Clock keeps time, but minute hand cannot be used to set the time

Mike1837

Registered User
Jan 9, 2017
19
1
3
Country
Its another cuckoo clock problem. The clock works, keeps time, ticks away nicely but I cannot set the precise time with the minute hand. It can't be moved forward or back, yet when the clock is ticking, it works fine. Any hints on where to start to look for the problem. Everything else works on the clock. This is a 1950s Hubert Herr large cuckoo clock, 17 inches top to bottom. Any suggestions ?
 

Mike Phelan

Registered User
Dec 17, 2003
10,957
366
83
West Yorkshire, England
Country
Region
Are you saying that you cannot move the hands at all?
Have you just acquired the clock? If not, has this just happened or has it always been so?
 

Willie X

Registered User
Feb 9, 2008
17,443
3,171
113
Sounds like the minute hand clutch has frozen up? Willie X
 
Last edited:

Mike1837

Registered User
Jan 9, 2017
19
1
3
Country
That's what I think too.

Uhralt
I had this clock for years, just recently hung it on the wall ans started using it. Great cuckoo sound out of it, big sound. The hand moves and keeps time with the pendulum swinging, and weights giving the power. But, if I try to set the time, I cannot move the hand forward or back, will not move. The shart if rides on won't turn. So that leaves me twice a day to set the time, exactly if in fact its a little off. If its a frozen clutch, how do I remedy it ? Thanks.
 

Mike Phelan

Registered User
Dec 17, 2003
10,957
366
83
West Yorkshire, England
Country
Region
So, everything is running OK, but whatever is used to move the hands isn't. If we could see the front of the movement and the side where you can see the centre arbor that might give us a clue. It'll either be where the centre wheel is attached to its arbor (dismantling needed) or where the cannon pinion is attached to the centre arbor (no dismantling needed).
 

Mike Mall

Registered User
Oct 27, 2021
421
142
43
Country
I've worked on an older HH movement where the clutch is on the chain wheel arbor, like this one.
That would be easy to get at also.
IMG_3615(1).jpg
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
12,056
1,942
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
I had this clock for years, just recently hung it on the wall ans started using it. Great cuckoo sound out of it, big sound. The hand moves and keeps time with the pendulum swinging, and weights giving the power. But, if I try to set the time, I cannot move the hand forward or back, will not move. The shart if rides on won't turn. So that leaves me twice a day to set the time, exactly if in fact its a little off. If its a frozen clutch, how do I remedy it ? Thanks.
You said, "This is a 1950s Hubert Herr large cuckoo clock".... and "I had this clock for years, just recently hung it on the wall". A clock that's 70+ years old and has been put away for decades isn't likely to work properly when just taken out of storage hung on the wall. Most of the time I like to identify the problem first, but in this case, I recommend that you completely disassemble the movement and properly clean all the parts. While it is apart you can inspect the hand clutch and evaluate the rest of the movement for wear. Assuming that the clock was ok when put away (which would be helpful to know) It probably will work ok after a good cleaning and oiling. How long it will work depends on how much wear there is throughout the movement. It didn't wear during the decades it wasn't in use, so you may get lucky find that cleaning and oiling is all that is needed.

RC
 

Mike1837

Registered User
Jan 9, 2017
19
1
3
Country
You said, "This is a 1950s Hubert Herr large cuckoo clock".... and "I had this clock for years, just recently hung it on the wall". A clock that's 70+ years old and has been put away for decades isn't likely to work properly when just taken out of storage hung on the wall. Most of the time I like to identify the problem first, but in this case, I recommend that you completely disassemble the movement and properly clean all the parts. While it is apart you can inspect the hand clutch and evaluate the rest of the movement for wear. Assuming that the clock was ok when put away (which would be helpful to know) It probably will work ok after a good cleaning and oiling. How long it will work depends on how much wear there is throughout the movement. It didn't wear during the decades it wasn't in use, so you may get lucky find that cleaning and oiling is all that is needed.

RC
OK, I saw your post August 14, 2019. Sounds like the exact same problem to me. i will try penetrating oil first. The movement looked clean, all i did was oil it before hanging it on the wall. I will try the easy stuff first. Thanks.
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
12,056
1,942
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
OK, I saw your post August 14, 2019. Sounds like the exact same problem to me. i will try penetrating oil first. The movement looked clean, all i did was oil it before hanging it on the wall. I will try the easy stuff first. Thanks.
The problem of course is that you can’t see into the places that need to be clean so you can’t be sure. Freeing up stuck clock parts with penetrating oil frequently only lasts until the penetrating oil dries up leaving the same old sticky stuff. Doing it right the first time will save you the time required to do it over.
 
  • Like
Reactions: roughbarked

POWERSTROKE

Registered User
Jan 11, 2011
1,737
179
63
I've never had one that way, Where the hands won't run manually at all. I have them all the time where there is more resistance than I like, it they kind of squeak as I turn them. This usually happens where the spring is rusty and binding on the main shaft and the surface of this shaft in its pivot hole in brought the front plate. What I have started doing after cleaning is getting a minuscule amount of brake caliper slider pin grease and putting it on the arbor between where it rides in the pivot hole and right on the spring. Turns like butter after that. It's high temperature and very long lasting. When I say a little, I mean it's almost not noticeable. Adding oil is short lived.
 
