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  1. #1

    Default Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830

    I was attracted to this mechanism by the cock – its shape and the crown decoration – and the 30 tooth escape wheel that was clearly shown in the seller's photographs. From what I could see, I was convinced that it would reveal itself as a rack lever with out slides. From Oliver's database I saw that John Palvik's 1818 #2779 was a three wheel rack and this appeared to confirm my assumption.

    When it arrived yesterday, I was in for a surprise. It has indeed a three wheel train with a 30 tooth escape, but as the pictures illustrate, it is in fact a Massey V with a very short straight lever. As you can imagine I am very pleased with this acquisition and the 'icing on the cake' it is in perfect working order, albeit in need of a clean and service. Pity it is without a dial, the underdial mechanism and case. The latter had already been harvested – but with it, it might well been above my budget. There appears to be some wear on the lever notch, but the balance, the disc carrying the impulse pin and the roller with a crescent cutout for the Massey safety, appear to be in good condition.

    As far as I am aware it is the first Johnson Massey V that has revealed itself.

    My thanks to Graham and Oliver for their encouragement to make the purchase.

    John
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830 (By: John Matthews)

    John, I am delighted to see that the nature of the escapement has now been established beyond doubt. As you say there has been no definite record of a Johnson Massey V until now.

    The balance-spring seems to have an exceptional number of turns for this relatively early date. I wonder if it could have been replaced later in the century? I shall be interested to hear if Graham or anyone else has any views on this point.

    Oliver Mundy.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830 (By: Lychnobius)

    Hi Oliver - I remember you also thought that the endstone was a replacement - so possible that may add weight to the replacement of the original balance spring. Apart from that, I have been unable to identify any further features which might be interpreted as modifications. If there are any that I have missed, but captured in the photographs, I'm sure that Graham's eagle eye will spot them.

    John

  4. #4
    Registered User gmorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830 (By: John Matthews)

    Hi John,

    I can't see anything to suggest it wasn't made as a type V, but it has been "attended to" in the past; the lever notch has been hammered up somewhat, the barrel setup ratchet wheel is missing a tooth, and the pillar plate centre hole has been "punched up". The third wheel bottom pivot hole has been moved slightly in the bar but the wheel looks original; if this was an error in planting the wheel, I'd have thought that the wrong hole would have been plugged. Perhaps the bar itself is a later replacement?

    There appears to be a number, "1883" scratched under the cock foot, and this could well be a date of repair, possibly involving the replacement of the hairspring, which would account for the large number of turns.

    What looks like the click spring for the maintaining power on the fusee is unusual in being straight and running across on top of the third wheel. Could you take another picture of this area from the edge please?

    I agree with Oliver that the endstone has been replaced and was probably a diamond originally.

    Massey type Vs are not at all common, and I should think that very few of those have a 30 tooth escape, so you have acquired a very interesting watch.

    Regards,

    Graham

    "Ut tensio, sic vis" - Robert Hooke

  5. #5

    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830 (By: gmorse)

    Hi Graham - many many thanks for your expert comments.

    "the lever notch has been hammered up" - I had assumed this was damage, do you think this was an 'adjustment'?
    "the barrel setup ratchet wheel is missing a tooth" - I saw this but thought it was original - run out of space for the last tooth
    "pillar plate centre hole has been "punched up" - not familiar with the term, although I can see what you mean, could you please explain further?
    "third wheel bottom pivot hole has been moved slightly in the bar" - I'd missed that completely
    "There appears to be a number, "1883" scratched under the cock foot" - I think this is the serial number - see close up
    "the click spring for the maintaining power on the fusee is unusual in being straight" - I missed this - new photographs show it clearly.

    When I took the maintaining power spring photographs, I looked more closely at the fusee and it appears that maintaining click operates against a brass ring, rather than steel. It also appears that as a result the brass teeth have suffered as a result.

    John
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  6. #6
    Registered User gmorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the extra pictures.

    Levers don't get damaged like that by themselves, and this looks like an attempt to remedy an earlier alteration by peening the edge of the notch. Possibly done originally to accommodate a slightly larger replacement jewel pin?

    Those ratchet wheels would have been bought in, and nobody would fit a defective one; it has a broken tooth.

