How do you regulate a cuckoo clock?

R. Croswell

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I've never been a big fan of cuckoo clocks but over the years I have acquired these three. The small one was part of a box lot at a local auction and the buyer didn't want it so it was a freebie, The middle size one I bought at the same local auction for I believe $5 bucks. The large one is something I put together from various parts in a box of junk cuckoo clocks and it is the only 8-day one. All three are running fine, but how the heck do you make them keep time? Perhaps I should same how do YOU make one of these things keep time.

Yes, I know that one slides the wooden pendulum up to make it go faster and down to make it go slower, and for all three the clip that holds the bob is tight enough to beep the bob in place. It just seems like I keep going from too slow to too fast. Just can't seem to make a small enough adjustment to land on just right. I have a friend who has the same problem with his - runs fine, just can't get it dialed in to keep time.

Just wondering if anyone knows any special trick to regulating one of these infernal contraptions. They are high enough off the floor that I have to bring in a ladder to set them and is a real pain to do frequently.

RC.

kaiser.jpg schmeckenbecher-1.jpg unknown-cuckoo2-1.jpg

The one on the left is the medium size, the one in the middle is the large 8-day one, and the one on the right is the baby which looks larger than it is in the picture. All three of the pendulums are replacements that I purchased.
 

Old Rivers

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I've never been a big fan of cuckoo clocks but over the years I have acquired these three. The small one was part of a box lot at a local auction and the buyer didn't want it so it was a freebie, The middle size one I bought at the same local auction for I believe $5 bucks. The large one is something I put together from various parts in a box of junk cuckoo clocks and it is the only 8-day one. All three are running fine, but how the heck do you make them keep time? Perhaps I should same how do YOU make one of these things keep time.

Yes, I know that one slides the wooden pendulum up to make it go faster and down to make it go slower, and for all three the clip that holds the bob is tight enough to beep the bob in place. It just seems like I keep going from too slow to too fast. Just can't seem to make a small enough adjustment to land on just right. I have a friend who has the same problem with his - runs fine, just can't get it dialed in to keep time.

Just wondering if anyone knows any special trick to regulating one of these infernal contraptions. They are high enough off the floor that I have to bring in a ladder to set them and is a real pain to do frequently.

RC.

View attachment 519803 View attachment 519804 View attachment 519805

The one on the left is the medium size, the one in the middle is the large 8-day one, and the one on the right is the baby which looks larger than it is in the picture. All three of the pendulums are replacements that I purchased.
Recently overhauled mine, a Regula movement with three weights. It's actually keeping better time than I expected. I made a reference mark on the back side of the wooden pendulum stick, next to the pendulum's friction clip using a sharp pencil. This prevents me from losing my place. When I nudge the pendulum in the appropriate direction I make another pencil mark. Eventually I got it "dialed in". Good luck with yours!
Bill
 

bangster

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That's what I'd do. There's no alternative to careful trial & error.

Is what I think.
 

Uhralt

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I found that in old pendulums there is some wear to the stick (rod) where the metal clamp of the pendulum sits. This wear mark is slightly deeper than the rest of the stick so the pendulum wants to slide into this position, which is, of course, not the best timekeeping position. I also help myself with a pencil mark. But this shouldn't be RC's problem because his pendulums are new...

Uhralt
 

Willie X

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I use my thumbnail to nudge the bob up or down. Take the pendulum off. Then grasp one end of the stick strongly between your thumb and forefinger and nudge the bob up or down using your thumbnail. It helps to hold the opposite end of the stick, at the bob, to sence when the bob moves.

I usually give up at 1 or 2 minutes a day.

Willie
 

THTanner

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The Cuckoo bird does not build a nest, nor does it raise its young. It sneaks into another bird's nest, lays its egg, and abandons its offspring to be raised (or not) by adoptive parents. While this tidbit won't help you regulate your clock to high precision, it might make it easier to decide that you don't need to.
 

R. Croswell

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The Cuckoo bird does not build a nest, nor does it raise its young. It sneaks into another bird's nest, lays its egg, and abandons its offspring to be raised (or not) by adoptive parents. While this tidbit won't help you regulate your clock to high precision, it might make it easier to decide that you don't need to.
So perhaps I should sneak in to a friend's house some night and abandon them?

