing the furniture blankets;
  • Packing tape – you’ll use it to secure things together, including the bubble wrap and components such as the cables or chains;
  • Twist ties – can be used as a substitute for packing tape and are useful for holding chains together to prevent tangling when transporting grandfather clock;
  • Utility dolly – for wheeling your grandfather clock to the waiting vehicle. You can rent one from your local Home Depot or hardware store;
  • Moving boxes – to hold and transport grandfather clock components;
  • A helper – a grandfather clock can weigh a bit (200 lbs. on average) so it’s not advisable to attempt to move it by oneself;
  • Moving van or small truck – you don’t need a large truck for grandfather clock moving. Any vehicle large enough to comfortably hold the clock should do, but in an ideal world, a small truck would be perfect as this is an item best transported in a standing position.

Grandfather Clock Moving: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you have an idea of the tools and materials you need to move a grandfather clock, let’s go through the process of how to move a grandfather clock.

Grandfather clocks are only to be moved by experts. They are delicate and a small mistake could prove costly.

Packing and moving grandfather clocks is a process that needs zero rush. These are the steps generally involved…

1. Get Acquainted With the Anatomy of a Grandfather Clock.

Obviously, if you’re going to be dismantling a grandfather clock, you need to be well-versed with what’s what.

A grandfather clock is the sum of many disparate parts, and as much as you won’t be taking apart every single one of them, there are a number of components you’ll be dealing with that you need to be aware of. These include:

  • Front and side panels;
  • Hanging weights – are usually two or [mostly] three in number depending on the type of clock;
  • Chains or cables – they act as pulleys and their job is to control the clock’s moving parts;
  • Pendulum – the component that swings back and forth inside the clock. A pendulum guide supports it;
  • Chime rods – differently-sized hammering rods which produce striking and chiming sounds;
  • Hood – the top of the clock.

2. Disassemble Your Grandfather’s Clock.

Now that you have an idea of the makeup of a grandfather clock and are ready to get started with the packing, it’s time to start disassembling your clock.

It is important to reiterate that before moving a grandfather clock, you need to take it apart because – again – these clocks are a sum of many removable parts and not made for moving around. If the components inside the clock shift about a lot during transport, they could break or even end up damaging the clock.

  1. Remove the glass panels (or hood) – start by removing the panels on the front and side of the clock and place them aside for packing. Make sure to wear gloves first to minimize smudging. Grandfather clocks come in different types and some may not have removable glass panels. If that sounds like yours, you might need to remove the hood which is often screwed in place. You will need a helper here to keep it from toppling over as it is over-weighted on one side. Wrap the panels in bubble wrap to prevent breakage during grandfather clock transportation and label them “Fragile”. A moving blanket works as better padding for the hood;
  2. Tie the cables or chains – the essence of tying the cables or chains during grandfather clock moving is to keep them from tangling in each other. To do this, you will need to stop the moving pendulum first. Grandfather clocks can either be cable-driven or chain-driven. In the case of the former, get some packing paper, fold several pieces and stick them against the pulleys, before winding the weights of the clock all the way to its top. If your clock is chain-driven, you only need to wind up the weights halfway. Once you do, take your cable ties and insert them below the sprocket of each chain set, then finish by tying them in place.
  3.  Remove and mark all weights – with the chain or cables secured together, gently remove the hanging weights and wrap them individually with packing paper or bubble wrap. This will shield the weights against any potential damage. First, check to see if the weights are labeled and if not, label them accordingly to make reassembly a cinch. You can mark them Left, Right, and Center (in the case of three weights). This is crucial because your clock will not work if you get the order of the weights wrong when reassembling;
  4. Remove the pendulum – the pendulum is another part you need to take apart when moving a grandfather clock. You should first stop it from oscillating back and forth as we described above. Then, detach it from the pendulum guide at the top from where it’s hooked. As you did with the other components, don’t forget to cloak it in bubble wrap or packing paper;
  5. Secure the chime rods – the chime rods are delicate pieces that can be hard to replace if broken. As such, you want to make sure they are well-padded when doing your grandfather clock moving. To achieve this, place bits of bubble wrap between the rods and use tape to hold everything together;
  6. Remove glass shelves (if any) – if your clock comes with glass shelves, gently take them out and pack them separately;
  7. Remove decorative parts – ornamental features on the clock could get damaged during grandfather clock transportation. If there are any removable decorative elements, therefore, remove them as well and pack them separately.

