Help with Elgin pocket watch balance jewels

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by Rafa G, May 18, 2020.

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  1. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    Hello Group,

    I still consider myself a newbie in this watch repair thing, and I've decided to start with Elgin pocket watches. I've got three that have at least a broken balance staff and at least one broken balance jewel, so I thought it might be good learning to try to take these three watches on. Two are double roller, 16S (478 and 386) and the other is single roller, 12S (345). I've got several K&D staking sets (that I've admittedly not used yet), a Seitz friction jeweling set (I realize my current project is plate style, but not sure if the Seitz has any function here) and one of those six sided star-shaped jewel pushers. I find reference to this style of plate jewel setting in Fried's 'Bench Practices . . ..' book, and he describes how these jewel setting must be cut using a counterboring cutter, he even describes how to make one. I admit that the counterboring thing was a surprise for me, as I figured I was tooled up to try this. I've posted pictures of one of the 16S watches, upper and lower jewels, new jewels, and some snapshots of the Fried book. Now my questions:

    1. There's some tool marks on the plate near the jewel setting. I didn't do that, for sure. Why might someone have done that?
    2. I've searched counterboring cutters on the eBay, but seems like most of what I find is much larger than what a watchmaker might use. Are these things commercially available?
    3. Given that Fried gives instructions, as I expected to be able to make these on my own?
    4. Any advice for this cliff I'm about to jump off of?

    Given that the 12S is single roller, I suppose that's the one to start out with?

    Thanks, Rafa

    IMG_0030.JPG
     
  2. NC Plumber

    NC Plumber Registered User

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    You don't need to do any counterboring to replace balance jewels. Just remove the 2 screws that are holding the jewel setting in place, push it out along with the end stone, then push a new jewel in place.
     
  3. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    Thanks for the reply. The trouble is that the new jewel settings do not have the necessary cutouts. Looking back at the original post, I see I didn’t attach pictures well. Take 2.

    D7ACA432-337D-48C2-948B-D9430285DCC6.jpeg 12C81EEC-EF06-44BB-8816-7921FF49351F.jpeg B3CF14B2-88F3-4861-AFD1-EED4C8A7E07E.jpeg 74E9A2AC-9B0F-441C-8C2B-BDAC799D60D4.jpeg F2F2E876-14AE-4255-9B31-8D78D5B874FB.jpeg
     
  4. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Rafa G,

    Those tool marks look as though someone was trying to dig out the setting! If the replacement jewel settings are correct for that movement, they shouldn't need modification. You certainly shouldn't even consider altering the original plates to make new parts fit.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  5. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    Thanks, Graham,

    So these jewels/settings from another supplier might have the counterbores already cut?

    Rafa
     
  6. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Rafa G,

    Yes, if they're for precisely the same location in your specific model and grade of movement; these things aren't generic. Am I hearing that you've bought some non-specific jewels on spec? If you have, they probably won't fit the pivots or the plates.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  7. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    H
    Hi Graham,

    They came from Cas-Ker and were ordered by Grade number, so I assume they are proper, they just don’t have the counterbores cut for the screws. In post #3 there are pics of the new jewels in their settings, but no counterbores cut, which seems normal according to Fried. I’m just not sure the best method for getting the counterbores cut. Thanks again.

    Rafa
     
  8. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    If the original jewels have a counterbore, and the new ones do not, they are not the same jewels and likely will not work properly, they will either sit too high giving too much end shake or will just push through the hole in the plate. I have purchased many jewels over the years and it is a crap shoot finding the correct jewel even in a manufacturers repair kit.
     
  9. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    Typically, balance hole jewels don't have bores for the screws. Balance cap jewels do. Almost always, the hole jewel is the one that is broken, and the cap jewel can be reused. Your cas-ker jewels, which are balance hole jewels, look correct to me. They should be round and not have screw cuts.
     
    John Runciman and 179 like this.
  10. John Runciman

    John Runciman Registered User
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    then minor confusion on my part your simultaneously working on three watches which watch in particular are we talking about and was there a part number for the jewels?

    Then this is pocket watch repair never assume that their proper. Always measure the original and compare the measurements with the replacement part. Otherwise unpleasant surprises will pop up. Often times modern replacement pocket watch parts are deliberately made over size for the watchmaker to fit. This is much more common with balance staffs I don't know how much of this they did with the jewels though.
     
