Cuckoo Clock Repair


If you’ve got a broken cuckoo of whatever age read the whole of this article as Ive tried to give you some “home fix” info and given the real low down on whats involved in fixing these clocks and what the costs are likely to be later on in this article. Having said this you probably wont be able to fix the clock yourself unless you are prepared to understand how it works. Its rather like repairing your own washing machine without knowing what you are doing. Its possible, but…

I offer a full range of repairs for cuckoo clocks of all makes and am the uk service partner for Loetscher Swiss cuckoo clocks although we also do a fair amount of Hubert Herr, Rombach & Haas, Schnieder and all the other popular makers. A lot of the clocks, specially those from about 1900 – 1970, appear to be unbranded when you look at them so don’t worry too much about whether we can restore your clock or not based on brand. In short, we can repair or restore anything including 19th century wooden cage movement clocks and table tops.

Work can be done easily by post, and its just a matter of packing it up and sending it off to me.

Clocks are return it bound correctly and ready to hang. Clip of the restraints and your ready to go. The only assumptions we make are that you can put the weights and the pendulum on yourself. Other than that its shipped configured and protected in the right places.

In terms of packing the clocks are not particularly fragile although the look like they are. Obviously if its covered in trees and people be careful in those areas, however, six inches of screwed up newspaper all round in a suitably sized box will be fine. Anything that slips out of place mechanically its get put right as part of the repair service.

There are two types of job generally speaking. Repairs and restorations. I do both on any era of clock and am good at back forest work on the restoration side of things as Ive developed my own cosmetic matching techniques for the wood and dyes used.

For repairs, in most cases, the clock will need complete disassembly. Because of this it may well be a good opportunity to have a service done at the same time. Is well worth it in cases where I recommend it and its usually necessary anyway to get the clock running as smoothly as possible after “surgery”.

It might interest you to know that each cuckoo clock is hand made and set up manually at the factory. With the larger makers things tend to be a little more consistent, but for the majority of clocks its all bent and screwed it “to work”, as opposed to measured template based construction methods. All the wires that set the various switches are hand bent into place by sub-millimetre adjustment. It can be challenging on older clocks where things are worn but we always get there one way or another.

Its fair to say that only the early Victorian clocks maintain truely solid construction in their case production, from about 1900 most were produced to a chalet format and the traditional game and hunting carvings on the front had gone. They shrunk and became more focussed on novelty automaters. The early clocks are great because they are more clocks than automata with all the exciting precision and engineering. On the other hand the later clocks are great because they are are cracking automatas that are simple and fun to own.

Some manufacturers like Loetscher get a perfect balance and so you get a really good movement and mechs with an fun and quality tradional 20th century design (sorry for the plug but they really are good clocks and we are the UK service centre for Loetscher so we know!).

Personally I like the later clocks with their colour and movement and style,  although I own an 1860 Dresden style fusee wooden cage table top clock. All cuckoos are great and I have yet to handle one I would not happily own myself*.


Anyway… to common problems!

Most cuckoo repairs fall into some or all of the following categories.

  1. Chain jamming – The clock needs to come apart, chains refitted and secured, , and ship it back. Consider a service at the same time. Ill recommend it if I find its fouled up when I get the movement out.
  2. Clock slowing and cuckoo eventually fails to emerge. Clock needs chemical ultrasonic clean. And possibly parts which means taking the plates apart to replace them.
  3. Hands slipped into the wrong position. Ring me – its a 2 minute fix I can take you through on the phone.
  4. Broken chains. Replacements are available in steel and brass but you have to get the right size. The process is as described in point 1.
  5. Cuckoo has stopped coming out. Likely the hinges on the little door has become rusty and stiff. Also the wire holding the cuckoo to the door can tangle up if its bent L shape as opposed to loose U shape. A bit of oil and jiggling and cleaning of the door hing might solve this. As far as the cuckoo wire goes just give it a bit of a bend to shorten it or straighten is to give a little more push length. Make sure the wire hooks into the door loop smoothly. It should be bent accute at about 7o degress and is normally inserted through the loop from the underneath which seems to work better for reasons I have theories on I wont bore you with. If its not that then you have a power problem – see points 1 and 2 for the remedy.

Prices really depend on how long it looks like it will take. Anything from £120 to disassemble and reassemble the clocks major components in the correct configuration, say, in the case of a chain thats come off and jammed. Its more if a service is required, usually up to £200 and then £300 – £500 for a major mechanical job on a mid range clock.

Restorations, paintwork, woodwork, movement refurb and spares – the full service! – are upwards of £500 but Price will vary with the size of the clock wich usually defines how many different mechanical features such as automaters  and music box variants. Age obviously effects the costs here because of the spares market for older clocks.

This high end work is in a different pricing league because the services are completely different and often extend to having precision parts made as well as some specialist wood working skills. An example was a clock sent to me literally in bits which had the most incredible music box and carving. I had to do it although my first instinct was to tape the box back up. That got a lot of time and attention in the workshop. The music box had a 3000 note syphony. Actually two at about 2000-3000 each. I think I put a video on in it (link below).

Bavarian Cuckoo Clock Repair

Ok so thats a bit of bragging about the high end work, but 80% of the clocks we do are simply clocks from the 20th century that people like and remind them of happy times. Its not about value or rarity – we treat your clock with the same love whatever it is because what is important to us is doing a brilliant job and knowing we have done a brilliant job. This is because we love cuckoo clocks and understand what they mean to people, be it and old one, or a new investment in joy you have made.

Please give me a ring about your cuckoo clock – I always enjoy doing them – contact page here

If your looking for a modern cuckoo clock as opposed to wanting to get one repaired that is important to you I can recommend who have a decent range. Braintree Clock Repairs is the service arm as well as Loetscher so if your unlucky enought to suffer some accidental damage at some time after buying the clock then we are here to repair if for you.


Early Bavarian Cuckoo Restoration – Amazing Music Box


I have some I have rescued from derelict faces and clocks but unless you need exactly what I have, I cant supply. I now will not buy even legal ivory spares. There are really good synthetic alternatives available and if you (I) buy ivory hands and numerals then a hole is created in the market which creates demand. This demand is filled by dead elephants. I quite like elephants and the idea of an XII shaped hole in one of its tusks seems a bridge too far for the sake of authenticity.


Justin Holt

Braintree Clock Repairs