How to keep time/strike/chime gears in order during disassembly?

Kelly

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I'm working on my second clock and was doing a pre-assembly after putting in a couple of replacement bushings. I had to refer to photos I'd taken during disassembly in order to figure out which gear belonged where. And a question occurred to me: how do folks keep track of which gears belong in which train?

Obviously, experience and knowledge makes a huge difference. But is it common practice to, for example, have one bin/box for strike train gears, another for time, and so on? Or do you just "know", and never feel the need to keep them straight?

The only gears that stumped me thanks to my disassembly pictures were the main drive gears (I probably have the terminology wrong: the gears with the winding arbours). They are visually identical to each other with the Ansonia mechanism I'm working on, and I worked out (hopefully!) which was for the strike train and time train by looking at which direction they would wind.

When I took the pieces apart again, I put the strike train gears in a separate baggy- I'm just curious how other people keep the parts organized.
 

Kevin W.

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Kelly you could scratch a small s or t on the time or strike side wheels.No need to do both of the trains.That way you would know which is which.You could do it on the front of the clock so it would not be visible to the back.But just small letters won,t likely be seen any ways.
 

Dave B

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For years, I have been using styrofoam egg cartons. I photograph the movement completely assembled from all six sides, then photograph it after I lift off whichever plate I enter the movement from. Then, as I disassemble it further, I put all the time train wheels, except the great wheel in the row nearest me, and all the strike train wheels except the great wheel in the back row. The great wheels, mainsprings and levers, I lay in the lid. Time parts on the left; strike parts on the right. Any ancillary parts (clicks and screws and bridges, if any, I put with their respective wheels.

Al Takasch uses a screen that he got from an office store - one of those things that is supposed to be for letters and such. He bent it, so that It would fit into his cleaning tank, and drilled a bunch of holes in it. He sets the arbors in the holes in roughly the same position as they go in the plates. That way, he can immerse the whole shebang in his ultrasonic cleaner, and rinse, and place it into his drying box.

Others I know use old shoe boxes. They turn them upside down, and poke holes in the bottom in roughly the same locations as the wheels go in the trains.

So there are a few ideas - from them, you can probably come up with a method that works for you.
 

shutterbug

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I use regular keychain type chain that you can purchase in a hardware store for little money. About 1 foot sections, with clasps. Each wheel from a train goes on one chain. When it's clasped shut you can put the whole thing into the ultrasonic unit or clean the wheels individually while on the chain. Three one foot lengths is all you need for a three train clock. They seem to last forever too - I've yet to break one :)
 

Mike Phelan

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:confused: Most of the ones I've handled cannot get the wheels mixed up, apart from maybe the barrels, but as they are identical in such a case, no problem.
Things like screws, washers, spacers and suchlike I draw or photograph.

Don't know about USA or modern 3-trains, so maybe there is a reason there.

This is what I do with the wheels whilst dismantling:
 

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bkerr

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Dave B
Now I am trying to figure out the screen idea? Can you get a pic? Sounds interesting.
I was taught to use a magic marker to put a dot on the wheel. Black, red and blue work well for three trains. Always mark only one side, the one you see as you disassemble. Then these go into a piece of stryofoam in the order they were taken out. Again, three different trains.

This works slick but when you put the parts in the ultra sonic the mark goes away. I only do one train at a time in the cleaner for that reason.
That screen thing may save some time!
 

