Easy Troubleshooting Guide for Your Cuckoo Clock

by Gregory Burton


Cuckoo clocks are beautiful yet sensitive and delicate machines. At Frankenmuth Clock Company, we appreciate the joys that owning a cuckoo clock can bring, and as a result, have come up with a brief troubleshooting guide to provide easy solutions to many problems that may pop up as time goes on.


If the Clock Won’t Function Out-of-Box or After a Repair

Pay close attention to the way the clock has been packaged, and be sure to remove any packing material from around the housing. Specifically, be sure to remove the bellow clips (usually two bright orange clips) and paper from the gong on the back panel, and move the wire latch (don’t remove it) on the cuckoo door to the side so that the door can open freely. Also, remove the piece of wire that holds the chains under the bottom of the clock’s case.

Now, start the pendulum once the weights are correctly installed. Move the minute hand forward to the next half hour to inspect the cuckoo sound. If it produces an even “tick-tock” sound, then it is in working order. In some cases, the clock’s case bottom may need to be tilted slightly to accurately and consistently produce this sound.


If the Clock Has Stopped Chiming (or Isn’t Doing So Correctly)

Normally, this is attributed to a lack of sufficient maintenance. Most clock manufacturers and repair experts recommend an annual oiling, but generally a clock can go 2 to 3 years without an oiling if performed correctly. Trapped debris and oil residue often contribute to a wearing of the clock’s pivots and ceasing function. To remedy this, rebush the worn pivot holes in your clock and use a manufacturer or expert-recommended oiling kit. Only use a small amount, as that is all that the clock requires to work efficiently, and excessive amounts of oil can cause significant damage and early failure.


Regulating Time and Fixing Hour Inaccuracies

Sometimes, a cuckoo clock may strike a specific hour but display a different one. This occurs when accidentally moving the shorter hand when setting the time initially, resulting in hour jumps. To fix this, move the minute hand to the next full hour, counting the number of cuckoos emitted. Then, move the hour (shorter) hand to that number as well. Afterward, you can reset the clock to the correct time with the minute hand.

Time can be regulated on a cuckoo clock by moving the pendulum’s decoration up or down. To do this, remove the wooden pendulum rod from the clock and slide the leaf up slightly to speed up or slow down accordingly. Any slight movement will impact the effectiveness of your clock’s timekeeping capabilities, so be sure to carefully place the pendulum back onto the clock with minimal vibration. Irregular time on these clocks is usually the result of humidity and room temperature changes.

These are the most simplistic and basic problems faced by cuckoo clock owners, and we offer many more on our FAQ page, including solutions for problems with quartz cuckoo clocks, chain replacements, and bellow top maintenance. Check out our collection of Cuckoo Clocks parts if you are missing any for your repair.