My sad part swap story

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Scott Erholm, Jul 24, 2009.

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  1. Scott Erholm

    Scott Erholm Registered User

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    I got this watch a month ago or so. I was really thrilled that the dial looked to be original, and the movement was still in the original factory-cased B.W. Raymond case. So maybe that is why I didn't notice the balance cock was a mismatch.

    I took great care to clean and properly oil the movement, and was troubled that it still ran way too fast. This is after all, a railroad-grade watch, and I expect better from it. I demagnetized it, took it apart again to see if I had made a mistake, and tried everything I could to get it run properly, but it still runs fast.

    It was only after disassembling it for the second time that I noticed the balance cock. Then I looked at the balance itself, and even that was yet another serial number!

    So now I have what should be a great watch, but is marred by the part swap that was done. Yes, I should have been more astute to see the obvious mismatched balance cock, but I overlooked it several times. Not only is the watch not original, but it doesn't even keep good time. I think my best option at this point is to delve into the world of adjusting balance screws. I will use Fried's advice, but would welcome others from you all. Oh, and feel free to brow-beat me for being too inexperienced or eager to see the obvious flaw.

    Scott
     

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  2. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User

    Apr 11, 2002
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    I work at the Veritas Tools machine shop.
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    It is not a obvius flaw.The only to know for sure was to disasemble the watch.
    Most likely the balance staff was broke, so instead of a proper repair someone just swapped the whole balance.Also there is a good chance the hair spring is mis matched causing your timing problems.
     
  3. Scott Erholm

    Scott Erholm Registered User

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    Well, the part that would have been obvious to the discerning eye was the different damaskeening pattern on the balance cock.

    But yes, once I found the mismatched cock serial number, I then looked at the balance and found yet a third!

    I understand that many collectors don't have the tools or expertise to replace a balance staff. But if a person replaced the the entire balance, why not put it in the original cock? Only thing I can think is that the staff was a little too long or too short for the original cock, but then a different cock just happened to fit.

    So I am upset that not only is my watch got three different movement parts in it, but because the balance was not adjusted for this movement, it runs fast.

    If I could find a different cock with the same damaskeening pattern, I would replace it in a heartbeat, even if that meant adjusting the balance staff.

    Well, this would support Kent's proposition that new collectors should wait at least 6 months before buying anything. I will definitely keep an eye out for things like this in the future.

    Thanks,

    Scott
     
  4. Jon Hanson

    Jon Hanson Registered User
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    Just another end result of a SWITCH.

    Switch stuff around and get into trouble, and/or someone gets screwed!
     
  5. Bryan Eyring

    Bryan Eyring Registered User

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    Was this an eBay buy?
    and
    True true. Just anothe chapter in the ongoing Switching Saga!!

    Regards,
    Bryan
     
  6. 49stude63

    49stude63 Registered User

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    It looks like a balance cock off of a 57X grade Elgin, and Scott let the collectors that have never made a mistake or some type of error stand in the line to the right, yep the one where no one is standing. You tend to see the 19J version like you have posted on ebay in parts form all the time, keep your eye out for one, sad part is the serial number won't match but at least someone would have to go though great effort to know.
     
  7. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    The regulator screw on the 57X series has its head out at the rim of the movement. The cases had to have a circular notch to provide clearance for that screw.
     
  8. Jon Hanson

    Jon Hanson Registered User
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    it only hurts the eventual buyer

    Another PERMANENT distruction of originality, as the seller lines his pocket book and the buyer gets the staff!

    A true screwyoulous package!
     
  9. terry hall

    terry hall Registered User
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    You betcha... at least 3 watches !

    I wonder if the cock is from an elgin ball :???: that is what the whip looks like to me
     
  10. 49stude63

    49stude63 Registered User

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    My bad it is the BWR 478 series that this one came from. BWR's from 27,xxx,xxx to 38,xxx,xxx had this type of balance cock. This movement should have the typical Elgin rounded screw with mico-nut on it. I don't have any of the later BWR's don't really like the look of the movements, once had a 21j version with the rigid bow case that I should kick myself for selling. The Ball Elgin had the screw out the other side.
     
  11. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Registered User

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    Look closely and you'll see that the destruction of originality will not stop at three watches. Now that Scott has noticed the problem, he sees his only recourse is to seek a part from a fourth watch... and perhaps a fifth after that. More watches in the scrap pile to get this "bargain" junker working.

