An easy guide to move a grandfather clock

Grandfather clocks are fragile and have special packing needs. Transport them safely with the following steps.

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Grandfather clocks are precious family heirlooms. Their classic appeal and wooden aesthetic remain timeless and elegant, and many owners find their chime and tick nostalgic.

These clocks are durable and made from high-quality parts, making them quite heavy and challenging to haul into a vehicle and move to a new location. Moreover, their mechanisms are delicate and must remain intact when it travels.

Knowing the basics of how to move a grandfather clock can be useful if you need to move your existing clock to your office or new home. Luckily, we got this covered for you. Find out how to securely move a grandfather clock in a pickup truck or any other moving vehicle in this guide.

What you’ll need to move a grandfather clock

Before moving a grandfather clock, prepare the essential tools and supplies for a smooth process.

  • Cotton gloves

  • Scissors

  • Cable ties

  • Cleaning cloths 

  • Old towels or moving blankets

  • Marker or label maker

  • Bubble wrap or other types of packing material

  • Packing tape and masking tape

  • Soft packing paper or nuts

  • Moving boxes and a grandfather clock moving box, if possible

  • Heavy-duty dolly 

A step-by-step guide to moving your grandfather clock

Continue scrolling to see the steps on how to pack a grandfather clock for moving.

Step 1: Inspect for cracks and damage

close-up of a grandfather clock face

Grandfather clocks are often heirloom pieces, so you can expect them to have weak areas, cracks, and dings. Take note of these areas to secure them well before moving the clock to another floor or hauling and travelling in a vehicle. 

Check for any missing keys, screws and fasteners. Next, note any glass panel damage and if the mechanism has any damage or odd sounds. Lastly, photograph the clock before disassembling and packing it to help you reassemble it later.

Step 2: Remove glass panels

Both older and newer grandfather clocks have side and front glass panels, which can be highly delicate. Ensure they won’t break apart during the move by packing them with bubble wrap. Wrap them with enough layers for better protection so they won’t move inside the transport box, then use a marker to label the box as fragile.

Step 3: Secure chains or cables

old wooden grandfather clock

Before moving the clock, secure its chains or cables. Most grandfather clocks utilise either material.

Grandfather clocks with cables often have pulleys. You can insert folded pieces of packing paper or nuts above each pulley. Then, wrap them around the cables to form a barrier between them and lower the clock weights until they’re above the cable mechanism. If you insert enough thick paper to press against each pulley, the cables should remain rigid and unmoving when you try to remove a clock weight.

You’ll find sprockets instead of pulleys above the chain for clocks with chains. Raise the clock weights just enough to use a cable tie below each sprocket to hold the chain in place. Don't crank the weights too high to avoid damaging the chains and sprockets. 

Step 4: Remove clock weights

Remove the clock weights in proper order. Wear cotton gloves, then unhook one weight from the clock carefully. Check for any labels at the bottom or on the side. These labels correspond to the order you need to re-hook them later. If they have no labels, you can use masking tape and your permanent marker to name each according to their position. 

Label each of them as left, centre, and right. You can stand and label the weights in front of the grandfather clock as the reference point. Once done, pack them in enough bubble wrap for protection. 

Step 5: Detach and pack the pendulum

grandfather wall clock with pendulum

Locate the pendulum’s attachment on a guide right above the mechanism. Wear cotton gloves, and then use your hand to stop the pendulum. Then, unhook it from the guide and wrap it in enough bubble wrap or padding material to secure it in a box. Lastly, keep the pendulum guide intact during travel by using packing paper and tape to keep it in place.

Step 6: Secure the chime rods

Your best option to secure the chime rods is to use bubble wrap or other packing alternatives like pieces of cardboard to wrap them inside the grandfather clock. Wrap them securely sp the chimes won’t sway and potentially damage the other parts of the clock during the move.

Step 7:  Remove shelving and embellishments

old wooden grandfather clock

Take out the other components of the grandfather clock if you can. If you can remove the clock’s glass elements, clock face, wooden and brass ornaments, and other parts, cover them with wrapping materials before putting them inside a moving box. 

Use padding materials like extra paper or old towels to ensure the parts are secure inside the moving box. Finally, label the boxes as “Fragile” to ensure they’re handled properly. 

Step 8: Box up the grandfather clock’s body or clock case

The clock’s body needs lots of packing to prevent damage, especially if the clock already has existing cracks, dings, and structural damage. You can wrap the material around it while in an upright position. 

Use a grandfather clock moving box to secure it for transport. This is crucial, especially if you’re moving long-distance or cross-country. 

Step 9: Load the grandfather clock

removal truck waiting to be loaded

Consider the weight and dimensions of your grandfather clock. Most clocks can weigh a hundred kilograms or more, so you’ll need to use a dolly to move it around. You’ll need helpers to assist you in tipping the clock back and sliding it to the dolly. Once done, use moving straps to keep it in place as you haul it to a new room or a moving truck.

You can move a grandfather clock using a pickup truck, but a box truck is better for transporting it because it has a truck-to-floor ramp and sturdy security cables. Move the dolly up the ramp and keep the clock upright as much as possible. Secure it in the same position and do not lay it on the side–its mechanisms and wood get damaged in this position. 

Lastly, use the cables to keep them secure throughout the trip and bring the other boxes containing the clock’s components up the truck. 

Step 10: Unload and reassemble the clock

Once you arrive, use the dolly and ramp to bring down the grandfather clock and bring it inside its new home. Check the clock for any damage. If everything’s good, reassemble the components based on the photo you took or the manual. Afterwards, use a cleaning cloth to wipe fingerprints and debris on the wood and glass.

To start your grandfather clock, manually set the hour and minute hands to the correct time. Then, wind the clock and start the pendulum. If you assemble and start the clock properly, you should hear its familiar ticking sound.

☞ Read also: The ultimate grandfather clock maintenance guide

Set a time to move your grandfather clock

Packing and transporting valuable items like a grandfather clock can be daunting to do on your own. Avoid the hassle of moving your heavy and valuable clock by working with professionals.

Airtasker has furniture removalists with the right equipment and knowledge to disassemble, haul, transport, and reassemble a grandfather clock. Create a moving task and wait for Taskers to reach out to you with offers!

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FAQs about moving and transporting grandfather clocks

It’s not recommended to lay your grandfather clock, especially if it is extremely old. These clocks are top-heavy and can stress their wooden structure if laid sideways. Furthermore, its clockwork components can be misaligned and malfunction when laid on its side, especially when the road is bumpy. 

First, reassemble all components of the grandfather clock. Then manually set the hour and minute hands to the correct time. Once done, crank it and start the pendulum. You should hear it ticking.

You can slightly tilt a grandfather clock to haul it up the truck ramp. Then, secure it with cables while upright inside the box truck.

A grandfather clock can weigh from 45 to 136 kgs (99 to 315 lbs). You’ll need help to tip the clock back, put it on the dolly, and push it up the ramp to the truck. Keeping it balanced and upright during the trip requires manual care, even if cables keep it in place.

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