Grandfather Cuckoo Clock Project

Jason Builder

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Hello From Wisconsin!

I am kicking off a project to design and build a grandfather cuckoo clock and I plan to share my progress here. As this is the first clock I have built, perhaps I will receive some friendly guidance to keep me from making any fatal flaws during the project. Thanks in advance for any assistance.

I always have a project going on, and rather than buy a cuckoo clock I decided it would be fun to learn about them and make one. Once I starting looking into the movements and weights and dimensions, I decided I would build the cuckoo clock in a case that stands on the floor like a grandfather clock. This will allow for some fun woodworking with a taller case. I love these fun clocks, though I am not German, and I am not trying to build an authentic black forest case.

I researched what I could, and bought a Regula 72 movement (which came with a bunch of extra loose wheels) that is driven by three weights and which has a dancers table, 5.5" bellows with back openings, and a 32 tooth music box. I also bought a couple bellows lifting wires. My plan is to build a test clock and test case to prove out dimensions and to learn how the movement and linkages need to be arranged. Once I know the dimensions I will build the finished clock case.

Regula 72 1.JPG Regula 72 2.JPG Bellows 1.JPG Music Box.JPG Extra Parts.JPG
 

Jason Builder

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Hello!

I built a 6 foot tall test stand and have built a test case in which I have mounted the movement and now the music box. I think my Regula 72 needed one of the little loose wheels to be affixed to an arbor which will drive the music box. I affixed the wheel shown with a red arrow pointing at it in the picture, and I think this wheel is meant to drive the music box? I also have threaded the chains over the drive wheels. At this point I am waiting for weights. I intend to set the weight and then watch the movement work so that I can gain an understanding of how the parts work. I have three 1750 weights ordered along with a gong. Wasn't sure if the movement came lubricated from the shop so a carefully and sparingly lubricated the pivots on the front and back of the movement with Liberty 100% synthetic oil.

Two questions:
1. Did I set my music box up to the correct drive wheel on the regula 72 movement?
2. Does the Regula 72 movement itself start and stop the music, or do I need to rig up the start/stop latch on the music box?

Thanks!

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Allan Wolff

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Jason,
Welcome to the NAWCC message board! I am looking forward to watching your project progress. I'm sure others with experience with these movements will respond soon. I try to avoid cuckoo clocks, mainly because everything is crammed into such a small case that they are difficult to work on. You are already solving that issue by moving to a much larger case!
Allan

ps: Love your website! Just by looking at some of the projects you have already completed, I believe building this clock should be easy!
 

Jason Builder

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Thanks Allan!

I love mechanical projects and learning and am looking forward to this project. I continue to lay out the draft wooden case that I am building. I will be laying out the cuckoo door and bird linkage. My day job will keep me from any progress for about 10 days and then I will be back at it. I am having fun sketching ideas for the finished hardwood case that I will build after building a working draft-case.

In the meantime , if anyone finds this thread and has answers to the 2 questions above, I welcome the input! Otherwise my plan is to rig this baby up with weights in a week or so and learn how it works by watching it move. On top of the two questions above, one additional aspect of this that I need to learn from someone, or by doing, is:

Question 3: The music box I got has a weight sprocket which could be driven by a weight, but I already have 3 weights in my Regula 72 so I do not plan to add a fourth weight to drive the music box. The item I need to learn is: is the gear ratio on the music box going to be correct, or will I need a different gear to achieve the correct tempo?

We will see! Cheers all!

Jason
 

Aloha

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Hi Jason, That sounds awesome! I can't answer any of your questions but I'm sure someone else here can. I want to add a music box to a time only 8 day mech clock that would activate on the hour. I know how to add regular gear complications to clocks like adding a calendar or date but adding something that activates on the hour is beyond my knowledge base currently but I hope to change that and will be sure to follow your build I am just starting my first clock build as well and probably will wait till my second to add stuff like the music box. The question you have regarding adding the weight for the music box is very similar to a question I have regarding my build. As I want to add a standard complication like a day of the week, I was wondering if I should increase hte mainspring strength (same as adding more weight to a cuckoo clock).
 

