Johnson three-wheel Massey V movement # 2830

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by John Matthews, Apr 19, 2017.

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  1. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    I was attracted to this mechanism by the cock – its shape and the crown decoration – and the 30 tooth escape wheel that was clearly shown in the seller's photographs. From what I could see, I was convinced that it would reveal itself as a rack lever with out slides. From Oliver's database I saw that John Palvik's 1818 #2779 was a three wheel rack and this appeared to confirm my assumption.

    When it arrived yesterday, I was in for a surprise. It has indeed a three wheel train with a 30 tooth escape, but as the pictures illustrate, it is in fact a Massey V with a very short straight lever. As you can imagine I am very pleased with this acquisition and the 'icing on the cake' it is in perfect working order, albeit in need of a clean and service. Pity it is without a dial, the underdial mechanism and case. The latter had already been harvested – but with it, it might well been above my budget. There appears to be some wear on the lever notch, but the balance, the disc carrying the impulse pin and the roller with a crescent cutout for the Massey safety, appear to be in good condition.

    As far as I am aware it is the first Johnson Massey V that has revealed itself.

    My thanks to Graham and Oliver for their encouragement to make the purchase.

    John
     
  2. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

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    John, I am delighted to see that the nature of the escapement has now been established beyond doubt. As you say there has been no definite record of a Johnson Massey V until now.

    The balance-spring seems to have an exceptional number of turns for this relatively early date. I wonder if it could have been replaced later in the century? I shall be interested to hear if Graham or anyone else has any views on this point.

    Oliver Mundy.
     
  3. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    Hi Oliver - I remember you also thought that the endstone was a replacement - so possible that may add weight to the replacement of the original balance spring. Apart from that, I have been unable to identify any further features which might be interpreted as modifications. If there are any that I have missed, but captured in the photographs, I'm sure that Graham's eagle eye will spot them.

    John
     
  4. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    I can't see anything to suggest it wasn't made as a type V, but it has been "attended to" in the past; the lever notch has been hammered up somewhat, the barrel setup ratchet wheel is missing a tooth, and the pillar plate centre hole has been "punched up". The third wheel bottom pivot hole has been moved slightly in the bar but the wheel looks original; if this was an error in planting the wheel, I'd have thought that the wrong hole would have been plugged. Perhaps the bar itself is a later replacement?

    There appears to be a number, "1883" scratched under the cock foot, and this could well be a date of repair, possibly involving the replacement of the hairspring, which would account for the large number of turns.

    What looks like the click spring for the maintaining power on the fusee is unusual in being straight and running across on top of the third wheel. Could you take another picture of this area from the edge please?

    I agree with Oliver that the endstone has been replaced and was probably a diamond originally.

    Massey type Vs are not at all common, and I should think that very few of those have a 30 tooth escape, so you have acquired a very interesting watch.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  5. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

    Sep 22, 2015
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    Hi Graham - many many thanks for your expert comments.

    "the lever notch has been hammered up" - I had assumed this was damage, do you think this was an 'adjustment'?
    "the barrel setup ratchet wheel is missing a tooth" - I saw this but thought it was original - run out of space for the last tooth
    "pillar plate centre hole has been "punched up" - not familiar with the term, although I can see what you mean, could you please explain further?
    "third wheel bottom pivot hole has been moved slightly in the bar" - I'd missed that completely
    "There appears to be a number, "1883" scratched under the cock foot" - I think this is the serial number - see close up
    "the click spring for the maintaining power on the fusee is unusual in being straight" - I missed this - new photographs show it clearly.

    When I took the maintaining power spring photographs, I looked more closely at the fusee and it appears that maintaining click operates against a brass ring, rather than steel. It also appears that as a result the brass teeth have suffered as a result.

    John
     
  6. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    Thanks for the extra pictures.

    Levers don't get damaged like that by themselves, and this looks like an attempt to remedy an earlier alteration by peening the edge of the notch. Possibly done originally to accommodate a slightly larger replacement jewel pin?

    Those ratchet wheels would have been bought in, and nobody would fit a defective one; it has a broken tooth.

    "Punching up" pivot holes was a very common practice, (deprecated now), to remedy wear in the plate, and this particular hole takes a lot of pressure from the great wheel. Most staking sets still have a series of half-round hollow punches, which is what was used here to close up the hole and possibly "draw" it to a different position. Much quicker and cheaper than re-bushing!

