Are worn used movements really worth bothering with?

Discussion in 'Clock Repair' started by NEW65, Jan 14, 2020.

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  1. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    #1 NEW65, Jan 14, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
    Hi chaps.
    I’m in the clock business and have been for years and years now. I deal in floor clocks - weight driven only.
    I’m beginning to get sick and tired of rebuilding worn German movements! Some of them require at least 6 bushings or more which is just the least of it really! It can take hours of time before fully completing the job.
    I now am wondering if it’s really worthwhile doing movements that require multiple bushings?
    New movements are so much quicker to fit and hours of time is saved; time is money!
    Doing the maths , if new movements are bought in bulk eg the Hermle’s , they only work out at £100-150 each. If the old worn units are estimated at 50% of the cost of a new movement then the new movements are being fitted for £50 -£75 each! The used movements can either be sold for spares or repairs at above prices or rebuilt ‘‘after normal working hours’’ THEN sold on for much more money or kept for reuse. You can’t really go wrong!
    I just think that the worn units are proving to be too time taking and not cost effective to mess around with any more. Also any customer would feel much happier to buy a floor clock with the knowledge that a new movement has just been fitted. Guarantees can be given too.
    My take on it, anyway.
    Cheers
     
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  2. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    I always let the customer decide. I give the cost (to him) of the new movement, and an estimate (based on averages) of what the repair might be. Then leave it up to him. He may have sentimental attachment to the movement, or decide that a new movement is too expensive. Some of the larger multiple chimers are quite costly.
     
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  3. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    Cheers Shutt. Yes when it comes to the larger range such as the hermle 1171’s or Kieninger MSU it can be expensive. Certain suppliers are much cheaper than others though. I still think that any used worn movement can be valued at 50% of the cost of the replacement new movement. Today I started work at 9am and by 2:30pm hadn’t quite finished working on the worn hermle 1151 movement. Had I have fitted a new movement I would have been done by 10am latest and could have moved on to the list of jobs that haven’t been started yet. It just made me stop and think today about possibly taking a different approach to things :)
     
  4. shutterbug

    shutterbug Moderator
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    Yeah, four to five hours is about what it takes. That's why we love it, no? :D
     
  5. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    #5 NEW65, Jan 14, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
    Cheers mate :)
    Yes that’s about right unless I run into a used movement that only needs a couple of bushings which sometimes happens but not very often.
    I know that one has to keep costs down otherwise customers are likely to shop elsewhere but you know what I mean I’m sure about the ease of fitting new units... more work in a day gets done and more money is taken.
    Not helped with my current circumstances as my working hours are 9am - 2:30pm and that’s it, I’m out!
    I do like what I do but just looking at a different approach to things :)
     
  6. R&A

    R&A Registered User

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    I put bushing in count up to 27 bushings. It's what we do.
     
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  7. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    That’s a lot of bushings R&A but has made me view things differently now :)
     
  8. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    It's something that everyone has to decide on their own. 'In business' people seem to lean toward replacement and hobiest lean toward repair. I remember when everything was repair! Back around 1990, I was taking in so many 340 and 350-020 movements that I kept rebuilt movements and new movements at the ready. Customers could often get their clock back in about 10 days (new or rebuilt). Both had a one year warranty. I think the cost was around $240 new and $150 rebuilt. I stopped doing this when it became clear that I wasn't giving the customer a good value with the rebuilt movements. I still rebuild one from time to time but only if I think it's a very good candidate, or the customer demands it to be rebuilt. If it's not my call I usually reduce the warramty to 90 days.
    WIllie X
     
  9. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    Thanks Willie :) Saving hours of time leads to a faster and greater turnover. I cannot afford to spend 5 - 6 hours of my time rebuilding an old 0451 1979 Hermle movement for example, when I can fit a new 0451 for £90!
    As I mentioned earlier, the larger Hermle's and larger Kieningers are slightly more expensive but ALL the used movements can either be sold as spares/repairs (or kept for spare/repairs) OR rebuilt for reuse later. This offsets the cost of the new ones.
    Just makes more sense to me :rolleyes::D
     
  10. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    If I ever geet another Hermle or Keininger with easily available replacement movements, I might take you fellers' path. Right now, all I can do is Envy you.:(
     
  11. POWERSTROKE

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    #11 POWERSTROKE, Jan 14, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
    .
     
