Cuckoo clock bellows

Vint

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I’ve been working on a 1925 cuckoo clock and I have a question about the bellows. Specifically, despite a very very quiet cuckoo sound when should a bellow be replaced? I didn’t see any holes or cracks in the bellows but I can tell they’re old and not sure whether to replace with new, rebuild them or leave them alone.
Comments and recommendations welcome.
 

POWERSTROKE

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Pictures would be helpful. If they’re old and not ripped and seem ok you can leave them. Many of the old ones, will be stuck open and not close well because the clock was laying on its back stored away for years. Depends. Iii they are no longer pliable and don’t open and close easily, they’re probably up for replacement. You’d be shocked at how easy you can take the paper off of something that looks ok. They will also last awhile in a lot of cases if not ripped. They usually will start showing tiny pin hole where it closes in the rear seam where it flexes.
 

Vint

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Pictures would be helpful. If they’re old and not ripped and seem ok you can leave them. Many of the old ones, will be stuck open and not close well because the clock was laying on its back stored away for years. Depends. Iii they are no longer pliable and don’t open and close easily, they’re probably up for replacement. You’d be shocked at how easy you can take the paper off of something that looks ok. They will also last awhile in a lot of cases if not ripped. They usually will start showing tiny pin hole where it closes in the rear seam where it flexes.
Both do not close all the way. This may be my situation. Thanks
 

steamer471

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What is the material ? Older cuckoos like that usually have use leather for the bellows material. If leather is still there I would replace with the same. If they are not leather than they have been replaced and you can actually buy hole tops for the flutes. You might want to check the tops and see if any weights have fallen loose.
 

POWERSTROKE

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What is the material ? Older cuckoos like that usually have use leather for the bellows material. If leather is still there I would replace with the same. If they are not leather than they have been replaced and you can actually buy hole tops for the flutes. You might want to check the tops and see if any weights have fallen loose.
I was working under the assumption that he had said everything was in place with no rips tears etc. I’ve seen many that won’t close because they freeze in the open position from the clock being stored on its back.
 

shutterbug

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I am in agreement with replacing leather with leather if it's there. Otherwise, unless the flutes are also quite old I go with replacing the whole bellows tops. They are inexpensive and it's a very easy exchange.
 

Vint

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I am in agreement with replacing leather with leather if it's there. Otherwise, unless the flutes are also quite old I go with replacing the whole bellows tops. They are inexpensive and it's a very easy exchange.
Sounds like a plan. Gracias.
 

POWERSTROKE

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There is a template that you use to cut the material out and reglue it back on. Everyone complains about it, but I’ve done it 50 times with no issue. Everything stays original this way.

I buy the material and 1 set of pre-cut material for the bellows to make a template. It’s not hard, most people have no patience though,
 

Vint

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There is a template that you use to cut the material out and reglue it back on. Everyone complains about it, but I’ve done it 50 times with no issue. Everything stays original this way.

I buy the material and 1 set of pre-cut material for the bellows to make a template. It’s not hard, most people have no patience though,
This is awesome. Think I may give it a shot. One more question and that is what wire gage do you recommend for the bird stock rod that pulls the door closed? I just made my own spring using 26 gage but not happy with speed of door closing. Thanks
 

POWERSTROKE

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You need spring wire for the spring. I bought a bag of them a while back. Wrap it another turn tighter for the spring. I’m not sure of the guage for the door. It needs to be thin enough not to bind but thick enough not to bend.
 

Vint

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You need spring wire for the spring. I bought a bag of them a while back. Wrap it another turn tighter for the spring. I’m not sure of the guage for the door. It needs to be thin enough not to bind but thick enough not to bend.
It’s the spring wire I’m concerned about not the door. I’ve wrapped it tightly but I’m thinking I may have to use spring wire gage 22. By the way your video is very helpful as to making the bellows.....nice work.
 

POWERSTROKE

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That’s not me in the video the first video. I used it to fix the ones and all those thereafter as seen in the second link. It’s not hard.
 

shutterbug

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I get sets of cuckoo wires. They come in real handy for replacing any part of the cuckoo wire needs, and are just nice to have on hand.
 

Willie X

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Someone long ago posted the "toothpick method" for covering bellows. It makes the job much easier. Basically the toothpick is temporarily installed as a prop to hold the top and bottom pieces in the open position. You mark the material directly from the 'toothpicked' assembly, let the glue dry, remove the toothpick and make the folds. This is still the method I use, in the rare occasion where I have to recover an old bellow top. Willie X
 

POWERSTROKE

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Someone long ago posted the "toothpick method" for covering bellows. It makes the job much easier. Basically the toothpick is temporarily installed as a prop to hold the top and bottom pieces in the open position. You mark the material directly from the 'toothpicked' assembly, let the glue dry, remove the toothpick and make the folds. This is still the method I use, in the rare occasion where I have to recover an old bellow top. Willie X
I’ve seen that. More fuss and bother than its worth. Paint the wood glue on with an artists brush. Let it sit for a couple minutes until it gets slightly tacky. Put the material on and let it set. Fold to one side after gluing, then the other, then the triangular
Pieces on the back. It’s done in steps. If you’re patient they come out nice.
 
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Vint

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Someone long ago posted the "toothpick method" for covering bellows. It makes the job much easier. Basically the toothpick is temporarily installed as a prop to hold the top and bottom pieces in the open position. You mark the material directly from the 'toothpicked' assembly, let the glue dry, remove the toothpick and make the folds. This is still the method I use, in the rare occasion where I have to recover an old bellow top. Willie X
I will try this method for sure. Thanks!
 

shutterbug

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Ten years ago, give or take, I posted a PDF that explains how you can make a bellows for any size cuckoo top. Also see post #13 in the same thread regarding leather bellows. Click here.
 

S_Owsley

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I want to go back to post #1 where you say the sound is very quiet. I have some experience living with cuckoo clocks ranging in age from 50 to 120-ish years old. Be careful what you wish for. The sound of the larger, older cuckoo clocks can be VERY bold. As long as there are no visible holes, rips, tears or rot, live with it for a week or two. Then decide if you need more volume. The older large one in my (small) living room is only allowed to strike for demonstration purposes because it is loud to the point of being obnoxious, even though it has a beautiful wooden cuckoo with flapping wings. We use it as a timekeeper only. I have a 50 year old one in the dining room that has a very mellow and unobtrusive call that blends nicely into the background. Both are decent timekeepers, reliable runners and beautiful.
 

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