1883 Longines Restoration

John Hinkey

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I've started the initial process of restoring my 1883 (though it's likely a few years younger) Longines pocket watch.
It does not wind and does not run and needs a crystal along with a full cleaning. The balance seems to be fine.

So, the initial teardown:
1648763608665.jpeg 1648763631428.jpeg
Hands removed:
1648763691526.jpeg
dial taken off (only one of the tapered pins was installed and it was not a willing participant). The tapered pin went flying when it came out, but I was lucky to find it on the white paper on my workspace surface.

Balance removed:
1648763849097.jpeg

The dial side:
1648763919774.jpeg

So far so good, but I need to try to let down the mainspring - the click is visible in the upper right and the click wheel clearly feels like it has torque on it:
1648764018857.jpeg
now the pallet fork does not snap back and forth and there appears to be no power to the escape wheel. So something clearly is wrong.

To let down the mainspring (or try to) do I put the crown stem back on and while holding it un-engage the click if I can?
When I try to put some torque to wind it slightly I twist somewhat hard and nothing happens.
I don't want to twist too hard and break something.

Thoughts?

Also you may notice that a screw head is split in half:
1648764572278.png
how would you suggest I loosen this split screw?

Thanks -

John 1648763789513.jpeg
 
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mosesgodfrey

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Hmm, wouldn't think there’d be a safety pinion on these. Stuck barrel?

If you can’t disengage the click with pressure on the stem... Do you have a key to fit the barrel? I have done this in a pinch to get down a tooth or two, then used the crown.
 

roughbarked

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Yes. A key on the barrel arbor may give that extra you need to release the click enough to use the crown.

The broken screw head should tease out easily enough if you tap it around with a small punch and a light hammer. Once started, it should spin with a matchstick.
 

John Hinkey

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Thanks
Hmm, wouldn't think there’d be a safety pinion on these. Stuck barrel?

If you can’t disengage the click with pressure on the stem... Do you have a key to fit the barrel? I have done this in a pinch to get down a tooth or two, then used the crown.
It turns out that the winding stem, which has a female square hole in it, is the exact size to fit the square lug on the barrel and the center wheel.

I have a thread on this over in the watch repair section but in short:
- I had to dowse things in naptha to loosen up the click to the point where I could disengage it w/o putting too much toque into the winding system.
Once I did this then I worked the winding system back and forth and applied more naptha and things loosened up enough to let the main spring down. It felt really gummy (either the spring and/or any bearings).
- I was able loosen the broken screw by removing the other screw on this plate/bridge and rotating the brass piece back and forth a bit around this screw, then I used a screwdriver that is just small enough to fit in the countersink of the screw hole and applied counter-clockwise torque while twisting the plate. This loosened it up pretty quickly.

This is all great, but the setting works gearing is frozen - and the minute wheel is frozen as well (the hour wheel came right off):
1648922623470.png

So now that I have the mainspring de-energized I will fully disassemble it and soak what won't come off in naptha overnight to see if I can get everything freed up.
This watch is ~140 years old and likely hasn't been service in 100 years!

I should also mention that I purchased two Longines movements that appeared to be identical in design to this one to use for parts as necessary.
I've pulled the balance, which appeared to be working OK, but have not inspected it thoroughly to look at the pivots, jewel, etc. I'll post pics of the balance and the pallet fork (which has no jewels on the pallets).
 
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mosesgodfrey

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Mischief managed! Whew!

That’s good info on the winding stem. Would have never thought of that—clearly someone did!
 

John Hinkey

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Mischief managed! Whew!

That’s good info on the winding stem. Would have never thought of that—clearly someone did!
I think I was just lucky that it happen to fit just right. But I'll take the luck. Let's see what unlucky stuff awaits on the inside of this watch that is keeping it all bound up.
 

John Hinkey

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Should be getting those movements for parts shipped out today and get them in a few weeks if all goes well.
Disassembly to proceed in the mean time. Stay tuned.
 

John Hinkey

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Here's the Longines spare movements that I just received:
1649450916836.png
1649450977291.png
Now that I have them in hand I've discovered that the OD of the dial on these two are the same, BUT they are slightly larger than my dial.
Also the movement OD is also slightly larger.
However the key potential donor components are the same size (wheels, jewels, balance, etc.).

Also, these are not brass (or brass plated) as mine is despite the color in the pictures - they are actually gray-metal colored. Not sure if it's a lack of coating or it's steel vs. brass.

One of these (the bottom one) appears to have the same balance design as mine (non-split and same weight pattern) while the other has a split balance with a different arrangement of weights.

Hopefully I won't need any spare parts from these apart from a screw replacement, but we'll know when I get my movement fully pulled apart.
I plan on selling at least one of these when I'm done restoring mine.

More to come.
 
