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Clocks, Watches/Cuckoo will not stop


I have a clock that runs good, the bellows are good, the dancers and music movement are good, but the cuckoo will not stop.  I assume there is a gear/counter of some sort.  How do I repair it?  There is no name on the movement, just some numbers.

Bob, I cannot tell you how to really go about repairing your clock because of the complicated makeup of cuckoo clocks.  But I will  explain briefly what we would be looking for.  There are quite a few interacting wires, levers, etc, working together.  The cuckoo and strike work off the same function.  The strike/cuckoo count is controlled by a "rack and snail" mechanism.  When the clock is ready to strike, a rack (with 12 effective teeth) drops down on the snail which has 12 levels, one for each hour count of one through twelve. When it passes the last tooth of the rack, a lever drops down and engages a pin on what we call the warning wheel. When a strike won't stop, it can be that the pin has broken off and there is nothing to stop the strike.  On a cuckoo clock, there are wires from the music box and other functions that can affect the tripping and the stopping of the strike/cuckoo function.  We have to observe the action while the movement is still in the case, checking the wires, cuckoo bird motion lever and music box connections.  If nothing is detected we sometimes can remove the hands and dial to see if there is anything out of alignment on the rack and snail on the front of the movement.  If not, the movement has to be removed from the case and put on a test rack.  This is all rather tedious and time consuming, as the cuckoo bellows, music box, cuckoo bird and dancing people platform all have to be removed.  There are many clockmakers that will not accept cuckoos for repair because of the time involved and the reluctance of customers to pay for the work involved.  But I would suggest that it might be best to have an experienced clockmaker give you an estimate.  Sorry I do not have a quick answer for you.  Don't hesitate to get back with me if you have any further questions.  I might be able to walk you through some diagnostics.

John Newman
Old Prattvillage
Prattville, Alabama  

Clocks, Watches

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John Newman


As I am not a certified appraiser I do not give values of clocks over the Internet. There is very little published information on what I consider to be the value of "modern production clocks". However, considerations are what the clock originally sold for, the condition of the case and movement, and particularly the area in which you live, the demand and the economy. ALSO, WATCHES ARE NOT MY FIELD. However, I can advise the clock owner on proper maintenance of a clock to keep it running, small corrections and adjustments and how to move a clock without damaging it. I can also advise on obtaining parts for clocks. As clock case model label numbers are difficult to relate to the movements, it is helpful if you can give me the information usually found on the movements themselves. Modern clock movements usually have the information on the back plate of the movement. I have been a clockmaker for about 40 years and was plant engineer in the mid 90's and later operations and engineering consultant at Emperor Clock Company in Fairhope, Alabama. I now have my own clock shop in Prattville, Alabama.


One of my greatest accomplishments was traveling to China to assist a clock factory in building clocks to the standards which we required at Emperor. With the proper specifications and quality control, some beautiful clock cases were built. The factory people from the wood carvers to the plant manager were very congenial, friendly and I left a lot of wonderful friends when I returned from my trips.

NAWCC (National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors) 30 years Prattville, Alabama Chamber of Commerce

Horological Times, a publication of the American Watch and Clockmakers Instute. Collaberated column author, with Photos and ideas for clock movement conversion article.

Associate of Science Mechanical Engineering Technology Emperor Introductory Clock Repair (Eventually taught a portion of the class after becoming employee)

Awards and Honors
Small Business of the Quarter (Prattville, Alabama) Leadership Class of 2009 (Autauga County, Alabama)

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