Solved Musical Cuckoo Clock (three train between plates) - strike and music problem

AndyH

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A few weeks back my neighbour saw me repairing one of my mantle clocks triggering the fateful comment "ah, could you have a look at my cuckoo clock". Now about 35 hours of work later (cleaning, busing, repairs and adjustment) and yes it is driving me cuckoo but I am now down to two problems.

Cuckoo Arm (and Strike Counting)
The final step before returning to the case was to add the cuckoo arm (for poking the cuckoo out the door). The strike was working fine before doing this but with the arm installed in such a way that the correct degree of swing was achieved the strike train intermittently stalls.

I think I know the cause of this. One of the repairs I had to do was replace the spring on the minute hand lifting lever (the loop on the front of the plate was broken and so the spring was not providing any tension. But I made the replacement spring from slightly thicker (0.66mm instead of about 0.45mm) wire. My theory is that with this thicker spring when the cuckoo arm is added the weight of the arm has the effect of slightly further increasing the tension and the unlocking lever therefore retains too much tension on the control cam preventing it from starting to run. To support this theory - when the train stalls if I apply very slight pressure to the lever tail (that actuates the cuckoo arm) the train unlocks and the strike complete correctly.

I don't know if all this makes sense or whether anyone disagrees with the logic so far...

So, from what I've said the simple answer would seem to be: make another new spring of the correct thickness. But what I have found from various tinkering I've done so far is that if the tension of that new spring is reduced slightly (for example, I changed the anchor point so the spring had less starting tension) then I have another problem. That is the strike train will unlock and strike but often fails to lock at the end of the count period. This is usually (but not always) failing to lock at the end of the hour strike and locking only after having struck the half hour as well.

So, I think using a lighter spring is going to unleash this problem and I cannot see any other form of adjustment I can make to ensure the train locks correctly.

Am I completely on the wrong track or missing something important?

Music on Half Hour
The clock came to me not working correctly and I am reliant on my neighbours to advise on how it used to function – but their memory seems a bit hazy and I have slightly different description from both of them!

First, the clock is (except for the issues described above) working fine - striking on the half hour and hour and playing music on the hour. But, I'm told it used to play music on the hour and half hour. I think they are correct on that because there is currently significantly less (about half) drop on the music weight than the time train weight. But I can't see how to resolve this.

The operation of the strike train and it's interaction (via those horrible wires between the plates) with the music train seems identical at both the hour and half hour.

But I have noticed one thing that may explain it.....

When the half hour strikes the lever to the music side unlocks the music train and the music fan starts to rotate. But the single strike then completes (and the music fan lock lever drops back) before the music fan has completed one revolution. So the music train locks when the music fan completes its first revolution.

This suggests one of two things to me. Either the strikes train is running too fast and shuts of the music train before it should (on this point I have checked the strike fly is not unduly loose on its arbour) or the music train is running too slow.

Or is there something else I am missing?

Music Tunes
I am not considering this an outstanding problem as I have discounted it – but mention it "just in case".

Although they are in disagreement between their selves my neighbour tells me the clock played a different (and possibly shorter) tune on the half hour.

First, I don't think a different tune is possible… The music box is driven directly from the music train via a pinion that engages with the music train chain wheel. The pin barrel on the music box does move laterally against a spring on its arbour so in theory the barrel could be moved to play a different sequence of pins but there's no "mechanism" that would facilitate that movement of the pin barrel.

On the second point I don't see how a different length of play is possible either. The control cam on the music train means once the train is unlocked it has to complete one full rotation of the control cam, which equals one rotation of the pin barrel.

But I remain open to correction on either point!

Sorry, this has turned out a long post but perhaps better to include everything observed rather than leave it open to reading between the lines!

Andy

Back.jpg Front.jpg MusicBox.jpg New Spring.jpg
 

shutterbug

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That movement is a royal PITA, and yes, it's possible that there is two tunes on the music drum.
 
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AndyH

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That movement is a royal PITA
We are in agreement on that :(

Any clues as to exactly what the movement is? it bears no marks at all.

and yes, it's possible that there is two tunes on the music drum.
OK - if that is the case I'm stumped on what the causes one or other tunes to be selected...

EDIT: I am updating this reply post as I've now worked out the answer to that particular poser. A small brass cross (with two sections longer than the other two) is screwed to the underside of the music box frame. I had already spotted this during cleaning and reassembly but assumed its purpose was to maintain the lateral position of the pin barrel against the tension of a spring at the other end of the pin barrel arbour. As a wise friend once advised me "never assume!"