  12. richiec

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    Question, If you still go ahead and rebuild one of the old movements for stock, aren't you still spending 5-6 hours?
     
  13. POWERSTROKE

    POWERSTROKE Registered User

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    #13 POWERSTROKE, Jan 14, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2020
    Delete
     
  14. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    Richiec - I work on used movements during the quiet spells that I sometimes have. This gives me the chance to rebuild some of the worn movements and either keep them for future use or sell them on.
    I also work on them during holidays if I get bored! I never watch TV and hate sitting around so get bored quickly!
    Other times I work on the movements when my other half is having a bad day and in one of her moods.. it’s a good time to get out of the house!
    Cheers :)
     
  15. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    You need to stop doing modern clocks and try some old ones. I only buy them used, though they have been used for 300 years normally!
     
  16. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    I used to do old clocks/ the thicker plates made them last longer but I had so many that needed extensive work and parts that I couldn’t easily locate, I decided to discontinue and just stick to the modern movements. That and the fact that 1 in every 5 cases were alive with woodworm, i decided to leave off for good - each to their own I guess :)
     
  17. POWERSTROKE

    POWERSTROKE Registered User

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    Not to ruffle any feathers, but the crowd that only replaces movements are ruining the industry in my opinion. You should be proud of your skill sets and look to use them to keep these movements going. I’ve said it before, there will come a time where even these “cheap modern movements” will be no longer available. I’ve seen it with “old, cheap, throwaway” classic car parts. The fact of the matter is those parts that were thrown in a trash bin. We’re very well made by today’s standards. Quality is never going to get better going forward with the mechanical clock. Mark my words, I said it first. While it’s easy to pull a movement, trash it and put a new one in, you will one day realize this was a mistake.
     
  18. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    Power,
    I understand what you are saying but it doesn't apply to many clocks made (roughly) after the 1960s.

    The same thing happened to automobiles but a little later. An engine that's knocking or smokeing will probably have to be replaced. Electronic parts and systems also have to be replaced when they fail. There are way more systems on a car than a clock, so it's not a great compairson, but as time goes by the systems are becoming more and more integrated and complex. Some cars will not allow you to open the gas filler door unless all doors are closed and the engine is off. Ha.

    Welcome back ... Willie X
     
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  19. David S

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    I've got one foot in Simon's camp and one in Powerstroke's. I am a hobbyist that only repairs other people's clocks. I don't charge for my time but rather materials and shop supplies. Hence I don't have to consider the financial aspects like I would if I was in business. I don't collect them. My comments are based on what my customers tell me.

    I often get business because whomever they took it to, doesn't want to work on it, wants to change the Asian movement for a quartz, or the quote was too high.

    When a customer brings me clock I normally try and open it while they are here so we can see what we are up against. Invariably one of the biggest disappointments is when I inform them that their 120 year old clock has a newer movement in it, some sort of marriage that isn't original. One customer brought in a clock from the 1950's along with a catalogue sheet and original invoice that was stuffed in side. It originally had a Hermle movement, but it now had a Hermle from 1990's, again they were very disappointed that it wasn't all original. They were hoping it would eventually become an antique.

    So I often wonder what is the future of clock collecting going forward. Part of the NAWCC's mission statement is "preservation of timepieces". What does that mean? Just preserve the wooden box? Or both the box and the movement?

    From a mechanical perspective I don't see why a 1990's Hermle can't be repaired. Surely the materials in late 1900 early 2000 are far more consistent than back 100+ years ago. I have repaired quite a few Hermle's.
    Just another perspective.

