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    Rory formerly worked as Curator of Horology at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, where his role included day-to-day management of research and digitization projects, writing, public speaking, conservation, convening conferences, exhibition work, and development of acquisition/disposal and collection care policies. In addition, he has worked as a horological specialist at Bonhams in London, where he cataloged and handled many rare timepieces and built important relationships with collectors, buyers, and sellers. Most recently, Rory has used his talents to share his love of horology at the university level by teaching horological theory, history, and the practical repair and making of clocks and watches at Birmingham City University.

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Erratic Cuckoo Clock

Ansel Spear

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May 16, 2017
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My 1986 Regula 25 cuckoo clock has recently become erratic and stops randomly. It was last serviced 3-4 years ago and has been flawless until a couple of weeks ago.

I have blown out the dust and oiled the movement with synthetic clock oil. The clock is hanging vertically in a draft-free space. It can run perfectly for 48 hours or so at a time and then randomly stops several times a day. On a couple of occasions it appeared to stop at the warning, but this could be mere coincidence.

Could any kind expert please advise me whether there are any other potential areas I might look at that may be causing this problem.

Many thanks.
 

kinsler33

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I assume that this is an 8-day clock. Just as an experiment, add a bit more weight to the time (not the cuckoo) weight. Use a paper clip through a chain link to hook something on that'll increase the weight half again as much. Chances are that the clock could use some bushings (the last guy should have bushed escape wheel and verge pivots) but if a bit of added weight will keep it going, you might consider buying a pair of heavier weights if yours are the lighter ones they used to use. 8-day cuckoos can get cantankerous in their old age.

I hope others here with much more experience will add their opinions.

Mark Kinsler
 

shutterbug

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A proper service should last longer than that. It's possible that the repairman just did an intact cleaning in an ultrasonic cleaner and didn't really service the movement. If the added weight that Mark suggested helps, it's a sure sign that your repairman took shortcuts and did not address the wear in your movement. Now it comes back to haunt you. If you are not attached to the movement, you could purchase a new movement and install it yourself. It would be a lot less expensive than a complete service.
 

Ansel Spear

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It was a bit of a chaotic service if I was to be honest. First, the clock was lost for almost a year. I had actually written it off. When I eventually collected it, the pendulum had been replaced with one clearly not of the same style and the musical mechanism had not been fixed!

Perhaps a new movement might be the way forwards. Are there any key points when replacing it? Hole size of hands, for example. Pendulum length, weights, musical box connection etc.

On an adjunct to this: the musical box sits directly above the movement. The people who serviced it had not seen this arrangement previously and were unable to repair it. I would like to get this to work - or sling a replacement to the side where I understand it is more usual. Do I have to look for a specific Regula 25 replacement?

Thanks.
 

shutterbug

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Your movement will have markings on it that indicate the pendulum length. Just match that with the new movement. Everything should be pretty much plug and play. The upper music movement is not all that unusual. Does it have a second door where an accordian player comes out during the music? Those music boxes are hard to repair, but not impossible. It depends on what is wrong with it. Take pictures of the set up wires for the music box so you can get it back together right. Also, you might have to move some parts of the movement levers from the old to the new if the new one doesn't have them on it.
 

Ansel Spear

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The movement does not have the pendulum length marked on the back plate. I checked this when I had the fiasco with the incorrect pendulum.

No, there's no 2nd door, simply the dancers on the carousel above the musical box. The problem with the musical box was that it wasn't stopping after the hour/half hour cycle. The stop mechanism wasn't engaging. I thought that it just needed the spring replacing, but that wasn't done.
 

shutterbug

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Show us a pic of the upper unit. Modern ones are attached to the movement. That might change things a bit. The music box issue sounds like an adjustment problem that should be pretty easy to fix.
 

Ansel Spear

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Regular-2.jpg

The release lever on the musical box has been disabled. It appears that the spring has been used to tie it off.
 

Ansel Spear

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Regular-1.jpg

Here's a close-up of the movement. I'm unable to find replacement movements that incorporate the black musical box triggering levers.
 

shutterbug

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That's an odd one. The first thing is to figure out how the music box connects to the carousel. Then, how is it powered? After that we can figure out how to activate it. We need your eyes to help here :)
Edit: I see now that it is chain driven.
 

kinsler33

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Ew. It's pretty clear they didn't know what they were doing. But it's certainly looks fixable, including the original clock movement. Someone ought to be able to straighten it out.

Mark Kinsler
 

kinsler33

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If we were going to have a Hall of Shame, this would qualify. That looks like rust on the pendulum hanger. The rest of the movement drips with oil.

I think I've identified two species of rotten clock practitioners: some are rural antique dealers--the sort who have buckets of movements soaking in kerosene back behind the barn, stacks of dials, a cigar box full of hands, and stacks of cases. Others are sons of good clock guys who died, and the kid took over the trade for lack of anything else he could figure out to do.

