Music box governor problems

Chris M.

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Hi All -

First, thank you for your patience and for not getting sick of my posts!

Second, I am fixing someone else's cuckoo clock for the first time. A friend has a vintage 3-weight clock with a chain driven dancer platform and a side music box, that is currently just a tangled mass of chains. I told him I would take a shot on getting it running.

While I was cleaning the clock, I determined that the music box train was missing its chain and when I tested the music box, it would jam while playing the tune. I believe the music box governor is bad because when it is played, the worm gear on the fly will start clicking and jumping up and down and then the music box jams. I was able to tighten the fly by bending the arm that has the pivot holes for the fly and it is now working better, but it is still noisy and clicks some when operating. If possible, I would like to replace the governor with a replacement part rather than use the original that I have jury rigged. I went on BFI and they have a governor that "looks" just like the one on this music box, but it says that it is for a 22 note music box and this music box definitely has more tines than 22 on the comb (we count 30 - so 28?). Also, I guess I could just replace the fan assembly drive gear (that may be the problem) but I don't know how to get the old one out and the new one installed. Questions: 1) Could the governor for the 22 note that "looks right" work? The 28 note governor does not "look right". 2) How do you get the fan assembly drive gear uninstalled and reinstalled if I were to try that instead of replacing the whole governor? Since BFI sells these, I assume you can get the old one out and a new one in, right? Thank you for reading my long post! See photos and links. Have a good evening.

BLACK FOREST IMPORTS, INC - Parts & Accessories - Cuckoo Clocks | Music Boxes & Related Parts - Cuckoo | Fan Assemblies/Govenors & Relatated - Cuckoo | Fan Assemblies/Govenors Drive Gear - Cuckoo | N/A |

BLACK FOREST IMPORTS, INC - Parts & Accessories - Cuckoo Clocks | Music Boxes & Related Parts - Cuckoo | Fan Assemblies/Govenors & Relatated - Cuckoo | Fan Assemblies/Govenors - Cuckoo | N/A |

schuesmusic1.JPG schuesmusic2.JPG schuesmusic3.JPG schuesmusic4.JPG schuesmusic5.JPG schuesmusic6.JPG schuesmusic7.JPG
 

RJSoftware

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This is usually the infamous cracked plastic gear. The gear that drives the worm gear over time typically splits due to excessive tight friction fit on its arbor. As the plastic ages it gets brittle and wll split on one side of thea gear.

The split is hard to see but easy to hear the repeated click it makes driving the worm gear. There is no glue or fix for it. Lubing only gives intermittent results.

Fortunately timesavers sells the little gear. You can bend the metal with needlenose to remove arbor and to fine tune worm gear mesh depth.

rj
 

Bruce Alexander

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It might also be a matter of worn pivot holes in which case you could try your hand at bushing to re-establish proper depth. The attached photos show my placement of three bushings which enabled the governor to function properly. However, there was too much wear in other areas of the movement so I ended up replacing the entire thing. I think that's usually the preferred course of action assuming a good replacement is still available. These mechanisms were not manufactured to be serviced so don't beat your head against the wall if there are signs of wear throughout the rest of the movement.

Bushing.JPG Bushings 2.JPG
 

RJSoftware

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bushings on these I think acceptable to center punch with round nose punch. The ratio of hole size to metal thickness is more like a watch. So it has the extra meat/thickness to close hole via punch and then broach.
 

Bruce Alexander

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I'm not familiar with those RJ, so I'll take your word for it. I wouldn't spend a lot of time trying to repair these movements unless a suitable replacement isn't readily available, or the mechanism was designed with future service in mind. If you have to bend stamped metal to access pivots, it was probably made to be "recycled" rather than repaired.
 

Willie X

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Sometimes the repair (or replacement) of these little devils is easy. The only work might be to elongate one of the mounting holes. Other times you may have to take apart several governors to make one that works.

Note, one very important point that you may not notice is the tooth count on the first pinion, the pinion that meshes with the pin drum. The count is usually around 12 to 14 teeth. It needs to be the same as the original.

Willie X
 

R&A

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These can be bushed. Just be careful when bending the sides out to bush and reinstalling the parts. I prefer to bush the ones without the plastic parts. As far as punching I don't think so. And the movements can be overhauled There are replacement governors, you need to know the tooth count.
 