doc_fields

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When I first got into doing this, I took a small scriber and scratched near the shaft whether it was T1, C1, or S1, and then on up the train. I did this on the brass only. Now, I don't do it anymore, as I'm familiar enough with the movements that I can just throw them as a heap into the cleaner, and sort them out later. Once in a while on the American T&S movements do I get a little fudge on which wheel is C1 or S1 when both are the same in appearance, but I can usually sort that out when I put the trains together to check for slop after the US cleaner.................doc
 

doug sinclair

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I start out by removing all ancillary parts (chime, strike, etc.) and do a preliminary clean with the clock plates in place so I can judge the condition of the bearings. When I strip a clock, I use assembly pegs, attaching them to the front plate, mark the bushings I'm going to do, on both plates, then remove the back plate first, leave the wheels where they are on the front plate, remove the center wheel and friction spring from the center arbor, proceed with bushing the back plate after which I re-assemble. Test the bushings I've done thus far, on the back plate. Flip the movement over, move the assembly pegs to the back plate, remove the front plate and re-bush it. Re-assemble and test ALL the busings I've done. Then, re-clean the clock, fit assembly pegs to the front plate, remove the back plate and put the center wheel back together after lubricating it, then do a final assembly and test on all the bushings. Re-assemble the ancillary parts, lube, test, etc. This way, it is easy to keep track of what belongs where, and no need to mark anything. If it seems there might be some extra steps involved in doing it this way, that is compensated for by simplifying the process in other ways.
 

Kelly

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Wow: lots of great ideas! Thanks, folks!

The most "happy" part of this for me is that I don't seem to be alone in terms of having thought about how to keep the trains "distinct". In other words, my question wasn't completely stupid :D

My key way of keeping things straight is lots of documentary photos from different angles during disassembly: those are great for me as a beginner. I see a couple of suggestions to mark the wheels (scribe or marker). I'm hesitant to put any permanent marks on my work, though- does "permanent" marker come off of the metal fairly easily, or ... ?

I did mark the time and strike mainsprings with a small scratch. To be honest, on this mechanism I don't know if there is any difference between the drive springs at all, but I figured I should keep them separate and put them back where they started.
 

Thyme

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Wow: lots of great ideas! Thanks, folks!

My key way of keeping things straight is lots of documentary photos from different angles during disassembly: those are great for me as a beginner. I see a couple of suggestions to mark the wheels (scribe or marker). I'm hesitant to put any permanent marks on my work, though- does "permanent" marker come off of the metal fairly easily, or ... ?

I did mark the time and strike mainsprings with a small scratch. To be honest, on this mechanism I don't know if there is any difference between the drive springs at all, but I figured I should keep them separate and put them back where they started.
You're doing mostly everything 'right'. I'd be reluctant to scratch anything though, because scratching is permanent. Permanent (and of course water based) marker can easily be removed with lacquer thinner.

As for keeping the various components in order, a useful shop aid is to get a block of styrofoam. You can poke all the gears in it in the exact order needed for reassembly, and even take a photo of it before you toss everything in a parts cleaner. Then you'll have no confusion about 'what goes where' during reassembly.
 

lpbp

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I think you will find that the strike gears, except the main wheel, have something on them, pins etc.. The time side are all plain. Gears working up from the main wheel, get progressively smaller. If this still doesn't work for you make holders, like safety pins, and attach a metal key tag with t1, t2, etc., scratched on them, and attach to each wheel. I would never mark by scratching on any wheel, it's permanent.
 

MShaw

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I use loops of wire with hooks bent in the ends to keep trains together in the cleaner. One for each train. On the bench I keep them segregated in piles, time in the center, chime on the left and strike on the right. I scribe a tiny C or S on the fans. For Hermle spring barrels I scribe the T, S or C on the hook in very small letters and on the cap at or betwen the identifying numbers.

If you start from a known position like the minute arbor for the time train then there is only one viable sequence for reassembly.

Malkin Shaw

York, Pa
 

al_taka

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bkerr
Now I am trying to figure out the screen idea? Can you get a pic? Sounds interesting.
I was taught to use a magic marker to put a dot on the wheel. Black, red and blue work well for three trains. Always mark only one side, the one you see as you disassemble. Then these go into a piece of stryofoam in the order they were taken out. Again, three different trains.

This works slick but when you put the parts in the ultra sonic the mark goes away. I only do one train at a time in the cleaner for that reason.
That screen thing may save some time!
Here is the Wheel Stand I made that Dave B mentioned. I have the mainsprings pictured but never put assembled MS in the Ultrasonic. For drying, I dry by hand and put the dried parts into another stand.

