Victorian Cuckoo Restoration (Wooden Cage)

This is a job we recently completed. Its due to be ruturned tomorrow now that it has passed its 48 test run without incident.

These wooden cage movements are difficult. I would not recommend them as projects. The problem is that with their brilliance comes certain drabacks. Insect attack is not something most clock techinicians are used to dealing with; well maybe on the housing but not the movement. Right, STOP, picture before I proceed…

Cuckoo Clock Restoration
Completed restoration of a Black Forest Cuckoo clock with a wooden cage movement. Particularly diffuclt!

That better!. We can see what we are talking about now.

So what we actually have here is a wooden cage movement cuckoo 30 hour clock with a grape vine design for the facia. I suspect it may actually be French or more likely Swiss because of the use of fine wood throughout (probaby fruit tree – pear for the fascia and then the same for the parts of the housing that show).

The movement itself is oak. Im not sure if Ive evangelised about wooden cage movements before but they are actually very good in a “fit for purpose” way. Nobody is going to pretend such a device is going to provide chronometric time keeping but, actually, such machines can be brought witin a minute or two accuracy per day which is amazing considering the basic design.

Have a look a the following picutre.

Lets face it, when you or I or anybody else look at this they see two things. Firstly a wonder of technology an innovation, and secondly something that is unlikely to run for 10 minutes without the wheels flying off.

The fact of the matter is that using wood for the support and strutt contruction of the movement is entirely logical. Its lightweight, can be addressed with carpentry skills in an age where those skill were more common, and if there were any doubts about the longevity of such a solution this clock sets the record straight. This is of couse after a farily comprehensive service that was really more of a rebuild. Oddly, when its a rebuild its usually the metal components a that have worn or warped, not the wood.

As you can see from the picture new bellow tops have been fitted and some of the wiring replaced, but other than that the gearing and suchlike is completely original. This clock was 50 years old when the first model T ford rolled off the production line.

In this job we:

1 Stripped and cleaned and polished all connecting surfaces in the power train of the going and strike gearing.

2. Replaced / resoldered the crutch end which has been joined with glue as a temporary solution

3. Rebushed the necessary collets from the inside of the “plates”.

4. Rewired the cuckoo to allow the beak and wings to flare.

5. Set the door latch opening sequence

And all the normal stuff.

Its a great clock and I think I can honestly say that on a damage vs age graph this clock, of all the antique cuckoo clocks we have done, is in the best original condition. It runs brilliantly with a strong tick tock and positive energy pendulum swing. A pleasure to own I expect. Id happilly run this as my main time keeper for the house. Its accurate enough and has a very pleasant bass cuckoo sound achieved with long good quality pipes (the originals).