Cuckoo Clock Basics
- Cuckoo Clock History
- Manufacturing Process
- What to Look For?
- Getting a Cuckoo Clock Started
- Care and Maintenance
- Troubelshooting Videos
- Cuckoo Clock History
- The idea for the development of the Black Forest Cuckoo Clock was probably brought to the area through glass salesmen from Strasburg. In the famous artistical Strasburger cathedral clock, a rooster crows every hour to announce the hour time. In any case, around 1750 the so-called Schottenuhr clock design (special Black Forest painted wooden shield clock) began to appear with a cuckoo that came out of a small door at the top of the clock face, proclaiming the time every hour. These clocks were highly coveted and extremely expensive rarities. Soon a new variety of the cuckoo clock was developed with a brown-stained, oak clock face in the shape of a railroad house. Today this world renowned, wood-carved Black Forest Cuckoo Clock is still produced in the same form as it was in the beginning. The carvings vary according to design: carved leaves, hunter design, or a miniature house. Many extra features have been added to enhance the clock's design: 8-day clock movement, a night shut-off switch, a minute hand which can also be turned backwards, and the choice of having a music box built into the clock. As can be seen, the Black Forest Clock is much more than just a beautiful souvenir - this clock has impacted the development of our area in a significant way.
- Manufacturing Process
- The manufacturing process of an original black-forest cuckoo clock requires a lot of talent and skills. Consisting of many individual parts, all of which are handmade, a high quality clock originates after 4 steps:
To summarize, the manufacturing process of a Black-Forest Cuckoo Clock can be divided into four steps: The woodcarver carves the wooden surface The clockmaker builds the mechanical movement The joiner builds the wooden case The woodcarving, movement and the wooden case are assembled and adjusted to a unique cuckoo clock by the clockmaker
- The woodcarving is the core of each clock. It is made of linden wood by using many different kinds of chisels. Linden wood is mostly used for woodcarvings, because it is not too hard and not too soft.
First, the layout is drawn on a prepared wooden board with a pencil. Then the shape of the carving is sawn out by using a scroll saw. Now, the carving process can begin. The piece of wood is attached to a wooden panel by nails. The carver works out the coarse structures in order to finish it by using smaller chissels. The first cut is the "stop cut". This cut requires a solid bench, a solid mallet, and a little violence. The "stop cut" outlines the object and is cut straight down into the wood all the way around the perimeter of the design, about 0.2 inches deep. The next step is lowering. This means working all around the "stopped" design until it is outlined with a "lowering cut" at least 0.5 inches across. This procedure repeats itself until the shape of the carving corresponds to the picture that the woodcarver has in his mind.
The apprenticeship to become a woodcarver takes 3 years. However, it takes a life time to become a Master Woodcarver like Rudi Fehrenbach.
- What to Look For?
- In the world of cuckoo clocks there are three different styles. The chalet style, traditional style (also known as classic style) and the station house style (which can be found in the traditional section on our website). The chalet style is probably the most famous of all three since it has a lot of action such as a moving beer drinker or woodchoppers. The traditonal style and station house style are the two most historic styles. Both styles have a very long history in the cuckoo clock world. The tradtional style is famous for its deep animal carvings and dark stain, whereas the station house style captivates the eye thourgh its classy look.
- Our clocks have two different movements, the mechanical brass movement and the quartz movement (battery powered). Both movements keep good time and are very reliable. If you are looking for an authentic Black Forest Cuckoo Clock you should definitely go with the brass movement. The brass movment is available as 1-Day and 8-Day movement. This means that you have to wind the clock either once a day or once a week. All mechanical movements are manufactered by SBS in Schonach, Black Forest, Germany and are well-known under the brand name REGULA.
- All cuckoo clocks with three weights play music. The 1-Day clocks play two songs an hour, one song to the full and one song to the half hour. The 8-Day clocks play also two songs, but they alternate on the hour. The musicbox is the only part which is not made in the Black Forest. The musicbox is made by well-known brands in Switzerland like REUGE or JOBIN. Both companies are famous for high-end musiboxes.
- Night Shut-Off
- All our cuckoo clocks are equipped with a night shut-off. The shut-off is usually locatetd on the bottom or on the side of the cuckoo clock case. For further information about night shut-offs please see the next section "Getting a Cuckoo Clock Started."
- Getting a Cuckoo Clock Started
- Unpacking the Clock
- 1 cuckoo clock (left image chalet - right image traditional), 2a top piece with bird or 2b top piece with deer head and 2 antlers, 3 pendulum, 4 two weights for a Cuckoo Clock without music or three weights for a Cuckoo Clock with music. Some clocks (eg. the Black Forest House or the Black Forest Mill) have NO top pieces as mentioned in 2a and 2b.
- Please check to see if small wood pieces from the clock (i.e. small carvings) have broken off during shipping and are laying in the carton. If this is the case, use wood glue to glue these parts back on the clock. Please be careful when unpacking!
Pick up the clock by the ROOF, and not by the carving section.