Its a time saver keeping things organized for each operation. Especially handy for triple train movements.
 

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al_taka

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bkerr
Sure do, It fits my US, its a 2.75 gallon.
Everything stays organized for cleaning.
I rinse off in softened hot water.
I hand dry and place parts into a second rack.
It goes to my inspection and polishing area.
After repairs and bushing work it goes to assembly and testing bench.

I built my shop with 32 feet of counter space, upper and lower cabinets, plus drilling and special bench space.
 

bangster

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Here's the bangster method.

Get one of those compartmented plastic trays for tableware: four long compartments for knives, forks, big spoons, little forks, and a shorter compartment at one end for teaspoons.

Use the short compartment for things like hands, mounting screws, pillar nuts, taper pins, and other small stuff.

As you disassemble, put all of the wheels of the time train. including mainspring barrel, in the long compartment nearest you. That's the time compartment.

Put all the wheels of the strike train in the next compartment.

Put all the wheels of the chime train in the next compartment.

Put long things like levers, suspension rods, etc. in the far compartment.

Clean the things from each compartment SEPARATELY. After they're clean and dry, put them back in the compartment. Line them up by size. Clean the next batch.

As long as you have the trains separated, putting them back into the plate in the right order is a piece of cake. THEY WILL ONLY GO, AND WORK, ONE WAY.

Start with the mainspring. When it's in place, put in the wheel that will mesh with it. Then put in the one that will mesh with the 2nd wheel. And so on. If they won't mesh, something is upside down. Find out what it is and turn it over.

The time train ends with the escape wheel. The other two end with a fly. The wheel before the fly will generally be a warning wheel, with a pin sticking out one side.

In the strike train, the one before the warning wheel will generally be the star wheel that trips the hammer. The one before that will either be the 2nd wheel or the great wheel (mainspring barrel wheel).

In the chime train, the 3rd wheel (after the 2nd wheel after the mainspring)will generally be the one with the locking plate on one end of its arbor, and the main drive gear for the hammers on the other. The one after that will be the warning wheel (pin on one side or the other). The one after that is usually the fly.

These are generalizations, not universalities. But they provide guideposts.

KEEP THE TRAINS SEPARATE from the outset, and save yourself a peck of confusion later. ;)

print out these instructions, and treasure them.

bangster
 

RJSoftware

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If I'm tired, I just toss em in a plastic bag I get a Wallmart. :D But most time I only work on 2 train movements.

I tried the styrofoam block method, thing is you gotta watch bending pivots on the really small clocks.

I like the screen idea, seems more gentle and organized.

RJ
 

Thyme

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bkerr
Sure do, It fits my US, its a 2.75 gallon.
Everything stays organized for cleaning.
I rinse off in softened hot water.
I hand dry and place parts into a second rack.
It goes to my inspection and polishing area.
After repairs and bushing work it goes to assembly and testing bench.

I built my shop with 32 feet of counter space, upper and lower cabinets, plus drilling and special bench space.
Now, all each of us needs to do is afford to have a 2.75 gallon US cleaner and a custom built shop. That would be wonderful.

I'm glad you do, but some (or most of us?) might feel intimidated or inferior in not having such superior equipment and facilities.

Fortunately, there are other equally effective tools and methods, though more humble they may be. I hope we hear about them, too.
-> posts merged by system <-
If I'm tired, I just toss em in a plastic bag I get a Wallmart. :D But most time I only work on 2 train movements.

I tried the styrofoam block method, thing is you gotta watch bending pivots on the really small clocks.

I like the screen idea, seems more gentle and organized.

