American PW BW Raymond 23J Running Very Fast

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by John Ladd, May 10, 2020.

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  1. John Ladd

    John Ladd Registered User
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    Sep 2, 2014
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    Hello Fellow Watch Folks:

    I just did a complete overhaul of a 1940 BW Raymond 23 jewel watch, Grade 540, Model 15. Complete disassembly and cleaning. It was not running before I started. Now it runs excellent, but very fast -- about 11 minutes a day. I added several timing washers (evenly), and it slowed it a small amount. I am getting strong amplitude (about 250 degrees) with snappy action. Based on the almost insignificant change I saw with timing washers, continuing to add them seems like the wrong approach. What else could be going on? Might someone have put in a wrong hairspring at some point? Need ideas. Thanks!
     
  2. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    Painful experience has taught me to start with the obvious.

    My culprit is often a bit of stray cat fur atop the hairspring which in effect causes a "short circuit".

    Ditto for a stray drop of oil.

    Also it pays to doublecheck that the hairspring isn't touching anything such as a coil contacting the cock's underbelly.
     
  3. topspy

    topspy Registered User
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    In addition to what viclip said, check for magnetism ( I use a tiny compass placed on top of the balance cock.) Also check to make sure that someone hasn't screwed the meantime screws all the way in, or that the balance isn't missing a pair of screws.
     
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  4. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    I'd say 250º isn't great, 270º is a more acceptable value; how are you measuring the amplitude? Is it showing the same rate in vertical as well as horizontal positions?

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  5. John Runciman

    John Runciman Registered User
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    background history is nice it wasn't running before you started? Was that just because the oil was bad or did it have some problem? then pictures of the watch especially the balance wheel hairspring etc. Plus timing machine pictures?

    besides all the other stuff another common cause for a pocket watch to run fast is if it's missing a timing screw. Always check your screws make sure you have pairs.
     
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  6. John Ladd

    John Ladd Registered User
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    Sep 2, 2014
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    Thanks Everyone for the ideas. It does look like the timing screws are screwed in all the way, and smaller than the others, so I'll start first by backing them out equally.

    I assume it was not running well due to dried oil, etc., as I didn't repair anything. Just disassembled, ultrasonically cleaned, and reassembled using quality watch oils applied sparingly according to common practice. Nothing else that stands out, and I've looked at it pretty close and under lots of magnification. The amplitude of 250 was a conservative estimate by looking at slow motion video. I also have a very small compass and I moved it around the whole watch and noticed no effect on the needle. The only other thing I've noticed is that unlike most other hairsprings I've worked with which are blued, this one is not. I'm not sure if that would be expected on a watch of this type in 1940, but I noticed it.

    Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm open to all ideas. As you can see, I'm still learning a lot. I'm not a total novice, but I know enough to know how much I don't know -- particularly around timing.

    237B9833-6D11-4E9C-B919-DD448C52C642_1_201_a.jpeg
     
  7. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Mar 2, 2012
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    The hairspring on a 1940 Elgin 540 would be 'Elginium Y', which still needed a compensating balance, which you may note is not cut next to the arms, but rather 2/3 of the way around. They used the same alloy for the 478's hairspring. It wasn't until 1945 that Elgin's BW Raymond got a monometallic, uncut balance, in the 590.

    There should be one pair of meantime screws, at the end of the balance arms. And, yeah, they ARE screwed all the way down.

    I hope you have gotten rid of any timing washers. That would about the last thing I'd add to a balance in a watch like this, which left the factory running within 30 seconds a week in 5 positions. No reason to think the timing screws got lighter in 80 years.
     
  8. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    BTW, the 540 is one of my very favorite Elgins! I wanted one for years, then lucked out on Ebay with one from that was made close to the end of the very last run of 540s.
     
  9. John Runciman

    John Runciman Registered User
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    it's a little hard to tell in the picture close-up pictures would be better. The balance rim that's under the center wheel almost looks like it's in just a little bit? the balance arms should not be in that was something I forgot to mention above your balance wheel has to be symmetrical, nice and round. It's easy to squeeze the balance wheel and have the arms move in. The other arm looks fine.

    As noted the mean time screws are definitely not where they should be you do want to be careful with moving them around. There supposed to have a little bit a friction but if people insist on moving them a lot that frictional go way and they will actually be loose.

    The other thing is the hairspring doesn't look like it's centered? Then can't tell from this angle but is the hairspring touching the balance arm?
     
  10. John Ladd

    John Ladd Registered User
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    Sep 2, 2014
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    Continued thanks for the additional information. Here is a close up picture of the balance. To my less experienced eye, it looks ok, other than the already noted timing screws set all the way in. The balance cock has serial number 38779140, as does the balance wheel. The movement number is 38779132. With the numbers being this close, I assume it's the original pairing from the factory. If anybody sees anything here out of order, please let me know. I'll move out the screws tonight or tomorrow and post what happens. Thanks again!

