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How to Wind a Cuckoo Clock

by Dave Balch

We have a lot of clocks in our home. Most of them make some sort of noise on the hour (steam trains, cartoon characters, birds, dogs, horses, wild animals; I'm not kidding!), some of them on the half-hour as well, and one that even chimes on the quarter hour. We just like clocks. Needless to say, we are usually aware of the time! Some of my favourites are the cuckoo clocks that we purchased on a trip to the Black Forest, and they needed some TLC: cleaning, oiling, and adjusting.

Enter Skip, the clock repairman who believes in the long-lost art of house calls. He took the clocks back to his shop and fixed them up beautifully. When he returned them, he placed them back on the wall with loving care and proceeded to explain the "proper" way to wind them.

1. Be sure to pull straight down or the chain can come off of the gear or the weight may bang against the wall, leaving a mark.

2. Pull only one chain at a time because pulling more than one at a time

a) causes the chains to be pulled at an angle and

b) puts too much stress on the hanger on the wall and/or the back of the clock.

3. Don't pull them too quickly because they may come off of their gears.

4. When setting the clock it is better to turn the hands counter clock-wise because of the nature of the internal mechanism.
...and so on, and so forth. For about 15 minutes, Skip explained the finer points of something that seemed so simple and so obvious, that I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

It recently dawned on me that this experience serves as a great illustration of two important points:

1) The importance of education; there is always a "right" way and a "wrong" way to do just about anything, regardless of how simple and obvious it may seem. It is unlikely that what you are trying to do in your business has never been tried before. Why suffer through the mistakes that others have made when they did what you are doing?

2) Do everything you can to learn from other people's experience and save yourself the grief of repeating their mistakes. I used to pull all three chains at once; it never occurred to me that the back of the clock could break under the strain. He's seen it happen. I'm glad that I learned from his experience before the clock came crashing down because

a) The falling clock would probably break the glass table beneath it,

b) I might be physically injured if hit by the clock or flying glass and

c), I cherish my clocks and would hate to lose one.

Find seminars, classes, tapes, books, or websites that can help you avoid the avoidable. Your time and money will be well spent.

The other important point is that you can learn and grow from the most unlikely places. Keep your eyes and ears open; you just never know when a "Skip" will waltz into your life for even a brief moment and leave you with a tidbit that will change you forever.