RC
 

shutterbug

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Yeah, that thread makes me miss him again too! There's another thread somewhere that details putting a threaded adjuster on a cuckoo pendulum. You could consider that approach too ;)
 

smroid

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Here's a simple trick I found: cut a large paperclip to obtain a tall U-shaped wire and clip it to the pendulum stick behind the bob. Moving the paperclip up or down the stick yields a much finer change to the running rate than sliding the bob itself.

This lets me easily regulate my 8-day cuckoo to a few seconds per day.

Cheers,
-Steve

pendulum_paperclip.jpg
 
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Rod Schaffter

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Sneaky! :cool: I'll have to give that a try!
 

kinsler33

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Any sort of micro-adjustment makes sense, and I may try it on customers' clocks. I've always maintained that a cuckoo clock should keep very good time, given the weight drive and the wood pendulum rod.

Mark Kinsler
 

JimmyOz

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In the early days of Cuckoo clocks they were made like other clocks pendulums, whether they were weight driven or spring driven wall clocks or spring driven and fusee driven mantle clocks. It seems to me through working on many hundreds of cuckoo clocks that somewhere around the 1900's they changed to an all wooden pendulum with fine adjustment and no weight in the bob then sometime later to what we have today. My theory only, is that due to the larger sales of what was becoming a novelty clock, clock makers thought people were buying them for the cuckoo and not there accuracy and the fact that an all wooden pendulum was far cheaper to make.

The all wooden pendulum expands and contracts with the weather conditions, though this does not occur in the length of the pendulum it has an effect on the weight due to the moisture content. Then add to that any sort of air movement will affect the swing, therefore it is not going to be accurate as normal adjustable weighted pendulum.
Attached photo's are;
1870-80 Beha pendulum, with a fully leaded weight and adjustable threaded rod
Behapendulum2.jpg
Behapendulum1.jpg
Behapendulum3.jpg
Ajustable 1900's pendulum and the type used today.
CIMG0887.jpg
 
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shutterbug

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Also, wood pendulums tend to run slower in humid air, so there is always a need for fiddling. Modern cuckoos will run for 20 years or so though, so not as bad as they look :D
 

Pete 2021

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Just so that everyone knows, I am not a horologist, nor do I pretend to be.
However, I have stayed at a Holiday Inn once so THAT makes me an expert, in my own mind!
That being said, I have my list to hang any cuckoo clock up.
1... I always hang the clock on an INSIDE wall and never on the outside wall. My reason is that there is fairly constant expansion and contraction due to temperature changes throughout the day.
2...I always make sure the wall spot is as level as I can make it on the vertical axis.
3...After I hang the clock, I level it on the horizontal axis. And yes, I have a keychain level. (I used to use a shot glass!)
4...Listen to the tiks and the tocks. You may have to nudge the clock off level to make the tics and the tocks EVEN. When the tik is even with the tock, make a small pencil mark on EACH side of the case so that you can re-regulate it back to the reasonably correct time if anyone accidently moves it.
The reason for this is the movement is not always installed in the exact center of the house. It is sometimes installed slightly off center.
5...Now you can start to fiddle with the pendulum.

In case you think these steps are not important, let me tell you a story.
My father in law was not my biggest fan. In fact, he talked about printing up some un-wanted posters with my picture.
Anyway, he had six cuckoo clocks and a large Zaanse hanging throughout the house.
Under the guise of wanting to learn about clocks, I would follow him as he reset the chains. As I walked away from each cuckoo clock, I would give it a little nudge, which would throw the timing for the tik and the tock off.
The next morning these clocks would be off by a matter of a few minutes to well past an hour, depending on how much he got on my nerves.
He has since passed on to that big windmill in the sky, but I still remember the lessons that I learned about cuckoo clocks from making his clock timing chores a real pain in the ass!
I hope this helps a tiny bit for a newbie to at least get their clock running reasonably accurate.

Pete
 
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shutterbug

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Sounds good to me ;)
 

Pete 2021

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If you can't bite, don't growl! ;)
 

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