Posts related to cuckoo clock repair and any questions you might have

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Love of Clocks

I have a love for clocks of all kinds. I don’t just love them because I repair and restore them. I don’t just love them because my father before me loved them. I love the fine crafstmanship that most antique clocks bear. I love their history and the thought of the many hands that have touched them and the many eyes that have gazed at them during their lifetime. I love the peaceful and relaxing sound that the make, a nice steady tick tock that reminds us time rules, time flys, and we are here but for a short while and should enjoy life and be happy making the most of our time. I love the sound of chimes that some clocks make as their tiny hammers hit the chime rods on cue to produce a melody like St. Michael, Whittington or the famous chime of the Westminister clock in London whose largest bell is known World round as “Big Ben” I love the cheerful happy sound of a cuckoo clock as the cuckoo joyfully sings his call to announce the hours and possibly music, dancers and other types of animations come to life about the clock. I love the accuracy of these man made marvels that take the power of gravity or a wound spring and transfer that power into a measurement of time itself. Clocks grace a home or office wall with their Timeless charm and simplistic beauty. Clocks have a life of their own and they seem to bring life to the room that they occupy. They remind us of a time when life was simpler or at least seemed that way. I recently recieved a clock that was saved from destruction for my Birthday. It is a rare clock made by a man named Riley Whiting around 1810 in Conneticut. Riley lived from 1785 to 1835, a mere fifty years and he only made his clocks for around twenty five of those. It’s movement is all handmade from wood. Even the gears are made from wood I speculate from some of the first trees cut in the American forests. The clock came to me from Ohio so during it’s life it traveled from the hands of Whiting in Conneticut to the West probably by wagon. It is two hundred years old now and still running. This clock should be in a museum now but it almost ended up in a dumpster. How many lives has this clock seen come and go. Sometimes I wonder if this clock could talk what kind of stories would it have to tell? Would they be good memories or bad? I’m sure each antique clock I encounter has seen it’s share of hard times, watched life and death go and come, encountered joy and sorrow. So in a way clocks have a lot in common with people in my opinion. Sure they tell us what time it is, how many hours we have left in this short day we are in at present but are they really saying more to us. I think they speak of our mortality and remind us of the fact that tomorrow is promised to no one. Yesterday is History…Tomorrow is a Mystery…and Today is a gift that’s why it’s called the Present!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hello Friends, my name is John “Papa” Barnette II the Cuckoo Clock Doctor.  My Father Papa Sr. you all knew and loved passed away from heart failure at age 59 on May 19th of 2012.   October 2nd would have been his 60th Birthday.  This is a sad day for me in many respects but also a happy one as my Mother and I celebrate the short life of such a fine man we were blessed to know and share life with.  My Dad apprenticed me well in the Clockmaker’s trade and for many years I have been his assistant in the shop.  He loved his Trade, his business, his customers and friends and cuckoo clocks so very much and did not want CCD to die with him.  I now carry on where my Papa Sr. left off as he requested when his “Time” ran out and his “Clock of Life” stopped as all of our clocks will one day.  We have great Faith in the fact that only Christ is the Great Clocksmith that will fix us and keep us ticking long after the movements in our frail human bodies wear out and can no longer be repaired and our hearts can no longer keep it’s beat and our pendulums slowly come to rest.  I could think of no better tribute to Papa than to get his blog going again today and introduce myself to you all.  Keeping our business going without my Dad’s smiling face and his bright shining happy eyes has been most difficult but the Clockshop is where I feel the closest to him and things look brighter everyday as the work progresses and the cuckoo clocks keep flying in and flying home again to their loving owners.  I have made many new friends and met many of my Dad’s friends and this has been a big help to me and I am forever grateful to them, to my Mom Kathy for all of her support and love.  I am here to answer questions and give advice as my Dad loved to do and possibly even bring your cuckoo or other type of mechanical clock back to life again.  Blogging is new to me but I will do my best to keep up!

From: Susan P
TO:  papa@cuckooclockdoctor.com
Re:  Sick Cuckoo
Thank you so much for your help. Well a little bit of oil can work wonders!  The clock is now ticking away!  Thanks so much for your assistance.

Susan P

On Sep 6, 2009, Cuckoo Clock Doctor <papa@cuckooclockdoctor.com> wrote:

Dear Susan,

You are very welcome. Enjoy the Labor Day Holiday.


John “Papa” Barnette
From: Susan P
To: papa@cuckooclockdoctor.com
Sent: Saturday, September 5, 2009 11:46:33 AM
Subject: Re: Re: sick cuckoo

Mr. Barnette:
Thank you so much for your quick reply to my question.  My husband and I are in the process now of trying your suggestions.  Again, thank you.

Susan P

On Sep 5, 2009, Cuckoo Clock Doctor <papa@cuckooclockdoctor.com> wrote:

Dear Susan,

I was sitting here answering questions from yesterday when your’s came in.  Yes, there are a couple of things you can do.  First is make sure the clock is level and hang the pendulum.  If it doesn’t run move the base very slightly left and check again.  If it won’t run move it a little further left.  If it still won’t run then go back to dead level and start the process to the right.  Second, is oil the clock and I will cut and paste my instructions on how to do that below.  Third, if after oiling the pendulum still doesn’t run in any position then I would take a small plastic bag and put some change in it.  Tie this from a string attached to the time weight.  The pendulum should be on the clock and add more change to see if you can get it to run.  If you do then just weigh the change and the weight at the post office and convert that to grams.  Cuckoo weights are very cheap and you can just buy a weight close to what you need.

