Making my own Pocket Watch Hands

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by Britannicus, Feb 9, 2018.

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  1. Britannicus

    Britannicus Registered User

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    #51 Britannicus, Jun 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2018
    I'm not certain what sort of steel I have, I'm suspecting medium carbon as I scavenged the sheet i'm currently using, this was originally a series of sheets painted with different finishes as samples for kitchen "white goods" - so fridges, microwaves etc. I blow torch, strip and clean them up before I start. when you're on;y needing a piece half the size of a handkerchief to work with, most sock suppliers work in square meters or charge silly prices. It certainly seems to harden when I heat it with my butane torch and then cool it. I've not really recognised any brittleness either, but I think that's because I chose a very forgiving shape for my first efforts.

    I've also tried steel battery straps/ welding straps - but these seem to be low carbon
     
  2. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Britannicus,

    You can buy thin (1/16") gauge plate in quite small sizes; Chronos sell it as small as 6" x 2". Have a search for 'gauge plate' and see what comes up.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  3. Harvey Mintz

    Harvey Mintz Registered User
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    Britannicus -

    Most common steel that you can find is not particularly hardenable (is that a word?), because it's mild (otherwise known as "low carbon") steel. A lot will depend on how you are cooling the steel after you heat it, which you have not mentioned.

    If you obtain a sample of high carbon steel, heat it cherry red, and then quench it in water, it should get VERY hard. I've seen a demonstration of this (years ago, in a metal working class), where the instructor took a piece of steel, heated it and quenched it in water. He then placed it on an anvil and hit it with a hammer - it shattered like glass.

    My own test is simple - I heat the steel and quench it, then I try to bend it with my fingers - if it bends, it can't be hardened. If it breaks, there's a good chance I can make a spring out of it.

    The most difficult part of making a spring is the tempering, that is, how much re-heating do you do before quenching it again to leave it tough enough to not break, but soft enough be a spring. The first time I made a case lift spring, I had everything perfect (shape, size, etc.) before I hardened it, but I touched it against something on my way back to the tempering area of my bench, and the thing shattered on me. The 2nd spring worked extremely well, however (and I was a LOT more careful handling it before the tempering stage :D).

    You're going to have to practice this a bunch before you get it down - it can be a science (in a factory), but in your shop, it's probably closer to an art.

    Harvey J. Mintz
     
  4. Britannicus

    Britannicus Registered User

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    Hi Harvey -
    Wow impressed you make springs - takes it to a whole new level :) at least my hands don't have to take the stress of continuous deformation

    Having said that I had thought about making a case spring for a hunter I have that needs one. I'd planned to make it out of a junior hacksaw blade, but had not real idea of how to go about it, so I shelved the idea. where could I find out more ?
     
  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Britannicus,

    You'll probably need to use something rather thicker than a hacksaw blade, because the part of the spring which is attached to the case has to be quite substantial. This brings us back into gauge plate territory, as discussed in an earlier post in this thread, because it must be a higher carbon steel capable of being hardened and then tempered. The first picture shows the 'universal' spring, (in other words one which doesn't fit properly in any of a variety of different cases), alongside the correctly shaped hunter fly spring replacement. In this example a screw also had to be made to fit.

    DSCF5279.JPG DSCF5273.JPG DSCF5310.JPG

    As you can see the base of the spring is quite thick to fit closely inside the case band. The spring was wrapped in iron wire and covered in soft soap to avoid too much scale, before being heated to bright red and quenched in oil, moving it smartly vertically downwards into the oil bath to minimuse distortion, then being cleaned up and then tempered to a mid blue and cleaned once more.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  6. karlmansson

    karlmansson Registered User

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    If you want to understand the heat treatment process better, have a look at a book from the Home Workshop series called "Hardening, Tempering & Heat Treatment" by Tubal Cain.
     
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