    David
     
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  20. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    POWERSTROKE, thanks for your message and I see your point. However I don’t actually scrap any used movements. They are safely stored away as complete movements. I would say that at least 70% of them are rebuilt and reused. It’s just sometimes easier and more cost effective to fit a new movement mainly to save on time. My working day is already down to about 5 hours so I need to be able to do as much work as I can in that time. When my circumstances change things won’t be quite as bad. Hopefully things will change soon for me.
    Thanks :)
     
  21. Bruce Alexander

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    #21 Bruce Alexander, Jan 15, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
    :chuckling:
     
  22. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    #22 NEW65, Jan 15, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
    Thanks David , always good to hear from you :)
    I just deal in the long case clocks so only have my own clocks to worry about. I mainly deal in used floor clocks so my job is sorting the cases out (which incidentally are already in great condition) and fitting the German movements. I sometimes choose new because it saves me hours and hours of time.
    I don’t always fit new - I don’t stock every new movement. Eg if a clock comes in with a 1988 Urgos movement i would have no option than to rebuild if it required that. Fortunately for me most clocks that come in have hermle movements which makes things much easier.
    If I repaired clocks that belonged to others (which I don’t and never have done), then I think things would be different.
    There’s only me and I have to do it all. It’s not easy. I just need more time David :)
     
  23. POWERSTROKE

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    I think this says a lot. The disappointment when folks find out that the clock is not original. It’s a real thing. I know folks don’t like the car analogy, but most collectors want matching numbers. As time goes on that number goes up exponentially. (The people that want matching numbers.) I am not saying nothing can be replaced in a clock as was suggested with computer parts and etc in a car. But when a motor wears out ina car and it’s a classic, it’s preferential to rebuild that block with new pistons bearings etc. you basically save what you can and rebuild what you can. I do agree clocks are a different story, but not entirely. I have a couple that were gifted to me. If someone pulls a cheap cuckoo movement out and replaces it with new, I have an original case. The part that is keeping time has no correlation or sameness to the person that gave it to me. I think this was different even only 20 years ago. I had a cuckoo repaired by a now retired member on this board in PA. He did a couple bushings bellows and hands for $67. This was in 2004.
     
  24. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    German craftsmanship seems to be declining steadily, and like Powerstroke I wonder when production of mechanical movements will stop altogether. Chris Nimon told me that production of mechanical anniversary clocks ceased several years ago.

    I visited the world's mother church of cuckoo clocks in Frankenmuth, Michigan last fall and saw evidence that quartz clocks are displacing mechanical clocks, for the store's signage indicated that quartz clocks were to be found in a small corner room. But quartz clocks dominated much of the rest of the store.

    My own repair work shows much the same: I'm doing far more quartz clocks than anything else; typically replacing old movements. Many of these are the earliest German electronic movements, and I don't know why they've all failed. Best source for the strike/chime/pendulum quartz QUAD movement is Mark Butterworth, and both Timesavers and Ronnell do a good job with lesser-featured movements. I'm trying to install the new continuous-sweep, blessedly-silent quartz movements whenever I can.

    Other evidence: Timesavers now sells some very fine brass washers that you can glue onto existing minute hands to render them mountable on an I-shaft movement--that is, a quartz movement.

    And I've noticed that my customers, especially my younger customers, don't seem to value mechanical clocks over quartz clocks: a clock is a clock, and a quartz clock keeps perfect time and does not have to be wound, leveled, or otherwise fussed with. A quartz clock in an attractive case is as good as a mechanical clock in an attractive case for most people, and the manufacturers know that.
     
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  25. Bruce Alexander

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    No doubt about it, the oscillating quartz crystal has replaced the oscillating pendulum and balance wheel.
    It's the "salt" of industry. The crystals are used for far more than clocks and watches which is a good thing since even the oldest cell phones tell time with atomic clock accuracy. Time marches on regardless of how one chooses to measure it.

    Here's an interesting video on the manufacture of pure quartz crystals:
     
  26. POWERSTROKE

    POWERSTROKE Registered User

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    I agree 100%. We will see in the next couple decades people scavenging for good used parts. I think all the manufacturers will stop production. I’m actually surprised they haven’t. When I see something I like and pick the sellers brain and everything checks out in my checklist. I pick up a clock for bargain prices. Nobody wants them, or very few. Most people use their iPhone as a clock. I’m one of the only people my age that still wears a wrist watch. (I’m 45) (and has a bunch of them).
    Not to be disrespectful, that’s not my demeanor in this post, but most of you guys want to just put new in so you never hear from the customer again and have high turnover in repair. I get it, but to me as an old school thinker on these subjects, it does no great positive deed to the art of horology. I think most of you guys have just gotten I to the habit of pulling and replacing because of the above. How could a guy less than 20 years ago disassemble clean bush put new bellows and hand in a regula for me for $67 dollars and now even with inflation, out of the realm of possibility most times in cost?
     