  11. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    #11 Rafa G, May 20, 2020
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
    Hi John, thanks. I see the confusion of bringing up three watches at the same time. The one I'm working with first is the 16S, Grade 386. The part number they supplied is Elgin # 447, their # is 12BB-5.

    Sometimes I can overthink something when I should have just taken action, so I just disassembled the jewels on the balance cock using the star-shaped, six-pointed jewel pusher. I can now see what Chris Radek was trying to explain above, which is that the jewels that have the counterbores are the cap jewels, not the hole jewels. I had thought that the cap jewel and hole jewel were one assembly, not separate pieces. The new jewel looks proper now that I understand a bit better.

    I'll try to update progress soon. Thanks to all!!
     
  12. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Were cap jewels counterbored or did they get the indentations from the screws holding them in? I know that Waltham pin punched the plate and the jewel setting so that they went back together in the same way after disassembly.
     
  13. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    I’m pretty sure they were counterbored. I’m surprised at the picture I was able to get with a cheap 10X loupe and my iPhone, not sure if it tells the tale.
    Interesting about Waltham marking them. I don’t see any reference marks on this.

    D33A50DD-6230-4428-BFF4-DE8AE6250F43.jpeg
     
  14. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Rafa G,

    Yes, they were, it wouldn't be feasible to just let the screws make those cuts, the threads in the plate would strip first. Marking orientation of jewels with a 'pip' was common practice in manufacture, but by no means universal; however, a spare part wouldn't necessarily show that, even if the original did. Sometimes the retaining screws weren't exactly on a diameter, so the setting would only line up in one position, thus a 'pip' was unnecessary.

    Smart phone cameras are very competent now, and with a bit of ingenuity it's possible to produce useful results, as you've done here.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  15. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    I feel like Ralphie in a Christmas Story when he finally gets the Red Ryder!! I just got that broken balance jewel and the balance staff replaced in one of the 16S movements, at least enough to spin the balance, and it spins freely!!!

    Along with the being my first jewel replacement, you can probably imagine that this is my first staff replacement as well....first use of my staking sets, etc, etc, etc.

    I looked through my small library, and Fried’s ‘The Watch Repairer’s Manual’ had the most complete chapter on the subject, so after reading the chapters on jeweling and balance staff replacement, I followed step-by-step of removal, matching, and replacing of the staff. I’m at the point where the balance is riveted to the staff, the jewels are happy, but the hairspring collet and roller table have not been mounted to the staff yet. The staff and balance assembly are installed into the movement, and the balance seems free in all positions!!!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you collectively for the help this far. Tomorrow I’ll continue with hairspring and roller table install.
     
  16. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    Happy Friday to All,
    I’ve been meaning to update and ask more questions, but the week got ahead of me.....
    (Speaking my my 16s, Grade 386) I was able to get the roller table and hairspring installed, adjusted the collet a few (many) times to get the line of centers correct, and reassembled. The movement runs dial-down, but with very little amplitude. As I turn the movement over, I can hear a light ‘thunk’ as the balance obviously has excessive endshake, enough that the balance interferes with the balance cock and stops. I set the thing aside for a few days . . .

    Yesterday, I disassembled again, verified that the hole and cap jewels were fully seated—they were. To be clear, at this point, I’ve replace the balance staff and one broken hole jewel. As Fried’s book had suggested, while matching the staff, I had made a sketch with comparative measurements between the old and new balance staffs, and the new staff measures 5.17mm in length. Knowing this, I re-measured the balance staff length, in case I had mis-handled it, but it still measures 5.17mm. The original staff measured 4.98mm with one broken pivot, and Fried mentions adding around 0.25mm for a broken pivot, so my new staff comes up short by that measure. I have searched other suppliers of the staff for a Grade 386, and 5.17mm seems to be what I find for length.
    To my limited knowledge, I’m not sure what my options are for adjusting endshake. The cap jewel positions don’t seem adjustable, and I’m not up to making my own staff yet. Can someone point me in the right direction?

    (I’ve included a pic of the new and old staffs next to each other. While I’ve known that the length of the hairspring section looked a bit different, I hadn’t noticed until attaching the pic here that the coned section of the lower pivot in the pic looks a bit different in height from new to old. Even then, I thought endshake would be controlled by total length.)

