How do I wind my clock?
Clocks with Weights and Chains:
If the clock has weights that hang from chains, pull down on the loose chain ends, one at a time. A chain must have tension on it to keep it on its sprocket, so if you “help” the weight up with your other hand, don’t take all of the pressure off. I recommend wearing gloves any time you touch brass parts to prevent corrosion. Stop at least a half inch from the maximum height that the weight can go. Do this gently, as banging the weights on the clock case will cause the links in the chain to stretch and eventually break.
Clocks with Winding Arbors:
If the weights hang from cables, or if the clock has springs instead of weights, there will usually be winding arbors on the clock face. Winding arbors are square metal shafts that are visible...
through small holes in the dial. You clock has a key or crank with a square opening at one end that fits on the winding arbors (some keys have a smaller square opening at the other end that is used to adjust time keeping; in a future post I will address the question: “How do I adjust timekeeping?”). Place the key on the winding arbor and wind completely. Before letting go of the key after each wind, let the key turn backwards slightly so that the ratchet “click” settles between the ratchet teeth. Modern German clocks usually wind counter clockwise on all arbors, but many Asian clocks and antique clocks will have different arbors winding in different directions. If an arbor won’t wind in one direction, try the other.
Winding from the back: Some clocks such as French carriage clocks, alarm clocks, and desk clocks wind from the back. These clocks may have a separate key or may have a key that is permanently attached.
Warning: It is very important to have a key that fits. A key should easily slide onto the arbor, but it should fit closely enough that there is little play before the key starts turning the arbor when winding. Remember: Never use a damaged key. My friend lost her eye when a cracked key failed. Replacement keys can be bought at any clock shop. Bring your clock with you to get a proper fit.
8/27/2019 09:27:47 am
Thanks for the tips for winding a clock. You mentioned that a when winding clock with winding arbors, you need to let the key turn backwards slightly to help the ratchet settle. I'm interested to learn if this can also be a sign that you've wound up the clock correctly.
8/28/2019 08:24:01 am
Winding a clock is a lot like praying: it isn't complicated; it should be done regularly, but not carelessly.
6/14/2020 02:42:53 pm
Just inherited a wall clock with springs that hasn’t run in years. The key fits, but will only turn a tiny bit. Pendulum and chimes seem to be functioning. Just can’t get the key to turn more than 1/4 turn. What might be wrong?
9/18/2022 01:04:29 am
I bought a old wall clock (1890) which would not wind,only to find you wind it anti clockwise.
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I am passionate about restoring and repairing antique clocks. In this blog I answer commonly asked questions about how to care for your clock.
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