The Grandfather Clock

We had quite a set of instructions for house-dog-and-cat-sitting here in Spain this time around. Clearly, top of the list were the two dogs and three cats whose wellbeing would be our main concern. However, Geoff also has two clocks. Both have 8-day mechanisms and would need winding once a week.

Big Bong, the Grandfather clock One of the clocks is a weight and pendulum grandfather clock; this is the scary one. It is a splendid looking piece of kit, even to one such as myself who doesn’t greatly care for such things, especially when they chime every 15 minutes throughout the night. Artistic though they may be, I’ve never particularly liked chiming clocks, maybe because they make a noise (What was that? The clock was chiming and I missed it.) but, more probably because I can’t escape the feeling that they are incessantly chiming away one’s life (BONG! – there goes another 15 minutes). As well as the normal clock dial with hours, minutes and seconds, this clock has a 29½ day (or so it says) moon phase dial. It has three separate weights, each with its own winding mechanism. Being unversed in such things, I paid little attention as to why there might be three separate weights and winding mechanisms.

Geoff’s instructions: “Wind both clocks every Sunday but don’t over wind them or they may stop and can be a bear to get going again.”

“OK, Geoff – no problem.” (Famous last words.)

I wound the clocks on the Sunday prior to my Friday return visit to England. It seemed that I had been so concerned about over-winding the grandfather clock that I hadn’t wound it sufficiently. It stopped at 10:00 (ish) on Saturday and poor Carol was landed with a stalled grandfather clock.

“Never mind, just wind it, give the pendulum a gentle nudge and see what happens”, quoth yours truly.

“It’s going again but it isn’t chiming any more”, reported Carol after a little while.

Being unversed in the ways of grandparent clocks, we left it at that. At least the clock was running. Geoff would apply the kiss of life to the chimes when he returned from holiday.

Upon my return to Spain, I was intrigued to see that only the centre one of the three weights was descending and that the outer two weights were remaining doggedly high and dry. Curious! There must be multiple mechanisms, the centre one powering the clock while the outer ones control the chimes. My supposition is that one of those outer weights powers the hour chimes while the other controls the quarters chimes but that’s a complete guess.

Once bitten, twice shy. Today is Saturday and, conscious of having under-wound dear old grandfather previously, I decided to wind him earlier than scheduled lest he expire prematurely again. It was about 10:20 AM as I wound the centre mechanism, the only one that had been running. I wound it a little further than I had previously since I had obviously been winding it a day or two short. With the winding key still in the mechanism, I was startled to hear the clock suddenly launch into its 10 o’clock chimes.

“Yippee, it’s working again!”

When the time had advanced to 10:30, the clock chimed 10:15. At 10:45, dear ol’ grandpa chimed 10:30. 🙁

“Ah, well, it’s nearly working again. We’ll still leave it for Geoff to sort out when he returns.”

Saturday being market day in Benissa, we left grandpa to chime away tardily to himself and went to hit the market. There, we invested €5 in a bonito tuna and all of 80¢ in some corda,  the artichoke leaves that have been driving us wild with curiosity. (Watch this space for how they turn out.)

We returned just before 1:00 PM. Good ol’ grandpa chimed 1:00 PM.

“Yikes! It’s back on track.”

Sure enough, at 1:15 grandpa chimed 1:15. It seems that chiming the hour begins the quarters sequence. I had lucked out by winding the clock at 10:20 and, since it had stopped around about 10:00 the hours chime had been synchronized; only the quarters were out. Chiming the next hour seems to have sorted the quarters out.

Welcome back grandpa! 🙂

Posted in Spain, 2008
One comment on “The Grandfather Clock
  1. Kelli Garner says:

    I enjoy this site, it is worth me coming back

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