Cuckoo clocks are weight-driven clocks. The weights hang down from the bottom of the clock. As a weight descends, it pulls on a ratchet, or toothed wheel, that is connected to the gears of the clock. As the ratchet moves, it causes these other gears to move, thus operating the cuckoo clock. Most cuckoo clocks have three weights. These power the hands of the clock, the cuckoo and any music that is played when the clock strikes the hour. Cuckoos with two weights do not play music. Typical weight placement on cuckoo clocks involves attaching the weights to chains at the base of the clock.
Cuckoo Clock Weights
Cuckoo clock weights look like pine cones. They are made of metal or wood, and should be identical in weight. Different cuckoo clocks, however, take different weights. Most cuckoo clocks made after World War II have the amount of the weight inscribed in grams on the side of each pine cone weight. If any weights are missing, purchase weights that match the existing weights. Simple numbers on the weight, such as 1, 2, or 3, are not indications of the weight of the pine cone weight; they are merely directions for the workers that originally assembled the clock. They told which weight went with which clock.
Older cuckoo clocks will not have weight markings on the pine cone weights. To figure out what weight the clock requires, attach a weight--any weight--to the clock train of the cuckoo clock. There should be two or three chains sticking out from the bottom of the cuckoo clock, one for each of the weights. Pull gently down on one of these chains. If the hands of the clock move, this chain is the clock chain. Attach the test weight to this chain. Keep trying different test weights until the hands of the clock move at a proper rate. Buy new pine cone weights that are the same weight as the correct test weight.
Each weight chain is attached around a wheel inside the cuckoo clock. The 2 free ends of each chain hang down from the bottom of the clock. One of these ends has a hook at the bottom. Each of the cuckoo clock weights has a small metal circle at the top of the pine cone. Slip each of these circles over a hook. Pull down on the chain from the end that does not contain the weight. Keep pulling until the weight is drawn up to the base of the clock. The two or three weights should hang down evenly from the bottom of the cuckoo clock.
Setting the Time
Set the time by moving the minute hand counterclockwise around the clock. The hour hand will change position as the minute hand is wound around the clock. Do not move the minute hand clockwise, as then it will be necessary to wait for the cuckoo to call at each hour. Also, do not move the hour hand with your finger. Moving the hour hand with your finger will cause the cuckoo to call the wrong number of times. When the time is correct, start the pendulum of the cuckoo clock by pushing it with your finger.
Proper Placement of Cuckoo Clock
To ensure that the weights move properly, hang the clock level on a wall. Cuckoo clock weights hang down freely from the base of the clock. They fall slowly down the length of the wall, but should not touch the wall. Adjust the angle of the cuckoo clock if the cuckoo clock weights bang into the wall as they descend. Weights should also not touch the floor when they descend. Hang the cuckoo clock high enough to ensure that the weights always remain above the floor.