Beginner: My first project: Waltham model 1888

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by Toehead2, Aug 1, 2014.

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  1. Toehead2

    Toehead2 Registered User

    Aug 1, 2014
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    Hello! My name is Brendan, and this is my first post. I have always been interested in mechanical clocks and watches (as an engineer, I seem to be drawn towards clever mechanisms :D ). I recently have decided to start trying to repair broken pocket watches, and have been collecting the required tools at yardsales and consignment shopes.
    So far, I have:
    • Bausch and Lomb stereo microscope , 3-30x with backlight/toplight
    • Hand pullers
    • Watchmaker screwdriver
    • Movement holder
    • air bulb
    • tweezers
    • Moebius oil
    • oilers

    I don't yet have a mainspring winder.

    I also purchased a "practice" movement off of ebay, a waltham model 1888 7 jewel bond street grade that was advertised as in good cosmetic shape but not running.

    So far, I have managed to disassemble the watch and inspect everything under the microscope, and diagnose the problem with my meager skills.
    The first problem is a broken mainspring. (looks like I need that mainspring winder!)

    The second problem is a little more complex: One of the pallet jewels has a chip on it. The watch actually runs alright when I supply power with my finger through the center wheel. Looking under the microscope, it seems that about 3/4 of the escape wheel tooth is riding on undamaged jewel, but the remaining 1/4 is over the damaged section.

    I understand from reading that the escape wheel and pallet fork are factory matched, and replacing just one requires a lot of adjustment to get working.


    I am looking for suggestions for how to proceed? I imagine that this defect may not affect running for a while, but is likely causing accelerated wear, and I would like to resolve this.


    Lastly, I don't yet have my mainspring grease. Is there an equivalent product that is readily accessible (perhaps brake caliper grease, etc). If not, I will order some.


    Thanks, and looking forward to learning all about this excellent hobby.
     
  2. Toehead2

    Toehead2 Registered User

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    Sorry! I meant to put this into the repair forum.
     
  3. everydaycats

    everydaycats Registered User

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    Really good tweezers are one of my most used tools. Although I work on wristwatches, I suspect the same is true for pocket watches. "Screwdriver?" As in one screwdriver? A good set of drivers in several sizes will be a good addition.

    Good luck.
     
  4. watchwelder

    watchwelder Registered User

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    The main thing I have learned about this hobby is how addictive of a passion it is. I have learned a lot just through this site but there is nothing like hands on and good literature.
     
  5. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

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    No you don't. Most of the books and courses teach the method of removing/installing mainsprings by hand. I don't use a winder, follow the course method, and have yet to cone a mainspring. Of course I don't have a ton of time doing watch repair, but still...

    This would be a complicated repair IMO for a beginner. You would need to either source a new jewel, or have a gem faceter regrind your existing jewel to remove the chip. Then you'd have to install the new/refaced jewel to the proper depth. As Dave Coatsworth pointed out in another thread, a pallet warmer would be a good tool to have for this type of repair. After thinking about it, I have changed my mind and agree with him.

    Or you could watch that famous auction side for a parts movement and steal the pallet from it. Or even just find a pallet unit someplace.

    It is a finicky, stress inducing, sweaty exercise in fumble-fingered humility that's for sure. Fastest and easiest method is to replace with a good unit. It should drop in and run.


    KT22 is a silicone grease that works. However, my coursebooks say to use oil. 1 drop at each compass point (4 total) after the spring is in the barrel.
     
  6. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Toehead, if you need a pallet fork, I probably have one I could send you. That will save you from buying a pallet warmer, alcohol lamp or another type of heat source, a selection of pallet jewels which you have to try to set at the correct depth in the fork, etc, etc. Or you could buy another 7 jewel '88 and use that pallet fork, I do not believe that they were matched at the factory to the escape wheel.
     
  7. Toehead2

    Toehead2 Registered User

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    Richie, That offer is much appreciated, and you have a PM. Thanks for all the feedback guys. I am learning a lot already, and the biggest thing so far I have found is that getting more hands on demystifies everything a bit. Once you see how everything goes together, it all starts to make sense. I'm excited to keep going and will update this thread as I go!I'm working my way up to a r&r of my 17 jewel Elgin that my wife bought me. It has a lot of sentimental value to me, and has suddenly started losing a lot of time per day (30 mins or more) after being a good runner for a few years. It was recently serviced (about a year ago), but looking at it under the scope I can already see several cracked jewels and other suspicious things.
     
  8. Smudgy

    Smudgy Registered User

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    When you but a watch mainspring they come coiled in a circle of metal. Unlike the clock mainsprings, watch mainsprings don't need to be cleaned and oiled prior to use, and most of the mainsprings are coiled small enough that you can just push them into the barrel. So, If you are not unlucky you can get a mainspring and simply push it into the barrel. On a watch as old as your you should be able to lubricate it just be putting a few drops of clock oil around it (though mainspring grease would definitely be better). It isn't the best method, and is ill advised for newer movements, but it should get you started. Fully wind and unwind the spring a few time to distribute the oil before use. I don't know if using a light machine oil (like 3in1) is advisable as they are designed to spread, whereas the clock and watch oils are designed to stay where you put them, and getting oil in the wrong places will cause problems. Get the right oils when you can, only a little gets used at a time so they last forever even if it does seem really expensive at first (you'll get better results in the end too).