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John Hinkey

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Here they are side-by-side. The one on the left will likely be the donor as it has more in common with mine in the middle, but it has a broken main spring. The one of the right is slightly different in some subtle ways (other than the diameter - e.g., see the center wheel pin sticking up - it doesn't have a square lug - it's round), but has a working mainspring.
1649453188344.jpeg

You can see the color difference of the metal.

Onward to fully disassemble mine to figure out what needs to be fixed.
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
Also, these are not brass (or brass plated) as mine is despite the color in the pictures - they are actually gray-metal colored. Not sure if it's a lack of coating or it's steel vs. brass.
The plates, bridges and cocks are brass, but plated with nickel. You can see the brass in places on the right hand movement where the plating has been scraped.

Regards,

Graham
 

MrRoundel

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Good luck with your project, John Hinkey. Someday I'd like to find one of those nickel 20B (?) movements in open face configuration. I have a gilt movement that needs a lot of work but is in a nice sturdy original OF case.

Maybe somebody knowledgeable about these earlier Longines will comment on the odds of parts interchangeability? Some of the parts on mine don't look like mass produced parts. In other words, they're a bit rough in the finish department. I could be wrong about this whole idea though. For your sake, I hope they interchange without modification. Cheers.
 

John Hinkey

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Good luck with your project, John Hinkey. Someday I'd like to find one of those nickel 20B (?) movements in open face configuration. I have a gilt movement that needs a lot of work but is in a nice sturdy original OF case.

Maybe somebody knowledgeable about these earlier Longines will comment on the odds of parts interchangeability? Some of the parts on mine don't look like mass produced parts. In other words, they're a bit rough in the finish department. I could be wrong about this whole idea though. For your sake, I hope they interchange without modification. Cheers.
I will find out how interchangeable things might be. I should have mine fully apart tonight.
 

John Hinkey

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An update on this effort. Over in the watch repair section I've chronicled my quest to get the movement going and generally cleaning everything up.
So here's a picture of the running movement:
1652902349719.jpeg

I've also cleaned up the dial with just some water and soft sponge tipped cleaning sticks and it's very nice:
1652902330756.jpeg
Now I'm preparing for a final assembly by installing a new crystal and renovating the silver case (dent removal, polishing, and partial det-tarnishing).

More to come.

- John
 
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John Hinkey

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Also to note that I have two other watches in my collection to restore - this one turned out to be the practice watch.

- J
 
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John Hinkey

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It appears that you have done quite well in your apprenticeship.
It's been quite the learning curve that's been a bit stressful (especially when working with balance springs), but everyone here has been great.

What I've learned so far is something like:
  • Don't be afraid to ask even the most minor of questions and get multiple opinions
  • Don't try to be super cheap with cleaning fluids and tools - you will end up spending $$ on these anyways
  • Practice taking things apart and putting them back together by using your tweezers and screwdrivers
  • Get a decent demagnetizer
  • Have spare movements for parts and practicing if at all possible
  • Keep your work area clean and un-cluttered (easier said than done)
  • Have very good video/microscope capability while working so you can see what you are doing. Loups don't work for me.
  • Take lots and lots of pictures during disassembly so you can find your way back
  • Be super careful with that seconds hand pivot sticking out from the dial side of the movement
  • Practice oiling . . .
  • Take your time
  • Don't "fix" things that don't need fixing
  • Don't try to get a movement or case/dial to complete perfection, pick your restoration battles one at a time
  • etc.
- John
 

John Hinkey

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OK, next topic is do I take the patina off the oxidized sterling silver case and watch chain which looks like this:
1653021536584.jpeg
1653021559843.jpeg
1653021789991.jpeg

So you see the outside has a dark patina while the insides are shiny.
It would be nice to brighten up the outside somewhat, BUT I don't want to the whole thing to be totally shiny like the insides - some patina would be nice to keep to indicate the age.

I was planning on using the hot water + aluminum foil + baking soda method instead of mechanical polishing. Suggestions on an alternative method?

So what are your thoughts about leaving it as-is vs. partially remove the patina (oxidation) vs. taking all the patina off and making it fully shiny again?

I am going to take out some of the dents.

Thanks -

John
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
So what are your thoughts about leaving it as-is vs. partially remove the patina (oxidation) vs. taking all the patina off and making it fully shiny again?
This is a contentious subject, and begins with the word 'patina'! What you're seeing is surface discolouration caused by the reaction of the silver with chemical compounds in the air, mostly resulting in the formation of sulphides. My view is that this has nothing to do with any impression of age, but is simply tarnish; the case maker didn't make it this way and never intended that it should look like this. I will draw the distinction between removing the tarnish and revealing the beauty of the silver on one hand, and re-polishing the metal by removing the top layer with abrasive compounds and/or mechanical action on the other. Old silver if sympathetically cleaned has its own glow revealing its age.