  27. woodlawndon

    woodlawndon Registered User
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    I'm a hobbyist and don't do this for a living. I will rebuild every time, but I do understand the argument being made by some of the professionals to address this point.

    Sure, as a hobbyist I could do the above work for you for $150 and would be fine doing it. But unlike a professional, I am not renting shop or store space, not paying taxes and hydro for those either. What's a reasonable hourly rate for the professional to pay for all that? Let's say ballpark $75. A good one would probably spend about 5 hours doing the above work, considerably more for me. That's a $375 job for the professional, now you can see where the cost to rebuild vs replacement comes in. The story changes completely for an antique.
    Don
     
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  28. Bruce Alexander

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    Well Powerstroke, I'm more a Hobbyist than a Clockmaker, but I know from experience that some things are made to be recycled and not repaired. Can these things be repaired? Sure, almost anything can but compared to the cost of a new replacement, does it make good economic sense to do so?
    That's a question for the Market to answer.

    That's about the equivalent of $100 in 2019. Don't know. Maybe he really liked you. If he's still alive, you should ask him. How did you find his shop? Did you shop around a lot? Was that the average going rate back then in your area? Maybe he was just so good and fast so that he could do enough of these to still put food on the table. I don't have much experience with Regula clocks. Are they still made the same today as they were 20 plus years ago?

    Regards,

    Bruce

    Edit: Pretty much what Don posted while I was typing...
     
  29. Willie X

    Willie X Registered User

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    Howard Miller and Hermle are pretty much all there is left standing. It won't be "decades" ... It was a lot quicker for a lot of things like typewriters, 8-tracks and carburators. Ha. Willie X
     
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  30. NEW65

    NEW65 Registered User

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    It’s quite depressing to think that eventually there will be no option other than to repair mechanical clock movements but as Willie mentions that’s where we are heading and fast! Don’t get me wrong here I don’t mind repairing used movements but it’s just the thought that one day the chance to buy new will not be an option! I cannot see it happening in the next 20yrs Though but who knows?! In my opinion quartz are not a substitute and never will be. They keep great time but that’s about. Cheap and nasty.
     
  31. shutterbug

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    Looking at this from another angle, if no one buys movements, the demise of the clock makers will come quicker. So by replacing rather than repairing we are keeping the industry ticking, so to speak. But as I said before, it depends on the customer. We don't just do it and hope they can live with the surprise later ;)
     
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  32. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    I love mechanical movements as well. They've been somewhat rehabilitated in the world of watches, but they're watches that nobody actually wears: Natalie now wears a sort of 'smart watch' that talks to her cell phone, and I haven't worn a watch for years at all.

    Our library has a grandfather clock that was built by a local guy (deceased) with a Hermle floating-balance movement, also somewhat deceased. They want it to be silent and there's nobody to wind or generally take care of it, so I installed a reasonable mini quartz movement. Everyone is delighted except me. I carefully wrapped the old movement in plastic and laid it, with apologies, in the bottom of the case.
     
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  33. POWERSTROKE

    POWERSTROKE Registered User

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    Buying clocks keeps the industry alive, not buying spare movements. Restoring old movements vs buying new ones is a mutually exclusive idea. You don’t keep GM alive by buying new motors.
     
