Cuckoo Clocks Can Be Fun

This is why some people do not work on cuckoo clocks. I do, not sure if it says something about my personality. See this commercial video from Geico Insurance:

Did anyone see the hand nut is missing from the cuckoo hands?  I can see a sequel to this commercial.  The dancing figurines, the women hitting the guy drinking beer, the guy playing the accordion wearing laderhosen, and finally those two animals watching the entire soap opera unfold.

8 Day Animated Cuckoo Clock

8 Day Animated CuckooBeautiful 8 day animated cuckoo.  The problem description was winding the strike weight would always catch and was very difficult to get the weight fully wound.

Upon removal of the movement from the case which entailed removing the two cuckoo bellows, music box, and on/off lever it was found that the winding wheel click was stiff from the formulation of a little rust.  The rust was removed and cleaned.  There were no other problems found on this clock.  Oil was applied to the click and spring.  The movement was then re-installed along with bellows, music box, etc.  All had to be adjusted.  The case was cleaned and oiled then tested.  All is well!  “Time” to send it home.

2 Wt Cuckoo Needing some TLC & Parts

In for repair is a small 2 weight cuckoo clock.  The clock was purchased by the customer at a 2nd hand store.  The only thing that came with the clock was the case & movement.  The clock was missing the weights and pendulum.  The case was very dry and looking at the movement, it needed bushings, a cleaning, & oil.  The work was accomplished.   There were 5 pivot holes that were warn.  Bushings were installed and pivots were inspected.  Those looked good.  The movement and chains were cleaned and reassembled.  The clock was oiled.  The gathering pallet and cuckoo lifting lever where adjusted.

The case was oiled and weights and pendulum were located.  The pendulum was not exactly the same color as the case but with a little stain and elbow grease, everything matched.

I did not have any pictures of this clock until the end.  Here is the clock running just before it left to go home.

Seth Thomas Railroad Station Office Clock

Here we have a Seth Thomas 12 inch drop octagon wall clock.  Approximate born date 1910-1912.  This is a time only timepiece with a label stating this is a railroad station office clock. The label on the clock reads “Railroad Station Office Clock”.  The movement is definitely railroad quality.  Seth Thomas made very quality movements.

Looking at the clock I noticed the suspension spring was broken as you can see to the left of the hands in the graphic below.  Given the age of this clock, the face was in very good condition.  Looking a little closer, I could see the face has a paper dial overlaying the original dial.  The numbers on this replacement face are roman numerals.  Roman numerals were not an accepted requirement for railroad watches.  I would assume this is also a requirement for clocks too. A previous repairer did not take this to consideration when replacing the dial.  There are other 12 inch drop Seth Thomas wall clocks that are not railroad grade that do have Roman Numerals.  I suspect that since this is an “Office Clock” the requirements were not as stringent.  There is a service date on the repair label of September 1947 and a repair date inside behind the face on the back plate dated February 2, 1971.  No other marking on the case to help identify the clock and its unique history.


Here is a picture of the clock with the face removed.  The movement is railroad quality.  Similar to the Seth Thomas #2 model but spring driven instead of cable/weight/gravity driven.
Seth Thomas Wall Clock

Movement observations:

  1.  The winding stop gear is missing.  This gear along with the 9 tooth gear next to the winding arbor works in concert to utilize the “best” part of the mainspring.  What this does is to stop the winding process near to the end of the wind and again stop the unwind at the end thus utilizing the best part of the spring.  The end result is a more consistent time keeper.  American spring clocks have a characteristic of running a little fast at the beginning of the wind and slowing down at the end.  By  limiting the wind, the spring provides consistent power, hence speed the entire week.
  2. The 2nd arrow shows there was some wear in the canon pinion hole.  A previous repairer tried to crowd the mettle to minimize the slop by using a punch.  The ring is visible.
    Seth Thomas Movement
  3. Upon disassembly of the movement, I noticed that all the pivot holes have had replacement bushings installed.  This is common in clocks this old.  The pivots and pivot holes were examined and all were satisfactory.  The edges of the bushings were cleanup and polished.

Here is a picture of the movement disassembled.
Seth Thomas Clock
This picture was taken after some work was done to the clock.  The mainspring was rough.  Dirt and oil became hardened and the spring could not slide on itself as good as it should.  Steel wool was applied to the entire surface of the spring.  The mainspring was a little set, i.e. the spring kept its coil close to the arbor rather than expand to a greater diameter.  The spring was un-coiled and responded to this very well.  There was no need to replace the mainspring of the clock.  Now for the broken suspension spring/rod.  The suspension spring was broken and the entire suspension rod with spring was replaced.  See picture below.  Both original and new spring are set side by side:
Seth Thomas Suspension Rods

Here is a short video of a loose main wheel.  Never seen one so loose.  In the video, I state it should not move which is incorrect.  It needs to be snug but not fee wheel’n as seen in the video:

Here is the setup (rather crude but very functional) method used to tighten the main wheel.

Seth Thomas Repair

First I had to remove the mainspring from the wheel.  Then I mounted the wheel on a split anvil.  I then took a punch and positioned it over the shoulder of the winding arbor.  Careful not to damage the pivot on one side and the winding arbor on the other.  One maybe two taps and I was golden.

