Amateur Hobbyist Struggling with pins breaking on Balance Wheel Anchors

shetalksaboutclocks

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Hello I am a beginning hobbyist. I have a mechanical engineering background and have begun by working on a few cheap West German clocks from the 1950s as well as a 1930s Lux Pendulette Clock and now an Endura alarm clock. They are all small and, besides the Lux, use a balance wheel escapement. I am still learning all the lingo - I apologize if I say something incorrectly or if I misunderstand.

I have repeatedly had the problem (once on the Endura I'm currently working on, once on a small Ansonia wall clock that I am also stuck on) that the pins on the anchor for the balance wheel break off. I have a set of tweezers and a set of pliers so I rarely use my hands to move pieces of the movement (besides holding the overall movement in my non-dominant hand ... I really need to get a stand or something).

Anyway here are a few pictures of what's going on. The first is just a picture of the inside of the mechanism with the escapement in the forefront and demonstrating that the anchor (just to the left of the escapement) was fine. The second picture is a closer look at the escapement.

File_000 (1).jpg File_001.jpg

So now I seem to have broken a pin off of the anchor. File_000 (28).jpg File_001 (17).jpg
In the second picture above you can see my attempts to super glue some wire into the spot that the original wire was. I used some wire cutters to cut it to a reasonable length and I figured that when it was dry I would cut it down to size. Unfortunately it won't seem to hold. My next step would be to try glueing a U-shaped wire instead. Maybe even cutting off the other pin and replacing both with a U-shaped wire? This is a small Endura alarm clock I'm working on at the moment, so I'm not too cut up about breaking it.

Anyway, I hope someone can offer help! And if your answer is "Buy a new one" ... I'm an engineer. I'm fundamentally flawed in such a way that I cannot do such a thing without pouring my life's blood into trying to fix it first. Hence my first NAWCC post. For the formalities: I have been doing this a few months, I have the bare minimum of tools (mostly pliers, tweezers, a crowfoot tool, metal files, multi-sided clock keys of all sizes, basic drill, dremel, and screwdrivers, and two bottles of Brasso. Let's hope that's enough!
 

shutterbug

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The pins have to be steel, and MUST be EXACTLY the original diameter. Pivot wire works fine, and all supply houses have it. Piano wire is also fine. You could punch out the remaining piece of steel, then solder the new piece into the hole. Staking it in would be better, but solder will hold it fine if it's tight to start with.
 

shetalksaboutclocks

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Thank you shutterbug! That is very very helpful. What tool do you use to punch out the remaining piece of steel? And so far this seems to be a common problem - is this common to others and is there a way to avoid it? I'm wondering if there's a mistake I've been making that I can look out for in the future.
 

shutterbug

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Just sharpen a small piece of steel (maybe the shank of a small drill bit) and tap it out. I don't think it's a common problem. You just have to handle those tiny hardened steel parts carefully. Tiny pivots too! :) You could also sharpen one end of the new pallet too, and tap it firmly into the hole .... but the hole would have to be smaller than the diameter of the wire. You probably should tap it out from the short side (before it broke).
 

eskmill

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Ask her to show you an assortment of her sewing needles. They're highly polished steel and they make excellent fork pins. No glue....just drive the pin in to proper length and snap off the excess.
 

Tinker Dwight

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It isn't clear. Are you finding them broke off or are
you breaking them off?
As was mentioned, these are hardened and quite brittle.
Can you explain more about how this is happening?
Tinker Dwight
 

shetalksaboutclocks

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This is happening, but definitely not intentionally. One minute they're fine and the next time I look, they're broken off while sitting on my work table. I think I just need to be more careful with the handling, and a lot of this is due to the fact that my work area has grown haphazardly and without intent. I typically use long tweezers to handle these smaller pieces. I've deduced that either 1) I need to be more careful with these anchors, or 2) I have a very unusual voodoo curse on me.
I've seen it happen on two West German clock movements and one that is supposedly an Ansonia (which I'm still researching to prove or disprove). I'm hoping to try the above suggestions this afternoon or at least this week sometime.
 

Kevin W.

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You need to learn to be careful with small pivots and get into the habit, they will get broke very easily, watch pivots are much smaller.
 

shetalksaboutclocks

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*sigh* I guess I should take off my HULK SMASH gloves then. Thanks to everyone who gave advice! I haven't accidentally broken anything else lately so I guess I've just gotten unlucky with pivots in particular. I don't plan on playing with watches but if I do I'll be sure to watch out. (ha)
 

MartinM

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I had a Kundo midget that wouldn't run and kept taking it down to polish pivots. On the final assembly, I had some flutter and saw the pin was slightly bent. I attempted to put it right and sure enough... 'plink'! I somehow did this as well and played heck with replacing it. On this one, the anchor isn't drilled completely through and the pin sits in a pocket. The steel is hard enough that a carbide drill (.029mm) wouldn't cut it out and I couldn't get a good enough alignment to try to drill from the back I finally just kept drilling while holding the part in the cross slide and letting it sit for a couple of minutes with a small amount of tension and with cutting oil and then add another thousandths of pressure and wait a few more minutes. Finally got to a point where I could stand the pin up in the hole and soldered it in. It seems to be holding fine.
In all of this, I know I should have broken the other pin off a dozen separate times, but somehow didn't. I know I wasn't putting any excess pressure on the pallets when assembling. Sometimes, they're just on the verge of failure, apparently. Pun intended.
 
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