Marine: Elgin 600 Question

Paul Regan

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I have this Elgin 600 that has a "2" prefix and "1" suffix around the contract date of 1943. It is numbered #954. I have read in Whitney's that there was an experiment done on numbers 918 and 919 whereby these were fitted with the Hamilton uncut bi-metallic balance. The "2" and "1" were applied to the dial identifying the change. Though mine has this designation, it still has it's Elgin balance. Can anyone add info as to why there is a "2" and "1" on my dial?
Thanks, Paul
 

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Paul Regan

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Okay then, does any else own an Elgin 600 with the "21" additions that still contain an Elgin balance?
Paul
 

doug sinclair

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My understanding is that the Elgin marine chronometer didn't get too far past the prototype stage. Not too many around in any event. On page 51 of his book on the marine chronometer, Marvin Whitney seems to indicate that Elgin delivered serial # 1 and serial # 3 Elgin chronometer to the naval observatory for trial. Number 1 was accepted after numerous trials and extensive adjusting. Thereafter, Elgin delivered 22 additional chronometers, but they all failed! The Hamilton 21 had proven so successful that interest in the Elgin disappeared. That there has not been a reply from another Elgin chronometer owner is not surprising. Of the (approximately) 25 that were likely made, it would appear there may be other owners around. But it appears you might be the only owner who frequents this MB. Do you have an idea of how many were made? Might the serial number 954 on yours imply that there were more of these made than Marvin Whitney seems to indicate?
 

Tom McIntyre

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I have seen Model 600 with the additional digits, but it may have been Paul's. My 600 has a standard serial number on the dial.

dial.jpg movement.jpg EscapementMount.jpg TopOpen.jpg
 

Ralph

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Here's another one I may post in a separate thread, when I have time.


ElginChrono0001.jpg ElginChrono0002.jpg ElginChrono0005.jpg ElginChrono0006.jpg







I thought many of the Elgin 600's numbered above 100 or so ere not built by Elgin.

Ralph
 
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Ralph

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219431 has seen the Bulletin pages in the past. From Volume 42, Issue 320, Page 808.

219431.jpg

Bill passed away a few years ago.

Ralph
 

Jim Haney

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Ralph,
I removed your link and reference to the old banned chapter. Our software will not allow the chapter number to appear.

They were banned from the NAWCC about 5 years ago.

If you want to show anything from that site you will have to copy and paste it here and remove any reference to the chapter.

Thanks
 

Paul Regan

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Thanks for all the responses. To several questions posted, I have no additional info. My education comes from Whitney. I sure wish we could still talk to Mr. Schoeder. May he rest in peace.
I will post these pics plus a few more in the Gallery.
Paul
 

doug sinclair

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219431 has seen the Bulletin pages in the past. From Volume 42, Issue 320, Page 808.

249245.jpg

Bill passed away a few years ago.

Ralph
It would seem the chronometer in the clipping shares the 219431 number with a number of other of these chronometers. What is NOT clear is the actual serial number of the noted chronometer. There is not much doubt in my mind that the chronometer in the clipping and Paul Regan's chronometer may NOT be the same chronometer. Even though they share a number.
 

Paul Regan

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Doug, the serial number on my 600 is N954. I am confused as to the number you are referring to.
Paul

Edit: Doug, disregard, I just reread your post.
 

Luis Casillas

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I have this Elgin 600 that has a "2" prefix and "1" suffix around the contract date of 1943. It is numbered #954. I have read in Whitney's that there was an experiment done on numbers 918 and 919 whereby these were fitted with the Hamilton uncut bi-metallic balance. The "2" and "1" were applied to the dial identifying the change. Though mine has this designation, it still has it's Elgin balance. Can anyone add info as to why there is a "2" and "1" on my dial?
I remembered seeing this as well, so I searched for it in Whitney's book on chronometers... and couldn't find it. Then I searched for it in Whitney's book on military timepieces, and found it in a few seconds. It's on p. 158, in the caption of Figure 10, which is a pair of photos of #918. I still can't shake the feeling that the chronometers book mentions it somewhere, so if somebody spots it there please bring it up.

