How to Replace a Cuckoo Clock Chain

A cuckoo clock can make for a unique and personalized way to keep time in your home while offering a decorative feel. If your clock chain is in need of repair or replacing, there are some measures you can take at home that will keep your clock functioning as good as new.

Vintage wooden cuckoo clock over a rose-pattern wall
credit: OwenJCSmith/iStock/GettyImages
How to Replace a Cuckoo Clock Chain

What is a Cuckoo Clock, and How Does One Work?

Cuckoo clocks are popular, pendulum-regulated mechanical clocks that are both fun and functional. At regular intervals, a cuckoo bird will emerge from a small door to report the time, which is regulated by the swinging of a pendulum, while a system of weights supplies power to the internal gears. These weights hang down from chains that pass through certain wheels, which are located inside the clock. These wheels work to turn other wheels, ultimately moving the hands of the clock, and operating the cuckoo and any other figures on the clock case.

On occasion, a cuckoo clock chain breaks and must be replaced, which can be done at home with a little information, preparation and patience.

What Type of Chain Should I Buy?

To purchase a replacement chain for your cuckoo clock, you'll first need to determine its number of movements. Cuckoo clocks contain either one-day or eight-day movements, and each requires a slightly different kind of chain. If your cuckoo clock needs to be wound daily, it has a one-day movement; if it needs to be wound once every eight days, it has an eight-day movement. Both chains are 6 feet long, however, one-day movements employ a chain with approximately 48 links to each foot, while eight-day movements use a chain that has about 60 links to each foot. Be sure to purchase the correct chain for your particular cuckoo clock before you get started on your repairs.

How Can I Replace a Cuckoo Clock Chain?

To begin, open the back of the clock to locate the broken cuckoo clock chain. Remove the weight and then any broken parts by gently lifting the chain off the sprocket wheel, which is the toothed wheel that the (now broken) chain passes over. You can pull the broken parts of the chain down through the holes at the bottom of the cuckoo clock.

Next, install the new cuckoo clock chain by threading it up through the hole beneath the sprocket wheel. Feed the chain over the teeth of the sprocket wheel, and back down through the next hole in the base of the cuckoo clock case.

Turn the clock upside down. Grab hold of the 2 ends of the new cuckoo clock chain, and pull up toward yourself, using a gentle but firm grip and motion. It may take a few tries, but the chain should slip snugly into place around the teeth of the sprocket wheel. Now that your chain is in place, turn the clock right-side up. Reattach the weight to the new chain by placing the loop at the top of the weight over the hook on the bottom of the chain.

Finally, test to see if the new cuckoo clock chain is correctly engaged by pulling down on one of the chains. The chain should move freely and make a regular clicking sound. When hanging the cuckoo clock back on the wall, make sure that the clock is level and the chains hang freely, taking care to keep the chains from touching the wall, or each other.