Taking Care of Father Time
A grandfather clock, also known as a longcase or a tall case clock, is the kind of item we might go for years without having to pack. It is also the kind of item that we simply can’t pretend to know how to pack. So for that day when we do finally find ourselves face to face with someone’s two century old Simon Willard we want to be armed with the necessary know-how.
Here are the 6 Major Points of the process.
- Before we do anything else, we want to know what is loose – and what isn’t. Check for any easily removable decorative parts on the hood (the top section) of the clock. If you find any, remove them and set them aside for packing. If there are delicate-looking pieces that do not come off, remember this for when we pad wrap the clock.
- Remove and properly pack any glass shelves or other removable glass parts from the clock’s case (the part that contains the weights and the pendulum).
- PUT ON CLEAN GLOVES. Our next step is to remove the weights, and if we use our bare hands we risk marring the metal with residue from our skin. We want to use clean, soft gloves to avoid dirtying or scratching the weights. You can find inexpensive cotton gloves like these at most any home center, drug store or household goods retailer.
- One at a time, remove the weights from their pulleys by simply lifting them off of the hooks. Have your packing paper out and ready so you won’t end up having to set the weights down on the sofa or the floor or anywhere else. Mark each weight as you wrap, marking them as right or left or, in some cases, middle. (Note that the weights may already have left/right/middle markings or etchings on them.) Be cautious with these weights, even after they are wrapped. We don’t need anything to go rolling off the table onto the floor.
- GENTLY remove the pendulum by lifting it off of its suspension bar. This should not be difficult but once the pendulum is free from that bar it has to slide through the eye of the pendulum crutch without catching or pulling. To see exactly what we mean, take a look at this video on disassembling an antique grandfather clock, starting from the 7:32 mark. As with the weights, have your packing paper laid out so you can lay and wrap the pendulum immediately. Note: A pendulum’s arm can be extremely fragile – take care not to let it get bent. Pack it in a flattened box carton of appropriate size or fashion a custom-sized carton to give this critical component the attention and care it requires.
- Secure the cords or the chains that the weights hang from. Our first video suggests taping the cords to the drums inside the clock’s movement (all the gears and stuff behind the clock’s face). This is done at about the 6:15 mark, before the weights are removed. Unless there are small side doors that allow access to the movement, taping the cords to the drums will involve removing the entire hood from the clock. Here is a less-complicated and equally-effective alternative: wrap together and tape the pulleys that the weights hang from, as shown in our second video beginning at the 2:00 mark.
From here we simply wrap the clock in furniture pads, secured with tape or, better yet, shrink wrap. We might want to tape pieces of cardboard over the pads to lend extra protection to the glass of the clock’s case, then shrink wrap the whole deal.
ALSO…Remember those fancy decorative parts that do not easily come off of the hood? Cover those areas gently with your pad, and then fashion a cardboard sleeve to form a sort of casing for the entire hood. This will serve as protection as well as a reminder of the delicate pieces that are up there.
Finally, when we move the clock there will be a light clanking or jingling inside. This is normal and basically unavoidable. Just keep the clock upright as much as possible during moving and transport.
During our pre-move correspondence with the customer we should be able to find out if they have an item like a grandfather clock. This allows us to review the steps of packing it up and tells us to bring extra cardboard for the wrap job and a mirror carton or two for any glass shelves we’d have to pack separately.
All this will make us look every bit the pros that we are.
Photo Credit: Thomas Quine