    Thanks again.

    8CC3DAED-923B-4638-9803-52355787696A.png
     
  17. Harvey Mintz

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    I suspect some people will object to the procedure I'm going to recommend, but that'll just be their opinion.

    Let me start by saying that if you can find the longer staff, that's a better option. Having said that, what you need to do is chuck one of the hole jewels on your lather with the bottom of the flange exposed and take a little bit (about .04mm from your measurements above) from the thickness of the flange. That's not very much, so don't overdo it.

    Remember - this is done to the BOTTOM of the flange -- you don't want to play with the top because that sets the distance between the hole jewel and the cap jewel. By thinning the flange a bit, you move the hole jewel down along with the cap jewel, removing the excess end shake. I've done this more times than I can count, and if you're careful it works very well.

    If you don't have a lathe and a set of jewel chucks, forget this idea entirely - it can't be done without the proper tooling.
     
  18. John Runciman

    John Runciman Registered User
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    As a reminder if you read my message above I made a reference to the importance of measuring old versus new parts to avoid unpleasant surprises like you now have. The other reason especially and I made a reference above on this it's important to measure the staff dimensions before ordering a replacement staff. This is because for instance if we looked up the balance staff you're supposed to have it is Elgin grade 386 staff number 861. That seems simple but there's a reference to a note on the bottom of the page which refers you to a page somewhere else in the universe so they're giving you a clue about something?

    Typically with American balance staffs one staff number will have variations usually for pivots size. But Elgin got a little more creative for some of the staffs there are other dimensions that are different. So for instance the 861 balance staff comes in the old style and a new style. The old style is 5.20 mm with the new style being 5.32 mm. I'm attaching images so you can see the differences of looks like Elgin at one time had four separate staffs for this number but in my other listing it shows only two sizes basically the length is the difference.

    Then my parts listing for the hole jewel indicates Both upper and lowers the same and there aren't any variations except? You did measure the dimensions of the replacement jewel versus the old jewel? Sometimes replacement parts are made a little oversized to allow you to adjust them.

    e 861 b.JPG e 861 staff a.JPG
     
  19. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    #19 Rafa G, May 30, 2020
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
    Hi, Harvey, I’m not tooled for this, but thanks for the clear explanation. My only question has to do with the counterbores on the cap jewel settings again. If you reduce the ‘stack height’ of the hole and cap jewel assembly, doesn’t that make the counterbores sink down a bit too, leaving a gap between the screws and the counterbored surface? Maybe that small difference isn’t significant, that’s why I ask.

    Hi John, please know that I had read and appreciated your posts above. I will certainly apply these tips to future projects, but my parts were already in hand when I started this thread. Also, I did measure and compare new and old parts, as you and Fried had suggested, I’m just not experienced enough to know how to account for the broken pivot. Knowing now that there are 5.20mm and 5.32mm versions, I'd still find myself puzzled because by Fried's method of adding 0.25mm for a broken pivot, which gets me to 5.23mm. I suppose one orders multiples of each? Is there a reasonable way to measure the distance between the cap jewels?
    In my field (automotive repair), when a part gets revised or changed, so does it’s part number, and if there are variants of the part, they will all have different numbers. Given this, the concept of four parts having the same part number is quite foreign to me.

    Can I ask where your attachments came from? So far, I've got the Swigart 'Illustrated Manual of American Watch Movements', but the only note it makes about the staff is that there is a regular 861 and another that is oil-grooved. Is the non-oil-grooved version the old style and the oil-grooved version the new style? Swigart doesn't list any measurements. Your source is obviously more complete than mine.

    As for the hole jewels, I'm not yet setup to measure jewel holes directly, but I did apply a test which Fried describes of testing the play between pivot and hole, which I've attached a picture of. I had ordered a total of 4 hole jewels, so I picked the one that best fit the pivot using the method Fried describes.

    Lastly, I've seen some negative comments here about Fried's books, and I've got Jendritzki on the way as well. Donald de Carle doesn't mention plate-type cap jewels in 'Practical Watch Repairing', seems like he starts at friction-type and goes into shock-type. Thanks again.

