American PW My first watch repair

Discussion in 'Watch Repair' started by psfred, Oct 13, 2009.

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  1. psfred

    psfred Registered User

    Sep 25, 2009
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    Having gotten bitten by the watch acquiring bug, and being unable to keep myself from tinkering, I've started in on hobby watchmaking. I discovered that non-running watches can be obtained cheaply on eBay -- along with the occasional one that only needs winding or wearing, so I got a few.

    My first project, chosen because it was completely inert but nearly complete (missing the sweep second hand and very dirty), is a 1960s Elgin 17 jewel. It has a PUW 261 movement marked Elgin 870 -- it took me a while to determine the actual caliber, of course.

    Once I got a set of screwdrivers decently sharpened, I managed to get it almost completely apart without damaging anything. I've not removed the shock protected jewels on the balance cock or pillar plate yet, I'll leave those until I get my oils and oilers so I can clean and re-assemble pretty much in one go hopefully without losing any bits.

    There are some unusual things about this movement -- the crown gear is on the back side of the bridge for both barrel and train, along with the click. Holding back the click to let down the mainspring results in the click spring jumping to the front of the click, but since it's crimped into the case it stays put and will be easy to put back where it belongs. Also, I think the ratchet wheel acts as the barrel cover -- at least I cannot seem to separate them, and if I pull outward on the ratchet wheel, I can see the spring. I left well enough alone as it wound easily and I cannot persuade the arbor to let go of the spring. The center wheel is held in a small bridge, a rather neat way to handle it except for the added thicknes, I think. One side of all the train jewels is in a small metal carrier held down by a screw. I've not taken these off yet to see, but I think they may be a socket like arrangement that would allow one pivot free while putting the bridge back on -- I hope so, anyway, otherwise it's going to be a royal pain.

    The comment that Don DeCarle makes in his books about the biggest problems in watch repair being mangled repairs is quite true -- this one was "serviced" by something like wheel bearing grease. There is a great wad of slimy stuff on the keyless works that looks like old fashioned "fiber" wheel grease, which has tracked all over including onto the ratchet wheel. Hopefully it will come off in the appropriate solvents. The "oil" liberally dumped everywhere has solidified into a gummy mess, neatly gluing the seconds wheel to the train bridge and immobilizing the works. The pivot extension for the sweep seconds hand is broken off, the hands are bent, and that broke all the luminescent paint out all over the dial.

    I'm getting a partial movement from dashto for the seconds wheel (and hopefully a better date wheel). With a little luck and some scrubbing, I'll have this one going soon.

    Next project is to replace the balance in a nice Bulova 11AN from which someone pried the stud carrier and regulator off the balance cock -- looks quite sad with the remains of the hairspring trailing across the movement -- and then on to the Bulova 11ANACD with another broken seconds pivot extension and a snapped off weight.

    I hope this isn't addictive.....

    Peter
     
  2. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User

    Aug 27, 2000
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    Calgary, Alberta
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    Welcome!

    Here is a picture of a PUW 261 from Dr. Roland Ranfft's archive http://www.ranfft.de/cgi-bin/bidfun-db.cgi?10&ranfft&&2uswk&PUW_261 . I assume yours looks something likel that? The style of movement is aften called 3/4 plate, with one bridge covering the train wheel and the barrel. They present a bit more of a challenge because re-assembly can be a bit trickier regarding getting the train wheels back into position. Best of luck in returning it to health. Same goes with your other projects. And, Yes! This type of challenge can become addictive, but it sounds to me as though you are already there! Post again. Post often. Keep us in the "loupe" :).
     
  3. psfred

    psfred Registered User

    Sep 25, 2009
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    Doug:

    That's the critter. If you look closely, you can see the little single screw retainer for a jewel for the escape wheel on the lower right side of the plate. I'm hoping they come out complete to allow setting the pivots in the jewels with the wheels loose in the plate as I'm not really sure it's possible to reach the third wheel with the plate on. Fourth wheel won't be a problem as the extended pivot fits through the center wheel hollow pivot and it won't move around. We shall see.

    Peter
     
  4. watch_art

    watch_art Registered User

    Nov 17, 2008
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    hot springs, arkansas
    yeah, that jewel plate w/ one screw holding it in can be taken out to more easily reassemble the movement. when i figured that out on one of my first few watches i nearly fell over.

    have fun.
     
  5. psfred

    psfred Registered User

    Sep 25, 2009
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    Quick update!

    The Elgin is still hanging fire due to not yet getting any oils, but I have been busy -- I got an Agon "swiss watch" in a pile of junkers that would not wind up, but would run if I held forward setting pressure on the crown. Finally got a back removal tool and got the back off and found a loose crown wheel -- tightened that up and it works fine although running a bit slow, I think.

