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  1. #1

    Default Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning

    First of all - this is my first post. I'm just getting into restoring pocket watches and have been having a lot of fun. Reading this board has been a real resource to me so I hope that you all will be able to help.

    To get my feet wet I decided to disassemble, clean and oil a Molnija pocket watch (probably from the 70s - no good records). They're a good place to start because they're cheap, well-made and plentiful on ebay.

    I disassembled it and then washed the movement using an ultrasonic machine with L&R #677, followed by a rinse of L&R watch lube. I don't have a dryer, unfortunately, as I'm trying not to spend too much on the hobby at once. I re-assembled it with no real problems (aside from dropping and finding screws of course) and oiled all the jewels. I did not get any oil on the hairspring. After putting it back together it runs much smoother, but still stops occasionally.

    I was wondering if people had suggestions about where to look next. This watch is very much a "learning" watch - so I'm game to try anything.

    Alternatively - what repair or piece of maintenance do you wish you had practiced more before using it? I'd rather mess up this watch than an elgin or a waltham (or a more vintage molnija - they're very wonderful watches).

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: Aeturnum)

    Does it stop randomly while laying still, or does it stop in one certain position?

    Intermittent stopping can be difficult to track down, but here are a few things I'd check:

    Check the balance jewels for cracks or breaks.

    Check the balance pivots for wear or being bent

    Check the hairspring. It should be completely concentric and perfectly flat. If it has an overcoil, check to make sure the overcoil isn't rubbing on the balance cock or main part of the hairspring.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: ben_hutcherson)

    Did you check for recoil when you re-assembled? If not, let down the mainspring and check -- with the balance and pallet fork removed, when you wind one or two clicks on the ratchet wheel, the train should run freely, stop, and "rewind". On a good movement, it will run quite a ways backwards.

    If it does not, you need to find out why something is dragging. This can be, in my personal experience, dirt in the jewels (you did peg them out, right?), dirty or bent pivots, crud on the leaves of the pinions, crud in the wheel teeth (especially if it stops at a fairly regular interval), a bit of lint or hair somewhere, most likely in the fourth wheel or escape wheel. A binding mainspring will do this too. I've had a watch stop from all of these, pays to inspect carefully.

    If the train runs nicely and recoils, check the locking on the pallet stones. I've been restoring a Bulova 9AT with all the above problems AND no locking on the entry stone. It would run if started by rotating the balance, had very nice balance motion, but would stop dead sooner or later as the lack of locking would "stick" the pallet fork. Adjusted the depth of the stones and it runs great, has for a day and a half now.

    Molnija's are great watches, I cleaned and oiled both of my brother's as my first repairs. One was gummy (the old guy in town uses natural oils, anything he services stops within two years) and the other had a loose dial screw stuck in the wheels -- that was the one he dropped, twice.

    I'm pretty sure your problem is crud you disturbed but did not remove, or a bit of something dragging, but do check the rest. Make sure the hairspring is between the pins on the regulator, too -- if not, it can be pushed down and make the coils drag on the balance arms.

    Peter

  4. #4

    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: psfred)

    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post
    Did you check for recoil when you re-assembled?...
    No - I didn't know I should do that. The train ran very smoothly before I re-assembled the whole thing.

    I don't know what "peg[ing] out" jewels would entail, but I checked them at high magnification and they appeared clean. I don't have any good references for what a "good" or "bad" jewel looks like.

    Overall, I should have inspected all of the pieces more carefully. They looked quite clean, but it's hard to be sure.


    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post
    If the train runs nicely and recoils, check the locking on the pallet stones.
    I don't know what you mean by that - ensuring the jewels are properly seated, at the proper angle? Even if they were loose or out of place, I'm not sure how I'd angle them or how I'd secure them. Would I use jeweler's epoxy?