Bruce Alexander

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These musical cuckoo clocks can be very cute Chris. Good luck overhauling yours. It may take a *lot* of time to get it operating correctly and reliably but you'll have a real sense of accomplishment when you get the bird calling, the dancers dancing and the music playing. Don't hesitate to ask questions. We've got some real Cuckoo for Cuckoo Clock folks around here. :cuckoo: I've just really started working with them myself. Getting them to go into warning can be a real adventure. :banghead:
 

Chris M.

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When these parts on BFI refer to pinion count, are they talking about the pinion that meshes with the gear on the pin drum? Is there a good way to count pinion teeth? The governor for the 22 note box on BFI has a pinion count of 8 and the 28/36 governor has a pinion count of 14. If it is the pinion that meshes with the gear on the pin drum, the one on this clock definitely has more than 8 teeth. The governor on BFI that has a pinion count of 14 looks nothing like the governor in this clock, pinion count or no. I don't think it will fit or line up with the mounting holes based on its gross appearance.
 

Chris D

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First thing I would do is to decide if it needs bushings and check for a crack in the plastic gear like others mentioned. To check for bushings, twist the front gear side to side and check how much wobble there is. Then hold the fan and turn the front gear back and forth and watch the shaft in the middle to see how much it jumps up/down. A little bit of play is ok, but if the front gear seems too wobbly and the center shaft is jumping, you'll need to bush it or replace it. As far as the replacement, you could use the 22 or 28/36. Looking at the fan on yours and the 22, it looks like yours is larger, so you would probably need to swap the fans because the music would play too fast with the new 22. You may also need to swap out the front gear if the pinion count is different. I'd probably stay away from the 28/36, it would need way more modification. To get the fly out, just lift up on the top enough to remove it. To get the other two out, I grab the bottom right sides with a plier and twist to the right until there's enough room for them to come out.

Not sure if it's just the camera angle, but it looks like your front gear isn't parallel with the shaft behind it, the right side looks like it's too high. If you look at the gov from the front and top, the gears need to be parallel and square.
 

Willie X

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Yes, just mark the edge of one tooth with a sharpie pen and count away. A governor with an 8 tooth drive is probably going to be a very small one. Unfortunately, until you have the part in front of you, it's very difficult to know any details. From what I can see, I would go with something on the larger side. That is, higher count on the number of reeds on the comb, with a drive pinion tooth count that matches your old one.

My BFI catalog only shows one larger governor #AFA28/36H.

Also, don't be surprised if the governor you actually receive looks different from the one in the catalog. The catalog photos are often generic.

Willie X
 

RJSoftware

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When and if you decide to punch bushing hole MORE closed, one trick is to stand thin flat nosed punch upright in vise jaws. Use that as anvil/platform to set work upon and then appropriate round nose punch dead center of bushing hole. Give a couple small whacks and test fit. Though some argue the point, this is not same as clock bushings. The ratio of plate thickness to pivot size provides enough material to compress and not skimp bushing strength/thickness. It works.
 

shutterbug

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I would think that your method would affect all sides of the hole equally, RJ. If the hole were elongated to begin with, wouldn't punching it cause depthing issues? Maybe the part is small enough that it wouldn't make much difference.
 

RJSoftware

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Well, all I can say to you is try it sometime. Punch dead center then broach. On these you can even tweek the bends to adjust depth. Or walk the hole back. (broach with side pressure).
 
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Chris M.

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Ok, so I purchased a governor from Timesavers with the correct pinion tooth count.22/28/36T Brass Music Movement Governor 14-Tooth Pinion. I had to cut it and file it to get it to fit and work the original music box. It fits and runs correctly, I believe. I think the song plays a little fast personally, but the fan is the same size as the original and I am pretty sure the weights are correct so we're going to live with that I think.

Question: I have the activating lever adjusted so that the music box only plays on the hour strike, but the song is really short and the weight does not advance as quickly as the time and strike weights, so did this clock originally play music on both the hour strike and the half hour strike? In my limited experience, I have never encountered a musical cuckoo that plays music on both the hour and the half hour. Does anyone have an opinion or experience to inform? It's no big deal and I'm not sure anyone would care, but at the end of the day, the strike and time weights are way low like expected and the music box weight has advanced about 50% (roughly) the distance. Thanks.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Hi Chris. Glad you got it working. It sounds to me like the music box was set up to play at both the hour and half-hour. Does it only play one melody? I think the weights should drop together by the time the hour has cycled through the 12-hour cycles. I have very little experience with Cuckoos though so perhaps someone who has a lot of experience will weigh in.
Bruce
 

shutterbug

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Yes, some activate on both the hour and the half. When they do, they usually have a two song music box so they play one song on the hour and the other on the half.
 

