Cuckoo clocks are heirloom timepieces just like any other mechanical clock and with our technical service support a cuckoo clock purchase from us is sure to become a family favorite. These clocks run by the gravitational pull of weights that hang on long chains. The two types of mechanical cuckoo clocks that run in such a manner are the one-day and eight-day models. For one-day cuckoo clocks, the gravitational pull of the weights will generally last for up to one day, at which time the weights will need to be wound up again by manually pulling on the chain that corresponds to each weight to the clock. For eight-day cuckoo clocks, the gravitational pull of heavier weights will generally power the clock for up to seven days. Although their referred to as an "eight-day clock," they generally still need to be wound every seven days. The chains that cuckoo clock weights hang from are generally around six feet long but can vary by a few inches from one model to the next.
Cuckoo clocks need to be wound either once a day or once a week. However, if the cuckoo clock is hung on the wall less than six feet high, the weights might hit the floor and will therefore cause the clock to be wound more often in the day or week. In fact, there is an interesting story about Thomas Jefferson cutting holes in the floor of his home so that the weights would not hit the floor and would allow his weight-driven clock to run longer. Yet it will not hurt the cuckoo clock if it is wound more frequently than it needs to be. Nor does it matter in what order the weights are pulled up. However, it is a good practice to use one hand to hold the cuckoo clock on the wall as the weights are being pulled up so that the clock does not fall off the wall. It is also a good practice to place a small marking on the wall where the case is after the clock has been running properly for a while, perhaps with a pencil, so that it can be easily determined if the clock moved on the wall after a winding. Indeed, it is important that the cuckoo clock be straight and level on the wall or else it may not run properly. This is what is know as "being in beat." The clock should have an even "tick-toc" sound.
Cuckoo clocks with mechanical movements will generally have either two or three weights. Two weights mean the cuckoo clock will strike the half-hours on a coil gong at the same time the cuckoo bird "calls out" the half-hours. If a cuckoo clock has three weights then it will also play a melody on the hour and, in some cases, the half-hours as well. The melodies most often played in cuckoo clocks are Happy Wanderer and Edelweiss, which are usually rotated. Some select cuckoo clocks, however, will play another traditional German melody. For additional information, consider this outside resource on Black Forest timepieces.