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  1. #1

    Default Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast?

    Ok, I have a situation I have seen on two Hamilton 505 series watches that is making me wonder. Both run fast. As in very fast like 15 minutes a day fast. That's way faster than your normal watch with a weak balance, or very over-powered spring.

    So what is going on? One hint is that one of the watches runs fine in dial-down position, fails in others. I put it on my Vibrograf 200 and I see a nice pattern of straight lines (two of them at 18000) that make sense when dial down. Turn dial up and the pattern becomes chaotic.

    Possible problems:
    • Bad balance gold tab: I don't think so. I've looked at them under 10 power and they seem relatively alright, plus they kick the balance over just fine.
    • Balance too slow. No, the balance is going back and forth just fine, about the same amount of kick as my perfectly running 500's.
    • Balance too fast: Maybe. I can try a 1.3 volt battery instead of the 387s (1.55) but I have read that the factory batteries were 1.5v as well, Renee said that in his book but I thought all mercury batteries went at 1.3. Which is right?
    • Balance spring out of flat. Nope, I took forever to ensure that the spring is not contacting the cock anywhere along its length.
    • Balance spring binding. Maybe, but doesn't seem like it, and any balance spring manipulation I do makes no difference.
    • Index wheel is overshooting the magnets: This could be it. When the watch is pendant down the index wheel sits on the lower bushing and is sitting a trifle bit closer to the two tiny magnets that keep it from overshooting. Maybe when it is in other positions it's going up too far and the balance is kicking it two spots instead of one?


    That last one could explain why the signal gets chaotic in anything other than dial down: if the index wheel overshoots random amounts it would be all over the map.

    Thoughts on what it is and how to fix?

    Thanks!
    Chris
    (Need to figure this out....)

  2. #2

    Default Re: Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast? (By: czach)

    Well, they are indeed erratic.

    My watchmakers have been able to get them running...and running strong.. and even semi-accurately for a while. BUt not for long. I have been collecting Hamitlon Electrics for 30 years and have quite a collection. I love the case designs and even own hundreds of Rirchar ARbibs orignal drawings that I bought directly from him. And I have about 25 handwritten volumes from the engineers who invented the movement from I thkn 1952 to 1959.

    My postiion has been that they, for the most part, not able to sustain good timekeeping for any length of time. However they WERE allowed on teh railroads for a brief period and many on this very board (search this forum for many discussions) are insistent that they can make their AHmitlon electrics run well, keep good time and keep good time for long periods of time.

    Jeff
    Jeffrey P. Hess, collector, historian, writer, CEO Ball WATCH USA

  3. #3

    Default Re: Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast? (By: Jeff Hess)

    Indeed. They are pretty wacky. I'm guessing that after they got the initial kinks worked out they were very reliable for about 5-10 years, with servicing every other year or so. But people got tired of bringing their watch to the jeweler every year (almost like a lease) and unlike mechanical watches these have consumable resources that have to be replenished (balance wheels). Things that are impossible to make on a normal lathe.

    Couple that with half baked repairs (bending contact wires to fix short term problems, etc) and you have an unreliable watch. Especially when you compare it to Accutrons or Quartz (my one factory converted Hamilton Pacer keeps perfect time.....).

    I also think there was something wrong with the balance spring; they are non-magnetic but the high stress of the heavy wheel coupled with the weird metal formulation really seems to do a number on them.

    But I am curious to see why they run fast like this. It's pretty consistent....

  4. #4

    Default Re: Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast? (By: czach)

    Meantime I have been working with my timing machine to see what's up: As soon as I go close to 90 degrees off dial down the pattern changes from normal double lines to a random pattern of lines. So something mechanical is up.

    But what is making the extra noise? It's periodic (lots of dots all over the tape but in some sort of order) so it has to be something mechanical instead of electrical. None of my other three Hamiltons (2 500's and a 505) do this, so what could it be?

    Got to be in the sector wheel. Hm........

  5. #5

    Default Re: Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast? (By: czach)

    Quote Originally Posted by czach View Post
    Meantime I have been working with my timing machine to see what's up: As soon as I go close to 90 degrees off dial down the pattern changes from normal double lines to a random pattern of lines. So something mechanical is up.