  34. bangster

    bangster Moderator
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    I got into this bidness because I enjoy fixing clocks, and getting paid for my work. I get no thrill out of replacing a mechanical movement, but I'll do it when the amount of repair work needed is totally outrageous. Quartz is a different matter. I'll replace them suckers every time. Especially since I don't know how to repair them. :chuckling:
     
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  35. Bruce Alexander

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    I hope it was one of the quiet ones. Some folks can't even stand the gentle ticking sound of a quartz movement! :rolleyes:
     
  36. POWERSTROKE

    POWERSTROKE Registered User

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    I think the bottom line is that no matter what mechanical clock you have, parts and movements etc will become exponentially harder to find with each coming year. I guarantee that folks will be scavenging the cheap movements that they once etosssed into a trash bin to simply replace. I’ve seen it in other industries
     
  37. chimeclockfan

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    I seem to recall Hermle's excuses for their abominable quality in recent years ranged from environmental problems to rising labor costs, albeit without any detailed explanation. If a market can't pull in more money than it costs to make & sell its products, then eventually it will collapse. The mechanical clock market was already in decline by the 1960's and Hermle only got by for so long because they did everything on the cheap. You had a short-lived boom with kit clocks such as Emperor during the 1970's but that has long since passed.
     
  38. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    I've occasionally repaired quartz movements when they weren't replaceable. There was a tiny solid brass Bulova tambour-shaped alarm clock with a dead movement, but I was able to replace the electronics with the circuit board from another movement, and there have been others. The circuit board from a stepping-sweep quartz movement provides a 1.5 pulse of current to the electromagnet once per second. I haven't disassembled a continuous-sweep movement.
     
  39. TEACLOCKS

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    Watch this if you can. My mouth was fell open the whole time.

    CyberWork and the American Dream | PBS
     
  40. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Apparently we're asked here to be afraid, very afraid, but I'd be more impressed if I hadn't seen the very same stuff every year since about 1974.

    Yes, jobs and entire professions will be cruelly disrupted, but the predictions of these futurists are likely to be as inaccurate as they've always been. They don't know any more about the future of humanity or horology than I do or you do. "Artificial intelligence" is an old term that can just as well be applied to the camshaft that runs an automatic wood-carving machine or the hoary computer software used in a CNC milling machine

    The cool machines shown in the trailer are on the order of 25 years old already. I like to ask friends who tend to get impressed with with the coming robotic future to observe the recent revolutionary, amazing and life-changing advances in road paving methods and materials, roofing methods and materials, building construction methods and materials, freight hauling, clothing manufacture, the fitting of clothing via the Internet, the amazing improvements in house paint and traffic control, and of course the complete elimination of paper from business offices.
     
  41. Bruce Alexander

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    #41 Bruce Alexander, Jan 17, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
    I've seen commentary on the future impact that an Industrial Robotic Arm with a thumb will have on the American Workforce. For example, Amazon "Fulfillment" Centers will have a lot fewer workers.

    There's a pretty good documentary called American Factory on Netflix which details how an Ohio GM Plant closed, laying off hundreds of folks who knew no other job in their adult lives. These were good paying, Labor Union jobs paying north of $40/hour. The Plant was eventually sold and converted by Fuyao.
    The resulting jobs paid a lot less money and the American work ethic didn't measure up to that of the Chinese. Chinese culture (in this Company) is all about what's best for the Company and they work very hard on punishing schedules. Many of the American Workers' quality and quantity of work just wasn't profitable for the Company. By the end of the Film, Fuyao was starting to replace line workers with Robots. Not a pretty picture.

    If you think the American Dream can be achieved by anyone through a little hard work and sacrifice, I think you may be asleep in today's Global realities.

    Now, back to Horology, for me, the little 30 second preview clip link that Teaclocks provided ran into an Antique Roadshow's 500th episode. I was hoping to see a rare and valuable clock. No such luck but at timestamp 19:50, they started to discuss a one-of-a-kind Patek Philippe Watch which was appraised on the show at $250,000. The Appraiser knew it was a high-quality watch but he didn't know that it was a custom one-off. It went to auction and sold for about $1,540,000. It's in Patek Philippe's Museum and is currently(?) appraised at somewhere between 2 to 3 Million Dollars.