Jason Builder

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Thanks for the note , Aloha. As I wait for the weights, I put some work today into
1. Making a connector/joint-block to hold the horizontal cuckoo actuating wire to the vertical cuckoo actuator that is part of the Regula 72. I designed this in CAD, printed it in plastic, tapped the threads and installed it. The holes for the wires are set back a bit to allow for longer purchase length of the threaded set screw. I was able to tighten the set screws very tight without feeling any stripping of the threads. Happy with the outcome.
2. Made some little guide bushings for where the chains pass through the bottom of the case.
3. Experimented with the cuckoo door and hinge. I want to make a round door, the test one shown here is 1.25" dia. I made the hinge from hard steel wire. It opens and closes just by blowing on it, so it seems this will work.

Have a great day.

Cuckoo Bird shaft joint v1.png CC20.JPG CC21.JPG CC23.JPG CC22.JPG Chain down bushing v2.jpg CC17.JPG CC18.JPG CC19.JPG
 
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Jason Builder

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Hi! I found this photo of the same Regula 72 that I have, installed in a case (on this thread https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/regula-72-should-i-replace-or-can-i-repair.182566/). Looks like I have the music box engaged to the correct wheel on the movement, but shows that I need to remove the weight wheel and wheel train that is on my music box and replace it with a singe drive wheel for the music box.

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Jason Builder

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Greetings! I got the three 1750g weights which is great as it allows me to watch the movement go through its motion. I learned two very useful things. 1. The Regula 72 does start and stop the music box drive wheel 2. The music box drive wheel on the Regula 72 spins counter-clockwise. This means I really to not have the right music-box, so I needed to make some modifications. I removed the weight-sprocket, wheels, and the start-stop mechanism from my music box. Then I saw that the shaft-side on my music box is such that if I mount the music box to the Regula 72 it will be spinning the music box drum backwards. I bought 2 33mm gears, installed one on the music box drive arbor, and I made a gear holder for the second one in order to make a two wheel train which will result in the correct spin-direction for the music box. I also installed the minute and hour hands so now I can advance the minute hand and make the movement go through its hour and 1/2 hr motions (without waiting a half hour or hour each time,,,, which I have been doing!).

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Jason Builder

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Bonjour! Well I am a happy camper....The modified music box works perfectly! Please note that when installing the music box, be sure the drum is rotated to the blank space with no notes between songs, that way when it plays it will start at the beginning of the song and end when it's over. If it is installed with the tines of the comb in the middle of a song, it will then start in the middle of a song and end in the middle of the next song. Today I also designed some brackets that will hold the bellows, and which will allow me to slide the bellows up and down during installation until I have them at just the right height. I fashioned some eyelets out of wire and installed them in the top of the bellows.

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Allan Wolff

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Great solutions to the challenges you have encountered! Cuckoo bellows are typically attached to the case with screws directly into the wooden body, but I like your adjustable backets much better. I must get one of those 3-D printers!
 

Jason Builder

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Hello Fellow Clock Enthusiasts!

Tonight I completed all the mechanisms and linkages for the cuckoo clock in the test stand, and they all work as they should! Very exciting. At this point I will measure everything up and get to work building the actual final clock case. Today I: 1. Installed the bellows, 2. carved a test bird and mounted it on a cuckoo bird bracket that the bird attaches to with a small pin than allows the bird to pivot on the bracket. 3. made a small linkage which connects the bird bracket to the door and when the bird advances this linkage opens the door in advance of the bird. 4. Made and installed a wire that is mounted to the top of the bellows and than runs under the tail of the bird; when the bellows lift , this wire lifts the tail of the bird and causes the bird to pivot, or nod, as the cuckoo sound is made. This wire is pictured below. The long horizontal leg runs under the tail of the bird and the small leg in the lower left will be pounded into the front of the bellows top.

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Jason Builder

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Groetjes!

Fun little first project for kicking off building the frame; I carved a Celtic braid in a ring which will encircle the face of the clock. This will be a grandfather style clock with Celtic and Nordic design elements (and of course from the cuckoo mechanism - german design influences. It will not be a traditional black forest style cuckoo clock. I hand-sketched the ring and carved it into 1/4" thick basswood.

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Jason Builder

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Groetjes,

I measured my test frame and modeled it in Fusion 360 CAD. I will include two access panels on the back. Also, I moved the little back-panel-support-tabs to the sides so that they do not interfere with a screw-driver when installing/removing the movement-mounting-screws at the front face. Also notice that I will not cut in a side-slot for the music-on/off lever, but rather will install a vertical raise/lower rod which will link to the on/off lever and which will be accessible from below; thus there is a small hole in the bottom of the frame for this on/off rod to pass through.

