Early Hamilton 974

Surf Monkey

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I just bought an early Hamilton 974. Serial 54271, dating it to the 1897 or so. It has a roman numeral dial and full moon Mande. It also has a hand painting of a sacred heart on the dial. I know a little about the later 'electric railway' marketed 974s but I'm in the dark about this very early version. Any 974 experts want to share some info? Also, is there any value in the hand painting or should I consider cleaning it off of the dial?
 
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Kevin W.

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Hi Surfmonkey, i have 974 Hamilton.Is yours pendant or lever set?
The picture on the dial was very likely placed there after the watch was made.
You need to be a member to access the link you provided.
 

Surf Monkey

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I'm a member both here and at ****, actually.

It's pendent set, not lever. I'm actually wondering if it would have been railway approved given the early date. At 17 jewels adjusted, it might have been. I think it's single roller though.

Anyone else up to speed on the early 974s?
 
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Kevin W.

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I dont think pendant set would have been approved for railway use.I think if you look at the back issue bulletins Feb 1978 or 1979, there is a great article on the 974 movements and other similar movements.
 

rrwatch

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As late as January, 1906, Webb C. Ball was still accepting (although not recommending) pendant set, single roller watches into Railroad service on the Pittsburgh Div. of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
 

Surf Monkey

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I'll check out that bulletin for sure.

Yeah, I was pretty sure I'd seen references to watches matching the 974's specs as approved on some lines in the very early 20th century. Either way, it's not destined for my main railroad watch collection. More a carry watch than anything.
 

Larry Treiman

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Hi Chris (AKA Surf Monkey),

The Hamilton grade 974 was never aimed at the main-line (steam) railroad market and was not considered a railroad-grade watch. However, it was used on street railways where the requirements were not very stringent. As for electric interurban lines, requirements varied over the years. Eventually, most of the interurbans had pretty much the same requirements as steam railroads, except that adjustment to three positions was usually considered adequate.

All this stuff was covered in my article that Kevin mentioned ("Timing the Trolleys", NAWCC BULLETIN, Feb., 1978, Whole Number 192, Vol. XX, No. 1, pgs. 3-19). Thanks for the "plug",Kevin! Note that Hamilton grade 926 "Oregon Electric Special" (not mine, darn it) in fig. 4, p.6. Apparently, at the time it was made, the OE may not have required position adjustments, though I seem to recall reading somewhere that perhaps the Hamilton 926 (various electric railway) "Specials" might have been adjusted beyond the regular grade 926 specifications. In terms of adjustments, I believe the 18s 926 and the 16s 974 were about the same.

Larry Treiman
 
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Surf Monkey

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Hey, Lary.

Just got done reading that article. Good stuff! As an Oregon native I'd LOVE to get my hands on that Oregon Electric marked watch.

This 974 is quite a bit older than the ones covered in your article. Were these marketed for electric railway service as far back as 1897 or did that come later?
 

Larry Treiman

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Chris, I never found information on what was happening, watch-wise, during those early years of the electric railway industry. However, for information on the promotion of the 974 watches for elec. ry. use with specially marked dials, etc., go to the top of the index for this (Am. P/W) forum, where you'll find sticky threads. Click on the Hamilton threads, and scroll down to 16-size, then to grade 974, where you'll find a couple great threads on the use of electric railway dials on the 974. There's a wealth of information there. All those sticky threads are well worth exploring when you have the time. There's nothing that I can add to what's in my article and those threads, which are from before I started posting.

Larry
 
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Kent

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I agree with Larry the Hamilton grade No. 974 generally isn't considered to be a railroad watch. Nevertheless, at the time that Surf Monkey's example was built, it would have been accepted on some railroads. One example is the Grand Trunk Railway.
 

John Cote

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I guess I understand the academic exercise going on here about whether this might have been a RR watch or not....but why does it matter in the real world? This is certainly an interesting watch but will it be worth more on eBay if the owner can say it is a RR approved watch because of some academic loophole?

