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"How Do I Ship That?"

How Do I Ship a Grandfather Clock?

Grandfather clocks are not your average timepiece. These statement clocks are often heirlooms passed down from generation to generation, and they can be immensely valuable, both sentimentally and financially. 

Leaving your grandfather clock behind when you move to a new home is usually not an option, but moving it isn’t easy either. While it is possible to move your grandfather clock yourself, it is always better to trust the packing and moving process to the pros—especially if you’re moving long distance. 

So how exactly should you pack and move a grandfather clock? Read our comprehensive guide to learn more about four ways to ship a grandfather clock, or use the menu below to jump to special considerations, mistakes to avoid, and step-by-step packing instructions:

1. How To Ship a Grandfather Clock

Read about five common ways to ship grandfather clocks, including pros and cons and when to use each method. 

2. How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Grandfather Clock?

The cost of shipping your grandfather clock depends on what shipping method you choose.

3. Recommended Shipping Method

Moving locally or long distance? Find out which shipping method is best for your move.

4. Special Considerations

Grandfather clocks are often old and fragile, and each piece will come with its own unique set of considerations for packing and moving.

5. Mistakes to Avoid

Keep your grandfather clock safe throughout the moving process by avoiding these mistakes.

6. How To Pack a Grandfather Clock

Pack your grandfather clock the right way with our step-by-step instructions.


How To Ship a Grandfather Clock

1. How To Ship a Grandfather Clock

No matter how old or valuable your grandfather clock is, these intricate timepieces can be tough to move, especially if you’re moving long distance. You typically have 4 options:

  1. Rent a truck and move it yourself
  2. Hire professional movers or a specialty clock moving company
  3. Rideshare or peer-to-peer shipping
  4. Consolidated freight

Let’s take a closer look at each of these methods:

I. Renting a truck and moving it yourself

While renting a truck and moving yourself is often an ideal choice for small or local moves, this option can be very risky if you’re transporting valuable or especially delicate items like a grandfather clock. To keep your clock safe, you’ll need to take extra precautions while packing and loading. 

Loading your grandfather clock onto the moving vehicle

Your clock is most likely to sustain damage during loading and unloading. If you’re moving your grandfather clock in a rented vehicle, follow these precautions to keep your clock as safe as possible:

  • Rent a large enough vehicle. If you don’t have much else to move, a small box truck will typically work.
  • Make sure your rental vehicle comes with a loading ramp. This will make loading your clock and its components onto the vehicle easier and safer. 
  • Never move your grandfather clock on your own. Always enlist the help of 1 or 2 friends or family members to help you dismantle, pack, and carry your clock and its components. 
  • Never carry your clock free-hand. Always use a dolly or a hand truck.
  • Keep your clock upright at all times. Some models, especially antique clocks, are particularly susceptible to damage when placed on their side.
  • Secure your clock and any boxes containing its internal components in place using ropes or ratchet straps. 

Advantages

Disadvantages

Can be more cost-effective than hiring movers (assuming your clock doesn’t sustain damage) You are entirely responsible for packing and loading your clock, including fragile internal components
Your clock remains in your care the entire time No insurance included
You can move on your own timeline  

How much does it cost to rent a truck and move your grandfather clock?

The cost of renting a truck and moving on your own depends on the size of your rental vehicle and the distance of your move. You will pay a day rate based on the size of the vehicle, as well as mileage, fuel, moving supplies, and insurance. 

  • Day rates typically range between $19.99-$29.99 per day for a 10’-17’ truck, or $29.99-$39.99 for a 20’-26’ truck. 
  • Mileage often ranges between $0.69-$0.79 per mile during the week and up to $0.99 per mile on weekends, and can be higher during peak moving season.

If you’re moving long distance, you’ll also likely pay extra to leave your rented moving vehicle in a different city than where you picked it up. 

When should I rent a truck and move my own grandfather clock?

  • If your budget means more to you than your clock.

II. Hiring professional movers or a specialty clock moving company

Professional movers are another good option for local moves, as well as for those who have lots of stuff to transport, and those who don’t want the hassle of or have the ability to load and unload their belongings. 

Most professional moving companies will have experience loading and transporting fragile or valuable items, but they may not be equipped to handle a grandfather clock. Unless otherwise specified, you will also be required to pack your clock before your movers arrive. Be sure to mention your grandfather clock to any prospective moving companies when you’re collecting quotes so they can provide an accurate quote and arrive with the proper equipment. 