Anyway, the caption mentions the following:

The conversion was evidently done by some private chronometer/nautical instrument repair company and not by either of the Navy's two chronometer repair shops. Only one Elgin chronometer, No. 1, was accepted by the Navy (April 10, 1945). Shortly thereafter the war ended, and the Navy had an adequate supply of proven Hamiltons, so the contract was cancelled.
Reading between the lines, Whitney's knowledge of this is second hand, and I wonder if he may just have attached the wrong significance to the added digits "2" and "1".

My understanding is that the Elgin marine chronometer didn't get too far past the prototype stage. Not too many around in any event. On page 51 of his book on the marine chronometer, Marvin Whitney seems to indicate that Elgin delivered serial # 1 and serial # 3 Elgin chronometer to the naval observatory for trial. Number 1 was accepted after numerous trials and extensive adjusting. Thereafter, Elgin delivered 22 additional chronometers, but they all failed! The Hamilton 21 had proven so successful that interest in the Elgin disappeared.
It sounds to me that the war's progress may have been a factor as well. The quote I include above from Whitney even says that Elgin's contract was cancelled after the war ended. The main text of the chapter says that the USNO received its last shipment of six Elgin chronometers on May 31, 1945, and "shortly thereafter the war ended and the contract was cancelled." So it sounds like if the war had continued for longer Elgin might have been given the chance to rectify the problems with their balances.

That there has not been a reply from another Elgin chronometer owner is not surprising. Of the (approximately) 25 that were likely made, it would appear there may be other owners around. But it appears you might be the only owner who frequents this MB. Do you have an idea of how many were made? Might the serial number 954 on yours imply that there were more of these made than Marvin Whitney seems to indicate?
There were more than 250 additional ones made beyond the ones delivered to the Navy, according to Whitney's Military Timepieces:

(p. 154) Mr. William E. Hawkins of Elgin's Public Relations Division informed me in November 1956 that Elgin had assembled and sold approximately 250 of their Model 600 marine chronometers to the public. They were only rated to keep time at 721/2°F.

(p. 158, caption to Figure 10) Later, Elgin assembled about 250 of their chronometers, regulated them to keep time at 721/2°F, and sold them to the public. Some time in the late '50s or early '60s, Elgin sold their remaining stock to a nautical chandler, who assembled a few, while others were put in do-it-yourself kits and sold (Capt. Bill Peterson, U.S.N. (Ret.), Portland, Oregon).
It's unclear whether Capt. Peterson in that quote is mentioned as the source of the information or the source of the photos of #918. I suspect the latter is the case, but both could be true.
 
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Tom McIntyre

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I have no hard evidence, but the story I heard was that the kits were sold by Edmund Scientific to anyone who wanted to build their own chronometer.

The balances use Guillaume metal and it requires a work phase in addition to the alloy mixture just like Elinvar does. Without a lot of process control, they would likely not have made the specification. Nardin made a lot of nearly identical balances and they seem to perform well.

I have never dismounted the escapement in mine. Has anyone taken one of these down while it was still under power? It is "supposed" to be safe.
 

doug sinclair

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In his Marine Chronometer book, Marvin Whitney covers repair procedures for the Elgin marine chronometer. This chronometer was designed with detachable escapement in a "module", and he gives detail as to how that module can be removed without letting down the power.
 

Ralph

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I know #99 was purchased directly from Elgin right after WWII.

At some point there was a fellow who would often be at the marts, especially Nationals and regional marts out east. I think he often shared tables with Dr. Ravel at marts. Maybe Conover(?). I can;t remember the name. I thought he put a lot of the Elgin 600's together. I know I have seen him sell some....years ago. I'm sure Tom knows who I am referring to.

Ralph

Ralph
 
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Ralph

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I believe the fellow I was thinking of is/was(?). I think he is gone or at least out of business.

J.P. Connor & Co.
Marine Chronometers
Devon,Pa.

Ralph
 

Tom McIntyre

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Reviving this old thread to ponder what has happened to the value of these pretty wonderful chronometers.

I actually paid $5,000 for my chronometer way back when because it was extremely difficult to find a complete example with all the specified features.