    The "correction" to the position of the third wheel pivot hole is odd, and it seems unlikely that it was a mistake by the frame makers in planting the wheel, although I suppose it was "out of sight out of mind" once the watch was finished.

    I think you're right about the serial number under the cock foot, which, by the way, has some punch marks of an unusual shape; whether they were to increase the staff end-shake or have some other purpose isn't clear.

    Maintaining power ratchet wheels aren't usually brass, but then, fusee ratchet wheels usually are, with a steel click, and they don't necessarily wear badly. A decision of the fusee maker, and not necessarily one of cost I suspect. The straight spring acting on the tail of the click rather than a curved one acting on the nose is also unusual.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  7. SKennedy

    SKennedy Registered User

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    A lovely, interesting movement.
    I think that might be 2830 on the underside of the cock, matching the movement number. I think what you see as a '1' is just a scratch, your first '8' is the '2' and the '0' is a bit mishapen and over to the right a bit. It would make sense for that number to match.
    Its not unusual to see brass maintaining power ratchet wheels early on. I think at some point (1820s?) there was a general change over to steel. I associate that type of mainting power click/spring with better quality movements as I'm certain they would have been more labour intensive to make.
    Seth.
     
  8. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    Graham - thanks for your explanations and Seth for your comment regarding the use of brass for the maintaining ratchet wheel.

    I have been trying to get a better understanding of the three wheel trains. I had read that their use was mainly favoured by the Lancashire makers and I had previously thought they were almost solely found with rack levers. However, this mechanism and inspection of Oliver's Johnson database, has made me realise, for Johnson at least, that this is not the case.

    Here are some observations based on Oliver's database - which are presented to provoke discussion ...

    • three wheel trains were used by Johnson in the period 1815 to 1830 - can this period be extended using other makers?
    • over this period, the database has ~60 examples of which 40 Oliver regards as definitely Johnson - of these 15 are recorded as 3 wheel trains - given this is the minimum number in the sample, the percentage could be as high as 40% for this period - this was much higher than I expected - was Johnson's use of three wheel trains far more frequent than other (Lancashire) makers?
    • of the 15 examples recorded only 2 are rack levers, 6 are definitely Massey levers and the remaining 7 are either Massey or roller table levers - could they all be Massey levers? - unlikely but possible?
    • I infer that Johnson saw the benefit of using the three wheel train for both the rack and other levers he produced - if Johnson's use of the three wheel train was more common than other makers - why might that be?
    I think I read somewhere, possibly on David Penney's site, that Johnson was an early adopter of the Massey levers, so I wonder whether his use of the three wheel train across his range, was typical of a maker continually experimenting, in order to progress his profession and improve his product.

    John
     
  9. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    #9 John Matthews, Apr 20, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
    I have just checked David Penney's archive and found five three wheel non-verge escapements. Four Litherland & Co rack levers, including the earliest #324 estimated to have been made around the time of his 1792 patent and also #1598 in a Chester 1800 case. A further Roskell rack #31497 in a Chester 1820 case. The earliest Litherland example I can find is #306 C1793, unusually a going barrel three wheel rack, described by Vaudrey Mercer's AH paper of 1962.

    My most interesting discovery is a letter from Kenneth W Shanks published in AH Spring 1988 which I reproduce below:

    "The watch has two numbers - on the barrel plate No. 2696, and on an applied plate engraved 'Rbb't Roskell', the No. 34638. The gold case is H.M. 1824, made by T.W. of London, and the movement is a three wheel train, Massey type 5. The number 34638 fits nicely into the list recorded by D.M.W. Evans, (A.H. March 1976, Page 705) while Roskell No. 2696 would have been made about 1804; which is too early for a Massey escapement. So I decided to remove the applied plate, suspecting that some clever bodger had cut a section from another Roskell watch and had 'glued' it onto an anonymous watch to increase its value.

