Friday, March 23, 2007

How cuckoo clock music is supposed to work

Below you can watch a movie (visit our YouTube channel!) with a cuckoo music box functioning properly. Sometimes minor adjustments need to be made to the two arms connecting the clock mechanism to the music mechanism. As you watch the video, pay attention to the two black arms that reach in from the left side. One on top and one in the middle (touching the spinning fan-fly or governor).

In the first part of the video you see one cuckoo call and music right away. The second part shows how the music mechanism is first started by the cuckoo mechanism, held while the cuckoo calls, and then released to allow it to play.

The thicker, black metal arm on top unlatches the music drum and the music mechanism so that the drum starts to turn. It is abruptly stopped however by the second, thinner wire that touches the brass fan-fly. This stopping wire remains in place until the cuckoo bird has finished its call.

If this second wire didn't stop the fan-fly from spinning, the music would play while the cuckoo bird calls and cause cacophony.

Once the bird has finished the call the wire gets out of the way, allowing the fan-fly to spin and the music to play.

As the tune reaches its end, the black metal finger on top should be far enough away from the music box arm below it to allow the latch to fall in the hole and stop the music.

Watch the video again:

This video is provided as an example of how this SHOULD work. If you make adjustments to your cuckoo clock music make sure that they are INCREMENTAL adjustments. The tiniest change in the placement of these two arms will be all the adjustment you should make. Any adjustments to either the clock or the music mechanism should be done by a trained professional. The gears, teeth, and wheels inside either mechanism are very delicate and precise. Please don't try to make repairs to either mechanism, but you may try to make tiny adjustments to the two wires that connect the two mechanisms as described above.

NOTE: The movie here shows a music mechanism in an 8-day cuckoo clock. This is important because most 8-day clocks don't allow the music to play on the half-hour.

NOTE: The clock featured in this movie is the 2005 award winner of the VDS Clock of the Year. This clock was produced as a limited edition of only 111 pieces for the 111th anniversary of Rombach und Haas.

A few pieces are still available:

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Brand New Arrival

North Coast Imports is proud to announce the new arrival of the "Feeding Deer" cuckoo clock by Rombach und Haas. This clock is based off of the very popular "Eleventy-First Anniversary Model," but with new and updated carvings.

Click on the thumbnail to see a detailed description and pictures:

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Prosit is a BEST SELLER

We at North Coast Imports are destined to make mistakes like anyone else. In our sales literature last year we announced the successful release of our NEW "Prosit" cuckoo clock by Rombach und Haas - model #1389. It has since been a major success with lots of happy customers. Unfortunately, we just found out this week that we got the size wrong in our sales literature. We had it listed as 18" tall, which would have made it grossly disproportionate.

The correct dimensions are about 10" across, 12" up and down (not including the pendulum and weights), and about 8" deep. Again, I apologize for the mistake. Let me assure you that there is no other "taller" clock out there with otherwise the same description. The 12" Prosit is the one-and-only Original Black Forest clock (certified by the VDS) with this description.

Click the picture below for the adjusted dimensions and updated description. By the way, don't forget that some details may change with each clock. These clocks (like all of our timepieces) are all made by hand, and individually, rather than by assembly line. Since these clocks are made much the same as they have been hundreds of years ago, it means that all of the parts are not necessarily interchangeable. Plus, the artist that is building each individual clock may have a change of heart as to the particular color of a flower, or style of a carving. You may find small details in your clock that are different than the description. Embrace this, it means you have something special and unique. It means that your clock was built by a craftsman with tremendous pride in his or her work.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The finest clocks on YouTube!

In order to educate more people about the wonder world of fine clocks we at have started the huge project of cataloging our finest on short clips at You can see dancers dance, cuckoos coo, dumpling eaters eat, and of course: plenty of clocks ticking at the northcoastimports channel.

Just head over to and subscribe to the northcoastimports channel

Watch over the coming year as hundreds of videos will be added (one-by-one) which will explore the beautiful, charming, fantastic world of clocks and automata with intimate detail. Feel free to embed these videos in your own websites for flavor, or perhaps share the video of your newest clock to astound your friends.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Unpack your Black Forest Clock, or Cuckoo Clock

Here are a few words on unpacking your new Black Forest clock. The pictures below are of a Rombach und Haas "Dumpling Eater," but the instructions can also be applied to unpacking almost any Black Forest clock - including Cuckoo Clocks!

North Coast Imports, Inc. is proud to use recycled and/or renewable materials in packaging. Enjoy the old-world charm as you unpack your new clock. These cherished pieces are lovingly packed by the careful clock makers in the Black Forest in Germany.

After carefully cutting the tape and opening the top of the box (find the top by paying attention to which way the lettering is facing on the ends of the box) lift the cardboard flap to reveal your exciting new timepiece.

Using two hands, carefully lift the top of the clock out first and sliding the clock upward and out of the cardboard surrounding the bottom of the clock.

The Dumpling Eater figure may have a plastic bag rubber-banded around. Carefully remove the rubber band and bag being careful not to disturb the delicate figure's moving arm.

There may be another rubber band around the figure itself. Use great care to remove this band.

Remove the back of the clock. You will have to push aside the metal latch and pry the door open (from the top) with a pen or screwdriver. It should come open easily.

Once the back is removed take a moment to admire the fine craftsmanship of the mechanical movement inside. This solid brass and steel mechanism is made according to hundreds of years of practice and modifications.

During shipment the pendulum leader (circled in red) may have jostled to the side. You should be able to easily push this leader back so that it falls through the slot - see following picture.

On the back of the clock you can remove the paper which deadens the sound of the gong during shipment. This paper may have already been knocked loose and might be floating around in the back of the case. It is not a problem. The paper does not protect the clock from any damage - it only keeps the clock silent during shipment.

Pictured above you can see a bag that bundles the chains together. Again, this bag does not protect the clock from damage. If this bag has fallen loose in the box no harm has come to your clock. Now is the time during unpacking when you can untwist the wire from around the bag. For now, let the chains hang free without the bag, but leave the wire threaded through the chain links.

The untwisted but still-threaded wire will allow you to handle the clock more easily before you hang it.

Now would be a good time to hang the clock. If the clock is an 8-day (as the dumpling eater is) you should find a stud and anchor a good-sized screw in at an angle. Hang the clock so that it hangs flat against the wall. In order to get a full run out of your chains you should hang the clock high enough so that the chains are just barely touching the floor. If you don't have room to let the chains hang all the way down it won't hurt the clock but you may find yourself winding the clock more often. Here is a good article on how to hang your weight-driven clock.

Clock packaging uses every millimeter of space. Be sure not to throw anything away because it might contain something important! This also points out why it is imperative to always double-box clocks for shipment. There is not enough soft packaging in the factory box to withstand domestic shipping.

Unwrap the pendulum.

Find the weights.

Once you have the clock securely hung you can remove the wire threaded through the chains. This wire was threaded through the chains to keep them from falling back into the clock and jamming the movement.

You will probably have to remove labels and tags that are hanging below to allow for a free swing of the pendulum.

Hang the weights on the BRASS HOOKS.

Hang the pendulum on the pendulum leader that falls through the slot.

This article was meant to give you a pictorial introduction to unpacking your clock only. Be sure to pay close attention to the instructions that came with the clock for other aspects of owning a mechanical clock. You can also frequently check this site for updates and helpful articles for the continued care of your timepiece.