- Removing the Shipping Security Objects
- Carefully lay the clock face down on a soft surface.To open the back of the clock, gently stick a screwdriver or pencil in the small hole (see 11) in the middle of the clock and pry the back open.
- Attention: DO NOT put your finger or a tool in the bottom hole (see 12).
- Very carefully remove the paper strip (5) that is lodged between the metal spiral on the back door of the clock, being sure not to bend or adjust the position of the spiral. Take out the U-formed clips (6) that are holding the cuckoo bellows together and put them in a safe place for later possible transport, along with all other packing materials.
Replace the back door of the clock and push the metal stay into place.
Careful: Please do not bend any other wires or clockwork pieces on the clockwork.
- Attaching Top Carving Piece
- Slide the top piece of the carving (2a or 2b) into the screw holders on the clock "roof" and gently but firmly screw the top piece on tightly enough that it will not come loose.
- For the deer head top piece, first screw the deer head onto the top piece, and then screw the whole top piece onto the clock. Stick the antlers into the deer head, with the antler tips pointing toward the inside.
- Hanging the Clock
- Place an upward-slanted nail or screw and dowel (13) into the wall approximately two meters (6 ft) above the floor, leaving a thumbs-breadth sticking out of the wall. Hang the upper opening on the back of the clock (9) onto the nail/screw. Then you may open the wire holding the cuckoo door shut (7) by turning it to the side so that it will no longer stop the door from opening. Only when the clock is already hanging on the wall should you open the package with the chains (8) and let the chains slowly out of the package, carefully loosening any knots that may have developed. Then you can pull the security wire out from between the chains. Please be careful that the clock is not laid down or turned upside down while the chains are loose like this—otherwise the chains could come away from the turning gears in the clockwork. Hang the pendulum (3) on the pendulum hanger (10). Hang the weights on the chain hooks, and then your clock is ready to run.
- Starting the Clock
- With the clock hanging straight on the wall, gently nudge the pendulum to start it swinging. If the clock is hanging correctly and straight, the pendulum should not rub against the clock cabinet, should be swinging freely and the ticking of the clock should be even on both sides. Check the ticking of the clock, and adjust the straightness of the clock until the ticking on both sides is equal.
- Setting and Regulating the Time
- To set the clock time, turn the long hand to the left (counterclockwise) until you reach the correct time. The cuckoo call sets itself automatically. Please DO NOT turn the short hand or touch it.If you turn the long hand to the right (clockwise), then you must wait every hour and half-hour for the cuckoo to call before you turn any further, and if you have a cuckoo clock with music, then you must wait until the melody has finished playing before you can turn it any further.
- Your cuckoo clock has been regulated already, but you must fine-tune it by observing it for 24 hours to see if it is too fast or too slow. If the clock goes too fast, move the pendulum (3a) gently down (slows down pendulum swing). If the clock goes too slow, move the pendulum gently up (speeds up pendulum swing).
- Night Shut-Off
- In most cases, the cuckoo call can be turned off manually using a switch on the side or underneath the cuckoo clock cabinet. If the switch for the manual switch-off is in the down position, in most cases the cuckoo will call day and night. To turn the cuckoo call off, flip the switch up. It can be that some clocks have the opposite setup (down is off, and up is on). On some of our cuckoo clock models with 8-day movement and music, there is a built-in night shut-off that you can activate. This automatic setting turns the cuckoo and music off from 10:00 p.m. until 7:15 a.m. Please follow the special instructions for setting the day and night time. These instructions are included with every clock with automatic switch-off.
- Option: Automatic Night Shut-Off
- The on-off switch lever located on the side of the housing or the stick located on the bottom of the housing can be used to control the cuckoo call and the music as described below.
- Position 1
- If the shut-off lever is in the horizontal position (middle) or the bottom stick is in the middle position, the clock is in the fully automatic position.In this position, the cuckoo call and the music is discontinued automatically from 9:00 PM to 8:00 AM. To guarantee the proper shut-off function make sure that the shut-off lever is in its proper position.
- Position 2
- If the shut-off lever is in the bottom position (pointing down) or the stick on the bottom of the housing is pulled all the way down your clock is in the manual shut-off position. In this position, the cuckoo call and music is totally shut-off.
- Position 3
- If the shut-off lever is moved all the way up (pointing upward) or the stick on the bottom of the housing is pushed all the way up your clock is in the operating position.
- Please do not operate the off-on lever/stick while the cuckoo call or music is operating!
- Adjusting Time
- The hands are already synchronized at 12:00 o’clock noon. After you have positioned your clock on the wall please set the hands at your correct local time as follows:
- If your local time is 9:00 A.M. please turn the minute hand (the longer hand) backwards to 9:00 AM. If your local time is 4:00 P.M. please turn the minute hand clockwise to 4:00 P.M..
- Installing the Clock/ Winding the Clock
- If a weight and chain fall down when you try to hang up a weight, the chain has come off of the clock gear. The chain can be reinstalled as follows:
- Pull the chain from the other weight so that the weight is completely up, and then take off that weight. Secure this chain by putting the packing wire through the uppermost part of the chain so that it will not come off of the gear.