    The plate concealed the name of another fine Liverpool maker, Joseph Johnson, and a check on other Johnson watches showed that No. 2696 would have been made in 1824. Other Johnson watches I know, No. 2577 H.M. 1823... a first type Massey lever, 2902, H.M. 1824... a Massey type 5 which is almost identical to 2696, and 4461 of H.M. 1825 which is a second type Massey lever. The first three are all three wheel trains with 30 tooth escape wheels, while 4461 has a four wheel train with 15 tooth escape and a long lever. All have the word Patent on the chiselled cock and the same style of foot. Examination of the top plate, using a stereo microscope, shows that the plate was gilded after engraving with Johnson's name and before the addition of the Roskell plate. The added plate was then fitted by drilling three stopped holes into the original top plate, then held in place by three rivetted plugs, next engraved Roskell and Number, and finally the whole
    plate regilded. F.J. Britten, in Old Clocks and Watches, states that Roskell was a collector of curious Horological specimens - perhaps he added 2696 to his collection, or did Roskell buy complete watches from Johnson to retail as his own work?"

    The Johnson watches described are not in Oliver's database and add to the number of Massey three train levers made by the company.

    It would seem to me if anyone finds a three wheel Johnson they should not be surprised is it has a Massey lever escapement.

    Was Johnson the only maker who produced Massey levers with three wheel trains?

    John
     
  10. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    John - I have mentioned these two movements elsewhere on the forum (links posted below), but they seem relevant again here. I have two three-wheel lever escapement movements with large 30-tooth escape wheels. One is a Jos’h Johnson (No.9250) with a Massey III escapement. The other is a rack lever by Vale & Comp’y.

    http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?94509-Josh-Johnson-Liverpool&p=746531&viewfull=1#post746531
    http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?134743-Rack-lever-by-Vale-Company

    I also have the following comments on posts above in this thread:

    Regarding the Massey V escapement, it is not entirely clear to me why this is differentiated from the Massey III. The only difference I see is in the roller construction (one or two pieces, figure-8 or circular table). Regardless of this construction, the lever appears to be the same and it “sees” the roller and passing crescent the same way, regardless of configuration. Is the two-piece construction, which must have been easier to make, considered a significant advance to warrant the distinction?

    Graham - My Brockbanks, with cylinder escapement, also has a straight maintaining-power click spring. Is this unusual, in general, or just on lever fusees?
    http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?137394-English-cylinder-fusee-by-Brockbanks
     
  11. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Jerry,

    I suspect that the type III was found to be simpler to make than the type V, which is why the former is much more common and continued in use for longer.

    I don't recall having seen this type of spring before, so I believe it is generally unusual.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  12. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    Jerry - my thanks for your post, particularly the link to your Johnson #9250 which is included in Oliver's database but not as a definite Massey - a very nice example with Liverpool jeweling and the temperature compensation.

    I am beginning to believe that many of the remaining Johnson three wheel examples might be Massey levers.

    According to my observations we now have a total of 18 Johnson three wheel movements which consist of:
    rack levers -> 2 (2799, 3434)
    Massey I -> 3 (1325, 2577, 4529)
    Massey II -> 2 (4461, 7746)
    Massey III -> 2 (5731, 5764)
    Massey V -> 3 (2696, 2830, ??) - the Shanks letter did not include the serial number of one of his examples
    The remaining six are listed as non-rack levers -> (1629, 3631, 3961, 5789, 6001, 8597)

    In addition, in Oliver's database there are a further 13 non-rack levers that might have three wheel trains: with serial numbers <10000 and designated by Oliver as genuine -> (1766, 3093, 4376, 5061, 5069, 5890, 5969, 6367, 7675, 7728, 7771, 8494, 9514)

    If anyone can provide information on these Johnson movements it would be much appreciated.

    John
     
  13. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    During the 'migration period', I was able to add a further 3-wheel Johnson to my collection - #3518. I was hoping that it might be a Massey, but, although I am yet to examine it in detail, I believe it to be a single roller with possibly a steel impulse pin rather than a jewel. The lever is parallel and relatively short. When I have had time to examine it in detail, I will post some photographs.

    I have also found a reference to watch # 2186, a 3-wheel Massey V described in a talk given by Alan Treherne on February 13, 1887 to the Northern Section of AH.

    Oliver is aware of both watches and I believe they have been added to his database.