    7C715387-371C-48C2-8276-43A4729F3280_1_201_a.jpeg
     
  11. 179

    179 Registered User
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    Sep 16, 2008
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    The hairspring is way off to the right, get it centered and much of your problem should resolve. After that you might need to back out the mean times. Just saw your last photo.
     
  12. John Ladd

    John Ladd Registered User
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    Sep 2, 2014
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    Thanks. A couple of responses have indicated an issue with the symmetry of the hairspring. I'm looking at it very close and I'm not seeing anything that looks out of order. So, I'm not sure if it's just that previous pictures weren't that clear, or if I'm still missing something I should be seeing. Here is the best picture I can get.

    BF0E518E-AD7F-4579-813E-CF3F5B417DAC.png
     
  13. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    In the photo way up above, while in the watch, it looked badly centered. In your most recent photo, it looks fine. It makes me think an outer coil was stuck on the regulator or something when you took the first photo.
     
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  14. John Ladd

    John Ladd Registered User
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    Sep 2, 2014
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    Thanks again everyone! So, here's what happened. Not knowing how much adjustment to try first, I settled on something simple. I backed each of the two timing screws out one full turn, then set and ran the watch for a full day. Absolutely nothing changed. It is still running fast 11 to 12 minutes a day. While I didn't know how much of a change to expect, I did expect some change.

    I remain fully open to any suggestions on what to try next? Should I back out another full turn and see what happens, or is this situation indicative of perhaps a different problem?

    Best,
    John
     
  15. 179

    179 Registered User
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    Sep 16, 2008
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    I would let the mainspring down, and check to see if it is in beat, fork centered between the banking pins. Next I would check the hairspring centered between the curb pins, and not lying up against a pin. Needs a little clearance between the pins, but not too much. As for the mean times I would start at 3 to 4 turns out.
     
  16. Harvey Mintz

    Harvey Mintz Registered User
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    Maybe you should stop doing stuff to the watch and start carefully examining it -- moving the mean time screws out a full turn should have ha d SOME affect on the timing of the watch! That it didn't leads me to suspect something else is going on.

    In your first picture (the fully assembled watch) the hairspring looks like it's not centered, as has been mentioned before, but the in pictures of the balance OFF the movement it looks perfectly centered. Is it still perfectly centered and developing evenly when the watch was reassembled and run? If not, there's something wrong with the way it was put together.

    Check that the hairspring didn't slip out of the regulator pins when you put it together - if it did that, and then ended up on the inside of the pins it won't run and time correctly. This is something that occurs easily, but is also easily corrected.

    Check EVERYTHING about the hairspring before doing a lot of screw turning - if you move the mean time screws and then find something else wrong, you'll only have to move them back when the other thing is corrected.

    Also (as has already been mentioned by someone else) make sure the balance is true in the round - if one of those arms is even a little bit in towards the center the watch will run really fast no matter what you do with the mean time screws.

    Take your time and work carefully, and be careful not to hurt your forehead too much when you slap it with the heel of your hand after you discover the cause of the problem. :)
     
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  17. Skutt50

    Skutt50 Registered User

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    You might want to test it in various positions. Does it run 11 minutes fast in e.g. dial up, dial down and pendant up? (I know it is a 5 position movement but this is a start!)

    You don't need to run it for 24 hours... Check against some reliable time source and check how much it differs in e.g. an hour.
     
  18. NC Plumber

    NC Plumber Registered User

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    I would begin by removing the hairspring from the balance and putting it on the cock.
    That will quickly tell you if it's centered or not.
     
  19. John Ladd

    John Ladd Registered User
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    Sep 2, 2014
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    Thanks Everyone! Important progress has been made! Based on 179's suggestion I looked at the curb pins and found that while the hairspring was not pinched tightly between them, there was also no side play at all. The spring just fit between them. I didn't touch them when I disassembled and cleaned it, and didn't think to open them a bit when I reassembled it. I just put things back the way they were. So, I opened the pins a little bit and the amplitude increased to exactly 270 degrees, and now the watch is running slow -- no doubt due to having backed out the timing screws. So, here's my plan. Since the regulator is already set to the middle, I'll first remove the timing washers that were added during my first unsuccessful attempt to slow it down. Then, if still slow, I'll speed it up by slowly bringing the timing screws back in a bit until it's close enough to be find tuned with just small movement of the regulator. So, I think I'm heading in the right direction. The frustrating part is that I did know there is supposed to be some allowed movement of the spring between the pins, but apparently forgot that when putting it back together. Lesson learned (again)!
     
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  20. John Runciman

    John Runciman Registered User
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    a important lesson learned here is to slow down and evaluate everything before jumping on solutions. It's also a problem for us answering questions based on pictures if we don't have a complete evaluation.
     

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