American PW Elgin Balance Staff Replacement

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by f.webster, Apr 16, 2020.

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  1. f.webster

    f.webster Registered User
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    Dec 18, 2009
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    Okay, the new guy to watches has been at it again...

    I am working on an Elgin model 3 Class 25 16s 15j pocket watch (s/n 6368203)with a broken balance staff. I purchased the replacement staff and am ready.

    After removing the balance assembly (bridge, hairspring, balance wheel and staff) I recognized that I would have to set the hairspring free in order to remove it and the balance wheel and staff from the bridge. The hairspring is held in place with a small pin. I need to remove this pin to allow the hairspring to slip through the regulator. (Please excuse my terminology).

    I have tried removing that pin with tweezers but am unable. To me it appears that the pin comes out to the left in the attached image. I may be over cautious not wanting to damage the hairspring or the pin.

    So here I am looking for some wise counsel and help from friends.

    20200416_103156.jpg
     
  2. 179

    179 Registered User
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    Frank do not remove that pin. You need to loosen the hairspring stud screw, where it attaches to the cock. the stud appears to be blued in the photo.
     
  3. f.webster

    f.webster Registered User
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    Thank you.
    If I do not remove that pin, how can I get the hairspring out of the regulator? Should I be thinking about removing the regulator along with the hairspring as a unit?

    I agree that loosening the hairspring stud screw is easier. I think taking that approach that the pin holding the hairspring will fit through the balance cock.
     
  4. Rick Hufnagel

    Rick Hufnagel Just Rick!
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    Frank,

    The hairspring will slip out of the bottom of the two regulator pins, there is no need to pull it through.
     
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  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Frank,

    The regulator should be two parallel pins, but yours appears to be closed at the tips. Can you post a clearer picture of that area? They may have been damaged in an old repair. You certainly should only unpin the spring from the stud as an absolutely last resort, because there's a great risk of distorting, damaging or even breaking the spring if you try and remove the pin. Taking off the regulator without first disengaging the spring from it will also risk damage.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  6. 179

    179 Registered User
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    Frank , if I have one that is reluctant to come out of between the curb pins. I support the spring with a fine tweezer on both sides of the pins, and ease it out from between. As Graham has said the pins should be parallel , but on older watches many times I find them closed at the tips
     
  7. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

    Dec 19, 2011
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    DON'T PULL THE PIN!!!

    Loosed the screw on the balance bridge and push the triangular stud out the bottom. The hairspring should slip out from between the pins on it's own or with a little manipulation of the pins to separate them. Use a single edged razor blade between the pins to open them. Don't just shove the blade in, use the edge as a wedge to bend open the pins/gap enough to let the hairspring out. Don't push/pull/twist/manipulate the spring to force it out, spread the pins open.

    The hairspring will need to come off the staff once you get the assembly out. I made these from a brass tweezer by bending the tips inward and filing them so that they're tapered and act like a wedge. The tips have small notches in them to fit around the staff as you pinch them together underneath the hairspring collet.

    hairspring tweezer.jpg

    To use:

    From UNDERNEATH the balance, slip the tips over the arms and slide them to the center. Position the tweezer so the tips are under the collet and pinch. The hairspring should just pop off.
     
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  8. John Runciman

    John Runciman Registered User
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    Then one minor little caution make sure you measure the old staff and compared to the dimensions of the new staff to make sure you actually have the right staff? Elgin is interesting with staff numbers in that one number can actually referred to multiple of staffs as revisions were made. So your staff comes in a old and a new style which have different dimensions. So to avoid unpleasant surprises you should always measure or at least visually compare the old to the new staff just to make sure. Then each staff also has four different pivots sizes.

    These are variety ways to remove the hairspring for the balance staff just be extremely careful that your actually under the collet and not in the middle.
     
  9. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

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    Since I made the tweezer, I've yet to bork a hairspring when removing it from the staff on any balance from 18s down to 6s. The tweezer shown doesn't fit balances smaller than 6s because the tips are too long to allow it to fit inside the rim. I have another tweezer that's similar with shorter arms for those. I chose brass because it's easy to bend and won't mar but it could just as easily be made from a broken steel mainspring with a bit of heat at the bending points and tips. For one made like that I'd put in longer notches to allow the tips to ride one on top of the other for more "lift" under the collet.

    Most collets all seem to have either a taper or step to them on the bottom (balance arm) side. Resting the tweezer on the arms as I slide if to the center seems to auto locate the tips right where they need to be to interact with the collet taper/step without risking the hairspring where it enters the collet.
     
  10. f.webster

    f.webster Registered User
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    ...we get by with a little help from our friends. Thank for the clear help.

    The additional image requested is attached. I do see that the hairspring should slip out from between the pins on the regulator. Today I will follow the wise counsel and if necessary use a single edged razor blade to part them. Once I have freed the hairspring balance and staff, I will cautiously follow Henry B. Fried's directions from "The Watch Repairer's Manual" for replacing the balance staff.

    I will post my progress on Monday.

    20200417_090010.jpg
     
  11. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Frank,

    Yes, the pins are slightly bent, they should be upright and parallel.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  12. John Runciman

    John Runciman Registered User
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    I'm attaching a close-up of the regulator pins and they look reasonably parallel to me. The hairspring should just slide out. I've definitely seen worse where they come together as a point then the hairspring definitely will not slide out without help. I would just loosen the stud screw and you might have to gently push the stud out from the other side sometimes that gets sticky. Just make sure that the hairspring is sliding out from the regulator pins though.

    hairspring pins parallel.JPG
     
  13. f.webster

    f.webster Registered User
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    Good day to all.

