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Beginner Struggles: Mainspring Elgin

Watching the Wheels

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Jan 21, 2022
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Hello all,
I recently got into watchmaking as a hobby. I am so excited to be working on an Elgin from 1910 that I purchased from an antique store a couple weeks ago. The watch was not running but it looked in good condition. The movement seems to be all there, the dial and hands are nice and the case has no major defects that I could detect. I purchased it ($30) with the intent to try to bring it back to life. I have had some encouraging and exciting moments. The first time I reassembled the train of wheels and bridge plate took 2 hours, the second time took 20 minutes. Each new thing I do for the first time is building my confidence and desire to continue with this hobby.
As much as I love this new hobby, I am overwhelmed with the vast amount of information and expensive tools. I just spent most of my weeks watch-budget on this NAWCC membership and I am eagerly waiting my next weeks allowance while I try to prioritize the rather lengthly list of thing to acquire. My intent is to restore several pocket watches. I am starting with American pocket watches from late 1800's to early 1900's because the first watch I acquired was a running 1903 Waltham 17j grade 625 model 1899 ($55) and I just fell in love. My long term plans may include wrist watches and watches from other countries and eras. But for now it is the somewhat inexpensive American antique pocket watches that interest me most. I have been learning a lot of history, watch mechanics, and watchmaker practices in the last few weeks. My short term goals is to continue gaining knowledge, experiences, skills, tools and of course... more watches.
My main issue at this moment is with my Elgin (second watch purchased specifically for watchmaking practice) in that it needs a new mainspring. I do not yet have a micrometer, mainspring winder, or catalog to get original part information. These items are all on the list, but I fear it may take so long because I am saving for a mainspring winder. I do not entirely trust the mainspring I took out was the right size. The movement was soaked on the inside with some kind of of old dirty oil, and the main spring was not uniform or flat. I am wondering if anyone could tell me the correct part to order, or any information on the best mainspring winder. I was thinking a vintage winder. I am considering a K&D No. 128. set. It seems to offer a lot of functionality for the money as compared to the really cheap and really expensive mainspring winder sets.
Here is some of the information I got from the online pocket watch database for the Elgin, movement serial # 14373900:
1910 approx., Grade 294, Model 5, Class 106, 7 jewels, size 18s. I am not entirely sure what the Elgin movement classification categories represent either. Looking for information and advise. My most important inquiry is what size/part number of the correct mainspring for this watch?
Thank you so much whoever reads this far.
- John
 
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horologicaltribologist

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Welcome man, I just got here myself and I feel very much @ home. I suggest you watch comparing the cheap spring winder with the one that price wise, comes from the moon. You must determine if your hobby lever work warrants an $under $100 basic 5 to 8pieces tool or an $869 tool.

Or a chineese $250 20 piece set tool or a 1453 tool same

Sorry I dont have more information about your spring! The cheaper one can be found here.

 
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18k BPH

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Aug 18, 2016
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The Pocket Watch Database listing for your watch (Elgin Pocket Watch: Serial Number 14373900 (Grade 294)) suggests an Elgin 812 mainspring. After entering the serial number and manufacturer on this site, you can click the "Parts" link on the left-hand side, and select "Springs" to get the mainspring part number.

My experience has been to get an alloy mainspring for my watches, as they retain their original shape longer and tend not to break.

I hope you have a lot of fun with your new hobby!
 

Watching the Wheels

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Jan 21, 2022
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Oh my goodness. I can't believe I missed that on the pocket watch database website. I feel kind of silly now. Thank you so much! This feature will be a life saver. I will also go with an alloy mainspring based on your advise. Where do you order your mainsprings? And do they need to be wound in? or are they the kind that come wound tight enough to just press in?
Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction!
 

MrRoundel

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I think your, OP's, idea about the K&D 128 is a good one. My go-to mainspring winder for pocket watches is the 125A. It is almost identical to the 128. It looks to me as if the 128 has a slight improvement in how the winder arbor is held in the tool frame. Regardlesss of what you get, when you look at, or inquire about, used mainspring winders, always find out if the "nib" (for lack of proper word) is present for the spring to catch on. Some arbors have had them broken off. Don't ask me how I know. :mallet:
 
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Watching the Wheels

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I think your, OP's, idea about the K&D 128 is a good one. My go-to mainspring winder for pocket watches is the 125A. It is almost identical to the 128. It looks to me as if the 128 has a slight improvement in how the winder arbor is held in the tool frame. Regardlesss of what you get, when you look at, or inquire about, used mainspring winders, always find out if the "nib" (for lack of proper word) is present for the spring to catch on. Some arbors have had them broken off. Don't ask me how I know. :mallet:
Thanks. I pretty sure I see the piece you're talking about in the photos on all three "spring grabbers" (not sure the names of the parts either). Hope so anyway. I ordered it.
 

MrRoundel

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As I think more about it, I don't recall seeing the "nib" missing on arbors that come with the K&D 125A and 128s. It was on a Watchcraft brand set I bought at a Mart many years ago. It may be possible to repair it, but I don't see how.

You do know that you need a bench vise of some sort to use the K&D, yes? I suppose there are other ways to stabilize it while you wind the spring, but they are made to use in a vise. Good luck.
 
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Watching the Wheels

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Jan 21, 2022
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As I think more about it, I don't recall seeing the "nib" missing on arbors that come with the K&D 125A and 128s. It was on a Watchcraft brand set I bought at a Mart many years ago. It may be possible to repair it, but I don't see how.

You do know that you need a bench vise of some sort to use the K&D, yes? I suppose there are other ways to stabilize it while you wind the spring, but they are made to use in a vise. Good luck.
yes I have a vice. Thanks
 
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richiec

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Dave's Watch Parts has mainsprings reasonably priced, you can also check Ebay and just make sure it says alloy on the packaging, you can sometimes pick up multiple springs at the same time to save for your next watch.
 
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