    Thanks for the comments. The watch is working well right now (I think the initial stops might have been from waiting for the new oil to work its way into the jewels), but I might go back and check all these things anyway. For practice.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: Aeturnum)

    To peg the jewels, you take a piece of pegwood, sharpen it to a point, and the insert it in the jewel and rotate. Pegwood is a type a hardwood that comes in small diameter(2mm) sticks. It's available from watch material suppliers.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: ben_hutcherson)

    The stones on the pallet fork stop the escape wheel for each rotation of the balance wheel. They should "lock" each time -- that is, they should extend far enough past the face of the tooth on the escape wheel that the fork is pushed over agains the banking and held there until the roller jewel enters the fork again. This is necessary to give proper clearance for the saftey pin and to avoid friction on the horns of the fork. If there is insufficient locking, the fork can skip, and rather than forcing the pallet fork over against the banking, it will attempt to swing over to the other side (or bounce off the banking). This will cause the saftey pin to drag on the safety roller, and stop the watch.

    You can test this easily by winding a few clicks on the mainspring after installing the pallet fork and cock. The lever should be held to one side or the other, and "flip" to the opposite side when you apply very light pressure to it sideways with a bit of pegwood. If you have proper locking, you should be able to move the lever a tiny bit and have it snap back to the original position. When moved slightly more, it must snap over to the other side. It is also possible to see this on the pallet stones. The top of the side of the excape tooth must sit well above the corner of the leading edge of the stone, and there must be slight but visible travel of the fork before the top of the tooth slips onto the angled impulse face of the jewel. I'm not sure just how much locking is correct -- DeCarle says nearly but less than 2 degrees of arc on the pallet fork, but i'm satisfied with abouit 1/5 of the width of the impulse face, more or less.

    Locking is adjusted by heating the pallet fork to melt the shellac on the stones so they can be moved.

    However, I've had a few watches that were a bit reluctant to run when first assembled, but work fine once they get going. Very likely some near invisible material on a pivot or pinion or tooth that rubs off.

    Peter

  7. #7

    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: psfred)

    You have received many good suggestions, but the first thing I would do is disassemble the watch and clean it again. If I read your first post correctly, you have used a final rinse with lubrication in it. I'm not sure why they even still make this stuff, but it is not used in proper watch repair (at least in my opinion).

    These solutions leave an oily film on the movement that can cause all kinds of problems, so recleaning with a good clean rinsing solution (2 rinses preferred) would be a good start. Peg the jewels, and make sure everything is spotless. Then if you still have issues, go from there.

    Cheers, Al

  8. #8

    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: Al J)

    Often a watch is dropped and shock protection will save the staff from breaking but will allow it to bend slightly. Look at the staff pivots closely and see if they are bent at all. You can take a jewel hole gauge and put it over the bent pivot and straighten them out sometimes. I agree about a lube rinse cleaning; that stuff leaches out onto dials and doesn't work well at all. It is like carefully cleaning something and then dipping it into some goo. You probably have a piece of debris in between the teeth on some train wheel and when conditions are right, it just stops the party. The solution is to just look it over carefully.

    Every lesson must be learned the hard way in this pursuit.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: Al J)

    Quote Originally Posted by Al J View Post
    These solutions leave an oily film on the movement that can cause all kinds of problems, so recleaning with a good clean rinsing solution (2 rinses preferred) would be a good start. Peg the jewels, and make sure everything is spotless. Then if you still have issues, go from there.
    Cheers, Al
    That is indeed correct - where can I get a "good clean rinsing solution"? I got the L&R rinse that was suggested for their watch cleaning solution. I've seen some people use lighter fluid - would that work?

  10. #10
    Registered User Kevin W.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: Aeturnum)

    Varsol would work, but i am sure L and R does make a rinse with out the lube in it.
    I would not use lighter fluid.
    One clock at a time. Kevin West
    http://www.global-horology.com/GHMB/

  11. #11

    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: Aeturnum)

    Quote Originally Posted by Aeturnum View Post
    That is indeed correct - where can I get a "good clean rinsing solution"? I got the L&R rinse that was suggested for their watch cleaning solution. I've seen some people use lighter fluid - would that work?
    I have an RM-90 cleaning machine, and use L&R Extra Fine watch cleaning solution in jar 1, then L&R #3 watch rinsing solution in jars 2 and 3. It works great and cleans/dries very well, leaving no film.