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4. Pack Your Grandfather Clock.

With the above steps completed, most of the hard work is done. The next step in the grandfather clock moving process is to pack your timepiece. If there are any components that have not been wrapped, go ahead and wrap them separately.

We know we have touched on the wrapping part above, but make sure each element is properly layered to shield against vibration and potential damage during transportation.

We recommend using packing paper as the first line of defense, then re-wrapping the parts using thick moving blankets. Use twist ties or tape to hold the packing material in place.

For the glass panels, place thick cardboard pieces over them and use masking tape to attach them in place. Feel free to throw a layer of bubble wrap on top to provide extra padding, especially if you’re moving long-distance.

As for the body of the clock itself, use at least two moving blankets to wrap it in its entirety. Secure the blankets with packing tape to keep them in place, ensuring the tape does not touch any surface on the clock as that could damage the finish.

Moving boxes are optional if you have followed the grandfather clock moving steps as we have described them. But if you want to err on the side of caution, you can place the clock in a large cardboard box or custom wooden box.

5. Load the Clock Onto the Waiting Vehicle.

With everything set to come moving day –  it’s time to move grandfather clock into the waiting vehicle. You will need an extra pair of hands and a dolly to do this.

When placing the clock on the moving dolly, keep it in an upright position and wheel it slowly to the van or truck. A ramp can prove handy when doing the actual loading as opposed to lifting the clock, but any can fly.

The best thing about moving a grandfather clock in a truck is that you don’t have to remove the load from the dolly. All you need to do is use tiebacks to secure the clock and dolly to the side of the truck. This should prevent any unnecessary movements on transit.

6. Unload and Reassemble.

At this point, we want to believe your clock has arrived at the destination intact.

The next step in the grandfather clock moving process is to unload and put your clock in its designated spot in the house. Unloading basically follows the same process as loading, only this time, it’s in reverse order. The same goes for the reassembly process.

Don’t forget to wear gloves before reassembling and if need be, use a soft cloth to wipe down anything that needs wiping.

Once you’ve completed setting up, wind your timepiece and use the pendulum to kick-start it back into life.

Grandfather clock moving is not a complicated process if you get the steps right and keep in mind what exactly you’re dealing with here: a fragile item that requires utmost care when handling it.

If you don’t feel confident in your abilities to get the job done right up to reassembly, you can always call on a professional mover to do it for you.

However, we cannot overstate the importance of getting the right people for grandfather clock moving because contrary to widespread belief, not all  moving companies are apt to the task; the professional ones included, yes.

What you need is a specialty moving company versed with antique items moving. That’s where we come in.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to Set up a Grandfather Clock After Moving It?

Begin by unpacking your clock and unwrapping the individual components. Proceed to remove the packaging that you placed inside the clock (around the chime rods and hammers).

Next, untie the pendulum and hang it gently. Disassemble the cables or chains from the twist tie, then unpack and hang the weights one by one, careful to put each one in its respective spot (Left, Right, Center).

With that done, go ahead and set the clock’s time.

Put the glass panels back and finish off by wiping down your grandfather clock using a soft cloth.

Can you lay a grandfather clock down?

The best way to transport a grandfather clock is in an upright position. Laying it on its back or belly risks damaging the delicate components inside or even the structure of the clock itself.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Grandfather Clock?

Depends. On distance for one. The longer the distance, it naturally follows that the more you’ll pay to ship the clock.

That aside, the cost will also depend on the nature of the move itself – are you moving the grandfather clock alone or alongside other household possessions? A grandfather clock is basically categorized as a high-value item, so even if you’re moving it alone, it will cost a couple of hundred dollars or more for vintage pieces.

The best way to get the precise figure is to request a moving estimate from (note this) a specialty moving company. Need a moving estimate?

How to Hang Weights on a Grandfather Clock?

Most grandfather clocks come with three weights, although some carry two. If the weights are labeled, it makes hanging easier.

A general rule of thumb, though, is to hang the heaviest weight on the right side – the reason being that it needs more power to run all the chime hammers. The remaining lighter weight(s) can be placed in any order in the center position and on the left side.

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