Posts Tagged ‘musical cuckoo clocks’
We own two cats named Fluffy and Furball. (Yes, I realize the names are pretty stereotypical, but that’s what happens when you let your five-year-old daughter name the family pets). The two of them have a funny tradition that involves our musical cuckoo clocks.
Every hour on the hour the clocks play a musical medley. Wherever Fluffy and Furball are in the home they drop whatever they are doing and rush to the clocks. Then they sit there, very intently, side-by-side and watch the clocks until the music ends. It’s so hysterical! I really need to capture it on video.
Since its founding in 1988, River City Clocks has become the largest importer of Black Forest cuckoo clocks to North America. The St. Louis, Missouri based company imports clocks from other areas of Europe as well. Price wise, River City cuckoo clocks run the gamut from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. It’s all dependent on the intricacy of design and materials used in construction.
Though River City cuckoo clocks come in a variety of styles, including some whimsical novelty clocks, my favorites are still the traditional German Black Forest style clocks. One day and eight day clocks just have a certain authenticity to them that I admire. The traditional German weather house clocks, with their men and women figures that pop out on the hour, are also quite charming.
New cuckoo clocks are still among of the most sought after souvenirs of vacations in the heart of Europe and especially in Germany’s Black Forest region. My suitcases are full as I conclude this trip abroad. I know that in America, many families can trace their roots to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other European localities where cuckoo clocks are traditional ornaments for the home. Consequently, there is a market in America for clocks that represent the best traditions of cuckoo clock making.
The sound making devices are attached to the top of the clock. These include the pipes and bellows for the cuckoo sound and the music box. Attachments that are usually extensions of drive chains are linked to the sets of wire hooks and metal cams and pins that activate the cuckoo and any other moving figures and the doors. The cuckoo is connected to its bellows operation, and the other figures are mobilized by the strike movement. A third movement initiates the playing of the music box. Finally, the pendulum and weight chains are connected to the movement and the lead weights are clipped to the chain ends.
The assembled musical cuckoo clocks are carefully packaged to protect the moving parts and the delicate carved framework. Individually boxed clocks are packed in cartons for shipping and distribution. It makes it very easy to get them home safely.
Even though some models of cuckoo clocks are now outfitted with quartz movements and electronics, part of the cuckoo clock’s charm may be its old fashioned mechanical movement. When paired with beautifully carved wood and rustic style, the spell of the cuckoo’s song on the hour is guaranteed to bring smiles to those who prize childlike delights and exquisite craftsmanship for years to come.
I hope you have enjoyed sharing my European travels with you. Thanks for traveling with me.
The cuckoo clock is a celebrated part of German tradition; it’s recognized as much for its precision and timekeeping abilities as its exquisite design sense. As with any mechanical clock, problems are bound to surface sooner or later – but it’s not cause for alarm. Before you send your musical cuckoo clocks to a repair shop, see what you can do on your own. Whether you’re experiencing pendulum problems or issues with timekeeping, a do-it-yourself technique could serve you well.
Cuckoo clocks operate with the use of a precise timing train. If the chain attached to the clock’s sprocket wheel comes off, it’s easy enough to diagnose the problem. Lift one of the weights and listen for a clicking sound. If there’s no sound and no tension when pulling the weight, you’ll know the chain has come off. Don’t make any rash decisions; if you cannot replace the chain onto the sprocket without taking the clock apart entirely, it’s best to trust the process to a professional.
Musical cuckoo clocks have two movements instead of just the one regulating time. The third weight drives the second movement, which produces a series of notes when the clock strikes. Usually the melodies played are different for the hour and the half-hour, the most popular being “Edelweiss” and “The Happy Wanderer.” The musical movement is like those found in music boxes: a metal drum with small pins set at intervals to produce the proper notes as the drum turns and the pins strike a steel comb.
One day Musical Cuckoo Clocks feature the same quality mechanics as the one day Cuckoo clocks, except there is a third weight added under the clock. The extra weight is for the tunes played by the clock. On the hour the cuckoo bird will announce the hour with the correct number of calls, and then a melody plays. Two tunes are offered with the aid of a Swiss music box where the notes are plucked on a rotating drum. On the half hour the bird will “Coo Coo” one time only and then a second melody will play. Eight Day Musical Cuckoo Clocks are almost exactly the same as the one day Musical Cuckoo Clocks. The difference is the size of the weights under the clock which are much heavier in the eight day cuckoo clock. Also the melody only sounds on the hour in an eight day clock. Musical cuckoo clocks often have animated figures which move when the music box plays. The moving figures can include people dancing, sawing wood, drinking beer or even a water wheel turning.
There are several types of cuckoo clocks. The least expensive is the non musical one day clock, which requires winding once a day. The weights hang by chains, and descend as the clock “unwinds.” To wind it, pull the end of the chain to bring the weights back up and keep the pendulum swinging. The pendulum drives the mechanical gears of the brass movement inside the clock, which in turn drives the hands on the face. Each tick of the pendulum advances the hands a fraction of the circumference of the clock face and drops the weight a tiny bit.
One day cuckoo clocks can be both carved and chalet. Carved clocks have nature-inspired themes carved out of wood attached to the case. Chalet-style clocks look like alpine houses and have moving figures. These are my favorite, especially the ones that play music and have moving animation. Musical cuckoo clocks have two movements instead of just the one regulating time. The third weight drives the second movement, which produces a series of notes when the clock strikes. Usually the melodies played are different for the hour and the half-hour, the most popular being “Edelweiss” and “The Happy Wanderer.”