    Moreover, it seems likely that someone will later see the "donor" watches as being "too nice to leave unrepaired", and the cycle will perpetuate itself with five more watches being broken for each one that is "restored".

    And because apologists for these practices will try to stifle anyone that speaks up by claiming "everyone makes mistakes", the message that this practice must end invariably gets lost in the noise because, frankly, people don't want to hear that what they are doing harms the hobby they claim to love.

    My advice, obviously, is to accept that you made a mistake, and to not make the mistake any more grave.

    - Greg
     
  12. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    I accept (but don't necessarily agree with) Greg's point that the balance shouldn't be pulled from a parts movement.

    In saying that if the correct balance cock (albeit with a different serial number) found in a pile of loose parts, could be used to bring this movement a little closer to the way it should look could lead to a buyer in the future ending up with an unoriginal watch and not realizing it at the time of purchase (nor may the seller know).
     
  13. 49stude63

    49stude63 Registered User

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    There are many movements that have already been scalped, and body parts removed so no matter what you might feel about this these parts will not regenerate so if you can find a movement in this condition and use another part off of it to fix this watch the correct way, this to me it is the same as getting a car part from a junkyard. If Scott purchased a complete watch to swap parts because his movement is in nicer condition and scalped a part then that is a different situation and I would not feel that is the proper method, there are too many parts movements out there to go in that direction.
     
  14. Don Dahlberg

    Don Dahlberg Registered User
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    Getting back to the problem. First you need to check the amplitude of the balance at full wind. Anything that retards the motion of the balance will speed it up. For example, the pivots on this balance may be too tight in the jewel holes. If so, the pivots could be polished to give the proper side shake.


    If you have about 1 1/2 turns at full wind, then I ask how fast is the watch? Can meantime screws and/or balance washers bring it into time?

    Don
     
  15. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Registered User

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    #15 Greg Davis, Jul 25, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
    The problem with looking for parts from a parts pile (or a parts dealer) is that you have to ask yourself how they got into the pile in the first place. The answer is usually the same.

    I don't want to restart the whole long parting out discussion again. I think we all know where it goes. But I do want to add that each time we buy a part to replace a part we're creating more demand for the parts market. The people that provide parts to that market aren't usually interested in the hobby. They are interested in profit. They'll say whatever they have to say to get the price they want for the parts they sell. We've seen and heard it before.

    I like the notion of trying to make the parts you have work, though I have to say there are limits to that practice too. As noted previously, watch parts were designed to work together as assembled at the factory. Mixing and matching may seem an easy way to "fix" a watch, but when parts weren't designed and tuned to work together we start making ugly choices to address the differences. How many watches now sport "shims" to make things fit that don't fit? How many have a mangled plate or a stripped screw hole because the "repair man" didn't have the right part?

    Yes, I speak from experience. I have a number of movements with mistmatched parts... parts that were cobbled together by amateurs and professionals taking shortcuts. Those movements are in cold storage now. I could conceivably make them available to others, but I won't because I won't perpetuate the problem. I bought the mistake, now I own it. I won't try to sell the mistake to anyone else, or encourage others to do so by selling them the parts. It's my mistake, and I consider those purchases to be the tuition for my education.

    - Greg
     
  16. mdavis00

    mdavis00 Registered User

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    Greg,

    (I am asking these things as a young and new collector, and I do not intend for them to be in any way 'snippy.' Having only words in this venue, I can only tell you that my tone here is one of genuine interest and respectful dialog.)

    How would you approach repairing a watch that needed something like an entire balance cock or balance assembly? Do you know of a manufacturer for these things or a NOS source? Is there a way to tell the difference between NOS parts and parts from a scrapped watch (other than finding a serial on them)? If a part is impossible to find without sacrificing a second movement, is it permissible for the first movement to become a donor, or should it be preserved as-is for a time when a new part can be manufactured?

    I do agree that elements within the balance assembly were tuned by hand (especially on higher grade movements) to work only with each other, but in general many of these watches were the product of mass manufacturing with the intention of making the parts interchangeable and easily accessible. Granted, there were lots of variation within grades and models even within the same run, but there is no reason that a skilled professional can't combine two movements that are identical except for serials and end with a functioning watch--this was precisely what watchmakers and repair people did for decades before collectability mattered more than utility.

