Moving truck with ramp (if moving outside of your home)
Permanent marker or label maker
Bubble wrap or other padding
A grandfather clock moving box
Fragile? Check. Lots of moving parts? Check. So heavy you’ll need a few extra hands to help you? Check. Irreplaceable family heirloom? Possibly.
There are plenty of reasons why grandfather clocks are difficult to move, but rest assured, it’s possible. Here’s how to move a grandfather clock like a true professional (and if you’re not up to the task, there’s no shame in hiring a top-rated moving company near you).
Prepping to Move Your Grandfather Clock
In order to move your grandfather clock, you first need to understand its intricacies. Like most heirloom pieces, it probably has a few quirks. All those cracks, weakened areas, and aging pieces can create serious issues during the moving process.
Inspect your clock for damage like:
Missing screws, keys, and fasteners
Cracks in the wood body
Damaged glass panels
Damage inside the clock mechanism
It’ll be difficult to inspect if you’re unsure how your clock works. A local clock repair shop can help you make an assessment. The hardest part of moving your grandfather clock (besides its enormous weight) is disassembly. You’ll need to disassemble your clock and pack the pieces separately. If you don’t know where to start, try these tips for packing fragile items like a pro.
Remove and Pack Glass Panels
Start the moving process by removing the glass panels on the side and front of your grandfather clock. Since these are ultra-fragile, bubble wrap the panels and put them in a moving box labeled “fragile.” Don’t know how much padding to use? The more, the better. Your panels should be fully wrapped and unable to move inside the box.
Protect the Chains or Cables
Grandfather clocks either use chains or cables. You’ll need to secure them so they don’t get tangled during the move. Reach inside your clock from the side panels and stop the pendulum from swinging. The next step depends on whether your grandfather clock has a cable-driven pendulum or a chain-driven pendulum.
If your grandfather clock uses cables:
Locate the pulleys at the top of the cable mechanism.
Insert folded pieces of paper above each pulley.
Place the paper around the cables, like a barrier between them.
Wind or crank the clock weights until they’re at the topof the cable mechanism.
The paper should be firmly pressed against each pulley, and the cables should remain taught when you try to remove a weight.
If your grandfather clock uses chains:
Locate the sprockets at the top of the chain mechanism.
Wind or crank the clock weights until they’re three-quarters of the way up(any higher could damage the chains and sprockets).
Affix a cable tie below each sprocket to hold the chain in place.
Remove and Label Clock Weights
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock
Once the chains or pulleys are secure, you can remove the weights. Most grandfather clocks have three weights, and they’re not interchangeable. You’ll need to remove and replace them in order. Some weights are pre-labeled, while others require you to label them yourself.
To remove your weights:
Carefully unhook the weights from your clock while wearing cotton gloves.
Check the bottom for a label.
If there’s isn’t a label, mark the weight using a small piece of masking tape and a permanent marker. Weights should be labeled left, center, and right.
Pack the weights in bubble wrap and put them in a moving box.
When you reassemble your clock, remember to install the weights in the correct corner. It helps if you remove them and label them while facing your clock.
Disassemble the Pendulum
Your pendulum is attached to a pendulum guide located toward the top of the mechanism. To remove your pendulum, use your hand to make it stop swinging, and then carefully unhook it from the guide. Wrap the pendulum in bubble wrap and put it in a moving box.
You’ll also need to secure the pendulum guide. Simply wrap it in several sheets of packing paper, and secure it with tape.
Bubble Wrap the Chime Rods
Part of packing like a pro is bubblewrap placement. In this case, you’ll want to bubble wrap the chime rods inside of the body of your grandfather clock. Use enough bubble wrap so the chimes can’t move and potentially damage another part of the clock.
Remove Shelving and Decorative Pieces
Sometimes you can remove additional pieces from a grandfather clock, including:
The top or face of the clock
Decorative pieces, such as wooden or brass ornaments
If possible, remove these pieces and wrap them in bubble wrap. Secure the bubble wrap with packing tape, and put the items into a moving box labeled “fragile.”
Pack the Body of Your Grandfather Clock
After the individual pieces are packed, you’ll need to pack the body (also known as the clock case). The most secure way to transport the body, especially for a cross-country move, is to use bubble wrap and a grandfather clock moving box, which you can also use to ship grandfather clocks.
If you choose the box route, keep in mind that grandfather clocks can weigh several hundred pounds. Enlist a few people to help you lift the clock into a grandfather clock moving box. Again, there should be adequate padding so the clock doesn’t move within the box.
Use a Dolly to Move Your Grandfather Clock
Now it’s time to move your grandfather clock, with assistance from a few helpers. To get it onto the dolly, two people should tip the clock back, while another slides it onto the dolly. Secure the clock to the dolly using moving straps. From here, you can move it to the next room or into a moving truck if you’re moving to a new house.
Load Your Grandfather Clock Onto the Truck
The next step is to load it onto your moving truck if you’re moving the clock out of your home. You can also rent a regular box truck as long as you’re able to secure the clock to the side of the truck with cables.
If possible, keep the clock upright—especially if it’s an antique grandfather clock. Laying it on its side can damage the mechanisms and stress the wood. Grandfather clocks can be top-heavy, so you don’t want the box to fall when you take a turn in the truck.
To load the clock:
Slowly push it up the moving truck ramp, with two people pushing at the bottom and one person guiding it at the top.
Secure the clock in the truck using moving straps.
Unload and Reassemble Your Grandfather Clock
Once you arrive at your new house, it’s time to start unpacking your moving boxes. Carefully unload your grandfather clock from the truck using the dolly and truck ramp. Once you have the body in the right location, reassemble the individual pieces. If there are any fingerprints on the wood or glass, wipe it down with a cleaning cloth.
Once you’ve reassembled your clock, manually move the hour and minute hand to the correct time, and then wind it and start the pendulum.
DIY Moving a Grandfather Clock vs. Hiring a Professional
Grandfather clocks are often precious heirlooms that weigh hundreds of pounds, making them an injury risk. Plus, grandfather clock repairs tend to be expensive, especially if it’s an antique. Most people prefer to avoid the risk by hiring a local moving company. A pro mover will charge anywhere between $400 to $4,000 to move a specialty item like a grandfather clock, but it depends on the distance.