This is a place for the amateur woodworker. No snobbery about fancy tools, complicated joints, or exotic finishes, just good honest woodworking for the pure enjoyment of it. My shop has a brand new home in 2003/2004 and we feel blessed to have such a great place to spend time in the hobby of woodworking
Several of us at work were discussing restoring vintage items when one of them asked if any of us knew anything about cuckoo clocks. None of us did but I suggested he bring it in so we could se if it was something simple. I was also curious what made the noise when the bird sticks his head out of his door. Once I got a look at the project I became interested in making it work so offered to work on it for him.
When I opened the back of the clock I understood immediately what made the bird sound, a pair of wood whistles mounted on each side of the clock case near the back cover. Attached to the cover was a spiral wire that is the chime and it is struck with a small brass weight. The tops of the bellows were hanging by their push rods with no connection to the bottoms. I removed the loose pieces and could tell that the mechanical works worked in a fashion. It would not run for more than a couple minutes so I knew there was still life in it.
So I took it back to my shop to see what I could do with it. I removed the clock works and after soaking it in hot soapy water removed years of gummy residue that was keeping the clock from working. I built a frame to hold the clock plumb and installed the works after lubricating it with very lightweight oil. I had to lubricate the clock several times to get it running smoothly. We had decided that it made sense to get the clock keeping time before investing too much time and money into the rest of it.
The picture below shows the clock case with the works installed. With the clock running smoothly I could see the levers that operate the bellows move in sequence and I was sure that if the whistle and bellows assemblies were restored they would work properly. I did some research on the Internet and found that the original bellows would have been made with goat skin (also known as Kid Skin) and if the restoration was to be accurate this is what should be used to make the flexible material in the bellows. I found Clockworks.com and since they had replacement bellows to fit this clock we decided to go with the replacements. The site was very information and provided tips on getting the clock operating and also mentioned that the bellows were made of Tyvek, which is a very tough paper like substance that holds up much better.
The picture below shows the two original wood whistles with the replacement bellows glued to the top of them. I had to remove the bottom half of the bellows from the tubes and clean the tubes up so the new base could be glued and be airtight. The two dark rectangular pieces are the original tops of the bellows with the small eyes and wire attached. The 2-wires are the push rods that connect the clockworks to the bellows.
From my earlier work on the clockworks itself I knew that the clock does not have a lot of torque so I knew that getting the small eyes and push rods in the proper location was vital. I carefully marked the location of the small eyes and was surprised to find that they were not threaded into the wood. Instead they were flattened and sharpened to a point. Luckily the new bellows were made of soft pine so the eyes pushed easily into the wood. The very fine wire and staple were installed on the clock face side of the bellows and extends under the plastic birds tail. When the bellows raises it pushes the birds tail up and since he is mounted with a pin his head goes down to create movement.
With the eyes and tail wire installed it was time to install the whistles in the case. In my research I found that most clocks of this sort mount the whistles in the same manner as this one. There is a small wood screw through the side of the case into the whistle tube and below it a small brad to keep the whistle from twisting. The website warned that if the brad is driven into a new location that the air leakage through the old hole may reduce the volume of the whistle. I made sure that the holes lined up and tightened them in place. Then I installed the push rods, anxious to try them out. I had trouble getting them to work at first but found that the clock work levers were bent out of shape, probably as a result of the old bellows coming apart and getting wedged against something in the case. Once I straightened them the whistles performed as they were designed. The picture below shows the whistles in place and the push rods connected.
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