RJ
I'd like to know how styrofoam can bend a metal pivot? (Maybe if it was hammered into it?) :confused:

I'd also like to know how a metal screen is more "gentle" than styrofoam? :confused:
 

Dave B

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I'd like to know how styrofoam can bend a metal pivot? (Maybe if it was hammered into it?) :confused:

I'd also like to know how a metal screen is more "gentle" than styrofoam? :confused:
Styrofoam is funny stuff. If you poke a hole in a piece, using something blunt, like an arbor, then look at it through magnification, you will see that what you did was not puncture the plastic bits that make up the whole, but rather, pushed them off to one side. Well, sometimes, particularly with some of teh older clocks, the arbors are fairly long, and pretty soft iron. If, when you are stuffing it into the styrofoam, and it hits one of the little round pieces of plastic squarely, it is possible to bend an arbor - I have had that happen, which is why I quit using it.

The screen already has plenty of holes in it, so when you set an arbor into the screen, you are not making a new hole. Definately more gentle, than using the arbor as a punch. My US cleaning tank is smaller than Al's, but I see no reason why I can't use a mesh basket such as his, but scale it down to fit my tank. I probably will do that, if I ever get around to making a trip to the office supply store.

The problem with using egg cartons is I still have to clean one train at a time. (I don't stab the arbors into the styrofoam, as I have seen some people do - I just lay the wheels in the egg wells).
 

Thyme

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Styrofoam is funny stuff. If you poke a hole in a piece, using something blunt, like an arbor, then look at it through magnification, you will see that what you did was not puncture the plastic bits that make up the whole, but rather, pushed them off to one side. Well, sometimes, particularly with some of teh older clocks, the arbors are fairly long, and pretty soft iron. If, when you are stuffing it into the styrofoam, and it hits one of the little round pieces of plastic squarely, it is possible to bend an arbor - I have had that happen, which is why I quit using it.
You can say anything you want, but I do not find your assertion credible - for the simple reason that styrofoam is softer than metal (let alone a metal pivot) and will certainly yield to it without bending it.

However, I'm not here to argue, but to provide solutions to problems, including theoretical, nonsensical ones. So instead, here's a "softer, kinder, gentler" solution for those of you who think styrofoam is harder than metal: it's called floral foam.

http://sona.oasisfloral.com/products/oasis_floral_foams

If you think that's also too hard, maybe a piece of sponge-like, foam rubber (as used in soft upholstery cushions) will satisfy. :rolleyes:
 

Dave B

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All the really small pivots I have ever encountered wer on French clocks. Provided they weren't stressed sideways, you could probably stick them in a dart board! :D It is the larger ones on as I said, older (particularly US Colonial Period) clocks that seem to be suseptible to bending.
 

bangster

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Back to Kelly's question (how to keep track of which wheel goes in which train), almost all of these suggestions have one thing in common: keep them segregated from the outset. The rest are just different ways of implementing that.

Compartmented containers —egg cartons, silverware trays; plastic baggies; lined up in a screen or a foam block: all just different ways of keeping them segregated.

The mistake, until one has a modicum of experience, is piling them all together and trying to sort them out later.

IMHO, nothing wrong with scratching a small T, S, and C on spring barrels.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

bangster
 

shutterbug

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IMHO, nothing wrong with scratching a small T, S, and C on spring barrels. bangster
If you look at them closely at the outset, there is usually some identifiable difference without adding any mark. For example, the chime barrel us usually much bigger, which identifies it. The other two likely have scratches, a blemish, something that can be noted that makes them different. Make a written note. Usually they're the same anyway, so a switch would not be a disaster.
 

Kelly

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Back to Kelly's question (how to keep track of which wheel goes in which train), almost all of these suggestions have one thing in common: keep them segregated from the outset. The rest are just different ways of implementing that.
Quite so, Bangster. For me, the "revelation" is that most people do in fact keep the trains separate/sorted during disassembly. Until I asked, I wasn't sure if maybe my confusion at this pile of gears was completely ignorance on my part.