If your moving company is unable to handle your grandfather clock, a local clock mover is a great alternative. Clock moving specialists have the experience and expertise to properly pack, load, and transport your clock while minimizing the risk for damage. This can be a good solution if you are moving locally or over a short distance and only need help transporting your

Advantages

Disadvantages

For local moves, specialty clock movers have the experience and expertise to safely transport your clock Professional moving companies may not have the experience or expertise to safely pack and move a grandfather clock
Professional movers will load and transport the rest of your stuff, possibly including your clock Specialty clock movers may not be able to handle long distance moves
Some moving companies provide basic packing materials, such as moving blankets and hand trucks, at no cost Can be expensive, especially for long distance moves
Basic moving insurance is often included May need to pack your clock yourself, unless you pay extra for packing services

How much does it cost to hire professional movers?

A local move comes with an average price tag of $2,300, while long distance moves cost an average of $4,300, according to the American Moving and Storage Association.

The exact cost of hiring professional movers depends on how much stuff you have and the distance of your move. Every moving company prices moves differently—some price moves based on weight more than distance, and others prioritize distance over weight. Call at least three moving companies to get a quote before you book. Comparing quotes can help you create a moving budget, and is an easy way to reduce your moving costs

Not sure whether to hire movers or rent a truck and move yourself? Read our guide for our expert advice:

When should I hire professional movers?

  • Larger local moves, when you are certain the moving company is capable of handling your grandfather clock
  • If you are comfortable packing your clock on your own
  • If you can handle the rest of your belongings on your own, and only need help with your grandfather clock

III. Rideshare or peer-to-peer shipping

When you ship a grandfather clock using rideshare or peer-to-peer shipping, you are paying someone else who is travelling to your destination with extra space in their vehicle to transport your clock. They could be a large logistics company, a single truck owner/operator, or even a regular person on a road trip, and they may or may not have experience moving delicate items like grandfather clocks. 

After you post your grandfather clock on an online peer-to-peer shipping marketplace, potential shipping partners will submit quotes, which you can then approve, reject, or continue to negotiate. This gives you an opportunity to vet their expertise and experience, negotiate a lower price, and iron out any packing, loading, and unloading details. 

Advantages

Disadvantages

Can be cost-effective for long distance moves You may not be working with a professional—there’s no guarantee of expertise or experience, and there’s less accountability if something goes wrong
Opportunity to vet potential shipping partners Need to pack your grandfather clock yourself
Ideal if you are only shipping a few large items and can take the bulk of your belongings in your personal vehicle May need to provide loading and unloading assistance
Can be used to ship just about any type of large item May not be able to track your shipment
  No insurance if your clock gets damaged

How much does it cost to ship a grandfather clock using peer-to-peer shipping?

Peer-to-peer shipping costs can vary and are often negotiable. Typically, it will cost between $300-$1,300 or more to ship your grandfather clock using peer-to-peer shipping services, depending on the size, age, and value of your clock and whether you need any additional services, such as packing or loading.

When should I use peer-to-peer shipping to transport my grandfather clock?

  • When budget is your #1 priority
  • Less valuable, newer grandfather clocks
  • When you are confident your shipping partner has the experience and expertise to transport a grandfather clock

IV. Consolidated freight

When you ship your grandfather clock using consolidated freight services, your clock will share space on the truck with other shipments traveling in the same direction. Consolidated freight is one of the safest ways to ship a grandfather clock, and because you only pay for the space your clock takes up in the back of the truck, it can also be a cost effective option for long distance or cross country moves. 

Consolidated freight shipping services are always provided by licensed and insured shipping companies. The best consolidated freight providers will connect you with an experienced long distance shipping company that specializes in transporting antique or grandfather clocks. This may include:

  • Transporting your clock on an air-ride truck so it doesn’t get jostled in transport.
  • Varying levels of service, such as white glove packing services to ensure that your clock is dismantled, loaded, transported, and reassembled properly.
  • Crate packing, including creating custom foam enclosures to hold your clock snugly in place in transport.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Your grandfather clock will be handled by professionals with the expertise and experience to pack, load, and transport it properly May be costly (but not as costly as an irreparably damaged grandfather clock)
May include crate packing services, as well as indoor loading and unloading Longer timelines—the delicacy and fragility of a grandfather clock does not allow for expedited or priority shipping
Includes shipping insurance  

How much does it cost to ship a grandfather clock using consolidated freight?

Depending on the size of your grandfather clock and whether it needs to be crated, consolidated freight shipping can cost between $950-$3,000. 

When should I use consolidated to transport my grandfather clock?

  • Long distance moves
  • Antique, valuable, or especially sentimental grandfather clocks
  • When you need help packing the internal components of your clock
  • When you need custom crating

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2. How Much Does it Cost to Ship Grandfather Clocks? 