    The other piece of information I found was in DJ Bryden London Gazette as a source of the English horological trade 1720-1849 produced in 2016, this was a entry relating to the dissolution of the partnership between Joseph Johnson, Robert and John Roskell trading as 'Joseph Johnson' from Johnson's shop. I don't remember seeing reference to this partnership before, perhaps it has just passed me by. The reference is listed both under Johnson and the Roskells and is as follows-

    The partnership of Joseph Johnson and Robert and John Roskell, watchmakers and jewellers, trading as Johnson & Co. dissolved in 1821. (13/09/1821)

    There is no direct reference to the partnership, other than its dissolution and I suspect it was a short lived of no more than 5 years. There are further references, post the dissolution. Firstly, of a James Halker, receiving payments and responsible for debt at the shop and secondly, of a partnership between Mary, Joseph's widow, and Lewis Hughes, acting as, Johnson, Joseph (executors) chronometer, clock and watchmakers, which continued to manage the finances until it was dissolved on 14/03/1835.

    I believe this adds an intriguing insight into the double signature watch described above.

    If anyone has any further information regarding the partnership, I would be most interested.

    John
     
  14. Lychnobius

    Lychnobius Registered User

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    I look forward to hearing more about No. 3518. Apart from the Massey I with its single steel tooth (I suppose I should properly say 'leaf'), I do not know of any early type of lever escapement with a steel rather than ruby pin as originally constructed; I wonder if Graham or anyone else has any views on this point.

    This being my first visit since the relocation of the NAWCC boards, I am greatly relieved to find myself still able to log in. For some minutes I thought I would have to re-invent myself for the third time. My ability to remember passwords has long since reached saturation-point, and any new one which I create immediately flies off into limbo without making even the briefest impression on my memory.

    Oliver Mundy.
     
  15. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Oliver,

    I agree with you; I'd be extremely surprised to find a steel pin fitted as an original feature in an English watch of this period. This is a 'quick and dirty' repair, and the problem now is to find a cylindrical ruby pin of the right dimensions.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  16. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    Hi Graham/Oliver - I was expecting to hear that if it is a steel pin, it is likely to be a 'dirty repair' as Graham describes it. I'm just waiting for it to wind down - it has been ticking away for over 28hrs. with one rotation of the fusee to go, then I will have a closer look and post photographs - if I can!

    I haven't yet attempted to attach photographs since the migration and as you may have noticed the attachments on this and my other recent posts, are missing. I did try the trial system before the migration and attachments worked fine. I have 4 pages of my earlier attachments migrated, but not my recent ones. Unless I have been uniquely affected, It would appear that the migration imposed a limit on the attachments migrated for anyone individual. This may have been done as a temporary expedient to reduce the migration time and the rest will eventually be migrated. We will have to see whether there is also a limit on the amount of storage space, which prevents adding attachments.

    John
     
  17. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    I have now examined 3518 and I attach photographs. I can confirm that the impulse pin is steel, the lever is of early single roller design, with a slight bend, which I cannot explain. Is this the original lever? It has a three wheel train with a 30 tooth escape. There is a crude re-shaping of the barrel bar, I assume to provide clearance for a slightly larger replacement balance. Although not the finest example - it is not without its interest and I will appreciate any comments that you have.

    John

    20170928 001.jpg 20170928 005.jpg 20170928 007.jpg 20170928 012.jpg 20170928 013.jpg 20170929 003-2.jpg 20170929 004.jpg 20170929 006.jpg 20170929 007.jpg 20170929 008.jpg 20170929 010.jpg
     
  18. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi John,

    The whole lever, pallets and all, looks very suspect. These were finished to a good standard of polish all over as a rule, nothing like this. All the alterations look pretty amateurish to me.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  19. SKennedy

    SKennedy Registered User

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    The notch in the end of the lever isn't central! Maybe the lever was bent to compensate for this. Also, the steel impulse pin appears to be filed oval, yet the hole in the roller looks round.
     
  20. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User

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    I have now cleaned and serviced 3518 and as Graham indicates it has suffered from work not of the highest quality! Having said that it is now working strongly having burst into life as soon as I began the initial wind. As far as I can tell, while the finish of the lever and roller is poor, they are working correctly. I cannot see any evidence from which one might infer that it has ever been anything other than a single roller with a 3 wheel train. However, the crude removal of material from the barrel bar, was presumably to accommodate a larger balance wheel and the state of the lever, roller and impulse pin probably indicates that some, or all of these have been replaced.

    John

    20171002 003.jpg
     
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