    "Punching up" pivot holes was a very common practice, (deprecated now), to remedy wear in the plate, and this particular hole takes a lot of pressure from the great wheel. Most staking sets still have a series of half-round hollow punches, which is what was used here to close up the hole and possibly "draw" it to a different position. Much quicker and cheaper than re-bushing!

    The "correction" to the position of the third wheel pivot hole is odd, and it seems unlikely that it was a mistake by the frame makers in planting the wheel, although I suppose it was "out of sight out of mind" once the watch was finished.

    I think you're right about the serial number under the cock foot, which, by the way, has some punch marks of an unusual shape; whether they were to increase the staff end-shake or have some other purpose isn't clear.

    Maintaining power ratchet wheels aren't usually brass, but then, fusee ratchet wheels usually are, with a steel click, and they don't necessarily wear badly. A decision of the fusee maker, and not necessarily one of cost I suspect. The straight spring acting on the tail of the click rather than a curved one acting on the nose is also unusual.

    Regards,

    Graham

    "Ut tensio, sic vis" - Robert Hooke

  7. #7

    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830 (By: John Matthews)

    A lovely, interesting movement.
    I think that might be 2830 on the underside of the cock, matching the movement number. I think what you see as a '1' is just a scratch, your first '8' is the '2' and the '0' is a bit mishapen and over to the right a bit. It would make sense for that number to match.
    Its not unusual to see brass maintaining power ratchet wheels early on. I think at some point (1820s?) there was a general change over to steel. I associate that type of mainting power click/spring with better quality movements as I'm certain they would have been more labour intensive to make.
    Seth.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830

    Graham - thanks for your explanations and Seth for your comment regarding the use of brass for the maintaining ratchet wheel.

    I have been trying to get a better understanding of the three wheel trains. I had read that their use was mainly favoured by the Lancashire makers and I had previously thought they were almost solely found with rack levers. However, this mechanism and inspection of Oliver's Johnson database, has made me realise, for Johnson at least, that this is not the case.

    Here are some observations based on Oliver's database - which are presented to provoke discussion ...

    • three wheel trains were used by Johnson in the period 1815 to 1830 - can this period be extended using other makers?
    • over this period, the database has ~60 examples of which 40 Oliver regards as definitely Johnson - of these 15 are recorded as 3 wheel trains - given this is the minimum number in the sample, the percentage could be as high as 40% for this period - this was much higher than I expected - was Johnson's use of three wheel trains far more frequent than other (Lancashire) makers?
    • of the 15 examples recorded only 2 are rack levers, 6 are definitely Massey levers and the remaining 7 are either Massey or roller table levers - could they all be Massey levers? - unlikely but possible?
    • I infer that Johnson saw the benefit of using the three wheel train for both the rack and other levers he produced - if Johnson's use of the three wheel train was more common than other makers - why might that be?

    I think I read somewhere, possibly on David Penney's site, that Johnson was an early adopter of the Massey levers, so I wonder whether his use of the three wheel train across his range, was typical of a maker continually experimenting, in order to progress his profession and improve his product.

    John

  9. #9

    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830

    I have just checked David Penney's archive and found five three wheel non-verge escapements. Four Litherland & Co rack levers, including the earliest #324 estimated to have been made around the time of his 1792 patent and also #1598 in a Chester 1800 case. A further Roskell rack #31497 in a Chester 1820 case. The earliest Litherland example I can find is #306 C1793, unusually a going barrel three wheel rack, described by Vaudrey Mercer's AH paper of 1962.

    My most interesting discovery is a letter from Kenneth W Shanks published in AH Spring 1988 which I reproduce below:

    "The watch has two numbers - on the barrel plate No. 2696, and on an applied plate engraved 'Rbb't Roskell', the No. 34638. The gold case is H.M. 1824, made by T.W. of London, and the movement is a three wheel train, Massey type 5. The number 34638 fits nicely into the list recorded by D.M.W. Evans, (A.H. March 1976, Page 705) while Roskell No. 2696 would have been made about 1804; which is too early for a Massey escapement. So I decided to remove the applied plate, suspecting that some clever bodger had cut a section from another Roskell watch and had 'glued' it onto an anonymous watch to increase its value.