The fact is that by any modern definition this watch would not be a RR watch. I just don't get it. It is a pendant set 974. It is what it is.
 

Dr. Jon

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I believe the 972 was the 17J railroad watch and was marked adjusted to 5 positions.

With the presence of the 972 in the product line, Hamilton made a clear distinction between railroad and non-railroad watches.
 

Kent

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I believe the 972 was the 17J railroad watch and was marked adjusted to 5 positions.

With the presence of the 972 in the product line, Hamilton made a clear distinction between railroad and non-railroad watches.
Dr. Jon:

Since the question of whether or not Hamilton promoted the grade No. 972 as a railroad watch came up recently in another thred, which came to a halt for the lack of data, do you have any examples of Hamilton ads or catalog descriptions in which the grade No. 972 is specifically recommended, or is otherwise stated as being suitable, for railway service? By the way, the pre-1906 production of this grade were only marked "Adjusted."


I guess I understand the academic exercise going on here about whether this might have been a RR watch or not....but why does it matter in the real world? This is certainly an interesting watch but will it be worth more on eBay if the owner can say it is a RR approved watch because of some academic loophole?

The fact is that by any modern definition this watch would not be a RR watch. I just don't get it. It is a pendant set 974. It is what it is.
John:

I don't consider the time service rules of class 1 railroads, such as the Illinois Central or the Grand Trunk, to be academic loopholes. On the other hand, I don't like (nor do I use - except perhaps very occasionally) the phrase "railroad approved." In the rules just referred to, nothing in them specific is said about watches being approved. They merely state attributes that a watch must have in order to be accepted into service.

I'm not sure what you mean by the term "modern definition" for a railroad watch. Most rules in effect at the current time for watches used in railroad service simply state that the watch be a "reliable watch" or something similar.

Twenty and thirty years ago, it was widely known that railroad standard watches had to be adjusted to at least five positions, be lever-set, be open-face, have Arabic dials and be fitted with double rollers.

Yet when the Hamilton grade Nos. 940 and 992 were introduced they had single rollers. At the turn of the century, Roman dials were widely accepted, as were hunting-case watches. The model 92 Vanguard, promoted as being designed for railroad service, was originally only available as a pendant-set watch in the open-face version.

The AT&SF and the MKT (the Katy) were accepting watches only adjusted to three positions in the early 1920s.

I'm not claiming that the grade No. 974 was a railraod watch. But the pre-WWII rules varied quite a bit and the definition of a railroad watch is fuzzy until one looks at a specific railroad and a specific time.
 

terry hall

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This is certainly an interesting watch but will it be worth more on eBay if the owner can say it is a RR approved watch because of some academic loophole?

Well it does play into the marketing and HYPE schemes :D

All these 924's etc play right into it...

heck just saw a touted item 15 Jewels along with the 'documentation' of it being RR ... of course in the time frame there were not tooooo many movements with more than 15 jewels :D:D:D

it is ALL THE SELL for most :Party:

Be I right, Be I wrong... no 974 RR watch for me :cool: even the lever sets
 

Jeff Hess

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Lots of loopholes for sure. And lots of rr inspectors were given a lot of
Leeway as to what watches were allowed to pass. Many rr inspectors were little Caesars and would allow an an old hunter or 17 or 15 j watch that was "grandfathered in" to pass if it was keeping good time even as late as the 1919 era. They would even on form Webb c ball of this!

Too bad so many people take these exceptions and tout their inferior watches as true rr watches. While there may be a farina of truth many of the claims are just bogus.