Last edited:

Mike1837

Registered User
Jan 9, 2017
19
1
3
Country
I've never had On my way! Where the hands won't run manually at all. I have them all the time where there is more resistance than I like, it they kind of squeak as I turn them. This usually happens where the spring is rusty and binding on the main shaft and the surface of this shaft in its pivot hole in brought the front plate. What I have started doing after cleaning is getting a minuscule amount of brake caliper slider pin grease and putting it on the arbor between where it rides in the pivot hole and right on the spring. Turns like butter after that. It's high temperature and very long lasting. When I say a little, I mean it's almost not noticeable. Adding oil is short lived.
So far I have sprayed the center arbor with the hour pipe from the back of the spring all along its length, and let it set face down for 24 hours. Then I did the same thing from the front to back again, and placed it back down for 24 hours, it loosened it up and the minute hand now does move, but a little rough, scratchy. In order to not create a complete mess of solvent in the movement, I took a very small bore spray tube off a WD40 can, put it onto Seafoam deep creep and sprayed it sparingly, it got on some other parts in the middle of the movement but not too bad. Now trying to sop it up without leaving Q-tip fibers inside. I know thats not the right way to do it, but beats taking the movement apart, no ?
 

R. Croswell

Registered User
Apr 4, 2006
12,056
1,942
113
Trappe, Md.
www.greenfieldclockshop.com
Country
Region
...... I know thats not the right way to do it, but beats taking the movement apart, no ?
No. I expect that many here could take that movement apart, clean it properly, and fix whatever makes is scratchy, and properly lubricate it and put it back together in about the same time you have already spent looking for ways to avoid taking it apart. You could to, but there has to be a fiorst time....and a few more to get good at it.

RC
 

RJSoftware

Registered User
Apr 15, 2005
8,832
272
83
Loxahatchee, Florida
Country
Region
Sometimes the minute hand can jam into the top edge of the hour tube that holds hour hand. On one of my cuckoo (different maker) I shaved just a hair off tube length with knife sharpening stone so tube wouldn't stick into back of minute hand.

This was kind that had solid stationary center shaft that a nut screwed onto, to hold minute cannon from sliding off (American cuckoo clock).
When tighten down nut it would bind and stop time keeping. It may of been the minute cannon, but can't exactly remember, anyway, doe look like this applies to you. But maybe...

One thing I been preaching that some object is the power of water to break/overcome a rust grip. What I discovered (a long time ago) is that in some situations water is better than penetrating oil to resolve a ferrous based rust grip.

What happened was as an electrician I would sometimes get caught in rain working outside. Then instead of addressing the wet tools then and there I'd stick them in trunk of car and go enjoy the weekend.

The most effected was the lineman's pliers. I had top of the line Kliens.
This same scenario happened many times. The typical go to was wd-40 or whatever penetration oil available. That would give some action but still stiff.

The acid (so to speak) test was hold pliers horizontally and let go of lower handle. If pliers handle drops fully open by gravity alone then problem resolved. Else in daily use one would have the annoying struggle of both opening and closing handle. Believe me that little bit of extra struggle to make electrical joints all day made the job extra tough, resulting in hand/arm cramps.

Using water in that circumstance would penetrate deeper as the water would rehydrate the rust. But, for this to work requires a tiny amount of work action by progressive opening and closing pliers. So as the water penetrates, the slight action causes the rust to flow out of the hinge. As rust flows out by the action it further encourage water penetration. When results satisfactory heat pliers with heat gun to dry and oil hinge.

So many people at jobsite have been amazed by this. Pliers they all but given up on restored in minutes with simple water trick.

And so I progressed this knowledge to the clock/watch world and in particular doping water with vinegar in the ultrasonic. Then to pure vinegar in ultrasonic.

Understand there are different levels of rust. In your situation I would first try tub of water and put slight force, back and forth on minute arbor with plier. Resist the temptation to twist back and forth hard. Just use repetitive motion which will graduate as rust flows out.

The ultrasound and pure vinegar is a trip, but it can destroy fully rusted parts, especially watch parts. But it's cool to see a rust cloud seep out of locked up parts. Sometimes a short duration of a few seconds is enough. It's a test at your own risk thing.
 
Last edited:

Mike1837

Registered User
Jan 9, 2017
19
1
3
Country
No. I expect that many here could take that movement apart, clean it properly, and fix whatever makes is scratchy, and properly lubricate it and put it back together in about the same time you have already spent looking for ways to avoid taking it apart. You could to, but there has to be a fiorst time....and a few more to get good at it.

RC
Well, the next one I take apart and pray. Thanks for the encouragement RC. MSW
 

POWERSTROKE

Registered User
Jan 11, 2011
1,737
179
63
Don't use oil on those. It makes it more scratchy and binds more sooner than later. Use a grease. Small infinitesimal amount.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
177,457
Messages
1,555,190
Members
53,575
Latest member
dlfuller
Encyclopedia Pages
909
Total wiki contributions
3,053
Last edit
Ptolemy's Course of the Planets displayed by CLockwork by Tom McIntyre