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Cuckoo Clock Operations Guide

Clock Care and Setup Instructions

These care and setup instructions are included with every new  Cuckoo Clock. Print these pages for reference if you have misplaced your booklet.

Congratulations on purchasing a  Cuckoo Clock! We are confident that this original Black Forest Cuckoo Clock will add character and charm to your home and that you and your family will be rewarded with a lifetime of pleasurable memories.

With proper care and maintenance, your new clock will last a lifetime. This brochure should answer most of your questions on its proper setup.

To avoid "uh-oh" and unnecessary frustration, please review the diagrams and read the unpacking and hanging instructions once before unpacking your new treasure. Then follow the steps once again as you unpack and hang your clock


Cuckoo Clock Rear View & Parts

Overview image 


1. Gently unpack your clock (a), locating the pendulum (b), weights (c) and headboard (d). Your clock may or may not have a headboard and it may have two or three weights, depending on the model. Be sure to save the original box and packing material for future use.
Cuckoo Clocks - Setup 2. Place the clock face down. Open the back of the clock by turning the small metal latch (2a). Remove the back panel and pull the paper out from behind the spiral gong wire on the inside of the back panel (2b).
3. Gently slide out the two bellow clips (3a, 3b) at the upper inside of the clock and save them with the original packing material. Replace the back panel. Cuckoo Clocks - Setup
4. Turn the clock onto its backside. Push aside the wire lever (4) to unlatch the cuckoo's door, allowing the door to swing freely. The wire latch should remain affixed to the clock body.

Cuckoo Clocks - Setup

Cuckoo Clocks - Setup

5. At the bottom of the case, you will see a paper packet which secures the clock's chains. Loosen and remove the paper packet, allowing the ends of the chains with the round brass washers to extend fully.

If there are knots in the chains, untangle them gently. Once the chains are untangled, keep the clock in an upright position to avoid their sliding inside the clock and off the sprocket wheels.

Cuckoo Clocks - Setup
Cuckoo Clocks - Setup 6. For maximum running time, hang your clock approximately 6' off the floor on a secure, strong nail or hook. At this height, the round chain ends should hang about 6" off the floor. Running time will be a full day or week depending on the clock mechanism.

If there is no stud behind the wall where the nail is to be driven, use a wallboard anchor (molybolt) or heavy duty fastener of the correct type for your wall. Picture hooks will not provide the necessary level of safety.

Make sure the clock hangs flush on the wall and does not lean forward.

Cuckoo Clocks - Setup

7. Attach the pendulum to the "U" shaped wire pendulum leader at the bottom of the clock (7a). Then attach the weights to the hook ends of the chains (7b).
8. Now mount the headboard if there is one.
Cuckoo Clocks - Setup

OPERATING instructions

  1. Silent Lever. Most River City Cuckoo clocks have a "silent" lever on the side or bottom of the case. Place the lever in the "on" position if you want your clock to "cuckoo" and play music (on models so equipped). In the "silent" or "off" position, both cuckoo and music are silenced. Avoid placing the lever on "silent" as the cuckoo is sounding; you may, however, move the lever to "on" at any time.
  2. Start the clock and place it "in beat." Gently swing the pendulum to one side to start its momentum and initiate the clock's ticking. Listen carefully - if the ticking lacks a perfect or regular rhythm, your clock will run for only a few minutes and then stop. Swing the base of the clock a little to the left or right until the ticking is even. Many owners place a faint pencil mark on the wall along one side of the clock. This can be used to reposition the clock if it is accidentally moved.
  3. Set the time by moving the long hand (minute hand) clockwise or counter-clockwise. If the short hand (hour hand) is accidentally moved out of place, the hour indicated by the hour hand will disagree with the cuckoo count. You can gently hold the hour hand near the shaft and turn it clockwise or counter-clockwise so that it correctly indicates the number of hours counted by the cuckoo. Then, using both thumbs, push the hand down on the shaft (back towards the dial) to tighten.

    In the event that your clock stops running and the minute hand won't move forward, turn the minute hand counter-clockwise one hour, then slowly advance it clockwise or counter-clockwise to the correct time and repeat No. 2 above.

