Elgin Model 600 Parts for sale on the Bay?

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by Brad Maisto, Jan 12, 2018.

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  1. Brad Maisto

    Brad Maisto Registered User
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    Anyone notice that there are a few Elgin Model 600 marine chronometer parts for sale on that huge auction website? I would be very curious to know how these surfaced? Does anybody have any thoughts on this subject? Thanks, Brad Maisto, KY Floral #44 Secretary, born and raised in Elgin, IL.
     
  2. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Hello Brad, I believe these parts are all coming from an auction last year of the remains of the Max Low estate. I could be wrong. There were endless parts such as burnt up movements, guard boxes, Negus repair logs, and much Elgin parts. Unfortunately these Elgin parts will result in many "put together" Elgin chronometers resulting in the degradation of those that were out there prior to the auction. Actually no one knows the source of the ones that were out there before the auction. I for one would love to know who bought the Negus Repair Logs. It would be wonderful to see these digitized by Google for all to see.
    Paul
     
  3. Tom McIntyre

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    I can tell you that Edmund Scientific offered Elgin Chronometer kits to hobbyists after WWII. I would not be surprised if there was a very large stash of the material somewhere. I do not recall ever seeing provenance on an Elgin 600.

    If they were valued for their scarcity relative to the Hamiltons they would sell for much more than they do. My speculation has been that no one was sure where they really came from.
     
  4. Brad Maisto

    Brad Maisto Registered User
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    Paul and Tom,
    Well I did snag one of the “parts” Elgin 600 chronometers and I will post a few pictures when I receive it this coming Friday! I did look back in Marvin Whitney’s 1992 book, Military Timepieces published by AWI Press and there is an entire 6 page chapter devoted to these model “600” Elgin’s! It describes how shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Elgin National Watch Company, like so many other American companies, devoted their entire production facilities to the war effort. It mentions the three Elgin scientists - George G. Ensign, Dr. Carl N. Challacombe, and Walter Kohlhagen developed a new system for predicting the performance of mechanical time fuzes used in naval anti-aircraft guns. It goes on to mention that Elgin was awarded a contract in 1943 for 3,000 chronometers at a cost of $541 per instrument. It goes on to tell the issues with the Elgin design, and states “Although Elgin May have failed in producing a ship’s chronometer that was seaworthy, let no one fault their great war effort.”
    So in my humble opinion, there certainly could be up to 3000 parts, pieces, or whole Elgin 600 chronometers out there. Working as a scientist for many years in the pharmaceutical business, I have sympathy for this failure by Elgin as there were many drug candidates that were felt to be miraculous, but it the end were failures and were never a viable product.
    Having grown up in Elgin, and remembering what a great watch factory did for that city, with the observatory and planetarium that resulted from the watch factory, amazed me as a young lass!
    Thanks, Brad Maisto
    P. S. It is Chapter 7 in Whitney’s book starting on page 153, preceding the much longer chapter on the American made chronometer that was a huge success.
     
  5. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    #5 Ralph, Jan 15, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
    I don't know if there is a definitive ending serial number for those chronometers completed by Elgin, but I have been told that there were only 125 or so completed by the factory. Any chronometers above serial #125 or so should be suspect as not being factory built/completed. That info is anecdotal.

    Here is a link to an earlier thread on a particular chronometer.

    https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/elgin-600-chronometer-sn-99.128068/

    Ralph
     
  6. Brad Maisto

    Brad Maisto Registered User
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    Ralph,
    Thanks for that link to the other post. I have been to many auctions, and you can only believe the auctioneer to a certain point! I plan to bug Bill Briska at the Elgin Historical Society for if there is any further information, other than what Marvin Whitney stated. That is a great story about the bank president, my father probably knew him, as he was an accountant in Elgin for many years and knew quite a few people at the banks! I’ll never forget going with my dad to one of his safety deposit boxes so he could clip the interest coupons on some notes he held!
    Thanks, Brad Maisto
     
  7. Brad Maisto

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    9CFA3878-137B-4167-BDB9-8188AB5CED2D.jpeg It arrived today, Elgin Model 600 “parts” chronometer, #932. The brass tub looks like it left the factory yesterday, and since it is still equilibrating to room temperature, this one picture will suffice. It will look good next to my other American chronometer and my Russian version! Brad Maisto
     
  8. Brad Maisto

    Brad Maisto Registered User
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    70036137-A513-48D9-80B5-689C7E9996EA.jpeg So here is what was inside my “parts” Elgin Model 600 chronometer. If I can locate a set of Hamilton hands for a reasonable amount, I will fix it to the point where it will tell the correct time twice a day! I know it will be prohibitively expensive to finish it off, even it was possible. I guess I have something to occupy my time over the rest of my lifetime, or one final goal to conquer! Brad Maisto
     
  9. Brad Maisto

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    AFF5371D-D13C-4061-A82F-F2945EF4F25C.jpeg Taking “baby steps” in making my Model 600 look a little more complete. Found a power reserve hand (honestly, I believe it is an old broken 18S pocketwatch hand) that seems to work. Brad Maisto
    P. S. I tried uploading this picture last night, and like Greg F., it would not load. Thanks for fixing whatever was wrong.
     