    I did successfully remove the balance assembly from the cock. I then removed the hairspring and collect from the staff. The roller table has been removed and the staff has been removed from the balance wheel. I have visually inspected and compared the staff to insure I have the proper replacement. Now I am ready to reassemble; but, before I do I have a question or two.

    1. What cleaning should be done at this point? I have ultra sonic machine and was wondering if I use it to clean these parts, what is recommended as a solution. I know that can be a many thread response. Maybe I should just gently brush them down with Naphtha?
    2. How can I be sure that the jewels are clean? I have inspected them and I don't see that the broken pivot is in the lower jewel.

    Thanks for seeing me through this...

    20200420_110320.jpg 20200420_111600 (1).jpg 20200420_145402.jpg
     
  14. NC Plumber

    NC Plumber Registered User

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    I would remove the jewels, and run them along with the balance in the ultra sonic. A sharpened piece of pegwood can be used to remove any oil or debris that the ultrasonic didn't get.
     
  15. f.webster

    f.webster Registered User
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    I have read several...of many... links on what to do with the hair spring. Mine doesn't seem to be rusted or too oily. I think I will leave that as is. Removing the jewels that hold the balance staff for cleaning I will make sure that I keep them separate and identified. All will go into small containers with Naphtha into the ultra sonic. No heat.

    Then I will begin assembling the balance assembly.
     
  16. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

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    I ultrasonic the complete assembled balance with L&R clean/rinse solutions then when dry I put balance in an old plastic film container with 'essence renata' (nasty stuff) and run the container over my demagnetiser, it thoroughly degreases the assembly and dries almost instantly.
     
  17. f.webster

    f.webster Registered User
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    If you mark the balance wheel to assist in aligning during assembling...which I did...done use naphtha. It will remove the marks. I used a sharpie and the marks are gone.

    Maded note.
     
  18. f.webster

    f.webster Registered User
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    This is an Elgin pocket watch (as noted above)

    I have studied all the parts ready for reassembly. The balance wheel came off easily so I am thinking it doesn't have to be riveted when I put it back onto the new balance staff (?). When I put the roller table back on I will align the roller jewel at 90 degrees to the arms on the balance wheel (?). I washed away my marks so I thought this would be a sensible start. How the hairspring will be aligned will be a later thought.

    When removing the jewels from the cock, remove the two little screws and then push the jewels out towards where the screws were removed. This is the same for the jewels in the plate (?). Pushed out, cleaned, oil (very little) on cap jewel and then pressed back in. I am going to use a piece of pith wood to do the pressing.

    Clues, hints and wise counsel ....PLEASE!
     
  19. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    It will need riveted to the new staff, just use a staking set and a rounded punch tapped a few times and a flat one to spread out the metal.

    You can put the balance back in and turn it so it moves the pallet, make sure the roller jewel in inside the forks and note that when you have the pallet exactly in the middle of the banking pins that is where the stud on the hairspring will go into the balance bridge when you press it back on the staff,
     
  20. John Runciman

    John Runciman Registered User
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    There were some watches made at one time that had friction staff's. But yours is definitely riveted and it should not of come out easy? Occasionally will find where someone replaced it and didn't riveted good enough. On some occasions the rivet can be so bad that the roller table might actually rotate in relationship to the balance arms not because it's loose but because the rivet was loose.

    Then for the message above the most part all the steps look fine except. Once the staff is in the balance wheel put only that back in the watch and verify that it seems to spin fine. Even turn it upside down the make sure there is no problems in a variety of positions then you can put the roller table back on. It's usually best to find problems before you get too far along.
     
  21. Smudgy

    Smudgy Registered User

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    It may be best to check that the staff fits the jewels (pivots and length) prior to riveting in the staff, and polish the pivots if needed. When removing the old staff don't drive the old staff out, but cut the balance out from the back so that the rivet won't make the hole in the balance larger. That is usually where the problem of the loose staff that John was talking about comes from, and riveting the staff too much to make up for the larger sized hole can sometimes cause problems. So don't rivet the new staff in with an extra powerful rivet or it will cause problems for the next guy replacing a broken staff.
     
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  22. f.webster

    f.webster Registered User
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    Replacing the balance staff was an education I need. Thank you to all for the instructions and encouragement.

    Now for the rest of the movement. It is dirty. I think I can take care of that. However, there are a few challenges.

    First, it is missing a click. Is there any chance I will find one?
    Next, the spring that retracts the setting lever is broken. Again, Any chance there is a source for that?

    20200513_125650.jpg 20200513_125810.jpg 20200513_131221.jpg
     
  23. Skutt50

    Skutt50 Registered User

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    Perhaps time for more learning..... You could try to make a new "retracting spring". How depends a little on the size.....

    There was assortments sold with raw spring material. If you can find one (e.g. ebay) you could shape a new "retracting spring" yourself.

    Another method would be to locate a mainspring with the same dimmensions and heat it up to make it soft. Then shape the spring following the old broken one. Then harden and temper and voila....... You will find several detailed descriptions on the process as such with Google. Perhaps not using a watch spring but how to soften and harden steel.....
     

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