Balance Staff, First Time I Nailed it on the first try!

Rick Hufnagel

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I don't know about other amateurs, but balance staffs have really beat me down and discouraged me over the past couple years.

Overall it's just been a long difficult learning process. I've had broken collets, broken roller tables, trying to fix hacked old work, rollers that were too big... Nothing ever worked out right without an epic battle.

BUT! I think it's finally turned the corner. Of course it helps that this was a friction fit staff, and finally found (a while back) an awesome spring loaded bench micrometer with a dial gauge. Thanks Dave for that recommendation.

I realize that most of you will read this and probably think I'm nuts for being so excited about this 15 jewel gilt Waltham..... But I'm telling you it's been a miserable experience in the past.. and I went into this project with a horrible attitude! Defeated before it was even started!


Now to tear it all apart, clean and lube and get it in beat and timed. The regulator isn't on it in the video, so I can't wait to see how it does when it's all properly serviced and assembled.

This is dial up and dial down. Amazing! I just wanted to see how it was doing, and can work with this! It's a good sign!
Screenshot_20210415-193315.png Screenshot_20210415-193259.png
I'm sure these will look better with the regulator attached and a servicing, lol.

Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while.

The only issue was endshake, there was too much and the balance rim was running into the balance cock at certain angles. After removing some old marks under the balance and making it parallel to the plate, everything worked perfectly. I guess someone tried to make it work In the past with a staff that was too long?

So, it's exciting. I didn't have to fight with it, everything went together nicely, and I'm not on the internet looking for parts. That's a win.

Just a side note, friction staffs are awesome.

Have a good day! If your experiences have put you in the same negative mindset I was in, just keep at it.
 

PatH

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Thanks for sharing your success, Rick! It's always great to hear when things work! :thumb::emoji_clap:
 

Rick Hufnagel

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Thanks, Pat and Chris! This is turning out to be an educational and fun project.

Now the interesting part.

Right now it's +3:01 dial up and +3:25 dial down.
Pendant up is +2:30 a day.

that's a mess!

It is a full wind right after clean and oil, however

spent over an hour re cleaning and rechecking and relubricating balance jewels and pivots. All seems well in that aspect. Fixed the beat to a dead on straight line.

the balance endshake is still too much. You can hear the balance drop from pivot to pivot when the movement is flipped. It's unusually loud, so I may have to work on straightening that balance cock a little more.

Other than that it's the regulator pins which someone fooled with in the past, the banking pins that had been loose and I'm sure moved around everywhere, and then recheck everything.

I put it all together for fun to finish the night off, and it looks good. It's just a nickel case, but perfect for this. It didn't have any hands, so I fit a set from the boneyard. It's alive and running strong in all positions... A good start!

If anyone is interested in the progress, here it is.

20210416_223834.jpg 20210416_223859.jpg



If you read this and want to throw out some suggestions, please do!

Thanks for reading and have a good one!
 
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Rick Hufnagel

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I have a question about what to do next...

I have run and checked this. It's cleaned, oiled, new alloy spring, I fixed the endshake, tweaked the regulator pins... Added a 1 min washer on an obviously light spot from continually timing PU and PD. Regulator centered. It's been running constantly, so definitely all broken in.

4 hours after a full wind and carrying it, I'm at
DU&DD +1:13
PU & PD. +1:08

Keep in mind this is just a phone app, but it always proves to be fairly accurate. keeping track of the time and what the watch reads confirms this.

Now I'm pretty thrilled with myself. This is not the first time I've had to use all of the information gathered from the forums here to time a really wacked out watch, but it was certainly the worst. Getting the numbers that close together is pretty cool to see

I'm not used to mean time screws, I'm assuming that a minute can be shaved off by letting these out a turn. But will this throw off my 5 second gap between positions?

Please any thoughts?
 
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Chris Radek

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Wow 5 seconds is great.

If you turn them both out the same amount, it shouldn't mess up your adjustments much (unless someone has done something unsavory to the screws, like filed on one of them).

Often a full turn is about a minute/day. Remember the slot orientation carefully before you turn them, so you can do exactly one turn. Don't try to do it in the watch, they're too tight. You have to support the balance rim.

It would be nice to know your final results, including pendant left/right!
 
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Rick Hufnagel

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Awesome thank you so much for the reply!

Horray for technological improvements. I like mean time screws! Hahaha. This thing is full of nice advancements. Even the mainspring barrel is different, and neat.

I'll give it a tweak this evening and record some results overnight.

Certainly won't touch it inside the watch, the last thing I want to do is make a mistake now after spending so much time on it.
 

Rick Hufnagel

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So I got home and did another test. 9.5 hours after full wind and being carried.

DU is +1.03
DD is +1.08
Pu is +1.08
PD is +1.13

Then it all goes nuts.

PL is +.48
PR is + 1.37

Looks like I found where to stick another timing washer!
 

Chris Radek

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Are the meantime screws to the left and right? It looks like they might be. If so you can screw one in a half turn and the other out a half turn to balance R/L. Which way to go is left as an exercise to the reader, as they say! (It depends on whether amplitude was low or high when you took your readings)

Since you want it to slow down overall, assuming they are on the right and left, you might find that turning JUST the light spot out a full turn will improve everything quite a bit.

I do agree though, that it will keep good time as-is. But that's not the whole point is it!?
 
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Rick Hufnagel

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is. But that's not the whole point is it!?
No, haha. I'm really using this one as a learning exercise. It's been very educational. Thank you for the suggestions and I'll certainly put them to use.

If you bring it down 1 minute it may be as good as when it was new......
Very true and I'm pretty happy with what just happened. It's not adjusted from the factory and contemporarily with it's fellow 1908s, it's a fairly low grade. In my mind, however, the older railroad watches are 15 jewels and this has an advantage over them by having a breguet hairspring and mean time screws... So I thought... why couldn't it keep really good time?

I did add a small washer and let the mean time screws out. Nudged the regulator a teeny bit to hit zero on the DU just to see if I could!

DU is 0 sec
DD is 0 sec
Pu is now +4 sec
PD is -9
PL is +14
PR is +9

This is a trap! Every time you touch something it throws something else off!

Will wear and watch it for a few days and see it's actual deviation.

This is super fun. Bringing it back from dead to a jumbled mess to what looks to be a decent time keeper.
 

Rick Hufnagel

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So Tuesday evening I bumped the regulator again just a touch. This photo Thursday evening, winding both mornings between 6 & 7 a.m. Carried for both days and hung from a hook at night. I'm really shocked! Unbelievable. Yes I put a more aesthetically pleasing, perfect dial on it.
20210429_181913.jpg

the phone app is pretty good for an idea of how something is doing. Definitely need a timing machine because the phone keeps showing different results now. It doesn't like measuring small variances. For $160 I think the timegrapher 1000 is a no brainer. I think the phone app would be better suited to giving a watch a quick check before buying.

Unfortunately when I wound this watch today, the NOS alloy spring decided to quit it's job. Hopefully it just slipped, but knowing my luck it's probably in 20 pieces. It never ends....

Anyways I'll let this thread die. Thanks for the help in this thread, and to all those who post to the forum. Have a good day!
 
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