I think your suggestion of auto-electrolytic cleaning is an excellent place to begin. Any mechanical polishing will have a dulling effect on the engine turning, which has already been softened by hand and pocket wear. The use of 'silver-dip' urea-containing products will also degrade the surface.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Hinkey

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Hi John,


This is a contentious subject, and begins with the word 'patina'! What you're seeing is surface discolouration caused by the reaction of the silver with chemical compounds in the air, mostly resulting in the formation of sulphides. My view is that this has nothing to do with any impression of age, but is simply tarnish; the case maker didn't make it this way and never intended that it should look like this. I will draw the distinction between removing the tarnish and revealing the beauty of the silver on one hand, and re-polishing the metal by removing the top layer with abrasive compounds and/or mechanical action on the other. Old silver if sympathetically cleaned has its own glow revealing its age.

I think your suggestion of auto-electrolytic cleaning is an excellent place to begin. Any mechanical polishing will have a dulling effect on the engine turning, which has already been softened by hand and pocket wear. The use of 'silver-dip' urea-containing products will also degrade the surface.

Regards,

Graham
I can try the auto-electric cleaning on the watch chain first to see how that looks.
I want it to look a little bit old if you know what I mean.

I will work on the dents before cleaning.


- J
 

Dr. Jon

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I do not know details of auto electric cleaning but I have done electro polishing. If you are doing this be very, very careful. I have tried it on some drafting tools and wrecked them.
 

John Hinkey

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I do not know details of auto electric cleaning but I have done electro polishing. If you are doing this be very, very careful. I have tried it on some drafting tools and wrecked them.
This is not electrolysis - this is a chemical process using baking soda, fresh aluminum (tin foil), some salt (apparently optional), and hot water:

1653064404508.png
and here:
 

gmorse

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Hi John,

The action is a form of electrolysis, but without the involvement of an external DC power source, hence the 'auto' prefix. It works by ion exchange between the aluminium and the silver in a sodium bicarbonate electrolyte solution.

3 Ag[SUB]2[/SUB]S + 2 Al → 6 Ag + Al[SUB]2[/SUB]S[SUB]3[/SUB]
silver sulphide + aluminium → silver + aluminium sulphide

It can also be done with a low voltage DC source and the same electrolyte, using the silver as the cathode and a copper anode, but this is more aggressive, and shouldn't be necessary for light tarnishing.

Regards,

Graham
 

John Hinkey

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I finally found the video I was looking for:

Before:
1653070093657.png
after "auto-electolytic" cleaning with baking sode, hot water, and AL foil:
1653070199844.png
You can see that it's just a tad dull and not all the nooks and crannies are fully cleaned out. I wonder if leaving it in longer would get more of the nooks cleaner.
After buffing/polishing with a high speed tool and buffing paste:
1653070383256.png

So it seems that doing the auto-electroylytic process is not super aggressive. I will try it on the watch chain this weekend and report back.

- J
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
So it seems that doing the auto-electroylytic process is not super aggressive. I will try it on the watch chain this weekend and report back.
No, it isn't aggressive, that's the whole point of using this method, but I can't say the same about ' buffing/polishing with a high speed tool and buffing paste''. That's how detail gets blurred and an over-bright finish can be created. High speed anything doesn't sit well with restoration.

Regards,

Graham
 
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John Hinkey

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Hi John,


No, it isn't aggressive, that's the whole point of using this method, but I can't say the same about ' buffing/polishing with a high speed tool and buffing paste''. That's how detail gets blurred and an over-bright finish can be created. High speed anything doesn't sit well with restoration.

Regards,

Graham
Yep, which is why I won't be using power tools on this watch :D
 
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John Hinkey

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Well, tonight I decided to get rid of the tarnish with a silver cleaning cloth - and I like the results.
Very light polishing with the cloth took most of the exterior tarnish off, but kept just a bit in the nooks and crannies.

No deciding which dents to try to rub out before doing a final assembly.
 

John Hinkey

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Here you go.
Tarnish removed
New crystal installed
Fully assembled.
Managed not to lose any of the dial feet tapered pins :D

Decided not to remove the dents in the case as they are a pain, I'm not skilled enough, and they don't impede the functionality.
1653459425268.jpeg
1653459450055.jpeg
1653459484161.jpeg

It's running nicely with somewhere abound a 10s/day rate error.

So this watch still (eventually) needs:
  • Replacement of the cracked jewel on the third wheel bridge side
  • Adjust the balance spring and fully un-bend the banking pins to get the beat error down below 1msec
  • Re-set the impulse jewel as this one is slightly tilted outward from the rotation axis
  • Removal of some of those dents in the case
  • New blued hands as these are just OK.
Thanks For All Your Help!
 
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