Early techniques making gears by hand filling/cutting

Discussion in 'Horological Tools' started by Adam Zimmerman, Dec 28, 2010.

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  1. Adam Zimmerman

    Adam Zimmerman Registered User

    Jan 3, 2010
    Own a Highway Advertising Company
    Brechin, Ontario, Canada
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    I am looking for information on how watchmakers would have made gears such as a crown wheel or escape wheels, in the early days of watch making. Does anyone have any info on techniques such as cutting, profilling with files/jigs etc?

    I am mostly interested in how a watchmaker would have made the nesessary gears/pinions, prior to a topping machine or fusse cutting machine, what simple files were used, how did the watchmaker cut blanks, how did they profile the gear teeth?

    Any books or leads on websites would be greatly appreciated.
    All the best
    Adam Zimmerman
  2. bambuko

    bambuko Registered User

    Feb 8, 2007
    "Wheel And Pinion Cutting In Horology"
    A historical and practical guide, by J Malcolm Wild FBHI
    ISBN 1 86126 245 0

    Cannot recommend it highly enough - excellent book!

  3. Smudgy

    Smudgy Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    May 20, 2003
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    I think Wild's book covers more recent wheel and pinion forming than you are looking for. Try browsing Google Books and/or Project Gutenberg.
  4. Jerry Kieffer

    Jerry Kieffer Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    May 31, 2005
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    I don`t think you are going to find much on what you are looking for.
    While there are of course exceptions, for the most part individuals specialized in making one or two parts as a lifes work. These parts were then collected by another individual who specialized in assembling them into a working movement. As such, most techniques were not shared beyond families to protect ones lively hood.
    As I understand, the most protected technique was the making of Fusee movement covers. I have seen references stating that the technique is still unknown.
    It has also been stated in some places that children made fusee chain because of small fingers and good eye sight.

    At any rate I suspect that techniques would be two numerous to describe other than give general ideas. Each individual would have had their own way of doing things that fit their natural skills. I suspect that after making the same part for 20 years you could almost do it perfectly free hand after making a simple file. It has been stated that the woman who painted watch dials were so good after many years of doing it, that it was done free hand without a template. Close inspection under a microscope indicates that.

    During the time of hand made watch movements, it has been said that labor was very very cheap and material was very expensive. It is not difficult to figure out a very simple jig to make a particular wheel or pinion if time is not an issue.
    If you reason out in your own mind how you may do this under these conditions, its probably close to how someone similar to your own natural skills would have done it.

    I have not seen any publication dedicated to this subject in depth. All of my info has come from bits and pieces here and there.

    Jerry Kieffer
  5. motormaker

    motormaker Registered User

    Apr 5, 2010
    Tucson, AZ
    See pages 94-97 of The Clock Repair's Handbook by Laurie Penman.
  6. StephanG

    StephanG Registered User

    Jun 24, 2007
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    My friends Father was a clock maker and sometimes had to repair wheels with missing or broken teeth.
    He had no machinery suitable for making gear teeth so he proceeded thus.
    First he would select a part of the wheel that was good or part of a matching spare wheel if he had one.
    Next he would cut a couple of strips of thin gauge plate.
    These would then be trimmed to match the curve of the wheel.
    Each was then clamped in place and the profile of the teeth carefully filled into it.
    Once he had a pair they would be hardened.
    He could now repair the wheel either by brazing or putting in pegs.
    The repair was cleaned up to the correct thickness and profile.
    He would then clamp the 2 bits of gauge plate either side of the repair and match up to the existing teeth.
    He could then carefully file the repair to the correct shape.
    As best as I can remember that is the description he offered about how he fixed damaged gear wheels.
    I know not how small he went or if there was a limit on how many teeth you could do.
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