DIY Cuckoo Clock Repair Guide

Posted by on 18th Mar 2016

Cuckoo Clock Repair Tips - How to Fix a Black Forest Cuckoo Clock

There are a lot of decisions to make before  buying a Black Forest cuckoo clock. But once someone has finally chosen a cuckoo clock style, movement, music and animation, the excitement really begins. A new cuckoo clock owner never forgets the first time they hear the cuckoo call and see a lover’s kiss as dancers take the stage.

So what happens after unpacking and  hanging your new German cuckoo clock? In most cases you can expect it to operate perfectly for years, but how do you figure out what to do if your cuckoo clock stops working. It's time to start consider a few cuckoo clock repair tips. 

How to Fix a Cuckoo Clock - Common Timing Issues

One of the most common reasons owners have issues with their  coo coo clock stopping is that the mechanical movement of the cuckoo clock is not level. This generally happens when the cuckoo clock is not hung level or straight on the wall. The mechanical movement cuckoo clock is driven by the sway of a pendulum, often decorated with a had carved maple leaf. Start by listening to the back and forth swing of the pendulum. This tick-tock sound is often referred to as the cuckoo clock heart beat. The pendulum should swing to the right for the same amount of time that it takes for it to swing to the left, one second for every back-and-forth movement. If the heart beat is irregular, adjust the cuckoo clock’s position on the wall until the tick-tock beat of the pendulum sounds even again. 

If the pendulum is adjusted properly and the cuckoo clock heart beat is regular that is a good sign but your cuckoo clock repair may not be complete just yet. Sometimes other cuckoo clock parts require adjustment too. If your clock has a solid heartbeat and still continues to stop, it is possible that the pendulum wire was bent in shipment or during the unpacking and hanging of the cuckoo clock. Fortunately, there is a simple cuckoo clock repair that can be made to the pendulum wire as a next step. You can try using a wide screwdriver to bend the pendulum wire slightly to the the right or left. (The pendulum wire is in the long hole on the bottom of the body of the cuckoo clock.) If the cuckoo clock is tilting to far left to get an even heartbeat, bend the pendulum wire slightly to the left and straighten the cuckoo clock on the wall. If the clock is leaning too far to the right, bend the pendulum wire slightly to the right. This also works to compensate for a movement that may have been installed slightly out of square.

If the cuckoo clock repair suggestions above don't get your cuckoo clock ticking away again, you'll need to move to the next step to determine the cause of the problem. To do this, look closely to see if the cuckoo clock hands may be touching or rubbing against each other causing friction and eventually stoppage. Also, try turning the minute hand clockwise to a point where the hour and minute hands slightly overlap. For example, set the clock to 5 minutes before 12 to see if the pendulum stops a minute or so after the cuckoo clock hands meet. If this is causing the cuckoo clock to stop, try pushing the hour hand toward the clock face to snap it back in to proper position, doing so will keep the hands from binding and free up the movement.

If the cuckoo clock tips above don't get your clock back on track it may be time to contact a qualified cuckoo clock repair shop for a consultation and plan of action. Oftentimes an experienced cuckoo clock repair technician can help you correct these issues over the phone. If not, there are a some Certified Black Forest cuckoo clock repair shops in the USA.

If keeping the correct time has become an issue an your cuckoo clock is inaccurate , running too fast or too slow, there is a simple cuckoo clock repair that anyone can do. If a cuckoo clock is running slow, simply slide pendulum bob up the arm a bit. It's that hand carved oak leaf we wrote about earlier that gives weight to the pendulum. If the cuckoo clock is running fast, simply slide pendulum bob down a little. A good rule of thumb is that 1/8 of an inch either way will make a difference of about 3 minutes over a 24 hour period.

Troubleshooting Cuckoo Clock Parts: #1 Cuckoo Call

One of the best parts of a Black Forest cuckoo clock is the sound of the cuckoo. If the cuckoo bird is quiet, there are a few cuckoo clock troubleshooting steps you can take.

