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Cuckoo Clock Questions & Answers

Cuckoo Clock Repair

Frankenmuth Clock Company is the largest full-service clock store and repair shop in the American Midwest. Located in Frankenmuth, Michigan, Frankenmuth Clock Company employs a full team of clock repair specialists in-house and carries a wide variety of clock repair parts online and in-store for your convenience. To learn more about our repair services, click here.

To better serve you and help you fix your cuckoo clocks at home, we’ve provided the answers to common clock repair questions below. If you can't find the answer to your clock repair question below, we are please to offer our Tech Time consultation service. Tech Time can be purchased for $7.50 per 15-minute block. To book your consultation, or for other questions relating to clock parts or clock repair, please contact us at info@frankenmuthclock.com.

Common Questions and Answers: Repair Your Cuckoo Clock at Home

"My cuckoo clock will not run after I took it out of the box or after a repair."

First, make sure all the packing material is removed from the clock. Specifically, check for the items listed below:

  • Bellow clips (usually 2 bright orange clips)
  • Remove the piece of paper from the gong on the back panel
  • Move wire latch on the cuckoo door to the side so that the door can open freely (Do not remove the latch, just slide it to the side)
  • Remove wire that is holding the chains underneath the bottom of the clock

Once the weights are on the clock, start the pendulum swinging. Move the minute hand forward to the next half hour to hear the cuckoo sound. Listen for an even tic-toc sound. The bottom of the case may need to be tilted slightly to the left or the right until an even tic-toc sound is obtained.

Below are a few helpful tips for setting up your cuckoo clock:

  • Cuckoo clocks do not necessarily need to be perfectly level to operate
  • Make sure the clock is not leaning forward; it must be flat (flush) against the wall
  • If no tic-toc sound is heard, remove the weights and pendulum and look to make sure the chain is completely on the wheel. If not, reinstall chain properly
  • Ceiling fans, open windows, and floor vents will stop the pendulum from swinging
"My 5-year-old clock has stopped chiming or is not chiming correctly. Why?"

If your cuckoo clock has stopped chiming, or is not chiming correctly, this is most likely due to a lack of maintenance. Most clock manufacturers recommend oiling a clock every year. Though this is a very good practice, if done correctly a clock can generally go 2 to 3 years between oilings.

After 1980, when whale oil used for clocks was banned, a petroleum oil was developed. This oil works very well, but unlike whale oil, petroleum oil evaporates. After 3 years, residue from the oil and trapped airborne dust is left behind. This trapped debris will wear the clock's pivots and its bearing surfaces. Thus, the clock often stops working because of lack of lubrication or from the worn parts. Below is a guide to rebushing worn pivot holes in your clock.

Rebushing Worn Pivot Holes

“How do I use a clock oiling kit?”

Oiling your clock is integral to extending its lifetime. Generally, a good, quality oiling will last about 2 to 3 years, with regular maintenance required. Take care when oiling your clock, as only a small amount of oil is required to do the job. In fact, using too much oil could actually damage your clock and lead to early clock failure. Below is a guide to help you oil your clock at home.

Clock oiling instructions

"My cuckoo clock reads 6 o'clock but strikes 8 o'clock. How do I fix it?"

Sometimes when setting the clock to the proper time by moving the minute hand you may have accidently caught the shorter hour hand and moved it to a different hour. The hour hand is only pressed on the shaft and can be moved. To remedy this, move the minute hand to the next full hour and count the number of cuckoos. Then simply move the hour hand (shorter hand) to that number. If the hour hand becomes loose, push it towards the dial to retighten. Finally, reset the clock to the proper time with the minute hand.

"My cuckoo clock keeps gaining time. How do I regulate it?"

Cuckoo clocks can be regulated by moving the decoration on the pendulum up or down. Remove the wooden pendulum rod from the clock and move the leaf up slightly to speed up and down to slow down. Note that a very slight amount of movement will affect the timekeeping, one way or the other. Then, place the pendulum back on the clock. Humidity and room temperature will affect the timekeeping of a cuckoo clock. It is best to make only one time adjustment on your clock per day to give the clock time to catch up.

"How do I replace the chains on my cuckoo clock?"

If the chain is still on the clock: To replace the chain, start at the end with the hook and open the link, remove the hook and attach the new chain to the old chain. Feed the chain through by winding the clock as usual. Remove the old chain once the new one is through the clock and place the chain hook and ring onto the new chain.

If the chain is off the clock: Hold the clock upside down and feed the chain through the hole in the bottom of the clock. Guide the chain over the gear using your finger to turn the gear. Continue turning the gear as you rotate the clock to the upright position.

