Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between "carved" and "chalet" style cuckoo clocks?
German Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks have two design types - Carved and Chalet. A carved style cuckoo clock usually has traditional carvings attached to the clock case, often depicting nature scenes, animals and leaves. A Chalet style cuckoo clock looks like an alpine cottage and often has moving figurines depicting the work and social activities of villagers.
How often should my clock be cleaned and oiled?
We recommend that a cuckoo clock be cleaned and oiled every 2-3 years; a wall and mantel clock every 4-5 years and grandfather clock every 3-5 years. We also recommend that this be done by a qualified clock repairer so that the oil is applied in the correct amounts and places. Oiling the wrong places such as gear teeth will accelerate wear and tear on your clock. If you keep a mantel clock on the mantel of a very active fireplace, it will need to be serviced more frequently because soot from the fire can foul a clock rather quickly and the elevated temperature will accelerate the drying out of the oil.
Why do some cuckoo clocks have two weights and others have three?
A cuckoo clock with two weights doesn't play music and a cuckoo clock with three weights does. One of the weights drives the time, another drives the cuckoo bird and it's call and a third weight drives the musical movement and any moving figurines and animals.
What is the difference between an 8 Day and a 1 Day Cuckoo Clock?
An 8 day cuckoo clock runs for one week on one winding while a 1 day cuckoo clock runs for about 30 hours per winding. The 8 Day clocks are also heavier because they have larger weights and larger mechanical movements inside of the clock case,. They are also more expensive. Between a 1 Day and 8 Day model there is no difference in quality or craftsmanship. In choosing which type to buy, consider your convenience of winding and the comfort of your budget.
My clock is running fast or slow.
The pendulum is what regulates the time. If your clock runs fast, move the pendulum-disc or leaf down a little on the pendulum. If the clock runs slow move the pendulum-disc up. Some clocks have a threaded adjuster at the very bottom of the pendulum. Turn the adjuster to the right if the clock is too slow or to the left if it's too fast. Moving the pendulum disc about 1/16" will result in a change of about 2 minutes per day. And be sure to set the correct time after making an adjustment. More than one adjustment could be needed to get the time perfect. Also see your clock's setup instructions for more details.
Why did my new cuckoo clock run for a while but then stop?
Once a clock's movement wheels have started turning they should keep going for at least 2 years without needing service. However, if your clock has been moved or jostled it could suddenly stop working. If it happens, here are some things to do:

1. First, straighten your clock if it looks like it's not hanging straight on the wall. Even if it does appear to be straight, let your ears decide if it is by listening for a steady, even beat. The silent space between the tick and the tock should be even. If it's uneven, carefully tilt the clock a little to the left or to the right until the tick-tock rhythm sounds even.

2. A small wire latch (door lock) can get in the way of the cuckoo door. Make sure it's not blocking the opening of the door.

3. Check inside the clock to make sure the lifting wire (attached to the top of the bellow) is below the bird's tail and not on top or on the side of it. If needed, gently move the wire under the tail.

4. Check the shut-off switch to make sure it's not on. You can do this by moving it in both directions, even if it appears to be "on". Sometimes the switch can be somewhere in the middle of "on" and "off" and if it is then the clock may not work.

5. Wind your clock fully. If there are weights, wind the clock until the weight is at the very top. As you wind, do not lift the weight with your other hand, instead allow the chain or cable to support the full weight.
Why does the cuckoo door stay open?
First, look inside the back of the clock for the wire that goes from the bellows to the cuckoo. This wire is not actually attached to the cuckoo but should be positioned under its tail. If the wire is positioned above the tail or on either side of it, this can block the cuckoo and the door. The remedy is simple - open the cuckoo door, then carefully reposition the wire under the tail. The wire can sometimes move out of place during shipment. The door can also stay open due to the wire door lock being stuck and preventing the door from closing.
I just unpacked and set up my cuckoo clock and it doesn't cuckoo.
Check the following points:

1. Most of the time the reason a cuckoo and the music don't sound is because the night shut off switch is "on". Check the position of the switch, located on the left side of the clock. Slide it fully in both directions, making sure it's not in between the "on" and "off" positions. (Note: with other clock types the shutoff is a wire under the clock).

2. Make sure the two bellows clamps inside the clock case have been removed. Check for packing around the chime rod. (see the setup instructions)

3. Check the wire that is holding the bird door closed to be sure it's turned upwards and not sideways so that it's not blocking the movement of the door.
My cuckoo is not calling the correct amount of times each hour. How can I fix this?
This is easy to remedy:

1. Turn the minute hand clockwise slowly until the cuckoo calls. If it calls just one time, stop turning and let it finish calling. Then continue turning until it calls again and count the number of times it calls.

2. Turn the hour hand slowly to the correct hour, based on how many times you just heard the cuckoo call. For example, if it called 4 times, turn the hand to the 4 o'clock position.

3. When the hour hand is in its correct position, use your thumbnails to press down gently but firmly on the base of the hand to secure it in place. Be sure not to press on the tip of the hand.