Grandfather Cuckoo Clock top case 2.png Grandfather Cuckoo Clock Top case.jpg
 

Jason Builder

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Done taking down dimensions and drawing, now I will get to building, but that will be at the pace the available time allows! Attached drawings show the dimensions of the upper part of the clock frame that I designed, which will house the movement; I have not drawn up the tall standing case of the clock yet, but this head-frame will eventually sit on the tall support frame.

Dwg 1 Cuckoo Regula 72 Head Frame.png Dwg 2 Cuckoo Regula 72 Head Frame.jpg Dwg 3 Cuckoo Regula 72 Head Frame.jpg Dwg 4 Cuckoo Regula 72 Head Frame.jpg Dwg 5 Cuckoo Regula 72 Head Frame.jpg Dwg 6 Cuckoo Regula 72 Head Frame.jpg Dwg 7 Cuckoo Regula 72 Head Frame.jpg
 

Jason Builder

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OK, so probably as anyone who has worked on cuckoo-clocks knows, and as I just learned.....installing the wire linkages to the bellows requires rotating the bellows all around and fitting on the linkage hooks to the bellows and the lifter wires on the movement. As I just learned, this means the bellows can not be just lifted vertically from their mounted locations, which would be required with the u-shaped brackets I made, shown a couple posts above. Also, accessing the bracket screw at the clock-face end of my bracket above would have been impossible after the clock was assembled. SO, I designed a TWO PIECE bracket where-by the front "post" piece may be screwed permanently in place, and the 2nds "Strap" piece can be hooked over the post and then screwed in place, thereby securing the bellows. This will allow for the bellows to be installed and later removed , just be removed the one screws on the "Strap" piece of the bracket, after which the strap can be removed and the bellows will have free range of motion to remove them.

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Jason Builder

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Hi! Built the frame for the clock from plywood. I used plywood for the box-frame of the clock, because I don't want expansion/contraction of the wood messing with the alignment of the linkages. I will sheath this plywood frame in solid wood later. I raised the location of the cuckoo bird opening by about 1.5" (and I checked that the cuckoo actuator extended that high up, which it does).

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Jason Builder

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Aloha! Decided on pine for the clock case. Seemed to go well with my attempted nordic and celtic themes, and it is a tree that grows here. For the curved surfaces I am going for a planked look reminiscent of a ship's planks. In the photo, the lower section of the clock case is upside-down. Next I will make the panels for the front/back/sides, and the solid pine face/sides of the upper part of the clock case which is made of plywood. The lower long-stand-section is all solid clear pine. I am using "biscuit" joinery, sometimes called plate joinery, for the joints in the clock case.

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Count Clockula

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I really enjoy seeing the progress you're making on this project. Thank you for sharing it!
 

Jason Builder

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Bonjour!

Woodwork on the case is progressing. The case is all made of clear pine. I have not yet secured the upper head-frame to the long stand below. I planed down clear pine to 3/16" to sheath the head frame, carved a door for the front, and am working on the floating panels for the sides of the case.

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Allan Wolff

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So many people would use CNC for the carving, so it is great to see some old-school hand carving. Very impressive!
How tall is the clock?
Allan
 

Jason Builder

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Hello,

Well tonight I got all the floating side panels/rear panel installed and bolted the upper clock case to the stand, I will leave the upper case bolted in place/removable for any future service needs. I also sanded the whole thing, so I this point I need to hang the front door on the case and then get to work installing the movement. And I still need to make/paint the clock face....and carve the little dancers....quite a bit left.

The clock is 7 feet tall.

Cheers!

Jason

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Jason Builder

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Merhaba, saatler üzerinde çalışan insanlar.

Well there certainly was some comedy when I went to install the mechanisms in the finished case. Most notably, even though I took all the time to build a test-case so that the final case would be built to the correct dimensions......my drawings were wrong and the hole in the side of the finished case (for the bellows sound) was way to low.. It was not in the right place. Oh the humanity. So after the whole test-case process, meant to avoid modification in my final clock, I still wound up needing to modify my bellows to get them to work in the finished case. I did not want to build a new clock case, and I did not want to fill and relocate the hole, so I built tall brackets, with a super-glued and rabbeted joint to the bellow top, so that the attachment eye was at the correct height from the movement to attach the linkage wires from the bellows to the movement. See photo below. Some poor clock-worker in the future will look at this and shake his or her head. Music box and gong are working perfectly. Bellows working perfectly through 2 days of cycles. The bellows hold-down brackets worked super. The wire that lifts the cuckoo bird tail is affixed to the top of the bellows bracket and is working well.