    In trying to keep with the spirit of the Thread, I'd have to say that the Watch is definitely NOT a throw-away. :chuckling:
     
  42. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    I've never heard a coherent definition of the American Dream, but we still have a nation whose citizens can live in peace, security, and relative prosperity in exchange for a responsible attitude toward our laws and customs. It's worth noting that the immigrants we're getting are young, which I am definitely not, and bright enough to master English (I've never been able to learn another language) and have experienced very different lives: a tiny, vivacious young housekeeper at the hotel we stayed at near Pittsburgh yesterday was from Nepal, which meant that she'd endured expulsion from her country plus a stretch in at least two refugee camps before finally finding refuge in western Pennsylvania. That, my friends, is the definition of tough, which is precisely what western Pennsylvania requires for success.
     
  43. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    Here you go...
    Definition of THE AMERICAN DREAM

    It's a myth, but the point I took away from the documentary I referenced earlier is that secure, high-paying manufacturing jobs in America are not coming back no matter who the political scapegoats are. People who are willing to work like robots, and actual robots will see to that.

    Did you see that watch? It's a beauty!
     
  44. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    : a happy way of living that is thought of by many Americans as something that can be achieved by anyone in the U.S. especially by working hard and becoming successful With good jobs, a nice house, two children, and plenty of money, they believed they were living the American dream.

    My family did that. I was one of the two children. The house was great. They worked hard. There was money. And both my parents were alcoholics.
     
  45. Bruce Alexander

    Bruce Alexander Registered User
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    #45 Bruce Alexander, Jan 17, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
    Yeah. I think it may have been much easier to achieve a comfortable life post WWII here when the U.S. was the World's leading manufacturer. Plenty of new consumers were being born every day too. I don't think it's so easy post Boomer.

    I suppose you might say that in some ways, American Clock Manufacturing was kind of like the Canary in a Coal Mine.

    And here we are, discussing whether or not to fix cheaply made German Mechanical Clock Movements.

    Edit:
    Sorry about that last park Mark. I had an uncle who was an alcoholic. He got shot to death because he was a mean drunk.

    Now we have the "manufactured" Opioid crisis. Guess chasing the American Dream has never really been easy, has it?
     
  46. TEACLOCKS

    TEACLOCKS Registered User
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    Got this awhile back.

    FROM HERMLE GERMANY
    HERMLE – UPDATE.

    We would like to inform our customers that as of now all our movements with a date stamp of AF will have arbors, pivots made out of
    STAINLESS STEEL.

    This was never before possible and made on mechanical clock movements and is of course enhancing the Quality of our products for the world market.

    Having been able to accomplish this we are serving you movements with a level of any top notch and well branded SWISS MADE WATCH.
    In appreciation of your constant support and help,

    Yours sincerely
    Rolf Hermle

    For those who do not know, the hardness of the stainless steel will insure that the pivot will be much more resistant to wear and impregnation of foreign materials which cause the bushing to wear out. It also eliminates the need for nickel plating to keep from rusting.
     
  47. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Well, good for you, Rolf.

    I didn't know anybody used stainless steel in watch parts. It's probably not such a swell idea in clock arbors, either, but I suppose we'll find out whenever someone has to re-pivot one.

    Nickel plating, eh? They never did figure out how to do that right.
     
    NEW65 and POWERSTROKE like this.
  48. David S

    David S Registered User
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    I wonder if there is more to the stainless steel thing. Quite a while ago I read that due to RoHS regulations in europe they were trying to eliminate lead based free machining materials. It also stated that the clock/ watch industry was trying to get an exemption. There is a grade of stainless that is more machinable than others, but not sure how it compares with 12L14.

    David
     
  49. POWERSTROKE

    POWERSTROKE Registered User

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    Stainless steel is soft too. Might as well start hoarding stuff if you care. I’ve done it with all my old German car parts. Rebuild old German fuel pumps that were put in the garbage can 40 years ago.
     
  50. kinsler33

    kinsler33 Registered User

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    Were the 40-year-old fuel pumps superior to the new replacements? Better design and/or materials? (I'm thinking of rebuilding the original fuel pump on my '64 Econoline, for the replacement one I've been using is riveted, not screwed, together.)

    The lead requirement sounds more like the truth. Is 12L14 the present clock-making steel, and does the L stand for 'leaded?'
     

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