4. When you set the time of the clock, don't touch the hour hand again. Instead, turn the minute hand counter-clockwise to the correct number of minutes. The hour hand will then slowly follow the minute hand.
I'm concerned about my child pulling on the chains and weights of my cuckoo clock.
Child-proofing and pet-proofing a home are surely a concern. Here are a few thoughts to consider:

1. Your clock can be hung above a shelf or a dresser so that it's completely inaccessible from the floor. This will of course prevent the clock from running all of the time since the full descent of the weight will be impeded. But it does no harm to a clock not to run constantly. When the clock is not running, you can loop the chain around the top of the clock so that it doesn't hang down.

2. You can also wind your clock only periodically so that it runs during times when you know your child or pet will not have access to it.

3. Kids love the the soothing tick-tock of the clock and the charm of the sounds of cuckoo. The gift of a clock to a young child is something they'll grow up with for years to come and be a remembrance of your love and care. There are few gifts that last a lifetime and a mechanical clock is one of them!
Is it safe for my cuckoo clock to hang above a table or sideboard?
Yes, it's safe, however a table or sideboard won't allow the weights to fall freely to the floor. This means that your clock won't run for the full 1 or 8 days and will need more frequent winding. For detailed images and instructions on how to secure the chains so they don't interfere see Never cut the chains, as this would void the manufacturer's warranty.
How can I know if my cuckoo clock shut off switch is on or off?
Here is a foolproof way to know if the shut off switch is in the right position: slowly turn the minute hand clockwise past the hour (or half hour) then listen for a click. If you hear the click it means that the shut-off is in the "on" position. If there is no click, the shut-off is in the "off" position. The sticker next to a switch indicates its on or off position but it can sometimes come off and be put back the wrong way. So we recommend this simple procedure to confirm the switch position.
I have some questions about my quartz cuckoo clock. Where do I find answers?
Check the "Troubleshooting FAQs" section located on the lower portion of this page:
How do I wind my mechanical mantel or wall clock?
Most mechanical mantel and wall clocks are wound by inserting a key into one or more arbor holes located on the face of the clock dial or in the back of the clock. The number and location of holes will depend on the model of your clock. Turn the key clockwise until it's tight and can't be turned any further.

Wall clocks with weights suspended from cables are wound by turning a crank that is inserted into an arbor hole. Wall clocks with weights suspended from a chain are wound by pulling downward on the chain. As you wind, the weight or weights are pulled up. Be sure not to hold or lift the weight with your other hand as you wind the clock. When the weight is up as high as it can go, then your clock is fully wound.

For complete instructions be sure to review the operating and assembly instructions for your clock.
How do I wind my mechanical cuckoo clock?
1-day and 8-day cuckoo clocks are wound by pulling downward on the hanging chains. A 1-day model needs to be wound every 24 hours and an 8-day model needs to be wound every 8 days.

For complete information be sure to review the operating and assembly instructions for you clock.
How do I wind my grandfather clock?
Winding a grandfather clock is simple and easy. Below is a brief overview - we recommend that you review the complete details in the owners manual.

1. For cable wind models - insert the cable crank into the arbor holes and turn it to lift the weights. While cranking be sure not to hold the weights with your hand or allow them to swing or touch each other. Some cable models come with an automatic wind feature.
2. For chain wind models - use a slow and even motion, gently pulling the chains straight down. Be sure not to pull the chains toward you or hold the weights or allow them to swing or touch each other as you're winding. Keep pulling until you feel a good resistance, then stop.
Can a grandfather clock be silenced at any time?
Every grandfather clock that we sell is equipped with a chime shut off lever and can be silenced at any time. When the silence lever is activated your clock will still keep the correct time but will do it silently. There is also an automatic nighttime shut off switch which silences the chime and the strike between the hours of 9:45 pm and 7 am. When either shut off function is activated the two outside weights will not move during the shut off period.
How will my Grandfather clock be delivered to me?
You can relax with peace of mind. We make the delivery process easy for you with our free In-Home White Glove Service. Delivery professionals will deliver your clock into your home or office, not just to your door*. They will unpack and position the clock in the room and location of your choice and install the pendulum and weights for you. They will even remove the packing material! (*Note: River City Grandfather Cuckoo Clock is delivered free to your door. In-home service is not available for this clock).
What do these grandfather clock terms mean: Pendulum, Bob, Finial, Crown and Moon Dial?
Pendulum - a weight, or bob suspended by a rod that swings to and fro, powered by the action of gravity. It is the power source of the clock and regulates accurate time keeping.
Bob - a disc-shaped suspended weight attached to the bottom end of a pendulum.
Crown - the top portion of the clock which contributes a great deal to the general appearance and character of the clock.
Finial - a decorative ornament, usually made of brass or wood and located at the top of a clock cabinet.
Moon Dial - A dial located at the top part of the clock face which moves and tracks the phases of the moon over the 29.5 days of the lunar month.
How does a grandfather clock work and what do the weights do?
The force of gravity acting on the weights of the grandfather clock is what powers the clock. Each weight is drawn downward at a given rate and as it slowly descends it operates a different function of the clock. One of the weights (usually on the left) powers the movement of the pendulum and drops slightly each time the pendulum swings. The other two weights operate the count/strike and the quarter hour chiming - they also drop slightly as the clock goes through its cycles. After 7 days the weights will have dropped all the way down and your clock will need to be wound up by pulling on the chains or, if your clock is a cable type, by using a crank.
Is there any difference between a cable-driven and chain-driven grandfather clock?
Chain driven movements are usually found in smaller, less expensive grandfather clocks and are wound by pulling the chain to raise the weights. Cable driven movements are usually found in larger, more expensive and more decorative grandfather clocks. These movements tend to last much longer than chain driven movements and are wound by inserting a crank into the holes located in the dial face.
How much care and maintenance does a grandfather clock need?
A grandfather clock doesn't need much maintenance. However, we recommend that you clean and polish the wood as you would any fine piece of furniture to keep it from drying out or fading. Keep it wound every seven days and have it professionally cleaned and oiled every three to five years.
Where did the chime melodies originate from?
St. Michael Chimes - St. Michael's Church in Galveston, South Carolina.
Westminster Chimes - House of Parliament clock tower, London.
Whittington Chimes - St. Mary Le Bow Church, London.
Winchester Chimes - Westminster Cathedral tower in Hampshire, England.
Is it hard to set up a grandfather clock?
With our Free In-Home White Glove Delivery Service professionals will set up your clock in your home or office. They will unpack it and position it in the room and location of your choice. And they will install the pendulum and weights for you. They will even remove the packing material! (Note: River City Grandfather Cuckoo Clock is delivered free to your door. In-home service is not available for this clock). If you ever need to set up the clock yourself, all the grandfather clocks we sell are easy to set up - we recommend that you follow the instructions in the owners manual.

