I get emails and phone calls every day with questions about cuckoos. I like helping
people and I know that when I help someone fix something simple on their cuckoos,
that I won't profit from it. Its not all about money. I believe if you help someone by
giving advice or aid, be it cuckoo clocks or changing a flat tire, the benefits will come
back many fold in many different ways.
Some of the most frequently asked questions are:
Papa how do I set the time? It strikes 4 times on the half hour and once on the
hour, and the time is not set right, and the hour hand is wrong.
Here we go. Assume your clock is right and your hands are wrong. At least 90% of all cuckoo minute hands
have a large round hole in them. If you get the hand off and it has a square hole in it just remove the hand
and replace it at the next quarter or half hour. For the majority that do have the large round hole in them here
is what you do. All the real adjustment takes place with the minute hand. Loosen the nut and remove the
minute hand. Stuck inside the hand is a round piece of brass called a hand bushing. It has a square hole
in it. This piece of brass needs to be turned one direction or the other and then just set the hand back on the
clock. If it looks about right, put the nut on and tighten it and rotate the hand clockwise to see if it strikes the
hour and half hour at the correct time. It probably won't be quite right the first time around. It rarely is for me
and I do this for a living. Be patient, adjust again. Hold the minute hand still while you tighten the nut with a
pair of pliers in the other hand. Once you get the minute hand striking where you want it to, then just move
the hour hand to the last hours struck. The hour hand is a press on fit. Just turn it in either direction, then
use your thumbnails to push down on each side of the hand near the shaft.
Papa my clock runs for 3 or 4 minutes and then stops. What do I do?
First, make sure the clock is level on the wall. If it still doesn't run move the base slightly to the left and listen
for an even tic-tic sound. Try running it again and if it still doesn't run move it slightly more to the left. If the
tics don't even out and the clock still doesn't run then go back to level and repeat all the above by moving it to
the right. Don't worry if the clock looks a little off level, right now we are trying to see if it will run. It may be off
beat and still be able to run. You won't know unless you try this first.
Papa, my chain has come off the gear. What do I do?
First we want to avoid the other chains coming off while you are fixing this one. We want to avoid that with the
other chains. Take a twist tie or a piece of string and pin the other chains together right at the base of the
clock. Put the twist tie or string inside the links and tie it. If you put it around it they sometimes slip down the
chain. This will keep those chains from coming off. Now take the back off the clock and turn the clock upside
down and give the loose chain a little slack. What you are trying to do is allowing enough slack to make a
loop that you can hook around the gear sprocket. It may take a few tries, but if you can see it there is a good
chance you can do it. Use plenty of light. On occasion one link will catch between the gears further up in the
clock. That makes it harder and then it is just
up to luck whether or not this gets done. Like I said, this is a very common question and I would say that
about 50% of the time it works. Some clocks have more room in them than others. If you succeed hold onto
the chain while you upright the clock. Hang it on the wall and then remove the ties on the other chains.
Papa, my clock runs and keeps time, but the cuckoo bird won't come
out?What do I do? Check and see if the shipping latch above the cuckoo door is open so the door
will operate freely. If the clock is new or has been shipped back to you be sure you have removed the clips
that hold the bellows together. Newer cuckoos may have a night shutoff feature. Some have a shut off lever
coming out of the side or a black heavy wire with a loop on it that comes out of the bottom of the clock. Move
the lever down or pull the loop down and try the cuckooing again.
Papa, I've been told by others that my movement is worn out and needs
replacing. Is that the only answer and how can I tell the difference?
Unless a customer wants a new movement that has a night shut off feature I alway just overhaul your
movement. They all wear in certain key places until they stop. They just don't wear out completely so I
overhaul your movement. Here is how to if your clock has significant wear that is causing it to stop running
Caution: do not lay the clock on its back or turn it over because the chains are only held on their sprockets by
gravity and will come off. While looking in the back pull up and down on one chain. Another words tug back
and forth on the winding chain and the weight chain of one wheel. Watch the back plate where the steel
rods the gears ride on come through the plate. Particularly the 2nd gear up from the bottom. If that steel
pivot rod is jumping back and forth in the hole then you have significant wear. Keep doing it and look at the
other holes as you go up each train as you are pulling. If your case is big enough to get your hand in there
just wiggle the bottom gear that the chain rides on. You will get the same effect. Usually the wear starts on
that second gear but it is normal to have 2 or 3 gears worn that much on a clock that has been run a lot. The
wear causes the gears to start separating and they don't mesh well. That causes it to loose power all the
way up the train of gears. . Try the time side also to check for wear. If one side is worn, it is likely that the
other side isn't far behind.
Papa, how does the clock operate the music box?
Notice, this is for information only, pretty please don't try to fix this yourself or you will need me or
someone else for sure. I always advise people to stay away from these and don't bend anything, but
some are going to anyway and at least this gives them some idea of how they work.
I'm going to try to tell you how the music box works. It may not be exactly what you have, but all are similar
and will give your somewhere to start. There should be 2 connections from the movement to the music
box. On some movements both wires come from the same spot. On others there is a flat strip of metal
coming off the right hand corner of the clock and a straight wire coming off the back center of the clock. The
flat strip of metal is hooked to a linkage that pulls a locking pin out of the music box at the top of the hour.
The music box tries to play but the fan is immediately stopped by the straight wire coming off the back of the
clock. That wire will move back and forth as the clock cuckoos and when it finishes it is supposed to drop
away just enough to let the fan rotate freely and the music will play and will lock itself back down. That is
how it is supposed to work. Getting it to do that is extremely tricky. I sometimes spend as much as a whole
day on adjusting one music box. Others may take me 10 minutes. There is only one sweet spot where
everything will work.
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