    The plate concealed the name of another fine Liverpool maker, Joseph Johnson, and a check on other Johnson watches showed that No. 2696 would have been made in 1824. Other Johnson watches I know, No. 2577 H.M. 1823... a first type Massey lever, 2902, H.M. 1824... a Massey type 5 which is almost identical to 2696, and 4461 of H.M. 1825 which is a second type Massey lever. The first three are all three wheel trains with 30 tooth escape wheels, while 4461 has a four wheel train with 15 tooth escape and a long lever. All have the word Patent on the chiselled cock and the same style of foot. Examination of the top plate, using a stereo microscope, shows that the plate was gilded after engraving with Johnson's name and before the addition of the Roskell plate. The added plate was then fitted by drilling three stopped holes into the original top plate, then held in place by three rivetted plugs, next engraved Roskell and Number, and finally the whole
    plate regilded. F.J. Britten, in Old Clocks and Watches, states that Roskell was a collector of curious Horological specimens - perhaps he added 2696 to his collection, or did Roskell buy complete watches from Johnson to retail as his own work?"

    The Johnson watches described are not in Oliver's database and add to the number of Massey three train levers made by the company.

    It would seem to me if anyone finds a three wheel Johnson they should not be surprised is it has a Massey lever escapement.

    Was Johnson the only maker who produced Massey levers with three wheel trains?

    John
    Last edited by John Matthews; 04-20-2017 at 01:02 PM.

  10. #10
    Registered User Jerry Treiman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830

    John - I have mentioned these two movements elsewhere on the forum (links posted below), but they seem relevant again here. I have two three-wheel lever escapement movements with large 30-tooth escape wheels. One is a Jos’h Johnson (No.9250) with a Massey III escapement. The other is a rack lever by Vale & Comp’y.

    http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?9...l=1#post746531
    http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?1...y-Vale-Company

    I also have the following comments on posts above in this thread:

    Regarding the Massey V escapement, it is not entirely clear to me why this is differentiated from the Massey III. The only difference I see is in the roller construction (one or two pieces, figure-8 or circular table). Regardless of this construction, the lever appears to be the same and it “sees” the roller and passing crescent the same way, regardless of configuration. Is the two-piece construction, which must have been easier to make, considered a significant advance to warrant the distinction?

    Quote Originally Posted by gmorse View Post
    ... The straight spring acting on the tail of the click rather than a curved one acting on the nose is also unusual. ...
    Graham - My Brockbanks, with cylinder escapement, also has a straight maintaining-power click spring. Is this unusual, in general, or just on lever fusees?
    http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?1...-by-Brockbanks
    Jerry Treiman, NAWCC member since 1971
    Charter member of Pocket Horology Chapter 174

  11. #11
    Registered User gmorse's Avatar
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    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830

    Hi Jerry,

    ...Regarding the Massey V escapement, it is not entirely clear to me why this is differentiated from the Massey III. The only difference I see is in the roller construction (one or two pieces, figure-8 or circular table)...
    I suspect that the type III was found to be simpler to make than the type V, which is why the former is much more common and continued in use for longer.

    ...Graham - My Brockbanks, with cylinder escapement, also has a straight maintaining-power click spring. Is this unusual, in general, or just on lever fusees?...
    I don't recall having seen this type of spring before, so I believe it is generally unusual.

    Regards,

    Graham

    "Ut tensio, sic vis" - Robert Hooke

  12. #12

    Default Re: Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830 (By: gmorse)

    Jerry - my thanks for your post, particularly the link to your Johnson #9250 which is included in Oliver's database but not as a definite Massey - a very nice example with Liverpool jeweling and the temperature compensation.

    I am beginning to believe that many of the remaining Johnson three wheel examples might be Massey levers.

    According to my observations we now have a total of 18 Johnson three wheel movements which consist of:
    rack levers -> 2 (2799, 3434)
    Massey I -> 3 (1325, 2577, 4529)
    Massey II -> 2 (4461, 7746)
    Massey III -> 2 (5731, 5764)
    Massey V -> 3 (2696, 2830, ??) - the Shanks letter did not include the serial number of one of his examples
    The remaining six are listed as non-rack levers -> (1629, 3631, 3961, 5789, 6001, 8597)

    In addition, in Oliver's database there are a further 13 non-rack levers that might have three wheel trains: with serial numbers <10000 and designated by Oliver as genuine -> (1766, 3093, 4376, 5061, 5069, 5890, 5969, 6367, 7675, 7728, 7771, 8494, 9514)

    If anyone can provide information on these Johnson movements it would be much appreciated.

    John

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