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Jason Builder

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an t-éan:

I carved the bird and added little wings and painted it like a Bluebird, which are fun local birds to see here in Wisconsin. I carved and installed the little cuckoo bird door and at that point I was high-fiving myself all around town, and installed the pretty bird in the mechanism. Then, as I ran the movement through its cycle the bird would open the door and cuckoo-doodle-doo, but would not return home to its cozy nest in the clock and close the door behind it. I tried and tried making tiny tweeks and making sure nothing was binding, and I just could not get the cuckoo bird and door to close. The tiniest force, lightly blowing on it, would close it. I wanted to see if something was wrong with the spring on the front of the movement that should have been providing the force to return the cuckoo to his home, but that would have meant taking all the parts and movement out, and I decided against it. Maybe a bad decision. My solution will be another head scratcher for any future clock-smith. I added a tiny gauge piano-wire to apply a tiny bit of force to the bird mechanism to return it to the retracted position. This has solved the problem, but its not an "OEM" solution.

Having a great time with this project!

-Jason

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Schatznut

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Merhaba, saatler üzerinde çalışan insanlar.

Well there certainly was some comedy when I went to install the mechanisms in the finished case. Most notably, even though I took all the time to build a test-case so that the final case would be built to the correct dimensions......my drawings were wrong and the hole in the side of the finished case (for the bellows sound) was way to low.. It was not in the right place. Oh the humanity. So after the whole test-case process, meant to avoid modification in my final clock, I still wound up needing to modify my bellows to get them to work in the finished case. I did not want to build a new clock case, and I did not want to fill and relocate the hole, so I built tall brackets, with a super-glued and rabbeted joint to the bellow top, so that the attachment eye was at the correct height from the movement to attach the linkage wires from the bellows to the movement. See photo below. Some poor clock-worker in the future will look at this and shake his or her head. Music box and gong are working perfectly. Bellows working perfectly through 2 days of cycles. The bellows hold-down brackets worked super. The wire that lifts the cuckoo bird tail is affixed to the top of the bellows bracket and is working well.

View attachment 709402
I sympathize. Many a time I've had that Homer Simpson "D'oh!" moment...
 

Jason Builder

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Peaceful evening working on drawing and painting the clock face. Sketched in pencil and painted with a brush with rustomleum gloss paint. I varnished the face prior to painting so that the paint wouldn’t “run” into the grain of the wood.

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Jason Builder

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Well, I was finishing up the clock and the little dancers stopped dancing the dancing platform was spinning freely regardless of what the movement was doing. I took the bellows, music box and movement out and inspected the movement and found a wheel had dropped out of position. I put it back in position and retightened the set screw. Would be worth checking all the set screws that you can reach, prior to installing a new movement I guess.

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Schatznut

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Very nicely done! A couple of questions. What is the significance of the red finish on a portion of the rear? And it looks like you've added levers to the tops of the whistles. Was this done to correct angular mismatch of the lift wires or for other reasons? Did you compensate for the weight of the additions by removing or altering the original weights on the tops of the bellows? Finally, I'm not familiar with that movement and am assuming it is 8-day?
 

Jason Builder

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Hi, No significance to the red paint, the back of the upper case and the access panels are exposed plywood, and I just decided to paint the plywood. What you see on top of the bellows/whistles are fixed extensions to achieve the correct attachment point/geometry for the linkages that lift the bellows. These wooden extensions shouldn't be necessary......I drilled the music-hole too low in the side of my clock case where the whistles blow out the side.....so my whistles are installed lower down in the case than I wanted, so I needed to add those wooden extensions to the tops of the bellows in order to get a decent vertical angle on the wire linkages that raise the bellows. I did not compensate for the extra weight, if anything the extra little weight is good, as I get a good clear "coo" "koo" out of them. I have read of people adding weights to the tops of the bellows in order to get enough airflow over the whistles. Yes this is a Regula 72, 8 day movement.

Also, I forgot to post pictures of the little "balcony" that I made and attached to the front of the clock case. This covers up the dancers platform and gears. The dancers dancer just behind this little balcony. It can be seen installed in the photos above. Here are some photos prior to installation.

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