How Do Grandfather Clocks Work?

21 October 2020

One of the most popular types of conventional clocks today is grandfather clocks. A grandfather clock is a variation of pendulum clocks that possess a tall, freestanding form factor, with height normally ranging from 1.8 to 2.4 metres. Most grandfather clocks possess a carved ornamentation design on the hood that surrounds the dial or clock face. Grandfather clocks have been the primary timekeeping device before since they have outstanding accuracy that can effectively provide time for homes and businesses.

Parts of Grandfather Clocks

If you want to know how a grandfather clock works, you must first determine its primary parts and components. Grandfather clocks are comprised of the following parts:

  • Dial: The dial of a clock shows and indicates the hours and minutes of the day.
  • Hands: Hands are pointers that rotate around the dial in a clockwise direction. They come in short and long hands that indicate the hour and minute, respectively. Some models of grandfather clocks have a revolving thin hand that shows the second of the time.
  • Weight: The energy that is released to the clock as it falls gradually in one day is stored on the weight. Winding the clock can effectively allow the weight to store more potential energy. Additionally, heavier weight can store more energy. 
  • Power Gears: Energy released from the falling weight is utilised by the power gears. These components set the actual clock mechanism at the recommended speed. 
  • Timekeeping Gears: The precise movement and the speed of the clock hands are controlled by the timekeeping gears. 
  • Pendulum: Pendulum is a weight that is suspended from a pivot to make it freely swing. This component regulates the clock movement as it sets the interval of the time for each complete oscillation constant. 
  • Escapement: Typically connected to a pendulum, the escapement is a component that checks and releases the gear train to move forward. The intended function of this part can effectively advance and move the hands of the clock.

Grandfather Clock Movement

What drives the movement of the grandfather clock is the pendulum. This specific component effectively converts energy back and forth. Once its bob reaches its furthest from the ground, it will possess a maximum stored or potential energy. And whenever it accelerates towards its lowest point or nearest the ground, its stored energy will become kinetic energy or energy of movement. The whole cycle continues as it reaches the furthest from the ground again and goes back to its lowest point.

The hands of the clock, which show the time as they move around the dial, are typically mounted on timekeeping gears. These gears can automatically turn and move the hands at their respective speed. The second hand turns the minute hand at 1/60 of its speed while the minute hand turns the hour hand at 1/60 of its speed. What makes the timekeeping gears work is the existence of the weight, which is properly regulated by the power gears and the pendulum.

Clocks have been very helpful for timekeeping, which paved way for their numerous developments throughout the centuries. While analogue and digital clocks have been the standard options for clocks today, conventional clocks are still known today for their distinctive decorative and antique value. For more information about grandfather clocks, feel free to contact us at Ken Ross Jewellers.

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