  10. Brad Maisto

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    81331306-9E02-40C8-B065-D6968E3B176C.jpeg So I have acquired two boxes that most likely came from the Elgin Watch factory, one has 50 small 1 and 1/16 inch long pinions with 12 teeth and the second box has 21 brass (gold-flashed?) fusee barrel covers that measure 1 and 5/8 inch across and have roughly 90 teeth. Slowly but surely, maybe I will eventually have all of the parts needed to complete this chronometer? I was going to post a picture of page 178 out of Marvin Whitney’s “The Ship’s Chronometer”, but I did not want to infringe on any copyright rules. I do note that the picture was provided by Art Bissell of Boulder, Colorado, maybe he will allow this? Thanks, Brad Maisto
     
  11. Paul Regan

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    I would like you to succeed in your endeavor Brad. As for hands, have you considered Hamilton 21 hands? I understand that a lot of parts from the 21 can fit the 600.
     
  12. Brad Maisto

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    Paul, yes thanks for that information. I have our local watch and clock meeting to attend this morning and there should be an individual there that is very knowledgeable in marine chronometers. I have seen my micrometer, but still unpacking and it is lost again, but I do plan to take some measurements of both this Elgin Model versus my Hamilton Model 21. They do, by visual comparison, look like they are identical. One has to wonder if the Elgin scientists back in 1943 got their hands on a Hamilton, and instead of re-inventing the wheel so to speak, made some shortcuts due to time constraints and did a lot of copying since the Hamilton was passing the Naval Observatory strict requirements? Thanks, Brad Maisto
     
  13. DeweyC

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    I would not worry about "put together" Model 600s. Max Low bought the production line in 1946. There were only enough parts to assemble about 700 instruments. I think he told me there were about 1500 dials made??

    Detents and balance wheels were the blocking points. The Lows assembled some, and sold others a kits. They even wound up using M21 balance assemblies for the last 100 or so and marked the dials (I forget what the marking was).

    Chuck LOVED the detacheable escapement. Neither of us could figure out why in the world Elgin thought it was smart to use an alloy balance spring (Elginium) with a split bimetallic balance. Still befuddles me.

    Do an IMDB search on Chuck Low. He was character in every sense of the word (pun intended).

    Anyway, he DID have several hundred escapement hole jewels I wanted to buy when I purchased 600 M21s from the USN sales. He refused to sell them and I purchased several hundred this year at 25% of the price (in today's dollars) I was willing to pay in 1993 dollars! SO it goes.

    Anyway, I got to know Chuck quite well and visited him several times at 110 Hudson. For those who do not know, this is a factory site (upper floors) where they in fact made from scratch the Low Message Center clocks. I SAW the machinery!

    In one room, Chuck had all the Elgin 600 parts laid out. WE did make a deal where I bought 100 complete gimbals sets that I used for my Hamiltons and I would restore and sell chronometers for him. Some of you may remember my tables in Florida and at KOP.

    Chuck had several warehouses. These were 10,000 sq ft affairs with 15 foot high PILES of nautical instruments with about a 2 foot path between them.

    For about 10 years Chuck would make an annual "dirty call" to me and we would talk. We are missing someone who really added some color to our world.
     
  14. Brad Maisto

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    Dewey,
    Thanks for all of that information. It does put into perspective the mystery behind the Elgin Model 600 chronometer. The remainders of his estate continue to sell on the huge internet auction site. And it appears that there are a few others out there that covet anything Elgin “Watch Factory” related, and especially if it has any connection with World War II production!
    Brad Maisto
     
  15. Brad Maisto

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    DA439245-9A13-4F28-AC6A-E8D010666D47.jpeg Another step closer to having an Elgin Model 600 chronometer looking like it will tell time, at least 2 times per day. Now to try and find a second hand! Brad Maisto, KY Floral #44 Secretary
     
  16. Brad Maisto

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    AC1F3C26-CD24-43E1-A631-85972B22E968.jpeg 9E01EB3E-E025-4675-BBAE-C732D9450E16.jpeg One step closer to having material to complete my Elgin chronometer. I was able to get this lot of 100 unmounted ruby cap jewels! Brad Maisto
     
  17. Jim Haney

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    Did you get the rest of the items from that auction? It was loaded with Elgin 600 Chrono parts
     
  18. Brad Maisto

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    Jim, not sure which auction you were referring to, but the only things I have purchased come from that world-wide auction website!
    It has been roughly a year since these Elgin 600 parts movements have been selling, a few are more complete than the bulk of the others and therefore command higher selling prices!
    I would be curious to hear back from Dewey if he has had anyone contact him to complete these clocks? All have been missing the escapement pieces, which I am assuming are in limited supply?
    Thanks, Brad Maisto
     
  19. GeneJockey

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    Sorry to unearth an old thread, but I believe the answer may be that the alloy may be "Elginium Y", which Elgin used in the later 478 and 540 BW Raymond 21 and 23j pocket watches. Both have white hairsprings, described in the 1941 catalog as "Elginium Y". The 478 has what looks like a conventional steel and brass bimetallic balance cut next to the arms, while the 540 has an bimetallic balance cut about 2/3 of the way around. The catalog describes it as an Invar balance.

    I'm not sure why Elgin went with "Elginium Y" and compensating balances, since they'd already introduced Elginium hairsprings and the "Beryl-X" solid balance in their wrist watches, but the 478 and 540 were their most modern pocket watch grades at that point. Perhaps they weren't satisfied with the performance? Worked well enough in a wrist watch but not yet in pocket watch size?

    It stands to reason, then, that they may not have been satisfied that they had a good enough Elginium hairspring to go with a solid balance.
     
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