    5C84F30C-0984-4BC7-A9A2-60F8385C7E5D.jpeg
     
  20. John Runciman

    John Runciman Registered User
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    Henry's interesting in that I can't quite remember where my understanding is the Europeans don't like his books. The Americans on the other hand almost regard him as the father of American watchmaking at least in the last century or so. Very prominent in the horological associations. Then I have the problem of every time I see his name I remember the last time I met him at a nawcc convention every time we walked past he stopped to talk to me. Then if you know what you're looking at and you look at his books a lot of them have reproduction material from a lot of book or technical sheets. But that doesn't make all of his books bad's bench practice book has a really nice section on how to straighten out mangled hairsprings. So the reality is you can't have enough books it does help to look at multiple of references.

    for Jendritzki's Books I assume you mean the Swiss watch repair manual? Probably nobody told you this but the earlier versions Have more pages than the newer versions lot of older stuff's been taken out but the older stuff is much nicer. Working on pocket watches..

    there may be a minor problem with the arbitrarily rule of 0.25 mm if the pivots broken.. Is a minor catch to that in that does it matter the size of the staff like a ladies staff versus a pocket watch staff is going to be some variations in that.

    when you're looking at multiple of references we get multiple of problems. One of the reference books I think I got the PDF off of eBay Is American pocket and wrist watch balance staff interchangeability list by George E Townsend. This is another one of those books against frowned upon I believe by people on this discussion group.. So what George did was measured every single staff in his assortments and I think others might of submitted numbers and they're all listed numerically by size.. So feel the unknown staff you can look it up and see what it might be.. But there's a bonus in the back he's reproduced all the various American watch company staff information. Including some really detailed drawings of some staff that have way more dimensional numbers and what they have in the listings.. So this is where usually if I need the reference notes that were referred to in the parts manuals I usually go here like for Elgin were the notes are..

    Like for instance if you already have your model number you can come here

    http://www.elginwatchparts.com/

    My favorite reference material for both balance staffs and balance jewels for the most part doesn't exist at all.. This is because it's an obscure reference from a material house that no longer exists. I think when I was looking on the Internet once somebody on eBay had a reproduction but otherwise there's no PDFs and most people don't even know of its existence.. Its title is Swartchild's American Balance Staffs Then there is another companion book that lists the balance jewels.

    So for instance if you once the above side entered a new grade number looked up your balance jewels you find out the both upper and lower have the strange number I always find the number X bothers me but it's what it has X447. Then image of the section of the book on balance jewels we get dimensions.. For which I could care less about the hole size if it fits the staff it's fine it's those other sizes that I'm concerned with. If it fit obviously the diameters are right but what about the thicknesses.. This is exactly what above the reference to the jewel Chuck is for if it's too thick you would have to reduce it. This is back to my fussing about measuring the original measuring the replacement looking in the book and hopefully they all agree.

    The other reason I get concerned is there's a company called bestfit.. It's an interesting company that has interesting reference material some of which is now available as a PDF.. Then they sell replacement parts some of them are original made by the factory.. I know somebody who owns a material house he went to their factory he said in the morning they were casing up Omega parts for Omega.. In the afternoon there up packaging up there replacement parts of Omega with their numbers on it. I know at one time the Rolex parts were really Rolex parts which means you're not than ever find those ever again. But they do American balance staff and jewels and those are made for them.. So one of my favorite to pick on is a particular 18 size staff which comes with a whole bunch of variations beyond pivot way more than yours does and they only show 2 I think they acknowledge that there is a hub difference and it only comes in one pivots size.. Your staff is only listed as one and of course only one Pivots size. Which means the replacement jewel should fit that staff but I've seen some other other staffs are made oversized allow the watchmaker to reduce them the size which is why get nervous about even the balance jewels as to whether there made exactly to the original size or whether they were deliberately made at large or in the case the balance jewel thick to allow the watchmaker to reduce the size.

    Then a habit I have from emails I always check the email I'm answering to make sure I got everything because I ended up with a lot of paragraphs years I might have missed something? You made a reference to one of the British authors. Since I can't remember which one I'm not going to mention but one of the British authors that wrote a lot of books somebody didn't like it because they considered them a hobbyist.. It's the problem with books is nothing wrong with Henry's books their fine but is it the only book you should have no. You should have lots of books even though this is the computer age and everyone wants PDFs. Multiple references are always better than just one book because there is no one book one reference or anything else.

