French Strike Maintenance

French Strike Maintenance image #1

Setting Up

Whenever the clock is moved the pendulum should always be taken out. To do this first, determine from the pictures which type of suspension your clock has - either spring or silk. If the movement strikes on a gong this remains in position but if the clock strikes on a bell, first remove the bell nut and then the bell. For suspension spring clocks lift the pendulum hook off the bottom of the suspension spring, bring back clear of the crutch and manoeuvre around the hammer and bell stand or gong. Adjust and replace the pendulum is a reversal of this procedure. For silk suspension clocks, lift up the pendulum and unhook from the silk, then slide the wire of the rod through the small gap in the crutch fork.

Manoeuvre pendulum around the hammer and bell stand or gong. To replace the pendulum reverse the procedure, but after hooking the pendulum onto the silk do not pull down as it may unravel the silk and upset the regulation. Also, ensure that the block is correctly situated in the crutch fork. Then next step is to check the "tick". This must be even in order that the clock continues to function. Swing the pendulum gently and listen - if you are not sure whether it is even or not, try raising one side of the case and listen to see what that sounds like. If the tick is uneven there are two ways of correction.

Again determine what type of suspension spring you have. For spring suspensions it may be on a friction basis and so move the pendulum right to one side and release. Leave it to settle down for about half a minute and then listen again as it may have corrected itself. Otherwise use the silk suspension method.

One way for both silk and spring suspensions is to loosen the two case screws set in the back ring and then slowly turn the front bezel and dial one way or the other until the tick is correct, then tighten up the two screws again. This system however, is only suitable for slight adjustment. The other method is to actually bend the crutch arm. First decide which way it is to be bent by making the tick correct by lifting up one side of the case until it sounds even. If the clock is raised up on the right (looking from the front) bend the crutch minutely to the right (looking from the back). If the clock is raised up on the left bend the crutch arm to the left.

Then try the reaction and decide if the bend was too much, not sufficient or now correct. If there is a problem getting the pendulum to continue to swing, check it is not fouling the case, bell or gong in any way. Replace the bell and bell nut and gently lift up the hammer and release to check the sound. If the bell sounds flat, the hammer is too close, if it does not sound the hammer is not near enough. To correct this first turn the bell round into another position in case the central hole is eccentric. Failing this correcting the sound, the hammer arm must be gently bent one way or the other until the sound is correct.


Wind the clock once a week in a clockwise direction. If the clock is a striking clock wind both sides. Wind until the resistance is obviously too strong to safely continue. Ensure your key fits the square properly.


To set the hands to time always move the minute hand only. Move the minute hand forwards slowly to each half hour and allow the clock to complete its striking before moving onto the correct time. For minor adjustments in a backwards direction, the minute hand should only be moved between the figures of 15 - 1 minute or 45 - 31 minutes. To go back past the 60 or 30 divisions may well damage the movement and at other times may put the strike out of sequence.

Strike Correction

The striking sequence of French clocks can get out of step with the hands for three reasons (Other than a faulty movement). Mainspring run down and not wound, incorrect hand setting or catching the hour hand when setting to time. First determine if your movement is rack striking or locking plate striking. A locking plate strike has a wheel on the back with unevenly divided notches on its circumference. A rack strike does not have this wheel at all. For a rack strike the only correction is by moving the hour hand, which is friction tight, gently to the correct hour lining up to the strike sounded. For locking plate movements lift and release the locking lever which rests on the locking plate outer edge to allow the strike to sound. Repeat this operation until the striking catches up to the time of the hands, then continue to set the hands to the correct time in the normal manner.


For spring suspensions major adjustments can be made on the pendulum after removing it. Loosen the screw in the side of the bob, if present, turn the central nut to the right - clockwise to make the clock gain or to the left to make it lose. Then re-tighten the screw. Some do not have a rating nut, loosen the screw and slide the bob up the rod to make it gain or down to make it lose and re-tighten the screw. Fine adjustment can be made by using the regulator at the top of the figure 12 on the dial. Place a key onto the square and turn to the left - anti clockwise to make the clock go slow and to the right to go fast. With silk suspensions there is no regulation on the pendulum, the only adjustment is by the square regulator projecting through the dial by the figure 12. Turn fractionally to the left - anti clockwise to go slow and to the right to go fast. If your clock does not have this square by the figure 12 it may have the regulation situated on the back plate in the top left position. This is in the form of a circular knob which is turned fractionally to the left for slow and to the right for fast.

Other Types

There are many other types of French pendulum clocks. For advice on setting etc., contact us by email, or a qualified horologist.

French Clocks with Platform Escapements

Setting Up

There is no need for any special setting up as the clocks will go in any position. WINDING. As for French pendulum clocks although some are wound from the back.

As for pendulum clocks although some are set from a central square at the back of the movement.

Strike Correction

As for French pendulum clocks.


On the platform is an lever which is pushed left or right depending on the letters marked on the platform itself or the plate. Either the letters A - R are used or F - S. R or S direction is to go slow, A or F is to go fast. Advance - Retard, Fast - Slow.

City Clocks Maintenance

At City Clocks we will be happy to advise you on your French Stirke clock maintenance.

Contact City Clocks here or call us on 0800 78 345 87.

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