The cost of shipping your grandfather clock will depend on what shipping method you choose:

Method

Cost

Renting a truck and moving yourself Depends on size of vehicle and distance of move
Hiring professional movers Depends on size and distance of move; approximately $4,300
Peer-to-peer shipping $300-$1,300+
Consolidated freight $950-$3,000

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3. Recommended Shipping Method

For short distance or local moves, we recommend hiring a local professional clock moving service.

For long distance moves, consolidated freight is the most reliable option for fragile, valuable, or antique grandfather clocks. Consolidated freight services are always provided by licensed and insured professionals, and the best providers will connect you with a shipping partner who specializes in transporting valuable and fragile items like grandfather clocks. 

Shipping your grandfather clock by consolidated freight can be costly, but it will include premium services such as air-ride trucks, packing assistance to ensure your clock is dismantled and reassembled properly, indoor pickup and delivery, and custom crate packing. For these reasons, consolidated freight is widely regarded as the safest way to transport a grandfather clock. 

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4. Special Considerations for Shipping a Grandfather Clock

Grandfather clocks, also called “longcase clocks”, “tall-case clocks”, or “floor clocks”, are freestanding timepieces that have a weight-driven pendulum clock. They are usually about 6-8 feet tall, with elaborately carved ornamentation on the hood (the part that surrounds the clock face). 

TSI TRIVIA: Until the early 20th century, pendulum clocks were the most accurate timekeeping devices available. Thanks to their accuracy, these clocks—including grandfather clocks—often served as the time standard for households and businesses.

There are two types of grandfather clock:

  1. Eight-day movement: These clocks require winding once a week. They are typically driven by two weights—one that drives the pendulum, and one that controls the striking mechanism. All modern grandfather clocks have eight-day movements
  2. One-day (30 hour) movement: One-day clocks have to be wound once per day, and are generally less expensive than their eight-day counterparts. One-day clocks typically only have one weight, driving both the timekeeping and striking mechanisms. 

Grandfather clocks consist of many distinct parts, including:

  • Pendulum: The pendulum regulates and adjusts the time-keeping.
  • Mainspring: The power source—a spiral torsion spring of metal ribbon that stores the mechanical energy generated by winding the clock. 
  • Escapement: Powered by the mainspring, this device drives the pendulum or weight, converting the rotational motion of the gears into the oscillating motion of the pendulum. This is what creates the quintessential “tick tock” sound of a grandfather clock.
  • Weights: Weights are hung from the escapement using a cable or chain. They must be hung properly to ensure proper functioning, and must be raised every seven days or the clock will stop. 
  • Wheel train: Also called the gear train, the wheel train regulates the speed from the mainspring to the pendulum or weight. The hands of the clock are attached to the spindles of the various gears in the gear train.
  • Crank or winding mechanism: Used to wind or charge the mainspring of any mechanical clock.
  • Clock face: Indicates the time with the help of rotating hands.
  • Hood or Bonnet: The case that houses the clock mechanism and clock face.
  • Finial: Decorative or ornamental elements on the top of the hood.
  • Chimes: Produces musical sequences at the top of every hour (or more often) using a series of wheels, levers, and hammers. 

The variety and delicacy of the internal components of a longcase clock make these items difficult, but not impossible, to ship. Here’s what makes grandfather clocks so tough to ship, and what you can do to safeguard your clock throughout the shipping process:

Delicacy

Grandfather clocks contain glass panels, chains, weights, and delicate internal mechanisms that need to be handled properly while you dismantle and reassemble your clock.

If you are packing the internal components of your clock yourself, always wear gloves—the oil and dirt from the skin of your hands can stain the parts and impede the internal mechanisms. It’s also important to know how much glass is involved when you are getting a quote so your shipping company can know if a crate needs to be made.

Weight

Grandfather clocks are heavy, typically weighing between 100-200 lbs. They’re too heavy for a typical moving box, so they often require crating. For maximum protection, crates should be lined with foam or other cushioning agents to hold your clock snugly in place.

Size

Grandfather clocks, also called longcase clocks, are typically between 6 and 8 feet tall. When you call for a quote or submit a quote request online, be prepared with accurate dimensions so the prospective shipping company can prepare a properly-sized crate.

Age

Older heirloom clocks are especially fragile and will require extra care when packing and transporting.

Sentimental

These timepieces are often immensely sentimental, which can make moving them—particularly over long distances—especially stressful. Trusting your grandfather clock to an experienced clock shipping company can help reduce your stress throughout the moving process.

