Most often, music box problems are caused by a malfunction of the starter. Fortunately, it is often that the starter can be repaired at home, without having to take the music box to a repair shop.
Use extreme care when working with the music box’s mechanisms, as you will be working in a small space, where the musical components can become damaged by a slip of the hand. If you have a warranty on your music box, it can become void if you attempt to repair the box yourself.
A music box with a wire starter begins to play when the lid is opened, and stops playing when the lid is closed. Opening the box releases pressure on a metal stick. A spring pushes the metal stick up, and as this happens, a connected wire moves down, which releases the air brake, allowing the music box to play it’s tune.
If the music box will not play, open the lid, and take a look at the wire. If it is touching the air brake, it’s preventing the tune from playing, as it would in the closed-lid position.
a) Try changing the angle of the spring with a small pair of pliers. If the box begins to play, but does not stop when you close the lid, try adjusting the wire, repeatedly; up, down, left, and right.
b) If wire adjustments don’t work, try pulling up the metal stick. If the stick seems to catch, it may be slightly bent, and should be replaced.
When the button starter is pushed to the right, a metal plate attached to the button moves the starter mechanism, releasing a latch from the wheel of the cylinder. This releases the air brake, causing the music box to play.
If the tune does not play, there may a be a problem with the distance between the plate and the starting mechanism.
a) Check the button mechanism for a loose nut, and tighten, if needed.
b) Adjust the plate, making it is closer to the starter mechanism.
String Pull Starter
If you don’t feel any resistance when you pull the spring, the spring could be disconnected from the gear train, or broken. This should be repaired by a professional.
Musical components can become oxidized or corroded over long periods of time. If the string was pulled, but not allowed to wind down for a very long period of time, the mechanism may stick.
a) If you can access the musical components, use a pin-point oiler to apply a few drops of WD-40 to the key base. If this doesn’t loosen the mechanism, then add a small bit of lubricant to the base, center, and top, of the endless screw assembly.
Pin starters are often used in toy music boxes that have small musical movements. The pin blocks the air brake. When it is pulled, the music begins to play, as the brake is released. When the pin is pushed in, the box stops playing.
a) If the box does not play, take a look inside at the starting mechanism and musical movement. If the pin is too long, it will not allow the movement to play. It needs to be replaced or filed down.
b) If the box does not stop playing when you push in the pin, try adjusting the positioning of the movement. If this does not help, the pin may be too short, and unable to block the air brake. To lengthen the pin, add a bit of tape at the end.