Now I'll know that keeping things separate from the outset is the way to go, and I have lots of good ideas here about how to do so. And maybe my ignorant question and all the answers here will give some new ideas to the more experienced folks too :)
 

Thyme

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The mistake, until one has a modicum of experience, is piling them all together and trying to sort them out later.
Actually, it's a good test of your mechanical skill to try doing that (with an old junk movement) for practice. A few year ago I picked up a box lot of parts, including a movement that was all in pieces. I bought it wondering whether they were just odds & ends, or were all the correct parts for that movement. Ironically, included was a very detailed, hand drawn diagram of all the components, but apparently someone still couldn't manage to reassemble it. I managed to do it, but it took me a while.

For those of us who don't do movement disassembly very often, it's probably easier to keep things separated, because it avoids time spent in having to scrutinize and determine the function of each part. (For me it's usually the positioning of various levers that are more of a challenge than the gears.) And then there's always the potential PITA of finding you've installed a symmetrical component backwards, and having to disassemble it all over again. :confused:
 

Dave B

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I think the biggest reason for keeping various trains isolated is, in the case of "interchangeable parts", they may have been interchangeable years ago, when the clock left the factory. But after years of running, wear even if it is not noticable, will cause differences in pivots and bearings, and in gear mesh. I just think it is asking for trouble to not keep them in their original places. By the same token, I am always carefurl to keep clicks and their matching cog together. We used to have a saying in the auto repair and restoration business: "Interchangeable parts don't." I learned that the hard way, by switching pistons and connecting rods in the first motor I rebuilt as a teenager. About 500 miles later, it seized up.
 

Joolz

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Hi
when i disassemble i take a photos (see pic) of the split movement print it and stick it to a piece of thin polystyrene, then as i remove gears/parts place them into the printed sheet (piercing the printed sheet and polystyrene first so not to damage), other parts i place in a compartment box,
I have done 3 movements so far and this has worked well for me,

Cheers
 

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Cathy in Hawaii

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Keeping the gear trains separate from the beginning saves tons of aggravation later.

I'll generally make a drawing of each side of the movement noting all the gears and levers. Usually there is an arrow pointing to each pivot spot with a note of how the gear is inserted and a verbal description of the wheel. "Large time wheel with longer (wider) gears with gear side down". Sometimes later the notes seem too cryptic but generally I can remember what I meant. Then I'll take pictures too, but my computer isn't in the clock room so I usually use the drawings to put it back together.

When I take all the gears and levers off one side, they all get strung on a piece of wire. I've got a bunch of that multi-colored soft copper thin phone wire which works great. Then the gears and levers come off the other side of the movement and are put on another wire. Then I mark any necessary bushings and other repairs. Then when the plates are cracked, each gear train is kept on a separate wire. All the tiny parts are put in a mesh tea ball, it is a round ball which clips closed and is usually used to make tea with but works great for small parts. All the parts are put in the cleaner at the same time.

I'll usually do case repairs and cleaning while waiting for the parts to clean and dry. Then each gear gets the pivots polished and teeth checked. The plates get the holes burnished and bushed if necessary. Then the jigsaw puzzle is all put back together. The wheels come off the wire in the order they went on and each gear train is separate so it is a lot easier than when I first started and mixed things up.
 

Dave B

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Cathy - Your system seems to me pretty good (I too use a tea ball for small parts) but I don't check which bushings to do until after I have cleaned up all the pivots, and reassembled the clock with no springs. That way, if any pivots were worn to the point that when cleaned up they seem a little small, I can catch those bushings as well as the ovaled ones, or decide to re-pivot.
 

Cathy in Hawaii

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Ah, I haven't been looking for the arbor end pivots to be too small, I generally look for oval holes in the plates and mark those. Now I'll have to start looking much closer at the ends of the pivots as they fit in the holes! So far I haven't done a whole lot of really old clocks so perhaps they haven't had enough time to wear any of the pivot ends out yet. Most of the clocks I work on are less than fifty years old with a few in the eighty to ninety year range. I think there's only been one over one hundred years old. How long does it generally take for the pivot end to wear down small enough that it would need rebushing?