I now see that as the pin barrel rotates this cross catches in a V shaped slot in the end surface of the barrel. This causes the cross to rotate presenting a long leg (instead of the short leg) of the cross to the end surface of the barrel. This longer leg pushes the barrel laterally on its arbour thereby aligning a different set of pins with the comb.

So, sussed that out. But is suspect it not going to operate very reliably as it looks rather worn.
 
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Jim Hartog

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Hello AndyH,

See if you can find a photo of a Faller movement. That's the only cuckoo manufacturer that I know put the music box train between the plates.

Jim
 

Mike Mall

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That movement is a royal PITA, and yes, it's possible that there is two tunes on the music drum.
I've looked everywhere, and can't find a clock manufacturer named Royal Pita . I'd guess it's an English manufacturer, since Royal is in the name. :emoji_wink:

That is a VERY interesting movement. If the proportions are as they appear in the photos, the plates are massively thick. I guess they don't make them like they used to. Search of "Faller" does show some photos here, of similar movements.
 

AndyH

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If the proportions are as they appear in the photos, the plates are massively thick. I guess they don't make them like they used to. Search of "Faller" does show some photos here, of similar movements.
Yes the plates are quite thick at 2.5mm. That said, despite the thickness of the plate I can't say I am terribly impressed with it :-(

Yes I searched the name and found this thread in which the second photo appears to be almost the same movement.


Andy
 

AndyH

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I have made some progress and now have only one outstanding problem so an update.

I now have the movement striking correctly with the cuckoo arm engaged. I have achieved this with some fine tuning of the tension on the newly fitted minute hand lifting lever. Ordinarily the spring should reach round to the front of the plate and be wrapped round a taper pin. Having unhooked it from the taper pin and leaving it just hooked to the plate seems to provide the right tension. It's been running fine like this out of the case for nearly three days. Not sure what will happen when the weight of the cuckoo and door are added to the arm but I shall find out in a fews days!

I was wrong in my firm assertion the music box could only play one tune. I've eaten my words and wrapped my knuckles on that one. This was covered in an earlier update.

This just leaves the issue of not playing music on the half hour (as described in my original post). I still can see an explanation or cure for this so any advice on that would be appreciated.

Andy
 

roughbarked

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The star lifter on the centre shaft should lift it far enough to initiate the strike on the half hour too. Maybe it isn't lifting high enough? Maybe a wire is a little bent? Practice turning the hands and observing this lifting action. You should spot this problem by working through the levers and how far they need to lift. The hour lifter is longer than the half hour and perhaps something has changed which causes the half hour not to lift enough.
 

justinabshire

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What are the weight sizes you have for that movement I just started to take one apart like that. Also, did your have two strings on opposite ends and how long were they out of the box.

F27C9803-53DD-4571-8A6E-7CE9F51D1E60.jpeg ED676367-E3C6-43BC-A848-B6593AD79FDF.jpeg DB980F91-8FAC-4138-B8E1-73921234A4F7.jpeg
 

AndyH

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AndyH

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The star lifter on the centre shaft should lift it far enough to initiate the strike on the half hour too. Maybe it isn't lifting high enough? Maybe a wire is a little bent? Practice turning the hands and observing this lifting action. You should spot this problem by working through the levers and how far they need to lift. The hour lifter is longer than the half hour and perhaps something has changed which causes the half hour not to lift enough.
I've spent a long time studying it a trying to see a problem :-(

Thanks for your comments but.... It DOES strike correctly on the half hour (and hour) - the problem is that music does not play on the half hour.

Andy
 

lbrott

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What luck! I am working on an identical movement. I obtained mine from an antique store. Unfortunately, the clock had been dropped and the wood case was shattered. I was able to recover the mechanism and music box ($15 for everything!). The music box plays two different tunes of equal length. Once one song ends, the drum shifts slightly to create a different song. I remember one of the songs is a Brahms lullaby.

While doing my own research, I came across this page which has several photos of this mechanism being repaired:
"One-Day Musical Cuckoo Clock, 1950s - William Stoddard"

This mechanism doesn't have the usual winding click. Instead, it requires springs (Timesavers, parts 10567 and 10568). It is a one-day mechanism with 360-gram weights.
 

lbrott

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Attached are two photos. One is the "Thorens" music box, and the other is the mechanism. You'll notice a large cut out in the lower right of the plate, to make room for the music box gear. The music box is powered directly from the main gear, and the huge fan is needed to slow down the song.

Mechanism.jpg Music box.jpg
 

AndyH

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the movement I have has a small string on each side how long does that string need to be
Hi
Sorry I didn't spot those strings in the pics on the original post.