Jeff
 

Surf Monkey

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I guess I understand the academic exercise going on here about whether this might have been a RR watch or not....but why does it matter in the real world? This is certainly an interesting watch but will it be worth more on eBay if the owner can say it is a RR approved watch because of some academic loophole?
For the record, that's basically how I feel about it. I like hte 974 grade and I'm interested in the fact that this particular one is a very early example. It appears to be one of the first 350 of the grade ever made. That in and of itself is enough for me to add it to my collection with pride. I'm not hung up on whether it's a railroad approved model or not, I just want to get as much information about these very early 974 examples as I can.
 

Larry Treiman

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John Cote, once again, very well stated!

But speaking of loopholes, try this one on for size. In 1946 the Union Pacific Railroad's time service rules regarding watch requirements were very detailed and very specific. For new watches entering service they even gave minimum serial numbers for each approved watch to ensure that they were truly new watches. Then, in 1949 they did a complete about-face. In the time service rules they issued that year, there was the usual bit about designated employes, while on duty, having to "....have a reliable railroad grade watch* which must not vary more than 30 seconds from correct time."

Just below that, the following sentence appeared (parentheses and asterisks are theirs):

(*A railroad grade watch is one with a lever set)

Yep, that's it! Their complete statement as to what a railroad grade watch is! How's that for opening a big, fat loophole!

Further food for thought: Back around the late 1960s or early 1970s, my "mentor" had a Hamilton 924 (yes, a plain, unadjusted 924) beautifully marked on the barrel bridge for the "C&EI RR" (quotation marks are mine). BTW, That's the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad! The 924 was from c.1900. Is that enough to call the 924 a "railroad watch"??

Larry Treiman
 
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Dr. Jon

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I do not have examples of Hamilton promoting 972 or 974 models for railroad service. To me, lever set and five position adjustment has meant for railroad service.

What I do have and and is available n PDf from chapter 149 is the Hamilton Timekeeper from 1917. It lists the 972 as adjusted to five positions and availability n pendant and lever set. It also lists the 972, which it describes as being adjusted to temperature. They describe it as "A dependable 17 Jewel High grade movement at a very low price.' The 16 size watches this book promotes as railroad are the 996 and 992. The same catalog lists the 978 as being popular with "street railroad men". It is adjusted to three positions.

The book lists prices 992 $33.50; 996, $30.00; 978, $20.50; 974,$17.00; 972,$25.00.

The book does not call out every obvious railroad approved watch as such, for example it does not explicitly call the 960 and 946 railroad watches.
 

John Cote

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Too bad so many people take these exceptions and tout their inferior watches as true rr watches. While there may be a farina of truth many of the claims are just bogus.
Surf Monkey said:
For the record, that's basically how I feel about it. I like hte 974 grade and I'm interested in the fact that this particular one is a very early example. It appears to be one of the first 350 of the grade ever made. That in and of itself is enough for me to add it to my collection with pride. I'm not hung up on whether it's a railroad approved model or not, I just want to get as much information about these very early 974 examples as I can.
Thanks for both of the above comments. Jeff states without mixing words what bothers me about this whole "is it a RR watch exercise" and Surf Monkey gives his legit reasons for engaging in the exercise.

I must admit that when Surf said he was a part of a certain organization I immediately thought about many other exercises to legitimize watch description language for what I consider scam eBay sales. I should not jump to conclusions but it is difficult not to. Sorry...and if this paragraph does not fall under the appropriateness guidelines for posts here...please feel free to delete it....but I had to say it.
 

Surf Monkey

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For what it's worth, I had no idea until this thread that there was a conflict there, so don't hold it against me. Also, as above, feel free to delete this post if it is deemed inappropriate.
 

terry hall

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Originally Posted by Jeff Hess
Too bad so many people take these exceptions and tout their inferior watches as true rr watches. While there may be a farina of truth many of the claims are just bogus.

There's one of these FAMOUS offerings now on our FAV auction site... a 924 RR watch !!! WoW :rolleyes: it is even a 5 position watch!! Dang Hamilton did not even know that !!!:eek:

Surf... check out the nawcc news history for enlightenment :D you won't find it 'elsewhere'
 

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