Dear John

Many thanks for your helpful reply; very much appreciated.


Peter B

From: Cuckoo Clock Doctor
Sent: 02 September 2009 15:06
To: Peter B

Subject: Re: repair cuckoo clock

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your question.  I’ve got instructions for that problem that I will cut and paste below.  In most cases this is one you can fix yourself.

Here is how to put a chain back on that is off the gear.

First we want to avoid the other chains coming off while you are fixing this one. Take a twist tie or a piece of string and pin the other chains together right at the base of the clock on the outside.. Put the twist tie or string inside the links and tie it.  If you put it around it they sometimes slip down the chain. This will keep those chains from coming off.  Now take the back off the clock and turn the clock upside down and give the loose chain a little slack. What you are trying to do is allowing enough slack to make a loop that you can hook around the gear sprocket.  It may take a few tries, but if you can see it there is a good chance you can do it.  Use plenty of light.  On occasion one link will catch between the gears further up in the clock.  That makes it harder and then it is just up to luck whether or not this gets done. Like I said, this is a very common question and I would say that about 50% of the time it works.  Some clocks have more room in them than others.  If you succeed hold onto the chain while you upright the clock.  Hang it on the wall and then remove the ties on the other chains. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you succeed.

Installing chain that is out of the clock.

If your chain is completely out of the clock you will have to remove both the hook and ring from the chain,  YES Both.  You are going to have to determine which way the sprocket of the gear turns so you will know which case hole to feed the chain through.  Take a bamboo skewer, piece of coat hanger or any long thin object and go through the case hole and push on those pins that the chain rides on.  When you push on them from one hole it shouldn’t move at all.  On the other hole the gear sprocket should go click-click and start to move.  That is the hole where you will need to start putting the chain through.  Let it catch on a couple of the pins and with your long pointed object just start pushing it one click at a time and the chain will start to go around the gear.  As it moves you will need to gradually start turning the clock upright so gravity will keep the chain snug onto the gear.  When you can see it appear on the other side just pull straight down on the piece showing and you will have accomplished it.  Be sure to pull straight down because they come off the gear very easily when the chains aren’t in the case holes.  Good luck Peter and I hope this works for you.  Have a nice day.


John “Papa” Barnette

— On Fri, 8/28/09, Peter B

From: Peter B

Subject: repair cuckoo clock
To: papa@cuckooclockdoctor.com
Date: Friday, August 28, 2009, 11:26 AM

Hello Mr Cuckoo Doctor,

The chain that operates the cuckoo has come of the cog wheel and has fallen out altogether how can I put it back on.

I would be greatfull for any tip you could give me.

Monday, August 17, 2009
Re: help!!!

This lady hands didn’t agree with the hours and it was cuckooing at the wrong times.
Dear Papa, I read your instructions on how to take off the minute hand. It worked great. I was able to fix it very quickly. Thank you so much. My clock now tells the correct time, Kathy

In a message dated 8/16/2009 10:00:46 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, papa@cuckooclockdoctor.com writes:

Dear Kathy,
Thank you for your question. I don’t normally work on battery operated clocks, but I suspect that your problem is that your minute hand has gotten out of sync with the hour chiming. All clocks are subject to that. I get that question everyday on mechanical cuckoos and the clocks are aways right it is just the hand that is wrong and I tell people how to straighten that out. There are 2 possibilities in your case. One I can help you with and one I can’t. If your quartz cuckoo clock has a minute hand with a slot in it then the hand adjustment won’t be your problem. I’ve seen them both ways. So, I’m going to give you a link to my frequent questions web page and you can read about setting your hands correctly on mechanical clocks. When you remove the nut and look at your hand if it as I describe on the web page you will be able to adjust it. If the hand itself has the slot in it instead of a circle or a square then you won’t be able to. I wish I could be of more help. If you get it off and are unsure just send me a close up photo of the hands and I will tell you more. Here is the link to my FAQ’s web page.
http://www.cuckooclockdoctor.com/faqs.html Best wishes and I hope this helps.


John “Papa” Barnette

— On Sun, 8/16/09, Kathy> wrote:
From: Kathy. Subject: help!!!
To: papa@cuckooclockdoctor.com
Date: Sunday, August 16, 2009, 4:58 PM

Hi, My cuckoo clock is chiming at quarter till the hour instead of on the hour. It doesn’t normally chime except on the hour. I noticed it because I thought it needed new batteries and I tried that and it is still doing it. Can you help? Kathy

My good friend “Papa”,    
     Thanks for your kind answer and indicating Lew and Margene as a source of parts.  You sound like the Biblical second miler Jesus talked about in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5:40-48. There Jesus talks about all kinds of healthy personal relationships.  Thanks again for your kindness!

Karl , ret. missionary to Brazil