Thursday, December 15, 2005

Care of cuckoo clock chains

Every so often we want to hang a cuckoo clock (or any clock that is powered by weights) in a place where there might not be room for the weights to fall. This is an old problem. In fact, visitors can see where, in Thomas Jefferson's home at Monticello, Jefferson cut holes in the floor to allow his clock to run longer. The weights fell through the floor into the room below and added a longer running time for the clock.

New clock owners frequently ask if they have to allow the weights to fall freely to the floor for the full 5-6 ft. distance. "Will it harm the clock if I hang it over a table or sideboard?"

The answer is no, you will not harm the clock, but obstructing the fall of the weights will stop it from running the full 1 or 8 days. It simply means that you will have to wind the clock more frequently.

If the owner of the clock does wish to hang it over something he or she may want to secure the chains somehow so that they don't interfere. The best way to do this is to simply hang the ring end of the chain onto the hook end.

In this picture you can see the difference between the two ends. Here the weight is hung on the end of the chain with the hook. As the clock runs the weight will gradually drop while the ring end gradually rises to the clock.

In the following picture you can see how to hang the chain with the ring onto the extra bit of hook. This will prevent the chain with the ring from touching the floor and it prevents the chain from getting in the way of whatever is below the clock. Naturally you could also use up more of the extra chain by hanging it further up - on one of the links of the chain - rather than on the ring.

Again, obstructing the fall of the weights will cause the clock to need more frequent windings. Cutting the chains will void the clock's warranty.


  1. Anonymous4:29 PM

    My chains have plenty of distance from the floor, so that is surely not the problem. I started it running 2 days ago, to my surprise it ran about 48 hours. It is an 8 day clock. Then today it just stopped running for no reason. Overnight sometime the cuckoo began sounding when it should, but only for several hours, now it is stuck with the door open again. No problem with the dancers, they work if the cuckoo does, which is rare.

    1. Clocks that stop after a short period of time almost always have a beat problem. be sure to listen for the even tick tock sound. that is very important.

  2. Anonymous2:02 PM

    how do i stop the weights from hitting the floor ?

  3. Of course, the weights are meant to eventually reach the floor after at the end of their running time. Simply pull the other end of the chain (without the weight) down, raising the weight back up to the top of the running cycle. Remember: don't "help" the weight up with your hand as you wind. Simply pull the loose end straight down and let the weight come up. If you try to help the weight up with your other hand (as you pull) you might lift the chain off of the wheel, causing it to crash to the floor later.