The purpose of these is to allow you to trigger the strike or music without having to get inside the clock case. For example, if the strike count has got out of sync with the time shown by the hands, this can be used to trigger the strike until the two correspond.

Mine doesn't have these strings - there is instead a small door on each side of the case that can be opened to get to the lever to press it.

In your case I would expect these strings to extend just below the bottom of the case (that is just enough so you can get to them but without dangling down too low and being unsightly) and should probably have some sort of small bead on the end (although not essential).

Regards

Andy
 

justinabshire

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question about the music barrel how can I position it in the right place to stop right now it is not finishing the music completely. Also, I am not really sure what to adjust in order to get the man to come out all the way.

FD69B30F-374C-469D-82AB-A48992A8DDBD.jpeg B698C464-43B5-47FE-9B73-3F3D393D33AC.jpeg
 

justinabshire

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question about the music barrel how can I position it in the right place to stop right now it is not finishing the music completely. Also, I am not really sure what to adjust in order to get the man to come out all the way.

View attachment 692124 View attachment 692125
I was able to get this figured out the only thing is when the music starts playing it sorts of lags ever so often. Any idea on what i might be able to do.
 

AndyH

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I was able to get this figured out the only thing is when the music starts playing it sorts of lags ever so often.
Hi
Not sure what you mean by "sort of lags"?

Also, how did you resolve the previous problem " right now it is not finishing the music completely " - I'm wondering if the two are related.

Andy
 

justinabshire

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Hi
Not sure what you mean by "sort of lags"?

Also, how did you resolve the previous problem " right now it is not finishing the music completely " - I'm wondering if the two are related.

Andy
As far as the first question I pulled the music movement out of the clock and moved it to the stop point and that seems to of resolved the music to stop at the right point and as far as the man I just moved the swing arm out a little and when the swing arm comes down it kicks him out far enough.

So what I mean in regards to the music lagging is that it seems slow when it plays and some times it sounds like it sort of plays then slows down then plays again. I think I will need to pull it out again and adjust the comb.
 

AndyH

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So what I mean in regards to the music lagging is that it seems slow when it plays and some times it sounds like it sort of plays then slows down then plays again. I think I will need to pull it out again and adjust the comb.
Hi
Ok understand now - thanks for clarifying.

First of all, I'm not sure adjusting the comb is going to help here. If that is related to the problem then I would expect you to not only have slow/varying speed music but also missing notes, very quiet notes or "over plucked" notes.

It seems to me the movement is probably struggling in not delivering sufficient power to drive the music box at a constant speed. From the symptoms you describe my first pointer would be to a movement that needs cleaning ("gummed up" pivot holes) and / or worn pivot holes that need re-busing. I'm not sure from your previous posts what work you have done on this movement already? Has it been disassembled and cleaned?

One other thing I would check.... is there any eccentricity in the arbour (shaft) of the music box and the attached wheel that engages with the chain wheel on the music train? Eccentricity here would result in presenting a varying load to the music train and could lead to variable speed. If this is the problem then you would notice the music always slows down ./ speeds up at the same points in the tune. If the speed changes in random places this is highly unlikely to be the cause (and the reason described above even more likely).

Andy
 

justinabshire

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So I was able to get the music set correctly now it seems after the clock strikes on the hour and half the music is activating the arm. I am really sort of stuck. I think it might be the spring not maybe having enough pull any more but again I am not really sure. It was working for awhile then stopped.
here is a photo put back in the case.

A1DCB5A3-5803-4CBB-AEDD-57AAE018835D.jpeg
 

shutterbug

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I'm not understanding what you mean. Could you explain what's happening in more detail?
 

justinabshire

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I'm not understanding what you mean. Could you explain what's happening in more detail?
So on the hour and half after the strike the music lever should come down which activates the music at one point it was now it has stopped doing it. So I am trying to figure out why the music is not playing I have tried adjusting the metal lever but it seems to not resolve the issue. i think the spring at the top of the lever is worn out maybe.
 

shutterbug

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Would you be able to make a video of that sequence for us? Post to Youtube and link to it here.
 

justinabshire

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Would you be able to make a video of that sequence for us? Post to Youtube and link to it here.
Here is the video link I ran the clock once and you will see it does not play after the cuckoo strike the lever I push later on is what activates the music to play and push the musical man out. Hope this helps and thanks ahead of time.

 

AndyH

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Here is the video link I ran the clock once and you will see it does not play after the cuckoo strike the lever I push later on is what activates the music to play and push the musical man out. Hope this helps and thanks ahead of time.
When I get time I will post an update to my original questions that started this thread.