    Then I didn't see your staff on the first link below it's an interesting website because you can look up staffs and you get dimensions.. That makes a nice reference.. Then there is a PDF below it lists staffs but yours only shows as one so obviously it's not complete.

    Then can you give me the page number in the Swigart Manual where it makes a reference to the groove?

    Balancestaffs.com watch balance staffs - listed by brand - easy online search

    www.orologiko.it/americani/assi/assi_americani_2.pdf

    balance staff length.JPG Elgin balance jewels.JPG
     
  21. Harvey Mintz

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    Rafa G asked "My only question has to do with the counterbores on the cap jewel settings again. If you reduce the ‘stack height’ of the hole and cap jewel assembly, doesn’t that make the counterbores sink down a bit too, leaving a gap between the screws and the counterbored surface? Maybe that small difference isn’t significant, that’s why I ask."

    Yup - it will present as a slightly depressed cap jewel. If you want to hide this, you make the reduction on the lower jewel stack so it's hidden under the dial. This is a bit dangerous because you can lower the balance enough to cause interference with other parts, so it's best done after careful measurement and consideration.

    Or, you can replace the cap jewel with one in a slightly taller setting, eliminating the visible height difference. Nto so easy if the cap is set in gold, or is otherwise distinct from the plain setting cap jewels you can get.

    Of course, if the amount you're removing from the flange is small enough, you probably won't be able to see it anyway.
     
  22. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    Hi All, another update! I looked through my stash of parts and found two other staffs labeled '861' (kinda funny that in the end, I had the correct part on my shelf all along). Both are longer than the one I started with, 5.30 mm and 5.33 mm. After measuring and matching these two other staffs, I test fitted both into the movement. The shorter staff fits well with a tiny bit of endshake. The longer staff fits and still spins freely when installed, but I don't really see any endshake. I installed the shorter of the two staffs fully yesterday, and it now runs in all positions, at about 150 degrees of amplitude dirty and dry. It ran all night long, so I'm happy. My next step will be to disassemble, clean, lubricate and reassess, as I wanted to repair before servicing.

    John, thanks for the wealth of info. Here's some answers and points:
    1. The Jendritzki book I've got coming is 'The Watch Repairer's Manual', ISBN 9783941539501. It's a reprint of 1953 edition, so that's probably 'newer'. We'll see, but thanks for the tip to find the old, original books.
    2. Makes sense that 0.25 mm would not work for all size staffs. He doesn't define which size staff he's referring to at that point.
    3. I'll keep an eye out for Mr. Townsend's book, looks like gold. While searching that one, I did order one of his called 'Almost Everything You Wanted To Know About American Watches...'.
    4. Good to know about the various parts info sources. The page in the Swigart book I have is page 18. It doesn't say any more than listing two lines of 861 referring to the Sixth Model. One says "861-Balance Staff.", the next says "861-Balance Staff, Oil Grooved". For what it's worth, it also lists the 2532 staff as applying to the Sixth Model, but the catalog doesn't break down 'Sixth Model' at all or try to define which staff fits a particular Grade.

    Harvey, thanks for the explanation. I guess my question was more functional than aesthetic. I'm wondering if the gap from the bottom of the screw head's face to the counterbore's surface will allow the cap jewel to shift a bit, affecting endshake. I must be overthinking it, as the use of jewel chucks seems common.

     
  23. John Runciman

    John Runciman Registered User
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    I have two separate editions the newer edition is labeled the fourth edition 1977 as they number every single page including some advertisements in the back the last page is 139. The other I have is 1964 labeled third edition 226 pages. So that gives a minor page discrepancy of 87 pages missing. Or basically a heck of a lot of pages are missing that have good information.

    Then one minor thing on amplitude pocket watches typically are not 52°
     
  24. praezis

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    ...but amplitude values look muuuch nicer ;)

    Frank
     
  25. Rafa G

    Rafa G Registered User
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    #25 Rafa G, Jun 2, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
    Yes. I would mention that I used my iPhone camera’s slow-motion function to actually see the amplitude. I’ll use the timing machine after cleaning. Seems like pocket watch lift angles are in the 44 degree range, right?
     
  26. praezis

    praezis Registered User

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    Ok, then lift angle does not matter.
    PWs are about 36...42 deg, depends on calibre.
    You can use your smartphone like above, then adjust your timing machine to show the same amplitude: real lift angle found!

    Frank
     

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