RJSoftware

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The releasing wire is pulled by the strike side (cuckoo) tall lever. It's tricky to adjust it just enough so the release wire is pulled when cuckoo initiates. Yet has to be inward enough to give release wire slack so music will stop. Also even more tricky to get half hour music as the tall lever pulls less distance at half hour than the hour. So sometimes I just settle for music on the hour. Depends on how finicky it is.
 

Chris M.

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The music box plays two songs, so that fits with what Shutterbug has said. Having said that, I have a Schneider cuckoo clock that also plays two songs, but only plays music on the hour. However the weights fall as they should, unlike this clock.

When I reassembled the clock, It was playing on both the hour and half hour strikes. I adjusted so it would only play music on the hour. I will just undo my adjustments. Should go ok. Thanks.
 

Bruce Alexander

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Yeah, that's probably the ticket. If the music movement's weight is only dropping 50% of the Time and Strike that pretty much says it all. Even it the replaced music movement only played one melody (which can be the case) it could have played twice per hour. The fact that your new musical movement plays two melodies makes it a more interesting clock (in my opinion).
 

Pdubya

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I see this is a 2 year old thread but basically my exact scenario, with the cracked plastic gear. I'm a total novice working on an estate sale cuckoo clock with music box. My question is what exactly do you count if ordering a new governor? One says count the "comb" and one says the pinion? and is the pinion the actual wheel that's on the govenor that engages the gear on the music box? If so mine has 12 teeth, and my comb appears to have 22. The clock mechanism is so gunked up, ( looks like green pancake syrup ) trying to clean it and get the music box back together. Several here say it it is quite a chore to line up a new governor and music box, ( even if you know what you are doing ) figured I'd chance it for the 30 dollars or so to get this thing going.
Looking on timesavers, there's a 22 tooth 13 tooth pinion, 22,28,36- 12 tooth, and a 22, 28. 36 -14 tooth? any suggestions appreciated, and the best manual cleaner form them without an ultrasonic?

cuckoo.jpg
 

RJSoftware

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The comb is specifically related to the prickly pinned drum. No relation to the governor.

The plastic gear pushes the worm gear. The worm gear and fly are the governor, slowing the speed of how fast the drum turns, as the fly catches air as it turns. The plastic gear is notorious for having a split as age they crack. The split causes intermittent failure (very annoying).

However, I dont see plastic gear on yours but might be camera shot. Green vernix is debree from brass. Vinegar and toothbrush. Wash off after. The gear depthing (how close/apart) can be adjusted by carefully tweaking govenor frame to explore favorable reaction. Teeth gear to gear are not just jammed together in solid contact, a degree of microscopic gap exist between them. Shoot for 90% engagement. In reality the measures are nearly imperceptible. So slight tweaking, looking for good reaction setting depth.
 

Pdubya

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Hey I appreciate the info. I have the whole thing apart, even the music box, and was trying to decide which governor to order, looks like this one and it says count the "comb" and gear teeth so I'm guessing 22 on comb and 12 on gear? And I've done a no no it appears by soaking movement in dawn and then spaying with carb cleaner. I think that's safer for me, than total disassembly of the movement. I even took it to a clock repair shop for some cleaner or advice and he seemed about as interested in helping as if going to a proctologist. So I'm giving it a shot. I got a simpler one working that came from the same estate sale.

cuckoo gear.jpg cuckoo gov.jpg cuckoo 2.jpg
 

RJSoftware

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Yep, you got it. The only thing I can imagine with comb teeth count as to governor is speed of notes played. But it don't look that different. As long as the pinion matches up. Let us know
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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Hello, there are several posts concerning music box governors. This one was the most useful to my purposes. I have a Thorens 22 tooth box with a worn out governor and it think I am OK with buying a new one for it, but I have 7 teeth on the pinion. I see 8 tooth governors, but not 7. Can I get away with using an 8 tooth, or can I swap the gears?

20210322_231612.jpg
 

shutterbug

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The only concern would be whether they mesh properly. The tooth difference would slow the fan a little, but probably not enough to make a huge difference. Slowing the tune down a bit is usually a good thing anyway. ;)
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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Thanks. I am going to call Timesavers and ask them. Regardless the reply, I think I will take my chances. I could also try transferring the fan and its drive. I'll let you know how I fare.
 

shutterbug

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Don't be surprised if Timesavers doesn't know the answer. They are mostly just people off the street that pull items off shelves for shipping. :)
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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Yep. I fixed cars for over 50 years. The same holds true in auto parts houses. We're on our own. But that's not so bad, is it? Thanks!
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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You were right. She didn't know beans. I ordered one and will look to see if I can just swap the first gear. If not, like you say, the slower play with suit the Blue Danube just fine!
 

