Traditional Cuckoo Clocks and Chalet Cuckoo Clocks
Maintenance & Repairs Questions
My cuckoo clock is not working properly – right out of the box.
Make sure all inner packing is removed including the clips for the bellows and that the cuckoo bird’s door is not latched shut from the outside. If you do not remove all the packing materials from the interior of the clock, it will not function correctly.
What maintenance does my cuckoo clock need?
For the most part, just occasional dusting. It is recommended that you use a paint brush for the exterior to avoid moving the clock from being flush and plumb. For clocks that have dancers, you can spray the interior gently with some canned air.
My cuckoo clock is running too fast or too slow.
This is easily fixed. The pendulum weight will either slide up and down or vertically with a screw. If the clock is running fast, move the pendulum weight down. If the clock is running slow, move the pendulum weight up. It is important to note that 1 millimeter of movement = 10 minutes. For a slide pendulum, it is advisable to mark the back each time you move it. The back of the pendulum is not visible during normal operation and it will save you time if you ever need to adjust the clock again. After adjusting the pendulum, you must let the clock run for a full 24 hours to see if the time is adjusted correctly. If at that point it is still fast or slow, repeat the process.
Do I need to oil the gears or chains?
You will likely never need to. When a clock is oiled, only the gears are oiled, the oil then transfers to the chains. The special clock mineral oil molecularly binds itself to the metal and can last for decades. One important note about the oil – never hang your clock over or adjacent to a working fireplace. The heat can burn or evaporate the oil from the gears over time, lessening its lifespan. In the end, you should never do anything to the inside of a cuckoo clock without consulting a professional.
The pendulum on my cuckoo clock keeps stopping.
There are several reasons why this might be the case. The first two (and easiest to fix) are that the clock is either not flush or not plumb. If the clock is not flush, the pendulum may hit the case, the weights or the chains as it swings. This will cause it to stop. If the clock is not plumb, the pendulum will not tick evenly which may also cause it stop. Similarly, having the clock significantly off flush or plumb will cause the chains to hang incorrectly which can affect the performance of the cuckoo and music. If it is neither of these two scenarios, something is working incorrectly on the inside of the clock, possibly because the chains were pulled too hard or the hour hand was moved. In this instance, do not try to fix it yourself and consult a clock master.
What if a chain comes off?
If the chain has fallen off, you will need to have a clock master repair it. Never attempt to re-thread a chain yourself as you risk permanent damage.
My cuckoo clock plays music at the wrong time.
If the cuckoo call or music play at the wrong time, it most likely indicates that the hour hand was moved somehow. This sometimes can happen when setting the clock using the minute hand. As general rule, never move the hour hand. To resolve this issue, moving the hour hand will be necessary.
The steps are as follows:
- Move the minute hand to the hour and see how many times the cuckoo calls. If you move the clock to 3, and he cuckoos 4 times, you will have to move the hour hand to 4.
- With your fingers or a pair of needle nose pliers, very gently pull the hour hand towards you by grasping the base. When it becomes loose, you will be able to move it to the desired position.
- Once it is set correctly, gently press the hour hand back in towards the dial. Do not push it until it touches the dial, just until you feel resistance.
- After you are finished, when you move the hands to the next hour (via the minute hand only) the cuckoo should call the matching number of times. The music plays in response to the cuckoo, so as long as the cuckoo is correct, the music will be correct.
How do I resolve the cuckoo door staying open?
Usually this will be due to the clock not being flush and plumb. If that is not the issue, then it will require professional servicing.
My clock keeps stopping.
The clock will only stop if the pendulum stops swinging. If the pendulum is swinging the clock is running. See the sections on fixing the pendulum and winding the clock.
Why don’t I hear the cuckoo sound?
This can usually be resolved in one of two easy ways. There will be a small wire by the cuckoo bird door that can be moved to block the door and prevent it from opening during shipment. If you do not move the wire so that the door can open, your cuckoo will not emerge and thus not trigger the bellows. The other reason that the clock will not cuckoo could be that you have the night shut off valve set to the “Off” position. Typically the lever moved up is “Off”, and down is “On”. There should be a sticker by the lever that will tell you the settings.
The cuckoo call sounds funny.
If the cuckoo call does not sound as it once did and nothing else has changed, it is possible the paper on the bellows needs to be replaced. This is rare and usually only applicable to very old clocks.
How long will a cuckoo clock last?
With proper care, your clock can last for generations. If you dust it semi-regularly and treat it with a reasonable amount of delicacy, your cuckoo clock will continue to operate long into the future. When you are ready for a new cuckoo clock, we offer a wide selection of quality, authentic pieces at Village Watch Center in Brookline.