Except for Horolovar (and both Chris and John did/do great work) I only know the other clock people in the region by reputation, and it ain't so great. I continue to get horror stories.

I dunno: maybe they get similar stories about me.

Mark Kinsler
 

Dick Feldman

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View attachment 634408

The release lever on the musical box has been disabled. It appears that the spring has been used to tie it off.
From the looks of the sediment on the clock house floor, that clock has run for a long time shedding metal. I believe the flat lever that is actuated from the cam on the center arbor is what triggers the music movement. The round wire behind it that curves up and to the left used to be what arrested the governor on the music movement till the cuckoo business was done. The spring you speak of may be the remnants of the mechanism that pulls the peg into the hole on the music drum at the same time a lever on the music movement interrupts the governor on the music movement.
Although not exact,. The operation may be explained at this link:
My guess is that your clock is a victim of power loss due to wear due to a long life. I also feel the poor thing has been attacked by someone who lacked skill and experience with cuckoo clocks.
I think you will find no parts available for the music movement. Those were made by the Swiss and generally become obsolete quickly with parts not being available. Although the time/cuckoo movement is marked Regula, I do not recognize it. It can be rebuilt by a qualified technician but likely that will be expensive.
Normally one can expect a 20-25 year lifespan on cuckoo clock movements. Even though yours has been idle for a long time, it is 35 years old.
I am fairly certain that your problems with the clock cannot be solved by another novice and certainly not by clean, oil and adjust.
Best of luck with your clock,
Dick
 

kinsler33

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Mr Feldman may well be correct, but we won't really know unless you can carefully unhook the cuckoo bellows wires plus the door-to-cuckoo wire, then remove four screws and slide the movement out so we can see how everything's arranged in there.

M Kinsler
 

Ansel Spear

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Thank you all for your valuable input. It's given me a lot to think about.

The movement has been mounted skewed for as long as I can remember. A local clockmaker did try to service the clock about 6-7 years ago, but handed it back unserviced - with apologies. During the last service it apparently wasn't considered important enough to level.

Ignoring the musical box for a moment, as a rank amateur, do you think it's beyond my capabilities to replace the movement? Would I fall into the same category as those who claim to be cuckoo clock repairers?

If I wanted to restore the musical box, it would appear that I would need to retain the original Regula movement because of the way the music is triggered. From memory, Mr Feldman has correctly analysed the various trip and arrest mechanisms for the musical box.
 
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kinsler33

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I'd take the movement out and mount it on an improvised test rack that'll let you see both sides. Put time and cuckoo weights on it and watch it run, or not run, and figure out why it's stopping, if indeed it does. These movements are somewhat miniaturized, but beyond that they're pretty much like any other striking clock movement with the addition of the parts that move the bird's perch. Learn how it works--there aren't any deep secrets involved--and consider what might be done next.

Mark Kinsler
 

shutterbug

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A Regula 34 might fit in the case, but whether it would activate the music any easier would be a gamble. I think I'd look around for another service person to take it on. Someone who doesn't run from a challenge :)
 

JimmyOz

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I think you need to take out the music box to see how it works.

It looks to me as though it is from a wind up music box with a dancer on top that is activated by opening the lid thus releasing the fan and then holds the fan when the lid is closed. I am not sure it has a hole in the barrel, therefore it may have a different way to activate the music? The stop lever for the barrel does not look right to me as well.

The movement, I have never come across this type of Regula movement with the lifting cam is on the back plate, this suggests to me that this could have been made by a startup company that failed or a repairer trying to see if he can use the wrong music box? Also the chains seem to be off centre for the time and the cuckoo and what looks like a slot and not holes for the music chains.
 
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Ansel Spear

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May 16, 2017
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Interesting. Thanks.

Kinsler33. You're right, that's what I need to do.

A question; the movements has clearly been mounted on the p**s. As a starting point, is it logical that I level it because, obviously when the box is level on the wall, the movement isn't. Could that account for some of the brass filing on the box floor?


JimmyOz, what do you mean by the chains being off-centre?

I certainly can find no reference to this type of movement on the web - and I've searched high and low. I recall that I bought it from a shop in central Innsbruck in 1986 that sold nothing but cuckoo clocks - not that that means diddlysquat!
 

steamer471

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The brass filings could be from the buggered up screws. Chains look as if they are rubbing the case wood and probably from the movement being off center. With the movement off center it will probably be out of beat. Some one has really bent up the bellows lift wires and levers along with the music box wires. The movement looks like a simple Regula 25 if you wanted to just have the cuckoo you could just replace it but I always like to put things back the way they were. I would say it's fixable but your going to have to find someone who is willing to spend the time with it.
 

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