    And today I got a "non working" Seiko 7009 that rattled but was running when I opened the package. Once I got the back off (a challange, it was TIGHT), I tightened up the rotor pivot screw and it started to wind. It was fun walking down to the garage to put it in a wooden jaw vise, as something was unwinding inside making the watch vibrate if I held it face down. I assume it was the mainspring doing something strange, but it's winding now and working. Nosiy though, lots of ratchet sounds if you listen closesly.

    Probably need to overhaul them both, but it's fun to make one work so easily. Naturally, the Gruen VeriThin I have that also won't wind up has all the gears working, must have a loose or broken mainspring.

    Peter
     
  6. Dave B

    Dave B Banned

    Jun 7, 2008
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    "The comment that Don DeCarle makes in his books about the biggest problems in watch repair being mangled repairs is quite true ..."

    Here's an example that gave me an absolute FIT! The top jewel in this 6/0 Hamilton Gr 986 was chipped , and needed to be replaced. I had to make a glueing chuck large enough to hold it, then glue the bridge to the chuck (at the time I didn't own a Universal one) and take a cleanup cut with a graver, before I could get this jewel out. Neither of the screws was stripped, so I have no clue as to why the jewel mount was staked. I neglected to take a photo of the bridge with the new top jewel installed, so I only have a shot of the "before". (While I was at it, I also cleaned up the screw head shown on the left in this photo.)
     

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  7. psfred

    psfred Registered User

    Sep 25, 2009
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    Update #2:

    Barrel and going train assembled almost effortlessly -- there is a convenient hole in the upper plate to reach the third wheel, so with a tiny poke it fell into place. Once oiled, the train runs freely and stops with a bit of recoil, so I must have gotten all the slime out of the pivots. Horrible stuff, had to scrape it all off since I didn't think to see if I had any lacquer thinner around. Pithwood is great stuff, eh?

    Keyless works, date mechanism, and setting works are in place, awaiting the removal of the balance jewels and shock mechanism for cleaning. Hopefully the mad oiler didn't manage to get any in the balance jewels....

    I only had to crawl around looking for one part so far (the center wheel rolled off the table on me) and when I popped the cannon pinion out of the forceps it landed in the correct hole in the parts tray.

    Once I learn to sharpen screwdrivers properly and get some non-magnetized forceps, this is going to be fun! Hopefully the next watch won't be so gummy, but I don't have high hopes. My brother has several Russian pocket watches my sister bought him when she lived in Berlin in the early 90's, and they have all stopped running shortly after being "cleaned and oiled". I don't know who he had do the job, but he complained they would only run for a few months and then stop again, and he only paid about $50 for the service. Then again, they may be 7 jewel (or worse, pin lever escapement) and that may be all he gets.

    Peter
     
  8. bchaps

    bchaps Registered User

    Dec 16, 2001
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    Dave...you will find jewels were frequently "punched" not for staking purposes but to re-locate the jewel back in the original position... a practice no one should be doing now. Concerning De Carle's comment, keep in mind many of the watches we cherish and collect today had minimal value during the 1940's and 50's and less than stellar work was OK because it was a worthless "beater" watch. Parts were swapped, procedures were short-cut...all because the watch was only worth a couple bucks.

    I realize we would never think that way, unless we happened to still be driving a 1990 beater Chevy in which case the back-yard mechanic is good enough and a duct tape patch over the rust holes will do for now.

    Here is a truism for nearly any material possession: As the value of an object increases, greater care is provided for restoration and maintenance. Simply stated..it's a business decision.
     
  9. psfred

    psfred Registered User

    Sep 25, 2009
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    Finished!

    After an hour long battle including a leaping end jewel, lots of slime, and a spare balance and cock, it runs! Quite a pain to get the bottom pivot in and keep it there, at least for me. Anyway, it started running when I got the pivots in place on both ends, and it still going.

    Balance amplitude seems small to me, so I'll watch it for a while. Probably have to take it all apart again and re-clean the wheels, they were pretty gunky and I didn't have my sonicator set up yet. I want to restore the luminescent paint so I have to take the dial off again in any case, might as well practice taking it apart.

    To celebrate, I put the new balance in the Bulova 11AN I bought for $4 -- quite a different story. Sorta just fell in place with zero effort, and the watch started running immediately. Musta been partially wound when it got dropped or what ever. I was going to put in a new winding stem, but it seems there is still a partial one in there. I'll have to take the dial off and pry it out, I guess. Pretty watch, looks brand new.

    And I put a new end jewel in my Bulova pocket watch that would only run dial up. Not a shockproof watch, but man oh man it has a tough balance staff. Must have been knocked pretty good as there is a neat hole punched right through the lower end jewel. I took one from the "parts" Bulova I was hoping to rescue, since it was too badly rusted to fix. I broke the center wheel arbor trying to remove the cannon pinion, and all the pinions are well rusted.

    Peter
     

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