These instructions apply to modern weight-driven cuckoo clocks (typically 1950’s and newer).

Set Up

Prepare the Clock: Open up the back by moving the latch aside and gently prying the top out. Remove the shipping clips (if any) from the bellows (on top of the whistles that produce the cuckoo sound). Remove the paper (if any) from the gong. Reinstall the back and rotate the latch down. Untwist the wire holding the chains and remove it.

Hang the Clock: Install a #8 or #10 screw in the wall, angled upward at a 45 degree angle. It should be high enough on the wall that the chains do not drag on the floor. The screw must be long enough to be securely fastened into a stud in the wall. Hang the clock on the screw. Hang the pendulum on the hanger at the bottom of the clock (near the back). Hang one weight on each hook.

Unlatch the Cuckoo Door: If the cuckoo door is held closed by a wire latch, move the latch aside.

Start the Clock: Give the pendulum a push and the clock will start ticking. Move the bottom of the clock to the left or right until it is ticking evenly.


Winding (pulling up the weights): Place one of your hands on the clock to steady it and with your other hand pull down gently on the free end of one chain, bringing the weight on the other end up to the bottom of the clock. Do this for each weight. This needs to be done whenever the weights get close to the floor. One chain winds the clock, the other winds the cuckoo, and the third (if present) winds the music.

Setting the Hands: The clock may be set either forward or backward by moving the minute hand (the longer hand) around to the correct time. The hand may be moved past the hour and half hour without waiting for the clock to cuckoo. Never move the hour hand!


If the Clock Cuckoos the Wrong Hour: The hour hand is a friction fit on its shaft and may be moved around to point to the correct hour if it is not on too tight. Pushing the hand down closer to the dial will tighten the hand.

Regulating the timekeeping: The clock can be made to go faster or slower by means of the bob (usually a leaf) on the pendulum. On most clocks the bob is a friction fit. Move the bob up to speed up the clock or down to slow it down. Move it a small amount each time. Typical accuracy is one to two minutes per day.

If clock does not run: 1) Make sure weights are wound up. 2) Make sure clock is ticking evenly. If not, move bottom of clock to left or right until the ticking is even. Make adjustments as needed until the clock has a very even “tick…tock…tick…tock…tick…tock” type of sound. The clock will not keep running if the sound is “tick.tock……tick.tock…….tick.tock…….”. 3) Make sure pendulum hanger wire is not rubbing on slot in case bottom. If this is the problem, make sure the clock case is flush against the wall, or shim out the top or bottom of case if necessary.

If cuckoo door does not close: Look inside the back of the clock and make sure the wire which lifts the cuckoo bird’s tail is under the tail, not above it.