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And another early Elgin :)

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Very early in fact!

Yesterday I unpacked Fred's mail, despite my initial idea to wait for the case to arrive.
No - I'm not THAT patient to wait. Having a No 558 Elgin in a box and not take a look? No, that's not me

And now that it's unpacked... why not take a look inside?
No way to wait, again!

In the description, there was a slipping mainspring and gummy balance.
Sounds very typical for an old movement and I admit the movement did look to be just in need of cleaning.
But - like I've said a thousand times - a wreck can be a good movement and a good movement a wreck inside.
The pictures below show the internal parts:

This looks like an early BW Raymond (suprise!), but you can notice the unusual balance arms shape and mean time screws never used by Elgin in later times.
Also, the banking pins are steel instead of brass used later.

The dial had disintegrated, the regulator was missing a pin and the pallet fork was bent.
I decided to straighten it... Foolishly I tried to heat it, but despite using an indirect way to do so (by heating the tweezers), I carbonized the shellac
Certainly not among the brightest ideas I've ever had

Even more that the pallet fork was soft enough to bend bace in shape (well - more or less).
Notice the bent safety pin - it's kinda important.
The dial reguled with epoxy - be sure to keep proper allignment, because that's permanent...
The pin somewhat short, but that prooved enough.

As for the slipping mainspring...
The watch indeed does have a hole end mainspring and it actually is slipping, but that can be told after servicing.
before the mainspring would not even have the chance to slip, because the Patent Pinion would slip first.
Below - Elgin's patented safety pinion.

There is a nut on the thread - when the barrel rotates in the correct way, the friction tightens the nut on the center pinion. When the spring breaks (or is released), the nut unscrews. In this watch the pinion was a tad rusty and so the nut would not tighten ad the pinion slipped. Works fine after cleaning and reassembling...

Some more detalis of the early Elgin:

All numbers match. The barrel used to have Geneva stop works, but one of the parts is now missing.
Notice no patent marks on the underside of the top plate yet...

Assembling - easy...

This is a model 1 featuring quick beat straight line single roller Swiss escapement.
A very good watch for the time.

Not bad visually, technicaly not too good.
The pallet fork is either damaged or replaced and the safety pin blocks the balance (as if the roller table was too wide) Bending it back does the 'trick', but due to pallet arbor's excessive endshake, it would still block the balance dial up. Using a washer to increase balance wheel's endshake helped, but now the watch will ocasionally stop when turning back top side up (if the balance falls before the fork does ).
I think filing the safety pin halfway down could help, as well as moving the lower bearing a tad up - will have to think abut that. I'd try to replace the fork, but in case it's original - I won't.

All in al - a lovely first run piece, now awaiting a case. I hope it arrives soon enough - I don't like waiting
But you know hat already.

Have a nice day!!!
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  1. GeneJockey's Avatar
    Beautiful! My BWR from a few years later (129194) has the barrel bottom machined for Geneva stop works, but doesn't have the 'maltese cross', nor is it drilled and tapped for the screw to hold it.
  2. pmwas's Avatar
    My other (S/N 19xxx range) used to have the stop works, but that was later removed. So they used to apply stop works on top grades during the first years...
  3. GeneJockey's Avatar
    I followed up a little bit on the balance arms question. As best I can determine, the straight/curved arms with meantime screws on Grade 69 BWRs is a feature of the very first run. All the ones I can find on the internet (and see the arms) have serial numbers <1000. Ben Hutcherson's #1986, from the second run, has straight arms and no meantime screws. Apparently Elgin..., er, I mean NATIONAL went all out on the very first run!
  4. pmwas's Avatar
    Yes - it seems like only first run Raymond watches have such balance. Only now we don't know if a first run with 'normal' balance is definitely wrong, or if it's possible as well another early runs mystery here...

    it's also worth noticing the balance cock was milled for it's screw, also an early run feature...