    For the pallet fork check to see if it is on a friction held staff, or threaded staff. If it is on a friction staff you may be able to re-position the fork so that the escape wheel contacts an undamaged section of pallet. That would get you going until you get to replacing the stone. Pallet stones do take a bit of adjustment, but the tooling isn't very expensive (you can build your own heating tool, and use a Zippo lighter for an alcohol lamp). The pallet stones are sold by size and side. The size is the width of the stone (in 100ths of mm), and the side is entrance or exit (or receiving and discharging). You'd also need some shellac.
     
  9. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    the only drawback when pushing an already coiled mainspring into a barrel is getting the hole to grab the hook inside the barrel, I would recommend that you manually install the spring making sure that you get it hooked and that you also put the spring in in the right direction so the arbor grabs the inner hole.
     
  10. everydaycats

    everydaycats Registered User

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  11. Toehead2

    Toehead2 Registered User

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    Thank you, that is very helpful :)


    Thanks to Richiec, I now have an undamaged pallet fork that I can use, and I just received my mainspring from dashto. All the brass parts are soaking in solvent right now. Everything is looking pretty good so far :)

    I have one hangup: After I was working today, I saw this piece on my workbench when I was doing my cleanup inspection (don't want to lose any pieces!). I don't remember taking this out and I can't figure out what it is... Maybe one of you fine people can help? :)

    IMG_20140804_183627_560.jpg
     
  12. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    That has a resemblance to a Model 1857 balance staff and definitely did not come out of the Model 1888.
     
  13. Toehead2

    Toehead2 Registered User

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    Well, that's interesting! Since this is a new workbench and this is the first watch I have worked on, the only thing I can think of is that this came either with the mainspring or the pallet fork. Do you happen to be missing a balance staff? :) I can certainly return it to you.


    I am glad it isn't out of my movement though... I was going a bit crazy there trying to figure it out.
     
  14. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Didn't come from me, maybe with the mainspring.
     
  15. Toehead2

    Toehead2 Registered User

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    Success! I put everything back together tonight, and I didn't even have any extra parts! It is ticking over quite happily right now.

    I need to take the mainspring back apart through, as it is "slipping" after a few winds. I think I need to file a knife edge into the end so it catches the barrel more strongly.

    The hardest part so far was to get all of the pivots on the train into the holes when I was putting the plates back together. I imagine that is something that gets somewhat easier with practice, but is probably always a pain.
     
  16. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    You will get better at it with practice, just takes a good eye and a gentle touch, a little wiggling and that satisfying sound of "click" as the plates come together. For fun, try a Model 1883, get a junker first, they are a real balancing act to put back together.
     
  17. Tom Huber

    Tom Huber Registered User
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    Richie, I must respectfully disagree that the model 83 is a "real balancing act". When assembled upside down on a jeweler's block, these fall together beautifully.

    Upside down =top plate on block facing up, add gear train in this order--palate fork, escape wheel, third wheel, fourth wheel, center wheel, then fit pillar plate on starting with center post, then fourth wheel extension, gently drop pillar plate down, with tweezers, fit in third wheel, escape wheel, and last palate fork.
    Next pick up jeweler's block and flip movement onto the palm of your hand . Insert plate screws. Voila, it is together.

    I'm no master at this, and I can put one together this way in less than 5 minutes.

    Tom



     
  18. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Tom, to a person who has never done it before, it can be intimidating. Sure, once you do a few it is not hard. I was just saying that it will be a little harder than a 3/4 plate watch, that's all.
     
  19. Toehead2

    Toehead2 Registered User

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    Well, i'll be darned, it even kept time!. I only lost 10 seconds in 24 hours. I'm very pleased.

    I still have some mainspring slippage, but I wasn't able to find a file small enough to fix the hole. I will borrow one from work today.
     
  20. DJH584

    DJH584 Newbie

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    Well done you - onwards and upwards as they say :D

    Regards

    David
     
  21. Toehead2

    Toehead2 Registered User

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    I'm looking forward to it! I want to try some with higher jewel counts. I'm bidding on a few right now :)
     
  22. Toehead2

    Toehead2 Registered User

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    I'm still getting a bit of slipping on every wind. I filed knife edges on both sides of the mainspring. This improved the situation drastically, but it still slips occasionally and will lose about a revolution of wind. However, I am able to fully wind it now.

    Are there any other tips of the trade?
     
  23. Smudgy

    Smudgy Registered User

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    You may need to dress the hook that catches the hole in the mainspring. The other thing is putting a bit of a bend at the end to help keep the spring hooked when fully wound. It's just bending the tab towards the inside of the barrel right after the hole.
     
  24. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

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    Is this the type of mainspring that catches in a shallow groove across the barrel? If so, bending the end of the mainspring slightly to point the knife edge into the groove might help the holding ability. Also, the T end should be a tad arched. Not much, but a tad so that each end rides on the barrel for max pressure on the sharp ends.
     
  25. Redbone

    Redbone Registered User

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    It is an addiction to which there is no cure!!!! The more you learn makes one want to learn more
     

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