    But what is making the extra noise? It's periodic (lots of dots all over the tape but in some sort of order) so it has to be something mechanical instead of electrical. None of my other three Hamiltons (2 500's and a 505) do this, so what could it be?

    Got to be in the sector wheel. Hm........
    -----

    I am NOT a mechanic...so..this is just anecdotal information...but there are literraly volumes... (well hundreds of pages) in the test books from the mid 50's to the early 60's discussing ongoing problems with "End shake".

    Jeff
    Jeffrey P. Hess, collector, historian, writer, CEO Ball WATCH USA

  6. #6

    Default Re: Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast? (By: Jeff Hess)

    I can believe that, the balance on these things is insanely heavy and it could be too much play with the incabloc anti-shock bushings. Will look into that, I just got some hairspring cleaner (trichloroethelyene) and will see if I can dip first the spring, then the bottom to clear anything that might be fouling either the hairspring or the finger guard.

    Wonder what would happen if I put a spare bridge on it that did not have the finger guard stop. Hm.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast? (By: czach)

    Update: Got a new supply of one-dip, put the balance in for a few seconds, swirled around both sides then let dry. Then moved the finger guard, and dipped it again.

    Re-oiled the balance pivot jewels, put the balance back in, screwed down the watch, and gave it a try.

    Nice even lines on the timing machine in all positions. No more of the chaos, very little variance, I'll post a picture of the tape this weekend.

    But it looks like either the finger block was dirty, the contacts were dirty, or the hairspring was dirty. I doubt the hairspring or the contacts so I think what we have here is a micro-bit of crud on that finger guard which caused additional banging in dial up position. When dial down, the finger was on a different part of the wheel and worked properly.

    Anyway, will run it for the weekend on my wrist and see how it goes. Solution might be a brief run in one-dip for the balance wheel.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast? (By: czach)

    Not only is it keeping perfect time (under a minute gain/loss per day), the other presentation watch that had a similar problem is now working perfectly as well. So there we have it: Chaotic pattern on the timing machine means clean the balance in one dip (tricloroethylene).

    Now for the next problem, a movement where the sector wheel is hanging up on the magnets....

  9. #9

    Default Re: Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast? (By: czach)

    excellent!
    Jeffrey P. Hess, collector, historian, writer, CEO Ball WATCH USA

  10. #10

    Default Re: Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast? (By: Jeff Hess)

    Works on 500's as well. While removing the contacts on a Hamilton 500 is an exceptionally sensitive job (hint: Hold the contact plate down with one screwdriver while removing the screw with another then taking the screw out with a tweezers to keep the bridge from jumping up from the tension of the power contact plate underneath) taking the balance wheel out and soaking it in one dip freed up the pin to the point where it is keeping perfect time against a reference quartz watch for the past 48 hours.

    Another hint: If a 500 runs a bit slow see if the contacts are dipped slightly low and touching the balance wheel guard at any point. This can slow down the balance, slowing the watch. Fixing it can be done with a fingernail's amount of pressure on the two posts to bend them slightly up and lift the contacts. Think gentle pressure with a fingernail, it doesn't require tweezers or pliers or anything to move these things.

    More including pics in a bit.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Hamilton 505 watches: Why do they run fast? (By: czach)

    And as promised, some pictures. First a lineup of my little Hamiltons, all in a row.



    From the left we have my Titan 500, my reference Seiko from when I was a kid, a later Hamilton 505, a Pacer (converted to quartz by Hamilton and still nice), a 14k gold Hamilton masterpiece presentation 505, a 14k gold Savitar 505, and a 14k gold Polaris 500a. All of them run well, however the Polaris has either the wrong balance cock or the wrong hairspring because it's pinned to far towards fast and thus runs a bit off. Will fix that one of these days, apparently there were at least two adjusting points on the hairsprings...

    Here is the tape from the watch that ran ok in one position, fast dial-up. Note the chaotic pattern giving way to order as the finger block goard moved out of a stuck position:

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