RJSoftware

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Some of the Thorens music boxes really sweet little machines. A lot more to them than they appear. The main thing to protect is the comb. The teeth are weighted with I think solder and pain stakingly tuned with tiny lead weights to accent tone notes.

The one thing to avoid is running the barrel with detached/failed governor. I think in music box world it's referred to as dry run (cant remember term), but what happens is pin barrel without attached governor spins fast and can break those tuned weights on comb teeth.

While I agree that the timesavers might work you might be happier searching ebay for a donar low end Thorens movement. The Thorens movement s range from single song cheap to multiple songs with shifting pin barrel.

I would look to see if governor parts where same, get seller to count teeth maybe. The worm gear profile might give you issue with timesavers part as well. I don't know.

Good luck.

P.S. You inspired me to wind up & play a few of mine. Been a long time. 2 of them didn't play so I did the old Zippo lighter fluid trick. Drop a few drops on the gears and manually turn fly, then it starts to turn push pin barrel a little to get fly and music sped up, a little more fluid then dry with hair dryer a touch. Oil pivots with clock oil. Spins just fine. I think sitting unused for long periods causes oil to gel up. The Naptha liquefied the oil again, enough to get it turning.
 
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Mark Bardenwerper

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Thorens music boxes were well built precision movements. Now, we are forced to accept crappy knockoffs mostly made of plastic. This clock is in good condition, and was restored at one time, with new bellows and other work. The fellow that I am fixing it for ran it for many years and the music box only worked for a short time after it was repaired. It was obviously not tended to and it is simply worn completlely out. The pivots are sloppy and the fan worm barely has what you could call teeth and the drive gear is so worn that one tooth clashes into the shaft upon the previous one. Anything will be an improvement and if this replica governor gives ten years of service, it will far out last him. I just want to see his face when he hears his old clock working as it did when his wife was alive.
I have enough clocks of my own. the time is coming when this hobby will have to end for me, as my essential tremor is worsening steadily. I only took this on on because this fellow needed cheering up.
 

shutterbug

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kinsler33 is a regular contributor here, and has a bad tremor as well. He hasn't let it slow him down. He might have some tricks to help you keep going with your hobby/business. ;)
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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Hey folks, I have the governor mounted. I enlarged, then filed the holes to fit. They claimed that the one they were sending me had 8 leaves in the pinion gear, but it didn''t. It had more than that and it was somewhat larger in diameter. I attempted to reuse the old gear, but the pivots and the second gear mesh where wrong, so I put the one it came with back it. Now it is functioning well, though however fast it turns out, I will have to live with. I sure works better than the old one! Now I need to get the stop arm fitted, but the mounting hole is somewhat farther away and the adjacent flat spring that rode on the music drum is also too short. And the original screw is also too small. Has anyone got a workaround or this?

20210329_220515.jpg
 

RJSoftware

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I hate how things get wonky like this. Not your fault but looks like uphill battle all the way.
If you cant stretch the arm's reach by removing arch enough to grab hole on side of barrel then cut a new one from sheet of tin or brass, etc.

One trick about it is the fly contact portion. It should stop the fly before the arm hook gets locked in the barrel, else the next go round wont release.

Thats because the barrel is low speed high torque so to twanggg those notes out. The fly is high speed but low torque, easier to stop.

If the finger doesn't stop the fly before the arm's hole hook stops the barrel, then the hook gets in a bind and wont release. So picture no finger at all, the barrel slowly drags to a stop from the bind of hook, the normal lever action cant release the hook.

It is supposed to have a return spring too. The slightest tickle on the stop arm unlocks the barrel catch and the spring pull finger out of way. Some clocks use additional fly stop wire/lever from clock movement to control when fly starts but still rely on stop arm. That's because the clock only signals when to start music. The music box control the stop.

If you make another the arm reach can be fudged by arching. That and finger angle.
 
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POWERSTROKE

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What kind of file do you use to get the holes right: I have one like that here right now.
 

shutterbug

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It look s like you'll have to become the engineer/inventor and redesign it. You're doing well so far. :thumb:
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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I don't have any real tiny ones, but I did have a few chain saw sharpening files. To use one, I had to very slightly enlarge the holes, whereupon the file slipped in. I was then able to rather quickly work the metal. I am beginning to think this thing in reverse. I was imagining the hole in the drum as the stop. I think it should be regarded as the sensor. I am sitting here looking this thing over and I wonder if I could just cut off the mount from the old one and attach it to the new one. There is plenty of metal on the vertical bit that provides the pivots for the pinion and secondary shaft. It can then be properly located away from drum, but inboard.

