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Hairspring Help!

Kenny S.

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Apr 12, 2020
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I really screwed the pooch on this one. Committed a cardinal sin I believe. After removing the balance cock from the watch I placed it in a separate cage and placed it and the movement in my Watchmaster. No problems until I decided to use canned air to "gently" blow off the remaining solution. BAD idea obviously. I had gotten away with it before by holding the can far away from the balance, but I apparently got careless.

My question is, if I am able to untangle the hairspring, will it still work correctly, or should I start searching for a donor now?

P1010922.JPG P1010921.JPG
 

Skutt50

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Mar 14, 2008
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It depends a lot on your skill level.....

To get a damaged hairspring back to 100% is not easy (if even possible!?) but one can often get them back to "pretty good".

I don't know what happened... Did the balance fly off while the hairspring was attached to the balance cock?

If you "only" have tangled coils it can be untangled, but this can be a tempting job....
If you however have introduced some kinks to the hairspring it makes the job a bit more delicate......

It does not look like you have an overcoil which makes the job easier.

I would remove the hairspring from the balance and start to untangle from the inside out. A good help is a thin piece of clear plastic type an old 35mm film... Working from the inside you should be able to move the crossed coil outwards until you can free it....

Once untangled you can inspect for kinks and other damage and/or if the hairspring will be usable.
 

Kenny S.

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I don't know what happened... Did the balance fly off while the hairspring was attached to the balance cock?
No, the spring got tangled from the force of the compressed air blowing on it. I then removed the wheel from the balance to try to untangle it.

It sounds like you're saying to take it a step further and completely remove the spring from the wheel, and then insert a piece of plastic to try and "recoil" the spring from the inside out. Is that right?

There are no kinks that I can see so I'm hopeful I can save it.
 

Skutt50

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Mar 14, 2008
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Yes I would remove the hairspring from the balance.

Normaly I start from the inside and move outwards HOWEVER you might have several coils crossed and then you must examine if you e.g. can start to uncoil some from the outside.

To help holding the coil I somtimes use a toothpick fitted in a large erasor. This allows me to carefully "streach" the hairspring to better see where the crossed coils are.

I find the plastic easier and use it to complement the tweezers. It is a trick I learned years ago here at NAWCC. Give it a try and see what works for you.

No kinks increases the possibilities to get a functioning hairspringin the end.

Good luck....
 

DeweyC

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Feb 5, 2007
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I really screwed the pooch on this one. Committed a cardinal sin I believe. After removing the balance cock from the watch I placed it in a separate cage and placed it and the movement in my Watchmaster. No problems until I decided to use canned air to "gently" blow off the remaining solution. BAD idea obviously. I had gotten away with it before by holding the can far away from the balance, but I apparently got careless.

My question is, if I am able to untangle the hairspring, will it still work correctly, or should I start searching for a donor now?

View attachment 628227 View attachment 628228
First, Never use compressed air near a balance spring. Heat. But you know now. Kind of like telling a hiking partner to watch their step after they tripped.

While here though, canned air is not very useful around watches. The compressed air can cause condensation and it only drives dirt deeper when used on movements. If they are already lubricated, it blows oil off of surfaces. I do have compressed air at the bench but it is used to clean the bench and parts trays. I use suction to remove dust from movements and parts.

If you have not tried to play with it yet, you can likely be successful.

Suspend a piece of thin stiff plastic (35mm film) from an upright so that it is horizontal. Find a place in the spring where you can insert the plastic between two coils with the balance hanging underneath. Now start unwinding the spring on the plastic. This will work the tangle out. Near the end you may have to work the stud from under a coil or two. At times it may be necessary to remove the stud, but in your situation you may well only do further damage.

This can also be done with a stiff piece of paper held in one hand, but it is easier with to manipulate the spring if both hands are free.

I think it looks worse than it is. Given what you described, it is likely that colis only jumped over each other and nothing is deformed.
 

John Runciman

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Aug 13, 2003
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I think it looks worse than it is. Given what you described, it is likely that colis only jumped over each other and nothing is deformed.
It really does have an interesting look to it? It almost looks like it's stuck together versus mutilated.

When attempting to untangle it do not bend anything.

After removing the balance cock from the watch
I always find the wording of things interesting? Did you clean the balance wheel with its bridge together?
 

Al J

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Jul 21, 2009
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While here though, canned air is not very useful around watches.
Slight disagreement here...

Canned air is always at my bench, and the single use it has is opening mainspring barrels during disassembly:

7750barrelside.jpg

For this purpose it is incredibly useful. The barrel is opened without changing the end shake or any other form of deformation. Of course this doesn't work with barrels that are full of slots and other holes, but if you work on modern watches, this is the go to method for opening barrels.

Cheers, Al
 

Jerry Kieffer

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May 31, 2005
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On a side note, Damaged barrels can often be easily restored by rolling back to shape, fit and original function in a Lathe. First photo.

In addition I often also use the Lathe when working on Hairsprings. The use of a collet offers a secure way of holding a balance( If in the balance is preferred) and a collet holding tool post offers a third hand that can be securely positioned in any location required. Second Photo.

Jerry Kieffer


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