    The point of all this being: if we want to continue to run these watches and carry them (and I would really like to), then a source for parts to replace those that break or wear-out has to be found. Given how the price and availability of mainsprings has gone, I assume new parts will only become harder to find. What should be the answer?

    Understand that these questions come from someone who purchased a 'parts movement' with a broken roller jewel and bent staff and is now procuring a staking set and literature on balance staffs with the wild intention of finding a NOS roller jewel and repairing it into a working watch. :eek:
     
  17. Jon Hanson

    Jon Hanson Registered User
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    sad part swap story--EDUCATION & KNOWLEDGE

    I have stated this time and time again--it you want a "good" collectible, buy them and stop hunting bargains. If you want a nice runner, buy a decent one from reliable sources and learn how to do some of this work yourself..

    Buying bargains is "usually" buying a problem someone else is unloading.

    Bargains "might" make good practice watches that can be bought very cheap nowadays.
     
  18. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Registered User

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    Morgan,

    Jon is absolutely correct.

    Believe me, I understand the desire to get a dead watch working again... but buying a watch that you KNOW needs parts is really not a good idea.

    When you've poked around for a while you'll notice something peculiar... a LOT of watches are missing their balance cocks. I can only think of one reason for this to be the case... lazy attempts to repair some other watch. Buying such a watch and hoping to find a proper part for it is just not smart use of your money.

    I'm glad to learn that you are seeking a staking set and the knowledge to use it. I wish you the best in that endeavor.

    - Greg
     
  19. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User

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    I have seen many nice watches, with the whole balance gone.And i thought about buying them.And i wondered too, wise move or a dumb move.
    I prefer to buy watches from people i know and only people i know on Ebay as well.I have been ripped off enough.:confused::mad:
     
  20. Scott Erholm

    Scott Erholm Registered User

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    Your point is well taken. I certainly can't see any advantage to cannibalizing yet another good running 455 grade watch. The whole exercise is pointless, and would destroy yet another watch.

    I was planning to make this watch my carry watch, so if I can adjust it or otherwise get the mismatched balance and cock to work and keep accurate time, then I will more than likely just keep it as is. However, if I did find a watch with the proper style and pattern cock, and this donor watch was for some reason beyond the practical restoration point, then I would use it to better match the cock. The reality is that such a situation is not likely to happen.

    I have tried my hardest to properly estimate the balance amplitude at full wind. I believe it is more than 1 1/2. Is there a good method to nail this down?

    The as you can see in the photo, the regulator is pegged at the slowest position. Still, it gains 1 min 30 sec per 24 hours. With the regulator in the middle, it gains 3 min 15 sec every 24hours.

    Thanks for the help and comments,

    Scott
     
  21. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Staffs and roller jewels are usually considered to be expendable replacement items. Their replacements may, or may not, be OEM parts. Frequently, they are third part replacement parts. Most collectors would not consider the watch to be less original if third party roller jewels and staffs are used (in fact, they probably couldn't tell the difference). You shouldn't feel bad about using these in your watch.
     
  22. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    Interesting discussion.

    I have zero knowledge of the workings of a watch, although that's something I am just starting to remedy. In the meantime, when I buy a watch which isn't working, or needs some case repair, I take it to a recommended jewelry repairer, who in turn sends it out to a watch repairer.

    How do I know if, through this route, I am encouraging the watch repairer to break up watches for spare parts ? To date, I've had nothing more serious than a broken stem to replace, but who knows what I might find in the future?
     
  23. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Marty:

    Mainsprings, staffs & jewels most likely are third party supplies. That is, the mainsprings and staffs are back-engineered by some firm other than the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to fit a specific model and grade of watch. The jewels are more or less generic. Watchmakers may re-cut a similar staff to fit a specific watch for which the exact staff is not readily available.

    For parts such as regulators and regulator springs, click springs, setting parts, there may, or may not, be OEM replacement parts still available. They may have to come from parts movements. Recently, Waltham model 1899 setting levrs have been back-engineered and marketed by a third party business.

    Other parts, such as a fourth wheel assembly (which has the second hand post - a part that breaks off) will most likely have to come from a parts movement. The same is true for matching hands - some original hands are still available, others aren't.

    Good luck,
     

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