- Turn the clock upside down, take the gear for the fallen chain, and attempt to wind the chain back around the gear. To get the gear to turn and pull the chain back through, pull the chain at one end to see if it turns. The chain gear will allow you to turn it in one direction, and the other direction will be blocked. Please try it to see which direction the gear wheel should be turned. If necessary, the hook for the weight and the ring on the other end of the chain should be taken off and then put back on.
- PLEASE DO NOT USE BRUTE FORCE - Treat your clock gently.
- If you have a 24-hour clockwork, the clock weights should be pulled up once a day. If you have an 8-day (1 week) clockwork, the clock weights should be pulled up once a week. Attention: When pulling on the chain to pull a weight up, especially with heavy weights, you may push up on the weight very slightly to relieve the chain of the weight while you are pulling the chain, although the chain still needs to have a bit of tension from the weight in order to be pulled through the clockwork. In order to keep from putting too much pressure on the clockwork, please pull the weights up slowly, evenly, and without a jerking motion.The clock weights move steadily downward when all of the clock functions are operating. If you have turned the cuckoo call switch to OFF (or cuckoo/music), then the weights for those functions will not move, but stay where they were when you turned the switch off.
- Care and Maintenance
- Cuckoo clocks do not need very much regular care. The modern movements are sophisticated, easy to maintain and durable. To clean the clock please use a soft dry paint brush. Please have the movement checked and oiled at regualer intervals of approximately 3-4 years by a clockmaker nearby. To avoid reducing the lifetime of the cuckoo clock please use the clock in standard room temperatures. Temperatures below 5 °C (40°F), high humidity of the surrounding air, too much dust or dampness may damage your clock. Please do not hang the cuckoo clock directly above an open fire place as the very dry and warm air might distort the wooden parts and the oil in the bearings of the clock movement might run "dry". Minor damage on the wooden parts and carvings due to transport may occur sometimes and can not be avoided. Please repair such minor damages yourself by using wood glue and a felt-tip pen in the appropriate color.
- Saftey and warning notes:
- Our cuckoo clocks are delicate mechanical products and should not be used as a toy by a child. The chains may break and the weights may fall down if too much force is used.
- Clock is running too fast
- Pendulum is not yet fully regulated. Move pendulum down.
- Clock is running too slow
- Pendulum is not yet fully regulated. Move pendulum up.
- Even though pendulum screw has been adjusted, the clock cannot be correctly regulated (only appliable to clocks with metal pendulum)
- Check to see if the screw has been turned in the wrong direction, or check to see if the pendulum disk is not moving. The spring in the pendulum disk is stuck, and therefore the disk does not move when the screw is adjusted. Move pendulum disk back and forth to loosen the spring.
Cuckoo does not call
Shipping clips have not been removed. Night switch off is set to OFF. For clocks with automatic night shut-off, the clockwork is set to the night phase (where the cuckoo/ music does not play). Remove shipping clips and gong paper. Turn night switch off setting to ON.
Clock makes a slight noise (on a regular basis) about 5 minutes after the actual clock strike at the hour
A technical function in the clockwork is preparing the next clock striking function. This is a normal function and not a defect.
Clock does not strike exactly on the hour/ half-hour
The minute hand was not installed correctly on the clock face. Allow the clock to strike the hour and then stop the pendulum swing. Using flat-nosed pliers, loosen the screw on top of the hands, along with any other accompanying disklets, noting how they were assembled. If the minute hand (long hand) is not riveted to the square rod, adjust the minute hand, replace the screw and test to see if the time is now correct. If the minute hand is riveted to the square rod, adjust the square rod with the flat-nosed pliers to adjust the minute hand, replace the screw and then test to check the time. Repeat this step with PATIENCE, until the correct position is found.
Clock stops running after a short running time or only runs if pendulum is not hung at angle on the wall
Intermediate clockwork part connection between the pendulum and the clockwork is not hooked up correctly. Slant the clock to the right or left on the wall to hear in which position the clock ticks evenly. Hang out the pendulum; gently bend the pendulum stick (where pendulum is hung up on) in the direction that the clock is hanging (clock hanging to the left, bend to the left, hanging right, to the right). Bend until you feel resistance and then gently bend just a bit more. Hang the clock back to its straight position, hang the pendulum up and check the ticking. Repeat this procedure until clock is running evenly.
Gong sound is tinny
Not enough space between the gong spring and the hammer. Open the back of the clock and push the hammer head of the gong hammer back (in the direction of the clockwork) about 1 mm. If the gong spiral is laying too close to the back, carefully pull it out a small amount.
- Troubleshooting Videos
- Unpacking and Installing Cuckoo Clock
- The Cuckoo is not Calling
- The Music Does not Work
- Your Clock Does not Work
Need assistance with a clock you didn't purchase from us? Ask your question on our cuckoo clock information site.