Hmm, if anything needs to be rebushed, shouldn't the end of the gear which is going to be in the new bushing be marked somehow, too? Then it would be easier to make sure the right size bushing was installed in the proper location.
 

Mike Phelan

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So far I haven't done a whole lot of really old clocks so perhaps they haven't had enough time to wear any of the pivot ends out yet. Most of the clocks I work on are less than fifty years old with a few in the eighty to ninety year range. I think there's only been one over one hundred years old. How long does it generally take for the pivot end to wear down small enough that it would need rebushing?
Cathy
How long is a piece of string? ;) Too many imponderables - quality and type of metal, plate thickness, amount of force applied to the pivot, arbor length, how near the end are the wheel and pinion, how critical and which train? (Striking and chiming are much less critical).

To elaborate, I've just bushed a barrel cover and hole in a German three-train from ca 1940 I have, and own an early 1700's LC where I had to replace one pivot and its bush, but no other holes have ever been bushed at any time, and neither do they need bushing for a century or so.
My wood movement BF wall clock from ca 1840 has never been bushed at all.
Take every pivot and hole on its own merit!
Hmm, if anything needs to be rebushed, shouldn't the end of the gear which is going to be in the new bushing be marked somehow, too? Then it would be easier to make sure the right size bushing was installed in the proper location.
:confused: :confused:
 

Dave B

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When I mentioned the pivot size I was thinking specifically about Ingraham movements that were made with gilded steel plates. Most of those that I have encountered have surprisingly deep grooves worn in the pivots. But I have seen quite a few other clocks that, for one reason or another had pivots that were significantly smaller after polishing. So, after the wheels come out of the cleaner, I polish out all the wear in the pivots, then check to see if I need to do bushings. There is no point in trying to select the proper size bushing until after the pivot is polished, or there is a very good chance the bushing selected will be too large. Also, because I use a "Sharpie" felt tip pen to mark the ovaled holes to indivcate direction of wear, there is no point in marking the holes until after the plates have been cleaned. A lot of repair books will tell you to check the movement over before disassembling, and make note of loose clicks, or or other problems. I don't bother with any of that until after the clock is cleaned. You'd be surprised how much slop is in things like click rivets, after the gunk is all removed from them, as compared to before. SO my cleaning routine goes as follows:
1. Let the springs down
2. Dunk the whole movement in acetone, unless it has lacquered plates.
3. Dry the movement with compressed air
4. Clamp the springs and disassemble the movement
5. Clean all the parts
6. Polish all pivots. Any that are worn to less than 2/3 original diameter get cut off and the arbors repivoted at this stage.
7. Reassemble the movement without any srings anywhere, and check for ovaled and undersized bearings. Mark these with a sharpie, using an arrow in the direction of wear, in the case of ovaled holes. Check for problems with clicks, and any problems in the striking train, and any other problems.MAke a written list of things to be done.
8. Disassemble, and mic the pivots of the holes to be repivoted, writing down the wheel and the size. I use the following format: capital letter for the train , number of the wheel, lowercase letter for the plate, diameter of the pivot in mm to two decimal places.
9. Insert bushings, and do all the proper machining of oil sinks, end shake, etc.
10. Re assemble and oil the movement.
11. Place the movement on a test stand and get it regulated.
12. Reinstall the movement in the case, and set it in beat.
 

shutterbug

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Personally, I don't find it necessary to reassemble the movement to find the holes needing bushed, since you can usually tell by wiggling the wheel around. Most can be found before disassembly by moving the large wheel back and forth, observing the movement in the pivots on both plates. I think it's good practice to choose a bushing that's a bit too small for the pivot and ream it to size rather than trying to find one that fits right. It's pretty hard to tell until you get it placed in the movement, and if it's too big you've created more work, and waste. For sure, do your pivot polishing before bushing :)
 

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