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Modern Cuckoo Clocks

"Old World Quality and Craftsmanship"

These instructions apply to modern weight-driven cuckoo clocks.

Prepare the Clock
Hanging the Clock
Unlatch the Cuckoo Door
Starting the Clock
Winding (pulling up the weights)
If the Clock Cuckoos the Wrong Hour
Regulating The Timekeeping
If Clock Does Not Run
Three Year Lubrication and Inspection

Prepare the Clock: Open up the back by moving the latch aside and gently prying the top out.  Remove the shipping clips (if any) from the bellows (on top of the whistles that produce the cuckoo sound).  Remove the paper (if any) from the gong.  Reinstall the back and rotate the latch down.

Hanging the Clock: Install a #8 or #10 wood screw in the wall, angled upward at a 45-degree angle.  It should be 6 to 6 1/2 feet above the floor.  The screw must be long enough to be securely fastened into a stud in the wall.  Hang the clock on the screw.  Untwist the wire, which is holding the chains, and remove it.  Hang the pendulum on the hanger at the bottom of the clock (near the back).  Hang one weight on each hook.

Unlatch the Cuckoo Door: If the cuckoo door is held closed by a wire latch, move the latch aside.

Starting the Clock: Give the pendulum a gentle push and the clock will start ticking.  Move the bottom of the clock to the left or right until it is ticking evenly.

Winding (pulling up the weights): Place one of your hands on the clock to steady it, and with your other hand, pull down on the free end of one chain, bringing the weight on the other end up to the bottom of the clock gently.  Do this for each weight.  This needs to be done whenever the weights get close to the floor.

If the Clock Cuckoos the Wrong Hour: The hour hand is a friction fit on its shaft, and may be moved around to point to the correct hour, if it is not on too tight.

Regulating The Timekeeping: The clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the bob (usually a leaf) on the pendulum.  On most clocks, the bob is a friction fit.  Move the bob up to speed up the clock or down to slow it down.  Move it a small amount each time.  Typical accuracy is one to two minutes per day.  Move the minute hand to the correct time when it is wrong by more than several minutes.

If Clock Does Not Run: 1) Make sure weights are up.  2) Make sure clock is ticking evenly.  If not, move bottom of clock to left or right until the ticking is even. 3) Make sure pendulum hanger wire is not rubbing on slot in case bottom.  If this is the problem, make sure the clock case is flush against the wall, or shim out the top or bottom of case if necessary.

Moving the Clock: Remove the weights and pendulum.  Obtain a thin wire and thread it through each chain where it enters the clock.  Twist the ends of the wire together.  This will prevent the chains from coming off the wheels inside the clock.

Maintenance: As with any precision mechanism, your clock needs periodic maintenance to keep it running reliably and to give it long life.  We recommend the following:

Three Year Lubrication and Inspection: After three years of operation, your clock should be inspected and lubricated.  We will check the overall condition of the movement, including the mainsprings, dirt deposits on the face of each wheel, and on each pivot, and excessive wear or movement (end-shake) of each wheel arbor.  Assuming each of the foregoing is within operating standards, we will lubricate each pivot and other points of contact using specially formulated clock/watch oil.  We will provide a written evaluation of your clock, our observations and recommendations as to when an overhaul should be completed.

Overhaul: Windup clocks need overhauling every 5 to 7 years.  The environment in which the clock is used plays a big role in the interval between overhauls.  As dust gets in the mechanism, the oil becomes an abrasive paste that causes wear.  The longer the clock runs in this condition, the more repair the clock will ultimately require.  Clocks have very strong mainsprings that will run the clock for years after the oil has gone bad, causing severe wear to pivots and pivot holes “bushings”.  If your clock stops and you spray it with oil to make it go again, it will continue to wear badly, because it is still dirty.  Shortcuts like cleaning the movement absent disassembly, even using an ultrasonic cleaner, cannot properly clean pivots, bushings, and mainsprings.  These techniques merely postpone the need for a proper overhaul.  During overhaul, the movement is taken apart and cleaned in a specially formulated ultrasonic solution.  Each component is examined for wear and damage, and check for correct operation.  The necessary work is carried out including repair to pinions, polishing each pivot, replacement of worn bushings, the mainsprings are replaced (a broken mainspring can easily destroy the movement), the mainspring ratchets and lock mechanism are inspected, and the correct alignment and “meshing” of each gear is confirmed.  Each part is again cleaned; each pivot bushing is then cleaned and polished with a sharpened piece of peg-wood.  The movement is then reassembled and lubricated.  Finally, the movement is put into beat (via an electronic beat analyzer) and any adjustments made.  Your clock is “bench tested” for a minimum of two days and regulated for correct timekeeping, then assembled into its case and allowed to run for a minimum of one week.  A written evaluation of the movement, of each observation and any corrective action taken is provided.  This evaluation should be kept with the clock, as it will provide valuable maintenance history for the next repair facility and enhance its value for sale.

A properly maintained clock will, quite literally, run forever.  Each year our facility services many clocks two and even three hundred years of age.

Don’t forget that BSR Group offers complete case/cabinet restoration services.