After testing the winding wheel repair, the mainspring was installed and the rest of the wheels and gears were assembled.

Once the movement was back together, the new suspension rod/spring was attached and mounted on the test stand.  The wheel, suspension rod/spring, escapement, depthing all look’n good.

The clock was then oiled as everything is running like “Clock Work” (Sorry for the pun).  The next step because a new suspension rod/spring was fabricated, is to time it out.  If the suspension rod is too short, the clock will run too fast, if it is too long, the clock will run too slow.  There is an adjustment on the pendulum bob but the adjustments can only go so far.  After the hands are installed and the clock is keeping good time.  The next step is to put the movement in the case and run it.  Again, if all goes well, the face is installed and final testing is done.

When the clock movement was first taken out of the case it was observed only one wood screw was holding the movement in the case, the other 3 were missing.  The screw holes were warn to a point which caused them to fall out and get lost.  To correct this problem, the holes were closed and secured with match sticks and wood glue.  Screws were located and the movement was then installed in the case.  The 4 screws are now nice and tight holding the movement where it should be.

And finally, the finished product.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  It has been a busy fall season at the clock shop.  Many clocks have come in and gone out.  The pace is quick but nice.  I am thankful for all the clocks that have come through my doors this year.  I am fortunate and thankful to have such nice clock owners.  I appreciate their business and the opportunity to get their clocks working again.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.


Servicing Tower Clocks – East High School Time Change

Twice a year a group from NAWCC Chapter 21 and Emily Griffith Op School visit the E. Howard manufactured tower Clock at East Denver HS in Denver, Colorado.  We do minor maintenance and adjust the hands for the new time change.  We advertise this activity to both the school, club, and visitors who are interested in the historical clock.  On November 5th, 2016, 9news came with us and gave the club and the school some exposure.

The following video was produced by 9News.  Click on the picture below to see the video.

East High - Mike Korn Servicing the Tower Clock

Click the picture to see the video

1900’s Wall Clock

This vintage wall clock made approximately in the early 1900’s needed major cleaning both inside and out.  The movement was disassembled and cleaned, the case was cleaned and oiled.  The bezel, face bezel, and pendulum were polished.  The brass polishing was not to a point that it looked new.  With all the great patina, only minor polishing was done.  This gave the clock a nice old clean look.  In these clocks the hinge for the glass bezel is very under designed for the weight it must support.  This hinge was tightened and secure.

Note in the two videos below the strong tick and pendulum movement.

Seth Thomas No. 2 Oak Regulator Wall Clock

In for repair is a Seth Thomas No. 2 regulator clock.  The customer stated it was basically a wall ornament.  The clock has not run in a very long time.

Upon an initial observation, it was missing the clock weight and pulley.  Missing a key, the suspension spring was broken, and the cable was in two pieces.  The face was pitted and chipped.  The movement was complete but had significant pivot hole ware.  The case was in excellent condition except for how dry and dusty it has become.  This can be easily cleaned up and looking good.  The glass on this clock was original.  Lots of imperfections in the glass.  This clock was going to be a treat to repair.  As can see in the initial picture of the clock, a letter opener was wedged between the movement and the face.  It is just below the 6 and above the bottom glass.  I wonder if there is a story behind this.
The clock movement was so dusty.  The picture below shows how much dust was on the clock:
The next two pictures are before and after images of the pendulum bob and the adjustment (straightening) of the suspension rod:
bobcomparison  crutch-before-and-after
A brief history of the Seth Thomas Company can be found by following this link -> Seth Thomas Company .  A special thanks to the site for providing this information.

The suspension spring was broken and replaced:

This picture shows the inside between the plates.  Note the broken weight cable.  There were nine pivot holes that were very loose.  These all were rebuilt and pivots polished.  The suspension crutch was straightened, the weight cable was replaced, the missing weight was replaced along with the cable pulley.  The clock key was missing and was replaced.  After all work completed, the movement was cleaned with an ultrasonic clean with qualify clock cleaning solution.

Here is a short video on the operation of the clock during the testing phase.  The case has been oiled but the glass has not seen its final cleaning.

After a couple days and more adjustments, the face was ready to put on.  The final cleanup completed.  Hands were installed and the speed of the clock was adjusted.  Life has been restored to this beautiful clock.  This “Wall Ornament” is now a working timepiece ready for many years of service.

The finished product!

Informative Cuckoo Clock Setup & Adjustment Videos

The world wide web is a special place.  Everything imaginable can be found there.  Today I found 5 informative videos on how to setup a cuckoo clock along with videos on general adjustment and troubleshooting.  I want to share them here for my customers:

  1. Hanging a Cuckoo Clock
  2. General Troubleshooting of a Cuckoo Clock
  3. Music Box Troubleshooting – This is for your more advanced customer adjustments
  4. Why does my Cuckoo Clock not run? I use another method to adjust the beat besides bending the suspension wire
  5. Adjusting Cuckoo Clock Hands

These are YouTube videos produced in Germany and originally posted on the “Cuckoo Palace” website.  Thank You for producing these nice videos.