How Do Grandfather Clocks Work?

grandfather clock

If you’re looking for a classic clock to complete the look of your space, you can never go wrong with grandfather clocks. These clocks have long stood the test of time (both literally and figuratively). Take any grandfather clock, and it didn’t matter when they were originally manufactured; they’d always have a vintage and classy feel to them. But aside from how they look, what makes it even more interesting is how they work. So if you’re interested in knowing more about how it works, this article will talk about it!

How Do Grandfather Clocks Work?

Although many grandfather clocks are designed to appear, they don’t have a pendulum. Instead, grandfather clocks rely on weight-driven mechanics similar to those in many old European cuckoo clock designs.

Most of these use the fly and the going train weight. The flyweight is usually smaller than the going train and has a relatively sharp edge that allows it to cut through surface dust.

The going train weight hangs underneath the frame and has a rounded bottom that rolls along one or more circular plates called chime tracks as it swings back and forth. Although modern quartz models lack weights, most grandfather clocks still look like they do because of aesthetics rather than for functional reasons.

Why Does a Grandfather Clock Need to Be Wound Up?

To find out how grandfather clocks work, we must first understand why they need to be wound up.

The weights that need to be raised and lowered daily are driven by the clock’s movement (AKA movement unit). This part of the clock is responsible for rotating the clock’s hands at the proper speed and powering an escapement mechanism.

An escapement serves as a timekeeper by making and breaking the power supply at regularly spaced intervals so that it oscillates back and forth between continuous motion and no motion, or what we know as alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). A pendulum works with this mechanism to keep accurate time.

When you wind up your clock, you’re increasing the potential energy of the weights. The lifting process gradually ends when you stop turning the key or winding handle, and the clock begins to run at this point.

The old-fashioned grandfather clock mechanism has changed very little since it was first invented. Although quartz technology is heavily used in today’s clocks, most manufacturers still use mechanically operated movements because they are more reliable than their electronic counterparts.

How Does a Grandfather Clock Keep Time?

Mechanical grandfather clocks are powered by an alternating current (AC) electric motor that turns 60 cycles per second (Hertz). The power supply for this type of movement comes from one 1.5-volt D cell battery behind the dial face on some models, while others may have self-contained power cells.

The motor’s job is to provide a consistent and regulated power supply to the movement, and it does that by sending an electric pulse through the movement unit every second. Note that not all movements are accurate because some motors are designed using less expensive parts, which affect their performance.

Does a Grandfather Clock Need Electricity?

A grandfather clock has to have electricity to work, but the power supply does not stimulate movement. Instead, the swinging pendulum works with gravity to drive a clock’s gear train that rotates its hands. However, modern clocks are more dependent on batteries because they’re easier to maintain than their earlier counterparts, requiring manual winding.