Making Vuillamy Deadbeat Pallets

Discussion in 'Hints & How-to's' started by shimmystep, Oct 28, 2013.

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  1. shimmystep

    shimmystep Registered User

    Mar 5, 2012
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    Cambridge, UK
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    Not having made Vulliamy deadbeat pallets before, I thought I would illustrate the process I followed to replace the pallet nibs on my Germania Vienna Regulator ca1888. I hope there is something folk can get from the post. Thank you to David LaBounty for his sound advice on a few technical issues.

    The wear on one of the original pallets can be clearly seen in the picture below.
    View attachment 197973

    Ordinarily it might be possible to grind and polish the impulse faces, and refit. However I think these have had that done before now, as they are quite short, leaving little room to remove enough steel to give a clean face. Unfortunately the existing ones are not reversible; i.e. where the pallet can be turned and fitted in the opposite verge arm, as both ends have been ground. So completely new pallets required making. This will mean that a complete ring will need to be made in order to ensure that the curvature of the nibs is as required, and the nibs then cut out of the completed ring.

    In picture 1 the 60mm tool steel rod can be seem in the lathe chuck. It is quite a piece of steel given how small the pallet nibs will be. The outside diameter of the ring required is ascertained from measurements already known, i.e. the distance from the centre of the verge arbor, to the outer edge of one of the existing pallets = 51.68mm.
    View attachment 197978 View attachment 197982 View attachment 197983 View attachment 197984

    The inside diameter is taken from the Outside diameter minus the thickness of the pallet nib required.
    = 51.68mm – 0.94mm = 50.74mm

    The outside diameter is cut first. It is also polished whilst on the lathe, not just for convenience, as the thickness of the ring can be measured as the boring out of the internal diameter actually progresses (picture 2), using the outside finished and polished diameter as a constant, given there will be no further material removed from the outer diameter.
    I cut along the length of the rod far more than was required, in order to allow plenty of room for parting the ring off. Or making another ring should something go wrong in parting off. In picture 3 the ring can be seen to just beginning to locate in the verge. This was enough of a cut for now, as any surplus material on the internal diameter would be taken off in a polishing process. It was quite awkward to polish the internal diameter of the ring whilst still attached to the steel rod, but I had an idea as to how would do that once parted off.
    Parting off is a procedure that tests my nerves, I hope I’m not alone. There was a good amount of chatter, despite the tool being very sharp and central, and kept close to the tool post. So I adjusted the cutting tool to give a slightly negative cutting rake, i.e. the cutting edge was sloping downward by a degree or two. The parting tool was also ground with a slight rake across its width in order that the cutting edge (on the right edge) meant the ring parted from the rod with very clean edge. Parting tools I think are traditionally designed to cut square against the piece being cut. The tool adjustments made quite a difference and parting off was clean.

    In picture 4 the ring can be seen to be mounted in a small chuck on my Lorch 6mm lathe, the jaws have been reversed to accommodate it. However holding the ring too tightly ran the risk of distorting it, so small pieces of thick double sided tape were used to hold it in situ, whilst the jaws were minimally tightened. Round wooden dowling was used, loaded with emery paper, to polish the Internal diameter. From 600grit through to 7000grit, in stages.
    View attachment 197985 View attachment 197986 View attachment 197987

    Picture 5 shows the completed ring sitting snugly in both slots in the verge. Clamping the ring between two thin pieces of wood (Picture 7) in a vice gave support for cutting lengths off to make the nibs. This ensured that the jewelers scroll blade did not ‘skip’ across its polished face, undoing all the polishing work. It also held the cut length in situ until the blade was all the way through, ensuring a very clean cut.


    Picture 6 shows the jig I made to hold the verge during the process of grinding and polishing the impulse faces on the nibs. This could be mounted on the cross slide of my Lorch lathe. The verge must be able to ‘swing’ on a constant axis point onto the face of the grinding and polishing wheels, yet still be held firmly in order to discourage any chatter. I used a modified old centre wheel spider spring for applying tension onto the brass disc holding the verge to the aluminum plate. Hence the tension was adjustable. The brass disc was turned to have a radius of exactly half that of the measurement between the centre of the verge arbor and the dead centre of the pallet nib. This measurement meant that a tangent line from the edge of the brass disc could be aligned with the face of the grinding and polishing wheels, ensuring an impulse face of 2° would be ground/polished, picture 8 and 9.
    View attachment 197988 View attachment 197989 View attachment 197990

    Picture 11 shows the exit side pallet being ground, and the tangent line mentioned earlier. The brass wheel in picture 9 was made for sticking the emery paper onto for finer grinding and polishing. Once the brass wheels desired diameter was cut, its front and back was faced off on the lathe to ensure it turned square and flat to the pallet nibs impulse face. If it does not run square and true the impulse face could be ‘buffeted’ by the wheel and lead to a lesser finish. After using the grinding wheel for removing the initial amount of steel, I used cut discs of emery paper, stuck to the brass wheel with a spray glue. It does not take much glue to stick these on satisfactorily.
    I had plenty of material to experiment with, to test the jig and the wheel. When using the emery paper on the brass wheel, once the face has been ground on that grade, moving the pallet nib impulse face slowly across the paper using the cross slide, whilst keeping light pressure on it with my finger, effectively removes any lines left by the paper. This is especially effective during the last polish. Grades of paper used in sequence were grits 600, 1000, 1200, 2500, 3000, 5000, 7000. This took a little time and some may say was overkill! however I was pleased with the result.
    It’s a good idea to check your tangent line after changing the grade of paper, given they differ in thickness.

    View attachment 197991 View attachment 197992

    Pictures 10 and 12 show the finished pallet nibs, with clean edges and even impulse faces. They are hardened by heating to cherry red and quenched, followed by tempering to very light straw colour and quenched again. Followed by a final impulse face polish on the jig set up, polish of the locking faces with 7000grit, and finally polished using a felt buffer and a super finish polishing compound.

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