    I have also used the L&R #111 watch cleaning solution, with their ultrasonic watch rinsing solution, and that worked well.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers, Al

  12. #12
    Registered User bkerr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: Kevin W.)

    I agree with the prior post about rinse. I clean, rinse and second rinse in my US.

    Do not over oil and be sure to oil the fork and stones.

    Also for proper cleaning you'll need to remove the cap jewels.

    Let us know how you do!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: bkerr)

    Quote Originally Posted by bkerr View Post
    Do not over oil and be sure to oil the fork and stones.

    Also for proper cleaning you'll need to remove the cap jewels.

    Let us know how you do!
    I picked up some "mineral spirits" - varsol seems to be hard to come by. I should probably just order another L&R product, but I'd rather not ship another gallon out to my house.

    When you say to oil the "fork" - do you mean the end of the lever on the escapement?

    Also, how do you remove the cap jewels (or, more importantly, how do you put them back)?

    Thanks for everything! I'm waiting for an order of pegwood to try again.

  14. #14
    Registered user. RJSoftware's Avatar
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    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: psfred)

    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post
    Did you check for recoil when you re-assembled? If not, let down the mainspring and check -- with the balance and pallet fork removed, when you wind one or two clicks on the ratchet wheel, the train should run freely, stop, and "rewind". On a good movement, it will run quite a ways backwards.

    If it does not, you need to find out why something is dragging. This can be, in my personal experience, dirt in the jewels (you did peg them out, right?), dirty or bent pivots, crud on the leaves of the pinions, crud in the wheel teeth (especially if it stops at a fairly regular interval), a bit of lint or hair somewhere, most likely in the fourth wheel or escape wheel. A binding mainspring will do this too. I've had a watch stop from all of these, pays to inspect carefully.

    If the train runs nicely and recoils, check the locking on the pallet stones. I've been restoring a Bulova 9AT with all the above problems AND no locking on the entry stone. It would run if started by rotating the balance, had very nice balance motion, but would stop dead sooner or later as the lack of locking would "stick" the pallet fork. Adjusted the depth of the stones and it runs great, has for a day and a half now.

    Molnija's are great watches, I cleaned and oiled both of my brother's as my first repairs. One was gummy (the old guy in town uses natural oils, anything he services stops within two years) and the other had a loose dial screw stuck in the wheels -- that was the one he dropped, twice.

    I'm pretty sure your problem is crud you disturbed but did not remove, or a bit of something dragging, but do check the rest. Make sure the hairspring is between the pins on the regulator, too -- if not, it can be pushed down and make the coils drag on the balance arms.

    Peter
    Peter a few questions..

    When you peg out the watch bushings, what do you use? Only thing I found so far was splitting end of toothpick with razor/exacto knife.

    Another couple of pointers/opinions.

    I have found that lighter fluid (aka naptha) works great/excellent/awsome for removal of gunk and cleaning out movement...! Can't express this enough. Plus it's safe on shellack of palette stones where alcohol is not. Alc will dissolve shellack.

    12x loupe. 10x just does not cut it for me. I found 12x lens (hand held) and removed lens from 10x loupe with strap and now have working 12x. 12x gets down into the nitty gritty and allows a fellow to really see whats going on. You see them tiny hairs and junk. Especially good for actually seeing the hairspring if it's touching the arms or the cock. Not just guessing...!

    RJ
    Is FATCA going to be a slow drip to economic destruction or a gusher..?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Watch stopping intermittently after cleaning (RE: RJSoftware)

    RJ,

    You really should be using pegwood. My experience is that anything else breaks too easily and makes a lot more work.

    A bundle of 24 sticks is about $10 from Jules Borel. One stick usually lasts 3-4 watches for me(and I resharpen every time I put it in a jewel/bushing). A bundle of 24 sticks lasts a long time for me.

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