First, the cuckoo clock needs to be unpacked and hung properly. Be sure the paper around all cuckoo clock parts have been removed. Next, you want to be sure that the wire latch on the cuckoo door is moved so the bird and all the cuckoo clock parts associated with the cuckoo are free from obstruction to allow the cuckoo call. You also want to be sure that you open the back of the cuckoo clock and remove the clips from the bellows. These little clips will usually have brightly colored tags on them that tell you to remove them.While you're in there you should also security paper inside the gong wire. The bellow clips and security paper help secure the cuckoo clock parts during shipping and can be discarded after removal. If after taking the steps above the cuckoo call and bird are still not working, check to see that the lift wire is under the cuckoo bird rather than on top of it. Also check to make sure that the wires that lift the bellows are not bound. Finally, always make sure that the cuckoo clock shut off switch is in the off position.

Cuckoo clock cuckoo door        Coocoo clock back panel


Coo coo Clock shut-off switch  Cuckoo clock bellows

      coo coo bird lift wire

Troubleshooting Cuckoo Clock Parts: #2 Music Box

If your cuckoo clock is musical but not playing the music properly, there are simple cuckoo clock repairs to address this. First, you'll need to remove the back of the clock’s case.

If the shut-off switch is in in the off position and the music box will not play remove the back of the clock’s case. 

One common cuckoo clock problem is when the music does not stop playing after the cuckoo call, which means there is a problem with Swiss-made music box (the Swiss music box is the only component among all the German cuckoo clock parts made outside of the Black Forest). In many cases, the brass lever that grips each hole on the side walls of the music box causing the music to stop is bent. Use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to slightly bend the brass lever so that it sets down in the hole and stops the music after the cuckoo call and cycle. This will allow the music to start properly the next time too.

Another common cuckoo clock problem is that the release on the brass lever is too large, which means the cuckoo clock cannot start the music box . Look for a small white rubber stopper on the lever, and push it a fraction (1/30th) of an inch down, which should solve the problem.

A cuckoo clock part that can create problems for the music function is a bent wire that obstructs the fan fly. This bent wire can cause the music box not be activated, and can create a chattering sound instead of a musical song or may allow the cuckoo bird to call at the same time that the music plays . You can try to resolve this issue by slightly bending the wire into a position so that it doesn’t touch the fan fly while active but also prevents the music box from turning on before and while the cuckoo bird is calling.

If the music still doesn’t play after the cuckoo bird’s call, check to see if the double wire is correctly attached to the cuckoo clock part referred to as the arbor work. If necessary, tighten the attachment screw on the arbor work. If this cuckoo clock repair fails to solve the problem, the release wire above the music wire may be bent. Try bending the releasing wire until it is over the inactive brass wire. 

At this point, you may need to seek out a qualified  cuckoo clock service location to diagnose and fix the problem.

coo coo clock repair music box

Troubleshooting Cuckoo Clock Parts: #3 Clock Hands

repair cuckoo clock handsIf the hands on the cuckoo clock are dangling, then they certainly need adjusting. Luckily, when it comes to troubleshooting cuckoo clock parts, changing or reparing the hands is a fairly simple task.

If the minute hand is in the wrong position and the cuckoo is triggered at some other time than on the hour or half hour, simply use needle-nose pliers to loosen the hand nut and reposition the minute hand to the proper position so the coo coo is triggered every half hour with the minute hand in the 12 or 6 position. Then retighten the hand nut.

If the hour hand is does not match or is out of sync with the number of cuckoos on the hour, loosen the hand nut attachment point, reposition the hour hand to the proper hour and push the hand toward the dial until it is tight again. Then re-tighten the minute hand nut and test to see ensure that it is striking on the correct hour.

Coo coo clock dial and hands repair

If any of these repairs sounded a bit too daunting, the experts at Bavarian Clockworks have compiled a number of How to Videos and articles in the Bavarian Clockworks Resource Center that can help walk you through each fix!

An  authentic Black Forest German cuckoo clock is much more than a novelty. Each is its own individual work of art. Be sure to practice proper cuckoo clock maintenance, and follow these cuckoo clock repair tips if your clock is not working properly, if the cuckoo is not calling, if the music is not working, or if the clock hands need adjusting. If you prefer to be hands off or leave it to the professionals, contact a cuckoo clock expert at Bavarian Clockworks to get your cuckoo clock ticking, music playing, and cuckoo calling like new again!