Packing

While not overly difficult, the packing process can be intricate and stressful if you’ve never managed it before. The weights and pendulum always need to be removed before you move your grandfather clock, and you’ll need to take extra care when packing every component of your clock. Blanket wrapping, for example, is not sufficient for packing a grandfather clock. 

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5. Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping your Grandfather Clock

  • Not properly dismantling your clock: The weights, pendulum, and other internal components should always be removed and safely packed before you move a grandfather clock, even if you’re just moving it to the next room.
  • Lying your clock on its side: This makes them even more susceptible to damage.
  • Not wearing gloves: The oil and dirt on your hands can stain and impede the interior workings of your clock.
  • Relying on blanket wrap alone: Grandfather clocks are extremely delicate, especially if they are antique. Blanket wrapping your clock alone may not provide sufficient protection during a move. 

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6. How To Pack your Grandfather Clock

Packing materials needed

  • Gloves or clean cloth
  • Moving blankets—always use soft, non-abrasive blankets
  • Padding
  • Bubble wrap
  • Dolly or hand truck
  • Strong moving boxes to hold and transport parts—this is not the time to reuse old moving boxes.
  • Large crate or heavy duty moving box for the body of the clock

Packing instructions

Whether you’re moving your clock yourself, have hired a partner through a peer-to-peer shipping network, or are working with a professional clock shipping company, you will most likely need to pack the inner workings of your grandfather clock yourself before your shipping provider arrives for pickup. 

Once you’ve acquired the necessary packing materials, you can begin packing your grandfather clock. Every grandfather clock is different, but these steps are a good place to start: 

  1. Assess your clock. Inspect it carefully for signs of existing structural damage or weakness. Note even the smallest dents and cracks, as well as missing screws or keys, so you can take the appropriate precautions before you move so the damage doesn’t worsen. Take pictures of any existing damage—you’ll need them if you need to make an insurance claim.
  2. Disassemble as much as possible. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to move a grandfather clock without dismantling it.
  • Remove glass panels. Wrap them in cloth, then a layer of bubble wrap before placing them gently inside a box clearly labelled as “FRAGILE”. Artwork or picture frame boxes work well. Be careful not to let the bubble wrap come into direct contact with the glass—it can leave marks.
  • Secure the chains and cables. Reach inside the side panel and wide or crank the weights about halfway to the top of the clock. Chains or cables should be taut and tense so they stay stationary in transit once the weights are removed.

Secure chains in place with packing tape or a twist tie to eliminate the chance of the chains falling off their sprockets, and to prevent them from getting tangled up while the weights are being removed and the clock is in transit.

Secure cables and prevent them from tangling by inserting something, such as styrofoam or tightly rolled newspaper, about 2-3” above each pulley.

  • Remove weights one by one. Wrap each weight in bubble wrap or packing paper. Check the bottom to see if they’ve been labelled with their position within the clock. If they aren’t labelled, label each weight with its corresponding location in the clock (left, right, or center).
  • Remove the pendulum. Gently unhook it from the pendulum guide—it should unhook easily. Do not force it. Once it’s unhooked, wrap the pendulum in cloth and bubble wrap or packing paper before packing it securely inside a moving box. Pack it separately so it doesn’t get damaged, or cause damage, if it shifts in transit.
  • Reposition the side access panel, and lock or tape it in place using painter’s tape.
  • Remove the top of the clock, if possible. Wrap the clock face in cloth and bubble wrap and secure it in place with packing tape. 
  1. Cover and protect any areas, especially edges and corners, that could sustain damage in transport. Use small squares of cardboard as corner protectors, and cover glass panels with cardboard secured in place with packing tape. Add an additional layer of bubble wrap for extra protection.
  2. Pack the internal components into a heavy duty moving box. Secure them in place with bubble wrap, crumpled packing paper, or ideally, specially fitted styrofoam. For antique or especially valuable grandfather clocks, crating is recommended for maximum protection.
  3. Pack the body of the clock into a crate, held in place with specially fitted styrofoam. 

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Conclusion

Grandfather clocks are large, heavy, and extremely delicate, making them particularly challenging to move, especially if you’re moving long distance. These timepieces are also often heirloom pieces passed down from generation to generation, and as such carry immense sentimental (and sometimes financial) value. If you’re planning a long distance move, you have four options for moving or shipping your grandfather across the country:

  • Renting a truck and moving it yourself
  • Hiring professional movers
  • Peer-to-peer shipping
  • Consolidated freight

For long distance moves, consolidated freight is the safest way to ship a grandfather clock. TSI can help—our experienced logistics coordinators will connect you with an expert clock shipping company and help you create a shipping plan that works for your schedule and budget. 

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