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shutterbug

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Whatever you have to do to make it fit and work :)
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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Hey folks,
I need to give you a quick update. I now have the music box back in the case. It was a lot of trial and more than one error. I finally got a second governor drilled out correctly to mount the trigger. I also raised it a bit so the screws would clear the sound comb. My first attempt failed partly because I had to use what I could find locally for fasteners, the screw ran afoul the sound comb and it was way too far back. I ordered M2 screws from timesavers along with another governor, and I bought a matching drill and tap from Amazon. Smaller screws and a modified distance seems to have done the trick. I still need to test and tweak. You can also see where I drilled a few holes in the back of the case to attack the mount screws.

20210413_205420.jpg 20210413_205436.jpg 20210414_205613.jpg
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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I have been busy for a few weeks and now I am back at it. The music box refused to play freely, so I removed it and mounted it on a piece of wood so I could hang it on a wall and attach a weight. It would not play when I started out, but I shifted the governor slightly so the second gear does not rub on the music barrel end gear, which seemed to be part of the problem. Several run downs with two weights and it suddenly loosened up a started working better. Something either was not meshing just right or there was binding. I now have it reinstalled. My next chore is to rest the triggers. There are two fan stops, one on a separate lever from the movement and one that frees when the trigger moves. It looks as if one is for hour and the other for half hour. This box seems to play two verses of Blue Danube. How do I set them up?
 

shutterbug

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One should work as the warning stop lever, and the other for the final stop after the strike.
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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The music box is working nicely, and I have read several descriptions of how to to set up the music, but obviously I am thick headed on this. Here is my high tech stand, made of a board clamped to a chair. Here is a video of my set up so far.

stand.jpg
 

JimmyOz

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Looking at your video, the music box is not being allowed to go into warning, therefore the lever that releases the drum is just returning to the hole without the drum advancing. It looks like the lever that holds the fan need adjusting to the left (a photo of the back of the movement would help) I think the black lever will have a screw on it where it attaches to the movement, if so, loosen this and move the lever left, it is trial and error to find the right position.

The aim is to get the fan to rotate enough to get the lever that is in the hole in the drum to come out, then after it advances the other black lever (with the wire on it) catches the fan before the music starts, then when the cuckoo stops the music will run until the lever slips back into the hole after one revulsion of the drum or half a revulsion if it has 2 holes..
 

Willie X

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Also, those vise-grips will damage your case.

It's a good idea but use some soft tip clamps, like midsize Irwin Quick Grips®.

Willie X
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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Point taken, Willy X. Before I set it up this way, I had the lever set over to the left. The wire would pull the .actuator, yanking the pin out of the drum. The drum would then take off and nut itself out before the bird call, A tiny bit over and the bent wire would catch the fan right away and keep the drum from moving enough to get away from the hole. Then the music wouldn't start. I just dismounted the movement to see if there are any adjustments on the front. Well, at least I not know what moves the arm, but there are no obvious adjustments there. So, the bent wire, when the bird is done, should drop off to the left and let the fan go, I go that, but I can figure out how to give it enough time to move the hole in the drum. Tomorrow I will reassemble the thing and set it like that and maybe we can go from there. Right now, all I seem to be getting is music before the bird or nothing at all. Should the tip of the wire be hitting the fan way out at its tip?
 

shutterbug

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The way that fan stops looks like something else is in the way. The fan has to be free to move during warning and when it's time to run. The warning lever looks like it's working properly - holding the fan until the strike ends and then moving out of the way.
 

Mark Bardenwerper

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Here we are with another try. I think I am getting closer. I heeded the advice of Willie X and now use spring clamps. If I would have kept up using the vice grips, by now we would have had quite a mess!
 
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JimmyOz

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Your almost there.
The 2nd video shows that the wire needs to be past the fan unlike most of the other music boxes that catch the fan on the left yours catches it on the centre on it's way back after passing the fan that set the warning. Why it is working on the hour and not the half hour is that the lever on the front does not lift as high on the half. You will need to set it up to work the half hour and the hour will work.
I said before to move the black lever on the movement to the left, however looking at the 2nd video I think it needs to go to the right a bit so it passes the fan and lets the fan rotate into warning before the lever on the front drops and cuckoo's the half hour.
 

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NAWCC Online Structure and Operation by Tom McIntyre