In rereading this thread it might be easy to be confused by the discussion. In particular the remark that the chronometer's were specified to keep time at 72 1/2 degrees, could be interpreted to mean that was the only temperature where it would keep time. What it actually means is that is the set point of the temperature compensation. i.e. at that temperature the balance was neutral and did not need to compensate. When machines were intended for tropical or arctic operations the set point would be adjusted to the expected mean temperature. So a chronometer in the tropics might be adjusted to be neutral at 85 degrees while one for arctic use might be adjusted to 50 degrees.

The same considerations were applied to all marine chronometers when deployed in extreme mean temperature regions including Hamilton, Mercer or Nardin.

It seems that the appearance on the market of the debris from the Elgin factory had a real impact on the prices of the machines. I was really disappointed that mine did not even reach the already very low estimated price and sold for $1400.

I was not disappointed because of my loss, but rather the indication of the drop in respect these really nice machines seem to have suffered. I hope the new owner treasures it as much as I did.
 

Brad Maisto

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Tom,
I don’t intend to be disrespectful, but I would gladly have paid more than you obtained for your Elgin 600 but was unaware it was for sale.
I think the release of the couple hundred of “parts & pieces” movements sold on that huge internet auction website in no way “diluted” your obtained sale price since the ones I have seen, are all missing the critical escapement parts, except for the rare couple. It is just another sign of the lack of enthusiasm or loss in NAWCC membership. I even started wearing an Apple iWatch a few days ago, thank you Santa!
I purchased a Hamilton model 21 many years back for 2K, and I doubt I could sell it for that now. I also bought one of the Russian marine chronometers at a small auction in West Lafayette, IN around twenty years ago for $350, and it was only missing the solid wood case top of the three levels. And in the early 1990’s I purchased the gimbaled Elgin Father Time (WW-I era) chronometer from William (Budgy) Payne at the Drawbridge (Ohio/Kentucky) mart. Budgy Payne still attends the Chapter 44 meetings in Owensboro, KY when he can, what a wealth of information he is surrounding this topic.
Brad Maisto, KY #44 Chapter Secretary
 

tcschung54

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Reviving this old thread to ponder what has happened to the value of these pretty wonderful chronometers.

I actually paid $5,000 for my chronometer way back when because it was extremely difficult to find a complete example with all the specified features.

In rereading this thread it might be easy to be confused by the discussion. In particular the remark that the chronometer's were specified to keep time at 72 1/2 degrees, could be interpreted to mean that was the only temperature where it would keep time. What it actually means is that is the set point of the temperature compensation. i.e. at that temperature the balance was neutral and did not need to compensate. When machines were intended for tropical or arctic operations the set point would be adjusted to the expected mean temperature. So a chronometer in the tropics might be adjusted to be neutral at 85 degrees while one for arctic use might be adjusted to 50 degrees.

The same considerations were applied to all marine chronometers when deployed in extreme mean temperature regions including Hamilton, Mercer or Nardin.

It seems that the appearance on the market of the debris from the Elgin factory had a real impact on the prices of the machines. I was really disappointed that mine did not even reach the already very low estimated price and sold for $1400.

I was not disappointed because of my loss, but rather the indication of the drop in respect these really nice machines seem to have suffered. I hope the new owner treasures it as much as I did.
Hello Tom,

My name is also Tom and I am the new owner of the Elgin 600 #469 that you used to own. However, I am not the one who bought it for $1400. Apparently it has changed hand(s) before I got it. I had been looking for one of these for a long time and I finally found it and I am sure I got a fine piece since it was under your care. The piece arrived safely this morning, 1/12/2020. I wound it up and it took off immediately. Let me assure you I will treasure it as dearly as you did. I paid amost double the $1400 price tag and it is worth every penny.

Regards,
Tom alway learning
 

Tom McIntyre

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Thank you for the peace of mind. :thumb:
 

Ralph

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Okay then, does any else own an Elgin 600 with the "21" additions that still contain an Elgin balance?
Paul
There's a partial Elgin, with an unassociated dial, that has the 21 addition, ending soon. You know where.

Ralph
 

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