Below is a brief overview of the set up steps:

1. Carefully and gently hook the pendulum on to the suspension leader. Be sure not to touch the bob (pendulum disc) with your bare hands, as skin oil will discolor the brass finish.
2. Use cotton gloves (or a cloth or socks over your hands) to install the weights.
3. Install the heaviest weight on the right hand side as you face the clock.

NOTE: If you need to take down your grandfather clock, remove the weights first then remove the pendulum.
Why is my grandfather clock running too fast (or too slow)?
Before making any adjustment to you grandfather clock we recommend the use of gloves (cotton is best) or a cloth or socks. This will protect the brass finish coating from unsightly deterioration due to finger oil. Here are the steps to take:

1. First, stop the swinging of the pendulum by gently taking hold of the section located directly above the brass disc.
2. Then hold the disc (also known as the "pendulum bob") with one hand and with the other hand adjust the nut located just below the bob (see #3 below). As you do this be sure that you DO NOT twist the pendulum or exert downward pressure on it.
3. If your clock is fast then adjust the nut 1/4 turn to the left (counter clockwise). If your clock is running slow, adjust the nut 1/4 turn to the right (clockwise). Be sure that you don't adjust it more than 1/4 of a turn in either direction. By turning the nut one way or the other, the pendulum bob gets lowered or raised and the time of the grandfather clock gets regulated. The key to remember is that the LOWER the bob goes the SLOWER the clock goes. As you are turning the adjustment nut make sure the pendulum bob is moving either up or down.
4. After adjusting the nut, restart the pendulum and set the correct time. Check the time over a 24 hour period and continue to adjust the nut as needed.
5. It might be necessary to repeat steps 4 thru 6 a few times to get your clock to keep the correct time.
Why did the pendulum on my grandfather clock stopped swinging?
There may be some simple reasons why the pendulum stopped moving. Here are a few trouble shooting tips:

1. Your clock might just need to be wound. The remedy is to make sure the weights have been pulled (wound) up.

2. Have a close look at the hour and minute hands to see that they're not contacting each other. If they are, gently press the hour hand slightly back toward the clock dial making sure it doesn't touch the dial. If the hands still touch, slightly bend the minute hand toward you. This should create the needed clearance space.

3. Check the minute hand to confirm that it's not touching the front glass. If it is, gently push it toward the dial a slight amount so that it no longer rubs against the glass. Be sure it doesn't touch the hour hand or the dial. Check the second hand as well to make sure it's not contacting the glass. Even a small amount of friction against the glass will stop the clock.

4. If you have recently moved your grandfather clock it may be leaning at a slightly different angle than it was before. This can change the gravitational force on the weights and bring the pendulum to a halt. First, start your pendulum swinging and listen for a steady, even rhythm. The silent space between the tick and the tock should be "even", i.e., the same duration of time. If it's not, carefully tilt the clock a little to the left, then listen to the tick tock beat. If it's still uneven tilt the clock to the right and listen again. You may also have to tilt your clock backwards and forwards until the beat sounds even. When it sounds even adjust the levelers at the bottom the the clock or use a bracket to secure the clock at that angle to the wall. There is no need to make sure your clock is absolutely perpendicular to the floor by using a level tool. In fact your clock might even appear to be slightly uneven, but just let your ears decide by listening for a steady, even tick tock.