  4. Winding the clock. To wind your clock, firmly pull the free ends (ring ends) of the chains to raise the weights to the base of the clock.

    To avoid the chains coming off the sprockets inside the clock, always keep the weights on the chains. Avoid roughness in winding and never pull on the weights themselves as this may damage the chains or ratchet mechanism.

    It is impossible to overwind your cuckoo, however you may damage the chains if you continue to pull on them once the weights have reached the base of the clock.

  5. Regulating your clock. You can adjust your clock to run faster or slower. To make your clock run faster, unhook the pendulum and slide the pendulum carving up a bit on the pendulum stick; to make the clock run slower, pull the carving down a bit. Reattach the pendulum to the pendulum leader at the base of the clock.

    Set your clock using an accurate time source after each pendulum adjustment. Once your clock is accurately regulated, you can mark the back side of the pendulum stick with a pencil indicating the position of the carving on the stick. If the carving is accidentally moved, you can easily replace it to its correct position.


Servicing should always be done by a professional clock repairman.

Packing Your Clock for Shipment

  • Unhook weights and pendulum; wind chains so that the brass hooks return to the bottom of the clock case.

  • Move the wire latch to lock the cuckoo door.

  • Open the back panel and place bellow clips on bellows (see diagram on p. 2). If you cannot locate original bellow clips, fashion a substitute with paper clips to keep the bellows closed and prevent damage during transportation.

  • Place a strip of paper through the spiral gong wire located on the inside back panel (see diagram) to keep it silent during shipping.

  • Secure chains to keep them on the sprocket wheel and avoid tangling within the clock mechanism. A simple way to secure the chains is to extend them to their full length and wrap them carefully around the outside of the clock. Be sure there is no pressure on delicate carvings, waterwheels or other moving parts, however.
    Then, to keep tension on the chains, attach a rubber band to each of the round brass washers on the ends of the chains and hook the other ends of the rubberbands to the clock to keep the chains taut.

  • Another effective method of securing the chains and keeping them on the sprocket wheel is to insert a straight piece of wire, pipe cleaner or twist-tie through the chain links as close to the base of the clock as possible as in the original packaging. The loose chain ends can then be placed in a bag or wrapped in paper to keep them from becoming entangled in the mechanism.

  • Pack the clock securely in its original box or a sturdy box large enough to allow room for packing material, such as bubble wrap, to protect the carvings. Avoid use of packing material which may crumble and allow small debris to contaminate the mechanism.

  • Seal the box and place it in a larger, sturdy box, using packing material to secure the smaller box within the larger one.

  • If returning your clock to a clock service center for repairs, send the clock without the weights and headboard.

  • Enclose a note indicating the number stamped on your weights, i.e. 275, 320, 375, 420, 1260, 1500 or 1750.

  • Wooden weights may not be numbered.

  • Please indicate the nature of the problem and the address to which the clock should be returned.

  • Be sure to insure your clock for its proper value and, if the repair is covered under your warranty, enclose a copy of your sales receipt.

Hanging the clock with a stud. - Now you may hang the clock on the wall. A secure screw coming directly out of the wall works well for this clock.  If a stud behind drywall is available, always use the stud with a screw coming straight out of the stud through the drywall exposing about 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch outside the drywall.

Hanging the clock without a stud.

A zip wall anchor is the easiest, yet strongest way to go. Zip Anchors are the fast way to provide light duty anchors in gypsum wall board (dry wall). Their coarse and wide thread design and self drilling point offer you a very quick and easy installation. Zip anchors are made in both steel and engineered nylon. Use these with #6 and #8 sheet metal or drywall screws. I usually use the nylon type.

To install plastic wall anchors, tap a small hole  smaller than the anchor itself (plastic piece).
With a Phillips head screw driver, screw the anchor into the wall until the head is flush with the wall. Do not over tighten as this will reduce the gripping power of the anchor.
Use a screwdriver to screw a metal screw into the plastic anchor until the screw is completely inserted into the anchor and leave about of the screw 3/4" exposed where you will hang your clock. (appropriate screws are usually included with wall anchors when purchased).

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