"I have broken one of the hands on my cuckoo clock. What do I do?"

If you have broken one of the hands on your cuckoo clock, first remove the nut holding the hands. Remove the hands and note if the center shaft holding the longer minute hand is round or square. Also, take note of the position of the hands.

Second, measure the minute hand for length. If the hand is broken, measure from center shaft to outer edge of the dial; this will determine the size of the hands.

Third, place the new hands on the clock, being sure to place the hour hand first, then the minute hand. Using the proper hand nut set, re-tighten the hand nut.

“How do I replace the bellow tops on my cuckoo clock?"

To replace the bellow tops on your cuckoo clock, remove the bellow whistles from the inside of the cuckoo clock. It is best to do one whistle at a time to avoid a mix-up. Note and mark bellows for left and right in regards to placement.

Transfer all hooks and wires from the old bellows to new bellows. Gently remove the bellow top from the whistle and clean off any remaining glue from the whistle. Attach the new bellow top to the whistle (hot glue works best for this), and note that bellows have 1/4" hole in different sides of bellow. Be sure to match the new with old bellow tops.

"How do I replace the bellow paper in my clock?"

Replacing the bellow paper on your cuckoo clock is something you can do at home with minimal difficulty. Below is a detailed guide to help you recover your bellow tops.

Bellow replacement part 01

Bellow replacement part 2

“How do I set the time on my cuckoo clock?”

Setting the time on your cuckoo clock is quite simple. Below is an illustrated diagram to help you set your cuckoo clock’s minute hand, hour hand, loosen and tighten the hand nut, and configure the pendulum leaf.

Setting time on cuckoo clock

“How do I fix my clock when it’s not running? How do I troubleshoot?”

To fix your cuckoo clock when it is not running, or not running properly, we have listed some tips for troubleshooting the problem at home:

  1. If you put the clock near open windows, fans, doorways, or heating vents, the clock may stop periodically due to drafts.
  2. If the clock does not run, move the minute hand back half an hour and forward to the hour and let it cuckoo. Set the pendulum swinging again.
  3. If the clock does not run, wind the weights fully and check the chains for any kinks that may have prevented the weights from coming down properly.
  4. If you put the clock on the wall and it does not cuckoo, or if its music box does not play its tune, check on the side of the clock for a metal lever – the shutoff lever. The lever may be turned to the “off” position. Disregard the sticker which tells you which way to move the lever to turn the music and the cuckoo on and off. Sometimes these stickers are translated from German incorrectly, so it is best to try both ways. The lever must be moved to one extreme or the other. If it is placed in the middle of the two extremes, problems may result.
  5. Listen to make sure that the clock has an even tic-toc, tilt the clock slightly to the left or right to obtain an even tic-toc.
  6. To adjust the sound of the gong, look through the hole on the back access door of the clock. The hammer can be bent slightly closer or further away from the gong to obtain a desirable gong sound.
“How do I put my cuckoo clock into beat?”

Putting your cuckoo clock into beat is integral to making it sound correct. Adjusting the beat of your cuckoo clock is a fairly simple task, concerning the alignment of the crutch wire on your clock. See the guide below, which details how to adjust or set the beat of your cuckoo clock.

How to put cuckoo clock in beat

"How do I set up and operate my quartz cuckoo clock?"

Setting up your quartz cuckoo clock requires some specific maneuvers, but novice clock enthusiasts shouldn’t be discouraged. It is quite simple, using the steps below:

  1. Turn the minute hand clockwise until it points to 12 o'clock
  2. Open the back cover and insert two (three for clocks with music) batteries (usually C-Cell). Pay close attention to + and – of the battery placement
  3. Hang the clock on the wall and hang the pendulum
  4. Turn the minute hand clockwise, round and round until the clock tells the correct time

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is important that you let the cuckoo strike every full hour before advancing to the next hour.

Should the time displayed on the clock not correspond with the number of cuckoo strikes, you can troubleshoot the problem with the below tips:

  • Press the "Push" button to move the cuckoo call by one hour. For example, if the cuckoo strikes twice move the hour hand to the II (or 2 o'clock position)
  • At the right side of the clock you may find a switch for the sound: "max", "min", and "off"
  • There is a light sensor that automatically switches the cuckoo off when it is dark in the room
  • The batteries must be changed if the cuckoo bird's door does not open or close anymore or if the clock is slow

If you are still having problems fixing your cuckoo clock or quartz cuckoo clock, we would be pleased to offer our Tech Time consultation service, which offers 15-minute consultation blocks at the purchase price of $7.50 for each block. To book your consultation or inquire about Frankenmuth Clock Company’s repair services, please contact us at info@frankenmuthclock.com.