In the meantime, watching your video it appears that when the cuckoo strikes there is no activity at all on the music train. Whereas when the cuckoo train starts this should activate the music train - it should first put it into warning then, on completion of the cuckoo strike the music train should be released to complete the music playing.

This is all achieved by the pair of (horrible!) wire levers between the strike and music sides. The lever on the strike side is a straight piece of wire and this lifts the lever of the music side. The lever on the music side has an "upside down "U" on the end of it that should be hooked over the strike side lever.

Seems to me there are two possibilities here:
1) The music lever is not hooked over the strike side lever or
2) The levers (one or both of them) are not correctly adjusted. If so one or both of them will need to be adjusted (i.e. bent) to get the correct interaction between the two trains. If this is the case the only guidance I can offer is to prepare yourself for what is likely to be a lengthy and frustrating exercise!

Regards

Andy
 

AndyH

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This clock has been a major challenge and has I reckon taken over 60 hours in total.

As I now have it working and all the problems mentioned in the original post have been resolved so I thought I'd post an update in case someone comes across similar problems in the future.

1) Cuckoo Arm (and Strike Counting)
To recap - the latest problem was the strike train "stalling" when the cuckoo arm was added to the movement and my working theory here was it was caused by the replacement spring I made from slightly thicker wire providing too much tension.

I did make another replacement spring with the same thickness wire as the original but the turned out to be a complete red herring and had nothing to do with the stalling problem. I am also not convinced that the cuckoo arm contributed to the problem either and now think that may have been purely coincidental.

The problem was caused by the adjustment of the two wire levers between the strike and music side. The stalling was caused by the strike lever being unable to lift high enough to fully unlock the strike train. The reason for this was the music train lever becoming constrained. The cause of this was as the music train unlocked into warning it did get arrested by the pin on the warning wheel but caught on the top edge of the bent end of the lever rather than being stopped by the face of that bent end. This then prevented the music side lever rising any further from that locked position (and the lever on the strike side was therefore trying to lift a "locked" lever).

The frustrating part of this problem was that it became so intermittent (say one in twenty or more strike activations) and without any pattern or sequence of events causing it.

The solution was in the trial and error yet seemingly extremely precise adjustment of these two levers.

2) Music on Half Hour

The problem here was music was only playing on the hour not the half hour. The music side did unlock on the half hour but only for one revolution of the music fan.

This too was solved by the adjustment of the two wire levers between the strike and music trains.

The problem, as I see it, there is no logical sequence nor "rules" (akin to "lining up the dots" with the strike train on a French movement) for setting up this strike-to-music interaction. It really is a matter of pure tial and error with a little bit of observation thrown in. And, just to make it even harder the smallest of adjustment can have big impact.

One other point. I haven't identified a definite proof of this but I believe another problem is cumulative wear. Here I am referring to a small (and almost not discernable) amount of wear on multiple parts (eg cams, levers, lever arbors and pins). The wear in each of these parts individually is insufficient to cause a problem to the running of the movement. But, there is a point at which these elements of wear coincide or "line up" and the combined effect of wear in all of these parts is sufficient to cause a temporary problem.

3) Music Tunes
This was uncertainty as to whether the music tube should (or more precisely COULD) be different on the hour and half hour.

I have already posted an update on this - see list #3.

As this caught me out (being my first fiddle with a music ox movement) I've attached photos that illustrate my explanation in list #3 for possible future benefit to someone else!
IMG_20220129_173806.jpg
IMG_20220129_173755.jpg
IMG_20220129_173743.jpg



So, although I've provided this update in the hope it may be of some future help to someone it's clearly NOT a "how to" post. That is because, as I have already said I don't believe there is logical how-to sequence here. I think the best advice is:
1) don't assume you are doing something wrong, these movements are pernickety and
2) all you need is a large supply of both time and patience!

Andy
 

RogerK

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I am so glad I stumbled onto this thread. I have this same movement and, after a very long and frustrating trial and error period, I boxed the clock up and put it away. I’m now anxious to take another look. Also, AndyH, I concur with your opinion about cumulative wear. I had never seen a movement like this so I wasn’t sure how much wear was contributing to the problem. Wish me luck!
 

Mike Mall

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Good Luck!
There are two different movements shown here, as pointed out by AndyH in post #6. The OP has one with very thick plates, and a different style count wheel than the (Regula) one shown later.
I repaired one of the Regula movements earlier this year, it's very nice movement.
Adjusting the trip levers just right was a challenge.
 

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